This article was first published on capturingthelandscape.com.
Editor’s Note: If you ask any passionate landscape photographer what their dream location is, I’m fairly certain the majority of them would probably say Iceland. For those who might be wondering why, then let this incredible photograph be your answer – I for one, cannot take my eyes off it! Stephen Dickey
In September 2008 I was on a one week trip through Iceland with four guys from an independent ‘brand communications’ company from the UK, plus three Icelandic guides. The goal was to shoot a one minute commercial for Canon Europe, and take some stunning landscape photos along the way. After flying from Berlin to Keflavik, I took another flight with a small propeller-driven plane to go even further north, to Isafjordhur. There we met and started our tour of northern Iceland, during which we traveled across the country in two 4×4 cars. From the northern fjords we drove for days through the wild highlands on unpaved roads and through some rapid streams, south to the coastal lowlands. We spent the nights in open huts with sleeping bags, and in boarding houses. We visited the Godafoss waterfall, Landmannalaugar, Glacier Bay, awesome beaches near Vik, the Skogafoss waterfall, Geysir, Blue Lagoon and some other remote and impressive locations. Finally, we arrived back at Reykjavik where the whole crew enjoyed the last evening with some decent drinks.
When planning possible shooting locations for this trip, Skogafoss was a must-see location. I have seen this waterfall in lots of landscape photos by other photographers, long before my own trip to Iceland even began – I definetly wanted to see it for myself! The Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland with a width of 25m (82 ft) and a drop of 60m (200 ft). There are a few common and strong compositions which can be found when you research on the internet for information about this location, so I had some compositional starting points in my mind prior to the trip. Due to our schedule we did not have lots of time to spend at each location, waiting for optimal shooting conditions. I just hoped for good weather (at least no rain and grey skies!) and no crowds of people walking around.
We started this particular day photographing Jokulsarlon (Glacier Bay), followed by some kayaking through the icy water in the rain. The weather in Iceland can be quite dynamic in September – as we arrived on location it was raining hard, but 15 minutes later the sky cleared a little for just 10 minutes, and was followed by more rain. Sometime around mid-morning we arrived at Skogafoss. Due to the rainy and cold weather conditions there were just two or three other people walking around. As I already had a composition in mind (a photography of Skogafoss with a single person in the frame), the absence of people was more than welcome. While scouting and shooting the location I asked the director Matthey Huntley to walk to the base of the waterfall, and get as close as possible, and act as model for the photo. To convey a feeling of the real height and impact of this waterfall, it was necessary to give the viewer a sense of scale. I experimented with some other compositions, with more people, without any people, other poses, other exposure times, e.t.c. In the end, for me, this one was the strongest image of the scene showing how small humans are compared to the forces of nature and hopefully giving the viewer a bit of a feeling what is like to experience a terrific scene like this face-to-face.
I created this image with a Canon 5D and a 24-105mm L IS lens at 105mm on a Manfrotto tripod, using a cable release. The image is a 1/45 second exposure at f/5.6 with ISO100. In post processing, I just increased contrast and adjusted the highlights in the water with curves. Finally some noise reduction and sharpening for the web and thats it.
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