Midnight Sun – Seljalandsfoss

I’ve just returned from another trip to Iceland.  I was asked by an Icelandic hire car company to take some photographs for them, more of that to follow, but having been given the keys for one of the company’s flagship super Jeeps, a Toyota Land Cruiser Adventure model, I set off last Sunday for few days that would allow me to visit some of my favourite places as well as some new ones.

Being the time of year it is, the category ‘F’ mountain roads have just been opened in Iceland allowing access to the highlands and the interior of the island.  These areas are cut off and inaccessible for much of the year but with a vehicle specially adapted with 33″ wheels and jacked up for greater clearance to allow for fording of rivers and streams, I was looking forward to some adventure and some great photography.  The cars are adapted by the same company that has provided similar vehicles for BBC’s Top Gear Icelandic Adventure programmes so I knew that being in charge of one of these vehicles was going to get me to where I wanted to be, having a lot of fun in the process.

As the end of the first day of shooting came around and the sun began to sink lower in the sky, I looked around me, standing outside my apartment in Selfoss, and I knew that the day wasn’t going to be over quite so soon.  I would have to be off out again after something to eat.  No rest in the land of the midnight sun, the conditions were good for a particular shot I have been wanting to take ever since I started visiting Iceland.

Seljalandsfoss is a very beautiful waterfall with the added bonus that you can get behind the falls, if you’re prepared to get very wet and I knew, by consulting the Photographer’s Ephemeris, (an application that allows you to gauge the position of the sun at any given time and season, anywhere in the world) that the sun would be in perfect alignment with the waterfall as it started to set at around midnight.  This I knew had the potential to make a very nice photograph.

Behind the falls with a tripod, my D800e and my 14-24mm super wide-angle lens, I had to the equipment to hopefully make the best of what was shaping up to be a very nice sunset.  I say sunset, the sun barely dips below the horizon meaning sunset rolls into sunrise.  The D800e is weather sealed so it can take a certain amount of soaking, a very important feature I realised as the amount of spray the water was generating became apparent to me.  I was quickly soaked, as was the camera and lens but with a chamois leather at the ready, I was able to remove the lens cap, quickly wipe the lens and fire of a couple of shots before the lens was covered in water droplets.  I repeated this process until I was sure I had my shot.  At least I hoped I had my shot because as the temperature started to dip along with the sun, I was getting very cold as well as very wet.  I beat my retreat.

Here’s the shot I came away with.  I think it was worth the discomfort and it was good to know how well the camera and lens coped with the wet. I hope that you enjoy the photograph.  I enjoyed taking it despite, or maybe because of, the difficult nature of the shot and ending up drenched in the process of taking it.. :-)

Seljalandfoss, Midnight Sun, Iceland

14mm f/11 1/10 sec. ISO-50

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67 responses

  1. I envy your adventures but am glad I get to share them here.

    July 2, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    • Thank you Emilio! I’m glad I’m able to share them and that you enjoy the posts.

      July 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm

  2. Feckin great!

    July 2, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    • Thank you Mike! :-)

      July 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm

  3. Wow! Truly amazing.

    July 2, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    • Thank you Laura!

      July 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

      • You’re welcome!

        July 3, 2015 at 1:27 pm

  4. Sounds like you had great fun putting that vehicle through its paces, Adrian. I really love this waterfall image. Well worth getting wet for. :)

    July 2, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    • Thanks Sylvia. It was a fun few days that’s for sure and yes, I think it was worth the discomfort on balance! :-)

      July 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

  5. Great shot Adrian…….really like the fact that you haven’t smoothed out the movement in the water too much.

    July 2, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    • Thank you Mark! The light meant a slightly longer exposure to get the depth of field I wanted but a longer exposure than this I think would have been nigh on impossible given the level of spray so this was more dictated by the light than by myself but I’m glad you like the effect of the shorter rather than longer exposure here.

      July 3, 2015 at 11:31 am

  6. leecleland

    A very surreal magical image Adrian thank you for going to all the effort that I know it must take you to get to a spot like this. Such a different view looking the other way from any waterfall but especially Seljalandsfoss.

    July 2, 2015 at 10:28 pm

  7. You are practically an Icelander Adrian ;-) I envy you driving a landcruiser. I hired one in Alice Springs some 12 years ago and didn’t want to give it back, despite the fact it gobbled petrol like no tomorrow! An exquisite photo and I appreciate the lengths you go to for us :-D

    July 2, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    • Thank you Jude! The Land Cruiser is a bit juicy that’s for sure but over the rough terrain we took it over, the vehicle really came into it’s own. Following one track that we’d previously followed in a Hyundai SUV and been jostled and bumped for some miles, was practically a smooth ride in the Toyota but then, that’s the terrain the car was designed for, unlike the Hyundai and it’s SUV brethren where city streets are the norm and the 4×4 badge is much more for show than practical use.

      July 3, 2015 at 10:37 am

  8. An incredible shot Adrian ~ your adventures in Iceland keep bringing new and incredible views and stories I never would have imagined.

    July 3, 2015 at 1:39 am

    • Thank you Randall. I’ve had issues with sea spray many times when taking photographs but never a constant relentless soaking that I experienced taking this image. I really wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get a shot after the effort to get behind the falls but I’m very pleased it worked out OK.

      July 3, 2015 at 9:24 am

  9. WOW! Beautiful!!

    July 3, 2015 at 2:02 am

    • Thank you Neil!

      July 3, 2015 at 9:22 am

  10. Sue

    This is stunning, Adrian! The light is exactly right, as you commented. I must say, I am most envious of your adventures!

    July 3, 2015 at 6:49 am

    • Thank you Sue! It’s been an interesting 6 months or so. Lots more to come I hope.. :-)

      July 3, 2015 at 9:22 am

  11. I’m glad you shared it with us. I’m in awe of you. It’s mesmerizing :) <3

    July 3, 2015 at 7:57 am

    • Thank you very much Kiran! It’s a truly beautiful place!

      July 3, 2015 at 9:05 am

  12. An amazing image! Well worth the soaking :-)

    July 3, 2015 at 8:52 am

    • Thank you Rhys!

      July 3, 2015 at 9:04 am

  13. Black Lightness

    Wow…great photo…and great colors…

    July 3, 2015 at 10:20 am

    • Thank you very much! :-)

      July 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

  14. gtonthenet

    Spectacular image – first class. I must go to Iceland!

    July 3, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    • Thank you! I don’t think you’d be disappointed! :-)

      July 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      • gtonthenet

        Agreed – I’d be like a kid in a sweetshop.

        July 3, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      • Me too, this can have its drawbacks. These last few days I haven’t wanted to sleep the light has been so good but of course we have to, at some point. Now that I’m back in the UK, I have a lot of catching up to do on the sleep front..

        July 3, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      • gtonthenet

        Know what you mean – you’ve gone all that way, and you don’t want to miss anything :-)

        July 3, 2015 at 7:43 pm

  15. Adrian I’ve seen alot of shots from Iceland but this one…spectacular!

    July 3, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    • Thank you very much Edith. You’re very kind.

      July 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm

  16. poppytump

    Oh that’s beautifully stunning ChillB and such great timing for your longed for shot x
    I know just how soaking that spray is …. I can see I’ll need to practise more with my chamois :-D
    Those magical light times for photography really can’t be beaten … let’s hope for more come next week !

    July 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    • Aww thank you Poppy! I can tell you that chamois was a brilliant addition to my kit that I thanked you silently for with every wipe of my lens. Lens tissues would have been absolutely hopeless in that situation with the amount of spray soaking my lens behind that waterfall. I’ll be recommending it as a required item when visiting Iceland. Along with some of those little bags of silicone Gel you can buy to pack in one’s camera bag or rucksack to speed up the drying process if a soaking like that one is encountered at any time.
      More magic light moments next week would be just the thing! We really need a whole bunch of them over the UK landscape I think. ;-) x

      July 3, 2015 at 4:43 pm

  17. A stunning shot, Adrian. Great use of the Photographer’s Ephemeris … the conditions look perfect and it’s a wonderful composition. A great adventure you’ve had and driving the Jeep sounds a lot of fun!

    July 3, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    • Thank you very much Simon! The Land Cruiser dealt with some very rough terrain very comfortably and it was fun to drive. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a brilliant tool isn’t it? Really invaluable when planning. Getting that light is a hit and miss affair but making sure that you’re in the right place at the right time of day should it come, needn’t be and that’s worth its weight in gold! :-)

      July 3, 2015 at 4:49 pm

  18. This shot is gorgeous !! Well done, Adrian ! I’m not surprised they asked you to take pictures for them :-)

    July 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    • Thank you Gin! :-)

      July 3, 2015 at 5:46 pm

  19. Just one word: spectacular!

    July 3, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    • Thank you Gunta! :-)

      July 3, 2015 at 9:43 pm

  20. A fabulous experience and a shot well worth the effort!

    July 4, 2015 at 9:01 am

    • Thank you Noeline. It was a fun few days!

      July 4, 2015 at 9:48 am

  21. so beautiful i think I’am dreaming

    July 4, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    • I thought so too. Thank you Lou! :-)

      July 4, 2015 at 10:18 pm

  22. You’re well on the way to being an Ambassador for the tourist board of Iceland, Adrian. Absolutely stunning image.

    July 5, 2015 at 8:18 am

    • Thank you Andy! It was one of those shots you plan and then just have to wait for. I was shattered after a day’s photography but I saw the conditions looked good for the photo so I just had to go out again. With the Icelandic weather as it is, you have to take the opportunity when it presents otherwise you could be waiting a very long time to get the next opportunity. :-)

      July 5, 2015 at 8:44 am

  23. OMG, I don’t know what to say, ‘gorgeous’ doesn’t seem to cover it.. :D Great work, Adrian!!

    July 5, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    • Thank you Camilla. I was quite pleased with this one! ;-)

      July 5, 2015 at 6:16 pm

  24. I think it’s very cool that you’ve worked out an agreement with the rental car company – perfect! I love your description of the process for this photo. Extraordinary, with the sunset. I’m curious about whether you tried different shutter speeds for different looks to the water. I like the way this amount of blur echoes the steam, and even the clouds.

    July 5, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    • Thank you Lynn! To be honest, on the shutter speed, I had the aperture set to F11 to gain as much depth of field as possible. I wanted the grass and moss sharp in the foreground and I didn’t want what was beyond the waterfall to be too soft. With that fixed and not wanting to raise the ISO, the shutter speed was what it was. A longer exposure would have been too problematic with so much spray and I didn’t want to blow out the sky and loose the colour and detail in the clouds around the sun. A shorter shutter speed would have meant either sacrificing sharpness front to back by opening the aperture or introducing noise by increasing the ISO. I also didn’t want to spend too much time there experimenting. My camera is weather sealed but it was getting such a drenching and so was I, 10 minutes was enough. You really don’t get a sense of just how much spray there was from the photo. :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 8:23 am

  25. Amazing shot. Love it.

    July 6, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    • Thank you Gabi! :-)

      July 7, 2015 at 7:41 am

  26. amazing!! beautiful picture!! wish i could go!

    July 6, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    • Thank you. I hope you do get to visit one day!

      July 7, 2015 at 7:42 am

  27. That’s exquisite!!! Like fairyland!! I bet it was v cold!! :.))

    July 7, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    • Thank you Therese, it was quite chilly!

      July 8, 2015 at 7:13 am

  28. OMGosh! Brilliant!

    July 9, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    • Thank you Elena. It really is a beautiful waterfall!

      July 10, 2015 at 3:42 pm

  29. Magical. Faeries MUST live there.

    July 10, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    • Thank you Lynne! Fairies in rain coats and hats I’d imagine. Ever so wet back there.. :-)

      July 10, 2015 at 3:42 pm

  30. this is breathtaking :)

    July 11, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    • Thank you Joshi! :)

      July 11, 2015 at 6:40 pm

  31. Wow! Once again, beautiful work.

    July 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    • Thank you Jim. It helps to have these incredible landscapes and features to work with!

      July 18, 2015 at 5:52 pm

  32. That is a gorgeous photo. Stunning colours and light. I hope you workshop in Iceland is going well, Adrian!

    October 16, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Otto! The workshop went very well indeed. :-)

      October 20, 2015 at 5:48 pm