Fire and ice.
November in Iceland. A derelict piece of ice on a volcanic black sand beach reflects the sun’s rays breaking at 10 a.m. I was blessed with clear skies for the whole of my two days exploring this “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14) place, but you do have to be patient before the light starts.
These small chunks had beached on the edge of the glacier’s outflow into the Atlantic and been sculpted by wind, sand and sun into sharp relief. The shape and the light changed abruptly as I circled this one and I tried to capture it outside of my shadow, with my back to the sea and the sun on its face.
The enormous mother ships of these tiny shards floated half a mile inland, waiting for wind, tide and the relentless pressure from behind to press them out of the estuary. They were more solid, more densely coloured and rounded in appearance. Just as beautiful in a different way. My beach dwellers though, seemed to have additionally passed through the hands of diamond cutters and been set in beds of soft darkness for the joy of the beachcombers.
Given the wintery, early sun and the sharp contrasts, a low ISO and speed combination were inevitable. Also, in order to capture the reflection of the sun, a very low angle of view was needed. I was helped in this by flattening the tripod’s legs to place the camera body about 50cm above the ground and by the composition flexibility added by a Perspective Control lens.
Managing the brightness in the ice was the second greatest problem. It took some experimentation with adjusting the Exposure compensation and I was surprised to find that it took all of 3 stops negative adjustment to give a satisfying final capture.
Finally, focussing manually with a PC lens, while lying on a beach with my nose nearly in the sand was another challenge, not helped by the lack of flexibility imposed by layers of upper body weatherproof clothing and the wearing of gloves.
Eventually it all came together and I hope that you like the result.
Camera: Nikon D300
Lens: PC-E Nikkor 24mm f 3.5D ED Perspective Control
Focal Length: 24 mm
Focus Mode: Manual
Autofocus Area Mode: Single
Shutter Speed: 1/13s
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Compensation: -3.0 EV
ISO Sensitivity: 250
Processing Software: Capture One 10
If you ever get the chance, do not just change planes at Keflavik. Take a tour!
Copyright Paul Grayson 2017 All Rights Reserved