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Temple of Light

Posted by
Darkelf Photography (Perth, Australia) on 21 December 2020 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.


You might have seen photos that I posted of Vestrahorn peak, including one very recently. This is its eastern sister mountain called Eystrahorn. It is located further to east on the other end of a stretch of coastline made of black sands, interrupted by a few bays and rivers. This area is called Lón, which means 'lagoon'. We have driven past this beautiful location on a number of previous occasions, usually in a hurry to get from one side of Iceland to another. Last year we were able to stop there for a bit longer and we spent a bit more time exploring the area. I also had one evening when I drove out there by myself and roamed around for a couple of hours looking for compositions and taking in the views.

Once again the clouds have decided to abandon me in my photographic endeavours and that made me search for compositions that worked better with clear skies. Such situations were a constant feature during our travels in Europe last year. I think we experienced may be four or five instances of colourful sunrises or sunsets over a four month period. Otherwise it was either clear skies or complete cloud cover. I am used to that now and use these times to practice my vision and composition skills so that I can still take a decent photo or two.

As I was driving along, I realised I was going to get some lovely evening side light on the mountains before sunset and it was a matter of finding a good foreground to make this photo more that just a basic mountain shot. As you can see, the water in the bay just past the foreground rocks was rather blurred and its texture was not all that exciting so I explored the shore to look for other elements. The rocky shoreline presented plenty of different options and I was really excited to find this little pool of still water where I hoped to get a reflection of one of the peaks. It took a fair bit of moving about to get a final composition that I was happy with.

Firstly, I was looking for separation of the foreground rocks and the mountain. It was not fully possible, however, because the higher I had to get on my tripod, the less reflection I had in the water. Secondly, the lower I got to maximise the reflection, the more the rocks protruded onto the mountains. After moving a few centimetres at a time, while being careful as the rocks were quite slippery at this spot, I was able to establish this composition. I think the foreground connects well with the mountain without overtaking it, the reflection has enough substance to it and the area of rough water was reduced as well. I also feel that I still managed at least some separation between foreground and the mountains.

One last final consideration was whether to shoot the entire scene in one frame or take a number of photos with different points of focus and then focus stack them in post processing to maximise depth of field and sharpness. This decision was taken a little out of my hands because I found this composition not long before the sun went below the horizon, which meant that the beautiful light on the mountains and in the reflection would be gone very soon. I took this photo as a single frame and it was just in time. When I took a horizontal perspective a few moments later, the light was already greatly reduced and it did not look anywhere near as good. I used a very wide angle of 14mm for this photo and I was confident of getting good depth of field. The extreme foreground is the only area just getting out of focus but I was alright with this sacrifice to get the rest of the scene as it is.

Sometimes, when I write my text to give you some context and insight how I take my photos, I feel like I make it into some kind of great struggle story. It is challenging but it is never a struggle as such, even if sometimes the photos do not come out at all. That is the exciting part of being in the field. If it was as easy as just pressing a shutter button and moving on, I do not think I would get ever into it. For me, when I have move around to explore the area, when I have to make changes and adjustments, when I have to think about choices and make decisions, that is what makes me love photography. That is what also makes me embrace environment and landscape around me because I can take the time to study and learn it, to feel it before I take a photo. That is where the connection is established and I hope that you can feel it as well in my images.

This is my last post before Christmas so I would like to wish everyone a very happy, safe and peaceful Festive Season!

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 3/10 second F/8.0 ISO 100 14 mm

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Wild Wide World by Anna Cherer