Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fire and Ice

Iceland is a unique and magical place for photographers. This is just one example, taken on Ice Beach in the southern part of the country. Iceland's several glaciers deposit icebergs into nearby glacial lagoons. One of the lagoons then tosses up ice chunks, both large and small, onto a nearby black sand beach. This is one of the small ice chunks, reflecting light from the bright blue sky and the warm tones of the rising sun.

What a thrill to see the many different shapes of the ice, and to see some tossed around in the waves crashing on shore. A unique scene to say the least.

When photographing in new and unusual places it helps to first slow down and just enjoy what you are seeing, and then to determine how best to shoot it. Try a variety of camera positions, some close in and some farther away. Use the histogram to make sure your exposures are good. And then use image optimization software to enhance contrast and color.

1/125 sec. at f/8, ISO 800.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L set at 40mm, on Canon 7D Mark II. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique."  --Isaac Bashevis Singer

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Moody Iceland

Moody just barely begins to describe this scene. It was a blustery wet day with strong winds and pelting rain. But even so, we were out there taking some wonderfully unique images along the southern coast of Iceland.

When on a photo trip, a little rain, or in this case a lot of rain, does not stop us from shooting. We gear up in our rain jackets and rain pants, plus rain protection for our cameras, and bravely step out of the van.

Everyone had been supplied with microfiber cloths to use periodically to help dry off lens shades and water droplets that kept hitting our lenses. To get this shot, I kneeled down next to a parked car (we were at a public overlook) in hopes of blocking the wind and some of the rain. That worked briefly, long enough to get this shot and several others.

The sky was so overcast and gray that this black-and-white conversion, done in Lightroom, barely looks any different from the original color version. I chose to go with black and white since there was a slight brownish tone in the water that I thought detracted from the image.

I took several shots, trying to get one in which the waves spilling onto the beach were rounded in shape. I felt that would soften the harshness of the sky and the ominous rock in the foreground.

Iceland is an incredible place filled with many dramatic and photogenic subjects. It is a compelling location, and I plan to return there July 21 - 30, 2017 for another exciting photo tour. If you have ever wanted to see this wonderful island nation with its dramatic scenery, or wanted to enjoy its endless beautiful light from morning to night, or photograph its large puffin colonies, then plan to join me. It will be a fantastic trip! Email me for more information.

1/320 sec., f/9, ISO 800.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L, set at 27mm, on Canon 7D MarkII body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."  --John Ruskin

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Water World

Water is everywhere in Iceland. There are hundreds or thousands of waterfalls, many of which do not even have names because there are so many. There are also innumerable streams, glacial lagoons, and lakes.

This is a small portion of a wide row of many waterfalls cascading over ancient lava flows. The way the water flows down and around the rocks made for a unique composition. The fall colors created a lovely counterpoint of reds, oranges, and yellows.

When photographing traditional subjects like waterfalls, do the basic shots and then allow yourself to seek other views. Look for line, shape, form and color. Those elements will help you find a variety of creative images in almost any scene.

Iceland is a truly unique and compelling country, and one that I plan to return to many times. Stay tuned for information on the next trip, coming up in July 2017.

2 seconds, f/45, ISO 100. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on Canon 7D Mark II. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ball head.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing."  --John Muir

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Incredible Iceland

Iceland is truly an incredible place. More waterfalls than you can image, huge sweeping landscapes, tiny towns tucked away in the shadow of craggy imposing mountains, glaciers, icebergs....  Well, the list goes on and on.

One appealing subject is the number of small churches in the countryside, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. This church, which is hard to see and looks even smaller against its rock backdrop, is just one example.

As you drive around the country, about the size of Kentucky and with a population of only a little over 300,000 people, you feel like you are in a magical fairyland. The volcanic base of the island has created a wide variety of compelling scenes, different from almost anywhere in the world.

Our group of 12 skilled photographers is creating incredibly beautiful images. It is quite a treat to be traveling with them, and to be in this wonderfully welcoming country.

1/2000 sec., f/10, ISO 800. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body, handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In Iceland you can see the contours of the mountains wherever you go, and the swell of the hills. You are never hidden. You always feel exposed in that landscape."  --Hannah Kent

Monday, October 3, 2016

Flying High

Landed in Iceland late last night to prepare for the upcoming "Iceland - Fire and Ice" photo tour. It was a short and pleasant flight from the east coast of the US. This is going to be a very exciting and exhilarating trip with dozens of waterfalls, glaciers, an ice beach, black sand beaches, Icelandic horses, and sweeping vistas of mountains and geothermal areas.

The tour officially begins on Saturday, and with a dozen motivated and excited photographers we will explore many areas of this beautiful country. In the meantime I am cruising around the city of Reykjavik and some of the surrounding countryside. Everyone I have met has been charming, easy-going, helpful, and very welcoming. This is a country of warm people who welcome tourists.

So why this photo? It is a kittiwake, a fairly common seagull-like bird native to northern climates. But this is not a literal bird photo. The color and the shapes make it more of an interpretive art piece rather than a basic shot of a bird. When photographing any subject anywhere, it is important to capture not only the scene or the object, but the essence of the subject as well. It is your interpretation of the subject that makes your work stand out. At the end of the day, we all want our images to be well-received, and the more artistic ones seem to have more impact and more interest.

So do the literal approaches, but then push yourself further and look for more creative, artistic views. With nature and wildlife subjects, it is usually best to not compromise the appearance of the subject too much. You generally want the subject to still be recognizable, but you also want to reveal its nuances and essence in unique and interesting ways.

1/1000 sec at f/8, ISO 800. 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."  --Andre Gide