The challenges you may faceAnd tips on how to overcome them
I'll be the first to admit I'm not a professional photographer, but I have a professional camera - All the gear, and no idea - I hope not, but read on to find out more.
This post is based on two trips to Iceland, but mainly focuses on our 2018 road trip around the country following Route One and a bit more.
It was a stunning trip of changeable conditions but I captured some great shots, but then there was also some disappointments too.
I'll share with you my successes, failures and as much knowledge as I can.
If you've any questions, then don't forget to leave a comment.
Preparing for IcelandThe kit bag
Is it essential to have high end gear - No, Iceland is beautiful and you'll be able to capture some amazing footage during your Icelandic road trip with your cell/mobile - I'm not camera snob. You may understand after reading this post why I have gone the DSLR route, but the world is an every changing technological landscape so I aim to keep advice generic, and help you decide what's best for you.
So in simple terms a camera that can shoot from wide angle (24mm) through to a telephoto (300-400mm).
Some form of protection from rain/mist/spray - you're gonna be photographing waterfalls - that goes without saying.
You can find rain sleeves online to protect your kit.
Iceland is incredible, and you're going to be snapping away - have you got plenty of memory cards? You're going to need them.
You may also consider an external Hard Drive to back your images up. LaCie has just the ticket in a rugged package, and at 5TB is probably enough for your needs.
A tripod would be a good shout too, something lightweight, yet sturdy.
Again, this will depend on the camera it's supporting, but for my kit, I have a Manfrotto, and I swear by it.
As always I invest in the long term, so my tripod has travelled with me around the world.
My top photographic tipThe RAW truth
Your Icelandic trip itinerarySo where are you headed?
I know the vast majority of folks when visiting Iceland head for the Golden Circle, and in 2007 that was our choice. It's an easy three day mini break to Reykjavik and you can visit the following without too much difficulty;
Some of the tours may squeeze in more for you, but time at a location might be curtailed. It's really your choice.
Exploring IcelandIf you're heading further afield.
The Golden Circle is a great introduction to Iceland, but can be busy at peak times, so prepare to be patient. Self-drive was our choice, and Etta, our little SsangYong Korando hired from SIXT through Rental Cars, at Keflavík International Airport, was our companion for our Icelandic Ring Road adventure. The benefit of a Self-Drive tour is it's done at your pace.
You're choices are to either follow Iceland's southern coastline of the country, or alternatively head north towards Arnarstapi.
Discovering IcelandDon't go chasing waterfalls - Actually, do.
So there's a couple of options, a cover, or shoot from a distance with a longer lens.
Even with protection, you're going to get water across the lens so you'll need a cloth to keep it dry.
If you've a lens cover, put it in place when you're not shooting.
A tripod can be used with a long exposure to create a beautiful flowing shot.
I went for that approach at Faxi on the Golden Circle.
With the camera mounted on a tripod, and an ND (Neutral Density) filter attached to the lens, I aimed to capture the flow of water - did it work?
A Neutral Density blocks a certain amount of light from hitting the sensor, thereby allowing a longer exposure. An exposure of a few seconds allows the water flows to be blurred.
They come in varying degrees of strength, and it's also possible to get variable ones.
Challenges for Photographers in IcelandDealing with the Wind
Now come on, you're better than that! I'm talking about the climatic conditions, and boy can Iceland get windy. One driving tip we add is always to try to park into the wind. Okay, it may be a bit more challenging to open the door, but it'll save you an expensive bill when you return the car to the hire company.
I have to be honest we faced some pretty stiff wind. Two of the worse places was at Gullfoss, so we had two problems to face, spray and strong wind. The other was Dyrhólaey, and it's beautiful view across the black beach.
Planning your trip to Iceland
So you're planning a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice? There is so much to see and do in Iceland that you'll wish you were staying longer. To ensure you make the most out of your visit, head over to the official website of Visit Iceland for a little help and guidance.
Photographing the Northern LightsIf Lady Luck smiles on you
Iceland's landscape can be dangerousPlease be Safe
Make sure you are entirely aware of your surroundings. If there's ice & snow on the ground, take extra care, especially when taking your shots.
We almost lost Janis twice, once at Grjótagjá cave, just outside Myvatn, where snow on the ground covered a fissure that was about 2 metres deep; another was the Goðafoss, where snow covered the water flowing across the fall - that drop significantly more than 2 metres.
If you're tempted to tour the Land of Fire and Ice and would love to discover the whole country, then take a look at this DK Eyewitness book. This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.
You can now grab the revised copy.
The best views of IcelandTake to the air - flying your drone
Iceland has some stunning landscape, and some of the views from the air will take your breath away.
So should you take you drone - hell, yes! However, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
We have created a number of YouTube videos of our trip. Why not take a look?
Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?
The next big issue is that darn wind again!
Most consumer drones can handle wind speeds of up to 10 m/s, and believe me it can get a lot more blustery than that.
Now you can buy a handheld Anemometer (or wind speed gauge to you and I), but I would suggest the wind varies massively with height and can gust significantly.
My experience with DJI drones is they will report if there are issues and will attempt to manage the situation, but if in doubt don't fly, unless you fancy a stop off on the Faroe Islands to collect the broken pieces of your drone.
Another issue I encountered, and I wasn't aware it was a problem, was low battery temperatures.
With my DJI Phantom, it required the batteries to be above a certain temperature to fly.
So on one occasion, I had to wait 5-10 minutes while the cells warmed up. It is covered in the user manual, but who reads that?
Picking your accommodation in Iceland
Breakfast included or available nearby.
Scooby snacks along the way can be expensive.
Parking is a requirement, as this is a road trip after all.
Nearby cafés/eateries, or onsite restaurant for the evening.
Preferably a close-by fuel station; they can be few and far between en route.
So that's it.
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