Dettifoss, Nordurland Eystr, Iceland by Michael Elkan

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I arranged to make a four-day stop-over in Iceland in late September on my way home from London to Vancouver. For a landscape photographer any time in Iceland is wonderful. However, to avoid the crowds, I enjoy the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. In March it is still a snowy winter landscape. In September the autumn colours are spectacular. In both seasons the daylight is reasonably long, plus there are opportunities to photograph the aurora borealis against starry, dark skies.

I was excited about this short trip because it would be my first excursion to the Northeast coast. For maximum flexibility of location in response to weather conditions, I rented a small camper van in Reykyavik and drove to my base campsite on the north shore of Lake Myrvatn. From here it was a two-hour drive to the renowned Dettifoss waterfall. The falls can be approached on minor roads from either the east or western sides. I opted for the eastern approach because it appeared to be more accessible in my low-clearance vehicle. Online research also indicated you could safely get closer to the falls for a more dramatic composition.

The weather that day was partially cloudy and showery. Sunlight occasionally broke through to highlight the landscape. Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Iceland in terms of water volume dropping into the canyon below, enough to cause the ground to tremble. To communicate this sensation of power, I used a relatively fast shutter speed to capture structure in the falling water, while allowing some motion blur. A slower shutter speed could have rendered the water much more smoothly, but I think this would have defeated the visual expression of power I felt standing close to this awe-inspiring waterfall.


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