MattMcGee
MattMcGee

Vestrahorn Iceland



Vestrahorn mountain on the east coast of Iceland

Vestrahorn mountain on the east coast of Iceland
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3 Comments | Report
AbigailRayLV
 
AbigailRayLV January 26, 2017
This is absolutely beautiful, amazing work!
MichelleRaneeJohnson Ultimate
 
MichelleRaneeJohnson February 15, 2017
Absolutely brilliant composition!!
dkoch28 PRO
 
dkoch28 November 25, 2018
Breathtaking
See all

Behind The Lens

Location
This is Vestrahorn mountain near Stoksness, which is on the east coast of Iceland. We drove up from our hotel about 2 hours away specifically to photograph this mountain. We watched the weather closely because it's often cloudy and terrible for photos. I had originally planned to shoot this area the day before, but the weather wasn't good, so i postponed a day with hopes of clearer skies. This ended up being a good decision because the night before I was there it snowed a little to add a little dusting of snow which I think works well in this image.
Time
This was late afternoon just before dusk. Well, I say it was late afternoon, but this was in January in Iceland, so the sun sets really early. Like 4PM. I got luck because it was low tide and there was more black sand. The sun was setting so the temperature was dropping. Rain turned to ice and then to snow, and then back to rain. My camera got a little wet before I could cover it, and the lens gave me error messages twice.
Lighting
I was hoping to get some nice "golden hour" light for this image. The sun was low, but it was covered by clouds so the pink hues just didn't happen. The tricky part was those clouds around the peaks. There was a steady stream of clouds moving in that gathered around the two peaks. It required a little patience to get light cloud cover to view the peaks.
Equipment
I was shooting a Canon 5D mark 3 with a Canon 17-40 4.0 L lens on a Manfrotto tripod. I was perched on one of those black sand dunes, so the tripod legs were all at very different lengths, probably more so than any other image I've used a tripod on.
Inspiration
I was pretty bummed when I took this photo. I had had a successful shoot up to this point, but about 5 minutes before, I was positioned out on the beach getting shots with the mountain reflected in the wet sand as the waves receded. Well, one rogue wave came in and I had to collapse my tripod and run to dry ground. The sad part is that I was trying to do a Facebook live video to share the moment. When I ran to get out of the way, I missed my pocket when trying to get my phone secured, and it fell into the ocean. It's such a sinking feeling when yo lose you phone. So I took my gear and headed back to the car. I was bummed, but decided to stop and take a few more shots. I perched myself on top of a sand dune and just stared at the mountain. At this point it was just me and the mountain. I could no longer share it with the world. So I just took it all in. I first noticed that comma-shaped crop of yellow grass in the foreground. I thought it would be something interesting in the foreground so that was where I started. Then I noticed that from my perspective the grass covered mounds were sort of arranged in a linear fashion that pointed towards the main subject... Vestrahorn mountain. So that was the silver lining behind losing my phone, which I soon forgot about and started waiting for the right amount of cloud cover. I took may 8-10 images, and went to the car. When I got there and looked at the screen on the back of my camera I smiled internally, and the loss of my phone didn't sting quite so badly. Maybe it was because I had my iPad mini in my backpack so I could try another Facebook live vide at the glacier lagoon...
Editing
I did a little in post. I pushed the yellows a bit, and removed a bird. No crop, and the vignetting is the result of the lens.
In my camera bag
I normally carry a Canon 5D mark 2 and make 3. For Landscape I have the Canon 17-40 4.0L, and 24-105 L which I rarely use. I have a few waterproof sleeves, lens cleaning cloths, batteries, and an extra card. I have a tripod, but it's not technically in my bag. I try to travel light because I don't like to lug a bunch of gear around.
Feedback
Iceland is one of the best places I've ever been for landscape photography, but the weather is tricky and is ver unpredictable. It can quickly change from rain to snow, then just overcast, and then sun. You have to be prepared for everything, and have a lot of patience. I'd look at other photographers images for inspiration, but try not to copy what someone else has already done. I like to find a place and spend a few minutes standing in place looking for something to anchor the composition of the image. Try not to just fire off a bunch of images and hope for the best. Oh, and with clouds like this, you'll have to wait for the right moment when the cloud cover is just right. As cool as Iceland is, you won't get any help from the weather when I comes to taking photos...

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