Jolkulsarlon Iceland

The story behind the image

Time to get your feet wet –

One the most exciting and productive  places to photograph, the black beach at Jokulsarlon, can be quite overwhelming. New patterns and ice sculptures are created each day. After exploring the beach  for interesting subjects, of which there are many, I visualised an image in my head and set about creating the photograph.

Black Ice Beach Iceland

Black Ice Beach, Jokulsarlon – South Iceland

To capture the dynamic of the water rushing up the beach and consuming the ice I needed to get close. Very close. If you want to see something that interests you thats what you do. Don’t stand back – get close to the action and capture it close up! With a 16 -35mm lens set at 25mm and prefocused at the hyper focal point, my exposure was pre determined ( in manual as always) at f11 @ 1.6* seconds. I attached a cable release to time the critical moment of  firing the shutter and dropped the tripod to around 8 inches from the sand ( I remove the centre extension so I can always get it almost flat).

With one hand on the shutter release and the other gripped firmly  on the camera body strap, I quickly compose the image with a bare beach empty of surf.

Then I wait for a wave sequence to appear. It’s hit and miss. But luckily if your sharp and quick you can anticipate the moment, fire the shutter and then just as the water hits your boots, pull up and step back up the beach. Without falling over. Wet feet I can live with but a wet Nikon I can’t, so as long as I’m confident and I know what I’m doing it usually comes off.

Dont’t push your luck and watch out for tripping hazards behind you. Leave your camera bag 10 meters or so back behind you.

I always make a point of telling my clients to get in close and low to interesting foregrounds when shooting with a wide field of view. Push the lens’ closest focusing distance to it’s limits and present the viewer with a perspective that they don’t normally see. This creates a dynamic and wow factor that will grab their attention.

*1.6 seconds, this is not a random time but one that’s carefully chosen to create the right effect and movement of the water and not too long to render me knee deep in sea water. Always experiment with times to get a variety of effects on water, sometimes all you need is a quarter of a second. With practice comes experience of knowing what works and what doesn’t.

Stay safe and stay dry!