LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
8 DAY IN ICELAND
ICELAND HIGHLANDS IN SUMMER - EDITION 2021
In a country of truly amazing landscapes, the Icelandic highlands offer perhaps the most incredible scenery of all. The vast interior of this beautiful country has some of the most diverse and jaw-dropping landscapes imaginable. Surrounded by glaciers, this is an area of black sand deserts, volcanic peaks and mountains of every colour imaginable, from the vivid green moss-covered hills of the Hvanngil and Mælifellssandur to the deep oranges and red rhyolite valleys of Landmannalaugar and Kerlingarfjöll.
Crater lakes like Langisjór and Hnausapollur, lava fields and waterfalls, landscapes that change every few kilometres, there is simply so much to see in the highlands and yet despite all this its relative inaccessibility means it is far less visited than many of the well-known locations around the country. The few roads that do exist are dirt tracks, often with multiple river crossings, which can only be traversed with a sturdy 4×4, and accommodation is limited.
A UNIQUE PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE IN ICELAND
We created this workshop to take a small group of people to some of the most incredible landscapes in the country. The Icelandic Highlands are among the largest unihabited wilderness regions in Europe, but using a specially converted 4×4 Super Jeep we are able to get to some of the more inaccessible and jaw dropping places in this stunning region, and by having three comfortable accommodation bases in distinct parts of the Highlands we’ll get to photograph an incredibly diverse range of scenes. Our first base in the highlands is the colourful geothermal area of Kerlingarfjöll where the red rhyolite hills are often shrouded by clouds from the hot springs and geothermal activity.
Our second base takes us to Landmannalauger, home of some of the most incredibly colourful landscapes you’ve ever seen. More rhyolite mountains and valleys, with black lava fields and rivers, there are so many hiking trails here and so much to see. We’ll spend three days exploring this fantastic area, from the waterfalls of Haifoss and Sigöldugljufur to the mountains and valleys of Bláhnjúkur and Brennisteinsalda.
Throughout all of these locations, we’ll be constantly amazed at the scenes that unfold with every kilometre of the road. The most common expression we hear in these places is “it’s like being on another planet” and indeed the landscape is so alien and different from literally anywhere else on earth that many science fiction movies are filmed here. From the volcanic cones, bright green from the moss on their slopes projecting up from the wind-blasted black sand to the multicoloured valleys of red, orange and ochre which change with the light, these are utterly unique landscapes that have literally unlimited photographic potential.
All our workshops are designed to ensure that you can focus on photography while we take care of everything else. From the ideally located and comfortable accommodation, dinners this is a tour that’s structured to maximize your opportunities to get great images whilst improving your skills as a photographer. We use all our experience and knowledge to get you to some of Iceland’s most beautiful locations in the best light, and in the field, we’re on hand to provide as much support, advice or guidance as you want.
Our final base is in the southern Highlands, and on our way there we’ll stop off at the beautiful remote lake of Langisjór as well as the waterfalls of Ófærufoss on our journey along the stunning F208 road. We’ll spend two nights at our final base from where we’ll use the Super Jeep to explore the black desert of the Mælifellsandur and green peaks of Emstrur, Hvanngil and Álftavatn, before heading back for our final night in Reykjavik.
DETAIL ABOUT THE ICELAND HIGHLANDS WORKSHOP
WHERE WE'LL SHOOT
1-TO-1 EDITING SESSION
1 – to – 1 post-processing sessions in Lightroom, Photoshop and Capture One, with screen recordings which the participants can keep
All accommodation in local hotels
our favorite restaurants
We start and finish our workshop with a night in Reykjavik, and for our tour of the Highlands, we base ourselves at three locations. While the dates that we’ll be in the bases are fixed, our time at each is flexible so we can decide which locations to visit while we’re there depending on the local weather and conditions. We will however ensure that we visit all of the locations in each area. Iceland is often cloudy at any time of year and but even with overcast skies many of the landscapes, waterfalls, for example, work well and can be shot throughout the day. Due to the fact that our shooting locations are sometimes quite away from our accommodation, we won’t always shoot sunrise but will make sure we are always on location for the afternoon golden hour and sunset.
Sunrise at this time of year is around 5h50 and sunset around 21h05, although there are variations throughout the week depending on which part of the country we’re in.
DAY 1 - REYKJAVÍK
17h onwards we’ll welcome guests to our overnight accommodation in Reykjavik, spend some time getting to know each other over dinner and drinks.
DAY 2 - 3 - KERLINGARFJÖLL
We’ll check out of our hotel and head across Iceland to our first base in Kerlingarfjöll. It’s a three and a half hour drive to this incredible mountain range on the western Highlands. The large geothermal area here means the colourful rhyolite hills are often shrouded in mist and steam making for some atmospheric shots, and the landscape is constantly changing colours due the passing light and cloud. We’ll spend all afternoon and sunset exploring the valleys and hills here and stay in local accommodation, before shooting sunrise the following morning.
DAY 3 - 5 - LANDMANNALAUGAR
After breakfast, we’ll get our stuff together to check out and head to our second base on the edge of the northern part of the Fjallabak region of the highlands. We’ll be staying in a hotel on the edge of the region for three nights and each day we’ll head out exploring. Our itinerary here will be very flexible depending on the weather but we’ll make sure we spend some time at many of the locations in the area:
The Landmannalaugar valley with its many trails including Bláhnjúkur and Brennisteinsalda
Hnausapollur crater lake
This part of Iceland is one of the most stunning in the country and shooting here is a unique experience. The valley of Landamannalauger is incredible with the colourful rhyolite mountains and lava fields. There’s the blue/black mountain of Bláhnjúkur, which takes around an hour to hike up but the views once there are worth it offering everything from 360º panoramic views of the lakes, rivers and peaks of the entire region and telephoto abstracts of the layered peaks. There are Brennisteinsalda valley and Laugahraun lava fields with more colourful views, and outside Landmannalauger, there’s the turquoise water of Hnauspollur crater, the multiple waterfalls in Sigöldugljufur canyon and the mighty roar of Haifoss waterfall, tumbling 150m to the valley below.
We’ll spend three nights here, which gives us plenty of time to take in this incredible scenery. After arriving around lunchtime on the first day we’ll settle in and then head out for a long afternoon session exploring and shooting. We’ll make a decision on where we go based on the prevailing weather conditions and when we’re out, although we’ll have a number of destinations in mind, we’ll constantly be on the lookout for shooting opportunities as we travel through this wonderful landscape because everywhere you look there are so many wonderful scenes. After sunset, we’ll head back to the hotel for dinner before going to bed.
The following days we’ll have breakfast and then head out for a morning session which will be followed by lunch and a post-processing session. All our post-processing sessions will be tailored to your individual needs and we’ll work in small groups to ensure that everyone gets individual attention. On the first session, I and Andy will take you through our own workflow.
In the afternoon we’ll head out for a long session of exploring and shooting again. Like all the sessions we’ll do in the Highlands, we’ll always have several clear destinations in mind, whether that’s the Landmannalaugar valley or Sigöldufoss waterfalls, but we’ll have plenty of time to make diversions and explore, which means we can be incredibly creative when shooting as we’ll be encountering scenes that we’ve never seen before and adapting our techniques to be able to capture them.
On our final day, we’ll meet Eddi, our 4×4 Super Jeep driver who’ll take us on the next part of the trip. We’ll check out in the late morning and spend the day at Langisjór and the waterfalls of Ófærufoss on our way to the Southern Highlands
DAY 5 - 7 LANGISJÓR, MÆLIFELLSSANDUR & ALFTAVATN
After leaving Landmannalaugar around lunchtime we’ll drive along the stunning F208 road in our Super Jeep, heading first to the waterfalls of Ófærufoss, and then to the remote lake of Langisjór, where we’ll make the hike up Sveinstindur for some incredible views out over the lake. We’ll stay in the area all day before heading to our accommodation on the southeastern side of the Highlands for the night, where we’ll stay for the next two days.
During our time here our itinerary will vary depending on weather and light, but we’ll make sure we spend some time at all of the locations in the area:
The area around Hvanngil and Alftavatn lake, including the peaks of Stórasúla
The remote black desert of Mælifellssandur
This part of the Highlands offers very different landscapes from the northern part where we were on the previous days. Here the volcanic desert of Mælifellssandur dominates the landscape with the Mýrdalsjökull glacier to the south. It’s a remote landscape of black sand punctuated by conical green volcanos and unlike anywhere else in the world, and during our time here we’ll explore the area, from the Axlafoss waterfall to the incredibly beautiful area of Alftavatn. Access here is more difficult with some big river crossings but our Super Jeep will have no problem going wherever we need to go.
We’ll spend a while hiking here, heading up some of the hills to give us an elevated view from where we can see the vast landscape laid out below us. We’ll have the whole day to explore the area, so we can head to the area around Emstrur for views of the peaks of Hattfell and Stóra-Mófel, as well as the almost-perfectly conical Mælifell with the glacier behind it. At the end of the day, we’ll return to our comfortable guesthouse for dinner.
DAY 8 - REYKJAVÍK
It’s quite a long drive back to Reykjavik so we’ll set off after breakfast and aim to arrive at Selfoss for lunch, eating at one of our favourite restaurants there. If we’ve got time we might be able to stop at Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon and we’ll certainly stop along the way to take some shots of scenes we see as we drive or portraits of Icelandic horses. We’ll arrive in Reykjavik later in the afternoon, check into our hotel and have a final dinner together.
The following morning we say our goodbyes and drop people off at the airport
WHAT WE DO (AND WHAT WE WANT YOU TO GET FROM OUR WORKSHOPS)
Our aim is to take you to beautiful locations and give you every opportunity to get great images while improving your technique over the course of the workshop. From the beginning of your time with us, we’ll aim to identify your photographic level and what you’d like to focus on and attempt to tailor the workshop to your precise needs and provide each participant with plenty of one-to-one tuition both in the field and in the post-processing sessions.
We’ve carefully timetabled this workshop to ensure that while you get to experience some the most beautiful locations the Highlands has to offer, from the iconic spots like Landmannalaugar and Haifoss to the much more remote and less well-known areas like Langisjor and Maelifellsandur. We’ll make sure that you get plenty of time in the field with long sessions you’ll quickly get into a shooting rhythm where you can put into practice new skills as they are learned. Late August is a great time to visit Iceland as we have relatively stable weather conditions (by Icelandic standards…it’s never truly predictable there) and long periods of the golden hour.
Our timetable is highly flexible and having a number of fantastic locations within reach of our bases of accommodations means we can adapt to the weather and go where the conditions are best for shooting. This adaptability also extends to the post-processing sessions. We believe that editing is an integral part of getting the absolute best out of an image but we understand that the range of participant’s skill levels and familiarity with post-processing techniques varies greatly. Because of this, we make the most of having small groups to provide 1-to-1 editing sessions in the morning that are tailored to each participant’s skill levels, and which can potentially range from the basics of editing a RAW file in programs like Lightroom to more complex techniques like using layers and luminosity masks in Photoshop.
We’ll also have one post processing seminar where both both workshop leaders will take you through all their post processing techniques and complete workflow. We make screen recordings of our editing sessions, which are then shared with all the group so you go home with a record of all the post processing techniques we’ve used. Not only this but you’ll also have access via a webpage to all the post processing screen recordings we’ve done from our other workshops, which we believe gives participants the ability to continue to apply the techniques we discussed long after the workshop has finished.
Finally, we want to share with you our passion for nature and landscape photography in this incredible place. Travelling in such small groups means we can quickly build a great learning environment where people feel comfortable together and at ease with asking questions and making the absolute most of the trip. We aim to make your experience here in the beautiful landscape of Iceland a memorable one and a trip from which, as well as getting some great images from amazing locations, you’ll also go home having had a true adventure with great company in a very special place.
SOME OF THE PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUES COVERED IN THIS WORKSHOP
IN THE FIELD
- Understanding the light and choosing the best exposure
- Composition. Balance and harmony, leading lines and creating depth.
- Lens choice. From the wide-angle vista to shooting landscape abstracts with a telephoto lens
- Long exposures for blurring moving water and clouds and using neutral density filters
- Shooting waterscapes, waterfalls and mountain peaks
- Shooting the night sky (and the aurora if we’re lucky)
- Shooting multiple image panoramas
- Controlling light in scenes with a wide dynamic range using graduated filters and/or multiple exposures
- Photographing snow
- Shooting in the blue hour and overcast weather
- Creating abstract images and intimate landscapes
- Deciding which direction to take post processing according to the mood of an image
- Using Lightroom to apply contrast locally
- Using Photoshop layers to build up image adjustments
- “Shaping” the light using contrast tools in Photoshop and Lightroom
- Using luminosity masks in Photoshop
- Different techniques for blending multiple exposures of the same image
- Using CaptureOne for RAW conversion
- Stitching multiple panoramas together
- Finishing touches for processing to give images dramatic punch
- Sharpening images
A WORD ABOUT HIKING & FITNESS
Reaching the locations on this tour should be well within the capacity of anyone with a good level of fitness but it’s worth taking a moment to point out that a certain amount of hiking will be required to get from where we leave our vehicle to some of our shooting locations. For example, in Landmannalaugar we’ll spend some time hiking the area, and the best views are often at elevation. We regularly walk up Bláhnjúkur, which has an elevation of 400m and takes around an hour to walk up. There are similar climbs in Langisjor and Alftavatn, so you should expect to be hiking for a few hours on some days and climbing relatively steep hills.
There is nothing technical on any of the hikes and anyone with a reasonable level of fitness will be able to manage it, but it should also have a bearing on what camera equipment you bring with you as you’ll sometimes be carrying it for a couple of hours while we make these hikes so heavy packs should be avoided as much as possible.
For the first part of the workshop, we’ll be travelling in two 4×4 SUVs that will allow us to be comfortable on Iceland’s road, as well as most of the F roads (gravel or dirt tracks). With our small group’s size, it ensures that there’ll be a maximum of three passengers per vehicle which gives everyone ample space.
However, in this workshop, we really wanted to spend some time visiting places that are well off the beaten track and head deeper into the Highlands. The landscapes here are quite simply breath-taking and unlike anything you can see almost anywhere in the world. There’s a feeling of genuinely being out in a wild and remote landscape, far away from civilisation and we’ll see very few other people while we’re here. Getting here however requires a specialised vehicle and driver, so we work with a local guide and a converted 4X4 Super Jeep which allows us to access more remote areas like Langisjór, Mælifellsandur and Álftavatn. The vehicle has 7 passenger seats and will comfortably get us to some of the most incredible landscapes in the country, although as we’ll be using it exclusively for our trip to the third accommodation base we’ll need to pack light as there is limited storage space.
WHAT TO BRING
We’ll be doing quite a bit of walking over rocky and uneven ground, as well as some scrambles up the side of hills. We’ll also often find ourselves in muddy conditions so warm boots with good support and grip are essential.
Even though it’s summer it can still get quite cold in the Highlands so warm clothes will help keep you comfortable while we’re out shooting. It’s best to layer, with a base layer next to the skin and then a fleece or thicker layer on top. An insulated jacket on top of that will keep you warm, and also a waterproof or windproof shell as a final layer in case the weather turns bad.
Andrea is a Venice based professional photographer, educator, musician, and a spirited adventurer. He started exploring the photography medium by capturing images of fellow musicians, their families, and other friends and acquaintances in the music industry. As he continued honing his craft, he merged his love for photography and exploring the outdoors, amassing a body of photographic work featuring exhilarating landscapes and rugged mountains capes from around the globe, He also leads photography courses, workshops & tours to teach other photographers his method and help them to bring out their own vision. His work has been published in Landscape Photography Magazine, Outdoor Photographer, Photo Plus Magazine, Digital Camera, Popular Photography and Fuji X Passion Magazine, among others.
Andy is a Lisbon based professional landscape and travel photographer. Andy grew up in the UK loving nature and travel and took up landscape photography over a decade ago. Since then he has travelled extensively photographing all over the world and his photography and articles have featured in publications and books worldwide. He is a passionate photographer teacher and has been leading both group and one-to-one workshops for six years. He is a Fuji X Photographer and a brand ambassador for Fujifilm in Portugal, although he also has extensive experience with Nikon and Canon cameras.
We partner with F Stop Gear backpacks and Capture One Pro software, leaders in their respective fields and can offer the discounts on their products for any of our workshop participants.
OUR ENVIRONMENTAL PLEDGE
We aim to make our workshops as close to carbon neutral as possible and partner with Sustainable Travel International to ensure that our carbon footprint is offset and our environmental impact is reduced. Sustainable Travel International works with local communities, governments and businesses, and invests in projects which aim to conserve ecosystems, reduce tourism’s carbon footprint and lesson the amount of waste and pollution from tourism.
We also believe in working with local suppliers as much as possible so the costs of our workshops go towards supporting the local economies, and we also practice a “leave no trace” policy to ensure that the beautiful landscape and natural environments that we spend time in are left exactly as we find them.
To register for the Iceland Highlands in Summer photography workshop we require a €1500 deposit. Please complete the form below for more information, or for any other questions you have about the workshop.