Pro Tips for Photographing Iceland
Image Credit: Andrew_Mayovskyy
As I've written before, Iceland is a must-visit location for photographers.
It's a land of wonder and enchantment with a variety of landscapes unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
But knowing that Iceland is a photographer's paradise and knowing how to get great photos while in Iceland are two different things.
With that in mind, here's a few pro tips for photographing Iceland.
Tips for Photographing Iceland: Weather and Timing
Image Credit: prasit chansarekorn
One thing that all landscape photographers should already understand is that no matter how much planning you do, the weather remains unpredictable.
While you might hope to snag photos of one of Iceland's gorgeous waterfalls set under a beautiful blue sky, you might arrive at your destination and find gray, overcast skies instead.
Unless you've developed some sort of weather-changing superpowers, you'll just have to roll with it.
If you find that the weather isn't ideal, find ways to work around it.
Image Credit: borchee
For example, if it's an overcast day, focus your energies on photographing landscapes with a lot of texture to help give your images depth in the absence of shadows and highlights.
You can also find one of Iceland's many landscapes that burst with green foliage that's set against dark volcanic rock for an interesting visual.
Of course, timing of your trip to Iceland is important, too. A photographic adventure in the dead of winter has the potential for some awesome sights, but at the same time, it increases the likelihood of poor weather hampering your efforts.
Pro Tip: Head to Iceland with a photography tour, that way you not only get to explore the island during the best time of the year, but you also get to sit back and relax while your guide takes you to the most scenic spots the island has to offer.
Understand That You Won't Be Alone
Image Credit: DieterMeyrl
It can be disappointing to travel to a dream photography spot only to find dozens of other photographers already there having staked out their spot to capture the beauty of the area.
But there's little that you can do about tourists in Iceland, unless you venture to lesser-known areas during the off-season.
Instead, it's best if you embrace the fact that other photographers and tourists will be in the same spots as you looking to capture awesome photos.
In fact, there are plenty of opportunities in Iceland to bring other people into your landscape photos.
Whether it's the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Hallgrímskirkjaat Lutheran Church, the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck or somewhere in between, see if you can't make a new friend for life by incorporating other photographers into your photos (or asking them to take one of you!).
Pro Tip: Incorporating people into your landscape photos of Iceland gives the photo context and a sense of scale. Since people are a familiar size and shape, they can help viewers understand the sheer size of features like waterfalls and mountains.
Have the Right Lenses
Image Credit: Kotenko_A
I'll begin this section with a disclaimer - there are no "right" lenses for photography. In the end, what you use will be dependent upon the type of photos you're after (and the kinds of lenses you have in your bag, of course).
That being said, I've found it beneficial to have a go-to lens that I keep on my camera most of the time. In Iceland, a wide-angle like a 24mm prime is a great option, especially if it's an f/1.4 that you can use to capture the Northern Lights and nighttime landscapes under a blanket of stars.
Since most of the subjects in Iceland are landscapes, a wide-angle is well-suited for most of the things that you'll see.
Image Credit: narvikk
I'd also take along a good zoom lens, perhaps something like a 24-70mm f/2.8. Having a solid zoom lens in your kit gives you the option of varying your shots from wide-angle to short telephoto.
On a full frame camera, this lens will give you just enough reach to create intimate landscapes that show off the details of waterfalls, volcanic rocks, thermal pools, and so forth.
On a crop sensor camera, the effective focal length gets you solidly into telephoto range, giving you an even greater ability to capture distant features, close-ups of wildlife, and so on.
Pro Tip: Though you can take great photos with virtually any camera and lens, it behooves you to utilize a camera that can shoot in RAW format. This gives you access to all the data collected by the sensor for processing purposes, giving you much more control over how the final image looks.
Make Iceland Your Classroom
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Of course, one of the best ways to get awesome photos of Iceland is to make it your classroom by exploring it as part of a photography tour.
What better place to learn more about photography than this paradise?!
Some tours, like National Photographic Adventures, make it an even better learning experience by limiting the size of their tours of Iceland to just seven people.
With such a small group, you have greater access to the guide - in this case, 40-year photography veteran Kevin Vandivier - to learn the techniques needed to take breathtaking shots.
Image Credit: borchee
What's more, these small groups foster camaraderie between you and the other participants. You'll often find that you make friends for life when taking part in such a fantastic adventure with such a small group.
Asking questions, getting feedback, and giving feedback to other members of the group is much easier when there's just a handful of photographers along for the ride, too.
Image Credit: Oleh_Slobodeniuk
In other words, not only is Iceland a breathtaking place to photograph, but it's also a fantastic place to learn how to improve your photography.
From black sand beaches to waterfalls, geysers to mountains, and points in between, National Photographic Adventures will put you in the most picturesque spots that Iceland has to offer - and help you get better photos of those locations as well.
For more details about this Icelandic Photo Adventure, click here.