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Photographing in Iceland

Photographing in Iceland, our tips

It seems easy. Photographing in Iceland. The pictures are presented to you, as it were, and all you have to do is point your camera and print. Once you arrive home, you proudly show your photos to friends and acquaintances. And despite the fact that you are super proud of your photos, you notice that your friends start to show less interest after a few photos. It even starts to annoy you. It is still beautiful.

You have memories of your photos, you can still feel the wind tugging at your hair, the mist treating you to a fresh shower and you can still smell the air bubbling up from the hot springs. Unfortunately memories are not in the picture, they are in your head and you bring them up when looking at those pictures. Your spectators don’t have those memories. They have to make do with the two-dimensional images that you give them.

How to take pictures in Iceland

Iceland has been photographed many times. Everyone knows those standard pictures. The trick is to do it differently. That photo everyone has already taken? Make those too. A frequently chosen position is often a frequently chosen position for good reason. If you have this photo, keep looking, because what have those other photographers missed. They are satisfied with this well-known spot, got back into their car and raced to the next highlight to shoot the next calibrated picture.

Photographing in iceland

How to make a different picture

Most of the photos of Iceland that I see passing by (with the exception of the Drone photos) were taken from about one meter and seventy centimeters. So from eye level. Don’t be afraid of wet knees and / or elbows to take a picture from a low position.

Iceland Photographing

Rule of thirds

You do think of the rule of thirds, the most commonly used composition rule! To do this you divide your image into nine equal areas, such as in the game of butter, cheese and eggs. You take your main subject from the center and place it on one of the intersection lines or intersection points. Of course you keep a close eye on the rest of the photo. Look for an element that brings balance to your photo, or perhaps an “imaginary” line that leads your eye to the main subject. At a waterfall you could use the river for this. Put the river in the foreground, and the waterfall on a cutting line.


You should use a tripod when you can. Yes, they are unhandy things and they hinder your freedom of movement. Moreover, even a light tripod can easily exceed a kilogram, and all of that has to be taken along. But you will see that the amount of “top photo’s” taken from a tripod is many times higher. Instead of taking a hundred photos, you might take ten, but they are very sharp, and the composition has been thought through.



Filters that should not be missing in your bag are the polarization filter and the ND64 filter and possibly a graduated gradation filter. With the polarizing filter you can get deeper colors in your photos and filter annoying glare from a landscape.

With the ND64 filter you can reduce the shutter speed of your camera by six stops. Ideal if, for example, you want to display the water of a waterfall as a kind of haze. During the day there is almost always too much light to set the corresponding shutter speeds. This often works with the ND64. (There are also heavier filters, such as the ND1000 for when the ND64 isn’t enough.

Quality over quantity

I often hear from returning photographers from Iceland that they took four to five thousand photos during their stay. Then all of them have to be saved, categorized, and edited. Nice to do, but not if you have to do that with hundreds of almost the same photos. Be gentle with that shutter release. An image that you thought carefully before printing is more valuable than a hundred photos where you have been messing around.

More photography tips

More tips? Consider my booklet “Photography in Iceland”. Available as a paperback in A5 size so you can take it with you anywhere, or as an iBook for the iPad in the iBook store.



Other publications

Or join one of my photography trips . 

Do you want to share photos with other Iceland visitors, or just get inspired? Then visit my Facebook page.

Written by Gerry van Roosmalen (translated by Google)