Rivers and streams flowing down to the ocean create a tremendous number of waterfalls in Iceland. On my trip around the ring road, I stopped to photograph one famous set of waterfalls – Goðafoss – where a river pours over a shelf of rock creating five falls of various sizes. Driving rain kept me in the car for a few minutes, but the cloud passed and I was able to photograph the falls from a few angles without getting my camera too wet. I first took a few photographs after rock hopping to the cliff at the top of the falls (first photo below- no ND filter). I then walked down stream and set my tripod up so I could take a bulb exposure looking back up at the falls (second panorama- with ND filter). Note the dark rain cloud that is looming in the upper right corner of most of my photographs on this day.
Looking down on Goðafoss, northern Iceland (16″x54″)
Goðafoss (Bulb #2), northern Iceland (16″x54″)
After visiting the puffins nesting along the cliffs of the Westfjords , I stopped to take a long-exposure (‘bulb’) panorama of the ocean crashing against the empty beach near Breiðavík.
Ocean, Rocks, and Clouds (Bulb), near Breiðavík, Iceland (16″x”34″)
On Snæfellsnes peninsula, streams flowing off the flanks of the mountain cascade over basalt cliffs, forming a series of falls in the shifting clouds.
Ólafsvík Falls (#3), Ólafsvík, Iceland (16″x40″)
Snæfellsnes peninsula pokes out into the northern reaches of the North Atlantic Ocean. A glacier-capped 700,000 year old stratovolcano dominates the landscape in this national park, where craters rise up out of the cooled lava flows extending out to the ocean. I drove out to the western cliffs of Snæfellsnes peninsula to photograph the waves crashing against the basalt.
Ocean Waves on Basalt Flows, Snæfellsnes, Iceland
After visiting Gulfoss we drove west back towards Reykjavik and stopped for a quick walk to Öxarárfoss, a waterfall in Þingvellir National Park. The falls cascade over basalt cliffs into the fault line/ravine along the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that separates the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. As a geoscientist and a photographer, this location was particularly exciting to visit for me. I clearly wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the falls- I ‘had to’ sit and just enjoy the view while waiting for a group of photographers to move on to their next stop before I could shoot panoramas of the falls from a variety of angles without interruption.
Öxarárfoss and Rocks, Þingvellir National Park, Iceland (18″x44″)
After photographing Gulfoss from below, I walked up the stairs and out onto the plateau above the canyon to photograph the river as it enters the falls.
Gulfoss Plateau, southwest Iceland (18″x58″)
In late May, I traveled to Iceland to hike and take photographs. We first visited Gulfoss, a giant set of falls in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Iceland has become much more popular to visit since my last visit 9 years ago, so finding an unobstructed view of the cascading water can be difficult. Furthermore, even in late spring and early summer, strong winds and near constant spitting rain make it hard to keep the camera lens dry while taking long-exposure photographs.
Gulfoss Upper Cascades, southwest Iceland (16″x42″)
Here is another coastal bulb panorama (but this time from the Atlantic coast). I took this series of photographs on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on a cool, wet weekend in late November. Perfect for a quiet evening of photography.
I have found that stitching together sunrise/sunset bulb exposures to make a panoramic photograph is quite difficult. Although I maintained the 30-second exposure for each frame in the panorama below, the dusk lighting constantly changed as I composed the separate frames of the image. When I stitched the images together, the tones of the ocean did not match at the edges of the images, likely due to both the changing light as well as the different number of waves captured in each frame. After a black and white conversion, I think this photograph turned out well, but I still need to improve my bulb panoramas at the golden hour. Below the panorama I also included a single-frame color photograph of the waves and the sun at sunset.
Sun, Waves, and Rocks, La Jolla, CA (12″x18″)
Here is another single-frame bulb photograph from the La Jolla coast. I took this photo from the same tripod position as last week’s image, just with a slightly different exposure.
La Jolla Rocks and Pulling Waves, La Jolla, CA (12″x18″)