ON1 Inspiration — Episode 5: Sunset in Iceland

Iceland is one of those “dream” locations for photographers. Beautiful waterfalls, scenic vistas, and, in the summertime, daylight that never ends. I finally had the opportunity to visit Iceland last year with my husband, Brian, and was excited at the possibility of a sunset that lasted for hours!

But as luck would have it, Brian and I were blessed with either rain and overcast skies, or days where the sun was bright and the clouds were nonexistent. In other words, it was the last thing two landscape photographers were hoping for. But we made due and had fun exploring and photographing, and in some cases the gray skies helped add to the mood of our photographs.

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The weather was not cooperative with use on most of our journey through Iceland. We experienced overcast weather, fog and rain, or completely blue skies with no clouds, all of which are not ideal to photograph a sunset.

On our last day of shooting, we struck gold. Our location was Kirkjufellsfoss, a waterfall on the western part of Iceland, and as we were getting prepped for sunset we knew it would be a beautiful sky. And it was! We stayed there for a few hours, playing with composition all while the sky was on fire.

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We finally had a gorgeous sunset, and it couldn’t have been in a more beautiful location! And after photographing this waterfall, we continued down the peninsula to seek out other locations while the light was still good.

The best part about Iceland sunsets in the summertime is that they can last for hours. The sun skirts the horizon, never really setting, and so after we finished photographing the waterfall we moved on to find other locations. As we were driving, a scene off the road caught my eye. It was simple, yet beautiful, and the pink sunset sky intensified its appeal. I asked Brian to pull over so I could step out and get a few photos before moving on to our destination.

I could see the scene that I wanted, but I didn’t want to risk leaving anything out. So for the sake of trying to not take up too much time on this quick stop, I opted to shoot the scene as a panorama! This would not only allow me the ability to crop in and get the perfect composition in post-processing, but it would also allow me to have a panorama of the entire scene, which in itself was quite spectacular.

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I created a panorama of this scene in order to give myself flexibility with the composition while post-processing.

Setting Up and Photographing the Panorama

To photograph this scene as a panorama, I first positioned my camera vertically on the tripod and aimed it at the far-left part of the scene. I made sure that the tripod was level by using its integrated bubble-level. Then, with the camera attached to the tripod, I also leveled the camera using the electronic level on the LCD screen. Once everything was leveled out, I photographed from left to right, making sure to overlap at least 20% of the scene in each frame to make the stitching process easier in post-processing.

Equipment used:

  • Camera: Canon 6D
  • Lens: Canon 24-70mm lens
  • Tripod & Tripod Accessories: Really Right Stuff TVC-24 Tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead, Really Right Stuff L-Bracket

Camera Settings:

  • Focal Length: 70mm
  • Aperture: ƒ/11
  • Shutter Speed: 1.5 sec
  • ISO: 100

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