Hey Iurie! It’s so nice to meet you! Frankly, we wish we were able to travel to Iceland and spend the day with you, but a virtual interview will have to do. We have so many questions for you, so let’s kick this off! Iceland is currently a very popular photo destination for photographers. What is one thing that is not commonly known about Iceland that visitors should know before arriving?
I guess everyone knows how beautiful Iceland is. But the weather can be unpredictable and it is not always like a fairy tale on this island. It is important to do a lot of research about weather conditions, road conditions, etc before coming here. If you have no patience for studying every location, get a local tour operator who knows the ins and outs of this island.
Speaking of which, you are the lead photography guide in a very well known company, Iceland Photo Tours. What does a typical day look like for you?
Well, it depends. When I am on tour and as soon as I open my eyes, I check the sky and weather forecast to gauge where will we shoot a sunrise. Then, I meet the group based on the agreed call time and we start driving. When we are on location I help everyone with good composition and camera settings. When everyone is settled and enjoying their shooting I again start organizing the itinerary for the day based on weather conditions, including restaurant reservations. We usually shoot until night time, with of course some breaks along the way before the next location. This is the reason I make sure that I have a really spacious bus to let our guests relax and unwind after every shoot.
You are also the co-founder of the popular platform, Guide to Iceland. Where did the idea come from and what inspired you to create this?
The idea came from our passion to share the best of Iceland. It’s the same as what also drove me to be a photographer. We are very proud of the beauty of Iceland and we would like others to also experience what Iceland can offer. This is why we provide many tips, articles and itineraries. We also filter the best tours. We were nominated as the Best Start Up in Iceland since we launched this platform and now, we are the biggest travel market place in Iceland.
The photography found on your website and what we see from you on social media is very balanced with a wonderful blend of landscapes and astro work. I understand astro photography is your passion. For folks reading this interview and who haven’t tried their hand at astro as of yet, what is one piece of advice you would give them?
The best advice that I can impart to those trying their hand in astrophotography would be to learn the functions and limitations of their camera inside out. You really need to know the capabilities of your gear, especially ISO performance. This will aid in achieving a high quality image which is essential to proper night photography. It is also vital to know where to focus, given the distance and the elements in the frame. You will need to know whether infinity focus would suffice or whether would you need to focus stack if you are going after a substantial foreground. Keep these tips in mind and you will be shooting astrophotography in no time!
We really want to thank RRS for sponsoring this interview and setting up this time for us to pick your brain. What made you choose RRS and what do you love most about it?
It has to be the construction. RRS is a premium luxury super car. The build quality is top notch, which lends to the overall performance and endurance of the product when working exposed to the elements. I would also like to note the proper use of ergonomics in product design which is essential in providing superior ease of use.
If we could get our hands on your camera bag, what might we find in there?
Two camera bodies (one for back up) and around 4-5 lenses. Another piece of advice is that by using different focal lengths, you will train your eye to develop new and unique compositions. My favorite lens would be the 16-35mm .
In my bag, you will also come across a CPL, ND and GND filters and their respective holders; a cleaning cloth, wind and rain sleeves, intervalometers, extra batteries, cleaning accessories and some simple tools for emergency use. As a bonus I keep some power bars in there just in case I would like to stay much longer at a scene to chance upon something marvellous.
What do you enjoy most about guiding people through Iceland?
I actually enjoy it when I see the awe in their eyes when they see the landscapes of Iceland. Plus, of course, when they start capturing it and checking their camera pictures. So, I guess, what I like most about guiding people through Iceland is the joy it can bring to guests. We also do post processing lectures during our workshops, so even the joy of them learning gives me so much pleasure and the assurance that the tour is successful.
We are so intrigued by the ice caves. Are they found in abundance in Iceland? How expansive are they?
It depends on how the weather has been behaving, as there is no exact prediction model for them. Some years you can have multiple caves, some years less so. These are ice caves, which are easy-to-moderate to access. Of course, there are more caves around the glaciers, but we simply do not have enough manpower to search them all out. Ice caves can reach lengths of up to 200 meters long.
What are some of the challenges a photographer faces when photographing ice caves?
Believe it or not ice caves are relatively pleasant. Their temperature is stable at 0 to minus 1 degrees, and of course since it would be a winter visit it is almost always colder out in the open.
The biggest challenge in photographing ice caves would be to make the decision to take the trip. Most people would think of uncertainty when they see something they don’t usually encounter in normal circumstances. Our tours offer safe travel and access to these caves, and our professional photographers would be more than willing to assist you in nailing that ice cave photograph.
Is there a best time of day in which to get the best light in an ice cave?
This is a tough question and the answer would be that it depends on what your vision is. Some people like to get sunset or sunrise color with an ice cave, while others prefer it when the caves are perfectly blue with brighter light. Mix the latter with the Northern Lights and astrophotography and you have something really cool as well. If you know what you want, then that would be the right answer. Ice caves are unique and spectacular so it is just a treat to visit and take images at any time of day.
If folks are planning a trip to Iceland, what would you recommend is the best time to visit?
This is difficult to answer because every season is beautiful and has its own advantages. Of course, if you want to see the Aurora Borealis, then it should be September to April. If you want ice caves, then it should be November to March. If you don’t want to be too cold, then choose May to August and you will also experience a great view of the midnight sun.
What’s next for you?
I am trying to expand my photo tours and workshops around the world so in 2016-2017 we will visit more international destinations like Patagonia, New Zealand, Japan, Svalbard, Namibia, Greenland, etc. So, I expect that I will be discovering more places and taking home new photographs from various countries.
If you could give one piece of advice to those reading this interview, what would you share with them?
There is no shortcut to success. If you really want to be good in photography, then you should go out and practice a lot; start learning how to shoot properly in good light and don’t forget that the most important things in landscape photography are light and composition.