Iceland Between Clouds, Wind, Rain, Snow and Sleet

Don’t let this image fool you. I’ve been here in Iceland for five days and I snapped this one during the only 10 hours of sunshine since I arrived. In fact, I have only captured 217 images so far during our stay on my Hasselblad and Nikon systems combined.

According to the locals, this has been the defining weather all summer. Lots of rain, fog, clouds and wind. The first 48 hours presented us with gale force winds, gusting to hurricane force; not exactly what a photographer wants to face. Even with my camera mounted on a tripod and my backpack serving as as added weight from the center column, my setup shook like it was having seizures.

Next came the rain. Not a gentle downward rain, but a wind-driven, in your face (or camera) variety. Not good. We started on the Ring Road heading north and got about 80 kilometers up the road when we were hit by total whiteout conditions. I lived in Maine for 10 years so I kinda know how to drive in snow, but these conditions were impossible with our itsy-bitsy Suzuki Jimmy 4-wheel drive. If you have followed our progress by going to my DeLorme personal webpage., you know that we had to turn back, frustrating my second attempt in as many years to complete the Ring Road.

On To Snaefellsnes

Instead we headed for the incredibly lovely Snaefellsnes Peninsula, hardly a consolation prize. The Snaefellsnes is simply spectacular for the photographer. The weather shifted suddenly and the sun broke through so that I was able to capture this panorama of Snaefellsjokul glacier.

FYI, I took this with a Hasselbald medium format camera using a 28mm lens in vertical position with a tilt-shift attached (that reduces the lens to a medium format 42mm view; translated into 35mm, that would be equal to a 33mm lens). I mounted that onto my Gitzo 3541 tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead mounted on top of their leveling plate.

My Pano Process

Once my setup was level, I simply panned, overlapping each shot by about 30%. I used a #3 graduated neutral density filter to hold back the intensity of the sky. The lens had a polarizer mounted on it, too. I shot in mirror-up position to minimize shake, although the wind was definitely a factor and I notice some softness in the image. ISO 50, f16 @ 1/6 sec.

Since I’m on the road with very little time, I post processed in Lightroom 5, exported the images to PTGUI software and let it work its magic with their default settings. I reimported it to Lightroom, and exported it to my blog.

A few hours later I snapped this second pano, this one a vertical of a waterfall. Same setup, but there are technical challenges shooting so close up. Since I did not have a full vertical pano equipment with me, I instead used the shift mechanism to pano from bottom to top.

Naturally it rained again later that night and has continued throughout today, with the forecast calling for rain every day until I leave. We also had a sleet storm. That also squashes any attempt at Northern Lights or night sky photography. Oh, well. There is always my next visit here to look forward to. And with Iceland, once you are bitten by the bug - its incredible beauty and diversity of subject matter, you know you’ll be back.

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