I've just returned from another photo tour to Iceland and was once again reminded of why I enjoy the Arctic so much. It's not only the feeling that you're going to another world but also the natural beauty, the people and the overall feel that a place like Iceland gives you.
This was my first summer tour that I hosted in Iceland and, I have to be honest, I wasn't hundred percent sure that it would be as spectacular as the winter edition but I was absolutely blown away. It is one of the best feelings when you arrive in place, a scene or other photographic scenarios and you step back and just think oh my goodness, this is just next level spectacular.
In due course I will still be putting together a video review of my summer trip to Iceland, but for now I thought I'd just share a few things that, to me, makes Iceland a destination that you seriously have to consider putting on your bucket list.
1. Composition and creative versus technical photography
To me this is a huge thing. Way too often on a photo safari people tend to get stuck in their way of thinking by getting crippled with the technical variables of photography. They overthink the technical side of our craft by focusing too much on things like shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Yes, yes I know these things are important in order to create good solid photographs but it should never be the only reason that you create images or pick up your camera. Like I said in this presentation, the technical side of photography should form the foundation of your craft and you then use those skills, and that foundation, in order to create images. To make images rather than to simply take images.
I've said this many times in the past but nobody is ever going to stand in front of a print on the wall or look at an image on Instagram and think oh my goodness, this is the best ISO I have ever seen in a photograph. If they do, they need to seriously reassess the reason they actually do photography because they're missing out on the best part thereof, the creative potential of looking at a scene or subject and documenting that moment.
Seeing that the type of photography that you will be doing in Iceland is a lot slower paced than for example, a big five safari in Africa you will, once you've set up your technical settings the focus shifts completely to composition, what you put in the frame, where and why, as well as focus on how you can use things like shutter speed and aperture to be creative rather then seeing those variables as the goal or reason to create the image in the first place.
The technical variables are the tools. The creative results is what you're after. Don't mix the two up.
The cool thing with stepping out of your comfort zone and focusing on the creative side of a craft, rather than obsessing about the technical variables, means that you will get a skills transfer when you next head out into the field and photograph things like lions, leopards and polar bears. And that's a great thing.
2. A nice slow pace
With none of the photographic subjects or scenes in Iceland moving around, like animals on a safari, there is no rush to get to the next stop urgently. Also, when you arrive at a scene you can take your time to work it from every angle and try different lenses, settings and creative approaches without getting into a panicked state of missing something out there or another site.
The same thing applies when getting from one destination to the next. Full our Iceland tours we use a large Sprinter bus and every person has plenty of space not only for themselves, but also for the camera equipment and cold weather gear. There is no rush, like I said, to get to the next destination and the time on the bus is something that not many other tours offer. During the drive between destinations some people review their images, others just listen to music while looking at incredible landscapes passing by and others, on longer drives, close their eyes, listen to music and just enjoy the privilege of being in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
There is also ample time to dig into the processing side of things and learn new skills in Lightroom and Photoshop.
This all makes for both incredibly visual experience as well as one that gives you plenty of time not only to reflect on the the experience but also soak up the photographic knowledge and inspiration that both your guide, myself, and place will offer you.
3. Photographic diversity
I know that some of you might look at images coming out of Iceland and think that it only made up of waterfall in the northern lights. Yes, there are a lot of waterfalls and yes, during wintertime one of the main focuses is to try and see and photograph the northern lights, but there is so much more to this place. The changing landscapes, as you drive from place to place, makes for incredibly diverse landscape images and photographic portfolio from the trip.
The nature of the various stops when we photograph also gives you the ability to, and many of you who have been on safari with me in the past will know this, deconstruct the scene. This means that even at one waterfall you can create incredibly diverse images by, once again, leaning into the various technical settings of photography and using them to create.
By focusing not only on the waterfall, but also the rock formations, the wide open skies which offers incredible clouds for specifically monochrome sheeting, you will be able to get stuck in one spot and truly sheet diverse range of images.
4. An iPhone is enough
I have often said on safari, that people should use their iPhones more as a second or third camera. This recent trip to Iceland confirmed this for me and I was personally blown away with what I was able to achieve using just my iPhone 12 Pro Max. This is one of the first tours where I downloaded my iPhone images into Lightroom along with my Olympus EM1-II and EM1-X cameras. They're that good! The ease of use, dynamic range, ability to shoot both video and photo easily as well as immediately share to social media, Whatsapp and email makes for a very unique photographic tool and one we should all pay more attention to.
Another unique feature on the iPhone that I used very often on this Iceland tour was to create long exposure images by using the live photo function and processing the image in camera. All the images below were created with, and edit it in, my iPhone in the field.
So if you were thinking of joining me on an Iceland tour but you are concerned that your photographic equipment or skills aren't good enough, I'm telling you now that it is. Whether you have an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera or you decide to just shoot with your iPhone throughout the tour, I guarantee that you will walk away with pretty amazing images all round.
5. It's simply a great travel destination
Waterfalls, landscapes and northern lights apart, Iceland simply is an amazing destination to travel to. Reykjavík feels like a combination of a small Arctic town and a more funky, larger European city. I would highly recommend that you take an extra 3 to 4 days to just explore all the areas around the city as well as the multitude of small bars, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions when you book your next Iceland tour with me.
I spent two additional days after my tour in and around Reykjavík spent and had an amazing time photographing with my iPhone, enjoying some of the best ribs I have anywhere in the world as well as visiting the quite unique penis museum which is situated in town.
It is a great city which is very photogenic with great people and amazing food which is surrounded by the most amazing scenery you can imagine.
I wish I had a few extra time. Next time I definitely will!
So make sure that when you book your next tour, you touch base with myself or the Wild Eye office team in order to make sure you get the most out of the Iceland experience and all that Reykjavík can offer.
I will be back hosting both winter and summer photo tours in Iceland so if you'd like to find out more or have a chat about the experience, please let me know.
Northern Lights And Ice Caves Of Iceland
I'd love for you to join me on my nest photo tour to this remarkable place. In January 2022 I will be heading back to Iceland to photograph waterfalls, the northern night and ice caves. Yes, it is a tour that will change the way you see the world.
For more images from my recent Iceland tour you can go and follow me on Instagram and, as always, let me know if you have any questions I can help you answer.
See you in Iceland!
Until next time.