davidbjorgen
davidbjorgen

Reynisdrangar



Basalt sea stacks called the Reynisdrangar protrude from the North Atlantic. Legend has it that three trolls were pulling a masted ship to shore and were caught...
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Basalt sea stacks called the Reynisdrangar protrude from the North Atlantic. Legend has it that three trolls were pulling a masted ship to shore and were caught in the early morning sunlight, which froze them into needles of rock.
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Behind The Lens

Location
This photo was taken on Reynisfjara Beach in southern Iceland, not too far from the town of Vik. The beach is known for its black sand and stunning basalt rock formations.
Time
I shot this photo around sunset in October 2015. The weather was cold and windy, but the temperatures drove away potential tourists leaving the beach fairly secluded for photography.
Lighting
The weather in Iceland can be quite temperamental; it tends to change every 30 minutes or so. I had experienced a downpour and cloudy skies about an hour earlier, but by the time I set up on the beach, the sun was out and I was hoping for a really nice sunset. There were some low clouds on the horizon, however, so aside from some pink touches on the higher clouds in the scene, any brilliant sunset light ended up diffused and fairly flat. In the end, the resulting blue hour light created a cool, calming, other-worldly effect that ended up working well.
Equipment
I shot this scene with a Sony A7r and a FE 24-70mm F4 lens at 32mm. Camera settings were 8 seconds at f/8, ISO 640. I used a 10-stop neutral density filter in order to keep the scene from being blown out during the longer exposure. The camera was mounted on a Sirui T-025X carbon fiber tripod and triggered with a remote.
Inspiration
Iceland is such an other-worldly place. If mankind decided to beta test another planet on Earth, Iceland would be it. It's difficult to drive a mile without wanting to stop and capture the fantastic scenery. Reynisfjara Beach is magical. The beach is lined with basalt mineral columns that sprout out of the rock in extraordinarily geometric patterns. The waves wash over the black, rocky pebbles, and then slowly dissolve down into the ground, leaving behind a white, bubbly effect which dissipates over several seconds. Finally you have the Reynisdrangar – or troll fingers – which are crazy basalt sea stacks shooting up out of the water. Legend has it that three trolls were pulling a masted ship to shore and were caught in the early morning sunlight, which froze them into these needles of rock.
Editing
Aside from some minor exposure adjustments, slight color enhancement, and a bit of dodging and burning on the rocks, the image is pretty much straight out of the camera.
In my camera bag
I carry my trusty Sony A7r with me when I travel. I shot with Canon for over a decade, but I switched from Canon to Sony over a year ago because I was impressed with what Sony was doing with mirrorless technology. I try to travel light, so mirrorless full frame works well for me. I carry only a handful of lenses: Sony 24-70 f/4, Sony 16-35 f/4, and a Minolta 50mm f/1.2 mounted on an adapter. I use a Sirui T-025X lightweight carbon fiber travel tripod. I also carry a small table top tripod, a set of filters and a filter holder, extra batteries and memory cards, lens clothes, and rain sleeves for my camera. All of this fits in a lightweight Think Tank Photo CityWalker 10 camera bag.
Feedback
Iceland is a photographer's dreamland. WOW Airlines makes it very affordable to travel back and from Iceland. While you can stumble across plenty of beautiful landscapes throughout the entire island, it helps to scout out potential shooting locations ahead of time. Schedule plenty of time at each location, since the ever-changing weather can result in different scenes throughout the day. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Make sure you have proper weather protection for your gear. And while you're in Iceland, take a break from the photography to take a dip in a hot springs, climb a volcano, or hike a glacier.

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