As promised, I finally finished editing down my Iceland photos. I’m really happy with what I got. There are some shots that I would still like to go back and get. It’s definitely a place where I think you could go back time and time again and every time you would find something new. There are still some timelapse videos in the works but for now I wanted to get my favorite photos up.
Iceland is hands down the coolest place I’ve ever been to in my life. It’s clean, the people are super nice, the landscapes are epic and ever changing and it the light is a photographers dream. Getting around, unlike my experience in Thailand, is pretty easy. Although next time I go back I would like to get a bigger off road vehicle. The river crossings in Iceland can get serious.
The weather is Iceland was in the 50’s and 60’s during the day and in the 40’s at night. With the exception of a couple of nights when it dipped into the 30’s. I was super stoked that Sierra Designs sent me out with a new tent and sleeping bag. Especially the new Backcountry Bed sleeping bag by Sierra Designs is hands down the most comfortable bag I’ve ever slept in. The design is ingenious and it feels like I’m sleeping in my bed at home. When they sent me the bag and I first got it out I have to admit I was a little skeptical. Especially since I was going to be sleeping in it for 9 nights straight but I have to say that I was super stoked on it. I hate zippers in traditional sleeping bags and was glad to have it along for the trip. The Lightning 2UL tent was super easy to set up and super small to pack into my checked bag. Their stuff is super well designed and thought out. Perfect for the conditions I faced in Iceland.
Before I left on the trip I had to make sure and bring the right gear for the trip. I talked to Dave Ward at Pictureline about the trip. As we discussed things he mentioned that since I shoot Nikon it might be a good trip to test out the new Nikon TTLn remote trigger for the Profoto B1. He thought he might be able to get me a prototype version since they weren’t going to be released until yesterday the 15th of Sept. I was also super excited when Profoto agreed and sent out a couple of lights and the new unreleased prototype trigger.
With the strobe lined up, I did some research and these were the other items I ended up taking with me:
-Nikon D4 body
-Nikon D810 body
-Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VR II lens
-Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 lens
-Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens
-Nikon 20mm 2.8 lens
-1 two stop and 1 three stop ND filter
-1 B+H Polarizer filter
-Step up rings
-Extra batteries for bodies and trigger
-Rode VideoMic Pro
-Tripod and head
-Sandbag (no sand while traveling) to put rocks in for weight
-13” Macbook pro
-2 Lacie rugged 1Tb drives
-1 Profoto B1 air 500w strobe with Nikon TTL trigger and extra battery
– I stand and 1 30” shoot through umbrella
-Finally cards, card readers, cables and other computer stuff
We were going to be camping but were going to have a car so I just put all my photo equipment into an F-stop backpack with a few clothes. The rest of what I needed including camping gear, food, extra clothing etc I fit into a rolling duffel bag that was water resistant and I could check. The B1 Air, extra battery, cables and all fit in a case to carry on. It all worked perfectly.
Once my friend Nate and I arrived in Iceland we got our car, gas, food, and other supplies in Reykjavik and meet our other friends, that arrived a week earlier, in the northern coast. Once there, we made a plan as to what parts of the country we were going to be able to get to and what we wanted to see. We decided we would head out on the southern peninsula for about 4 days days then hit a couple of spots outside Reykjavik. Following that, we would head back to Reykjavik get supplies and our friends would fly home. Then Nate and I would head out on the southern end of the Island for the remainder of our trip, which was another 4 days.
Shooting in Iceland in the summer months is crazy because the sun sets so late and rises really early. What was just so amazing to me is that the light just hovers over the horizon for hours creating amazing golden light for hours. The weather was pretty good while we were there. We had about half the trip sunny and half overcast and rainy to so a good mix. It’s pretty chilly there most of the time and almost always windy. I spent most of my time shooting in pants and jacket and in thermals at night. Campfires weren’t an option because there isn’t any native trees to Iceland so no forests or wood around really. Gas is crazy expensive also. It’s sold by the liter and come out to be about $9 gal. You have to plan where you are driving very or else you will end up spending a ton in gas. There is a road that goes around the entire Island. It takes 16 hours to drive it straight. Our friends did the entire loop over 2 weeks. Nate and I did about half of it over the time we were there and a bunch of extra little side trips. It is a fun place to drive around however.
Now lets talk about the new Profoto B1 Air 500 W strobe and the prototype Nikon TTLn remote. I was so stoked to have the opportunity to shoot with the light in Iceland.I was able to use it on a trail running shot, an ice cave shot and few other shots where I really needed it. It also worked really well for lighting up the tent I was shooting for Sierra Designs for night shots. I shot with it on the D4 and the D810. Worked great. When testing out the TTL function of the light most of the time I would start on TTL then just adjust it up or down, if needed, getting a pretty solid exposure. There were a few times that I shot it in manual mode and had to override the TTL setting. I’m sure with a little more practice and time with the light I could have trusted the TTL a bit more but since I needed to nail the light quickly and I was used to shooting in Manual mode I sometimes would just switch to that because I knew what the outcome would be. It is a great light to travel with due the small size. It easily fit in the top of backpack so I would have all my gear with me when I needed it without having to carry anything else in my hands which was great when crossing rivers, hiking etc.
Overall the trip was amazing. My favorite places I found were off the beaten path away from all the touristy places. Don’t be afraid to drive on some dirt roads to see where they go. The southern part of the island was my favorite. Big mountains, huge waterfalls, insane glaciers, and surreal landscapes. It is hands down the best place to shoot. I also want to go back with mountaineering gear, crampons, and an ice ax to really get where others aren’t. In conclusion if you are looking for an epic adventure that is also a photographers dream look no further than Iceland. It will not disappoint.
Special thanks to Marily MacDonald from Sierra Designs, Dave Ward at Pictureline, Michael Gray at Profoto, Blake Hansen for letting tag along on your trip, Nate Gunn, Ty Thunell, Geoff McEntire, and Austin Owens for letting me get shots of you.