Godafoss, Iceland by Marnix Van Marcke

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Picture Story

In my view the Godafoss is one of the most iconic waterfalls on Iceland. It is located in the north near the Myvatn Lake and is easily accessible by car. Upstream on the same river you can find another beautiful waterfall called Aldeyjarfoss. Certainly worth the visit if you are in the neighbourhood.

The picture was taken in February. It was freezing cold but I was lucky as the night before snow had covered the surroundings of the waterfall with a beautiful white carpet. The weather had cleared during the morning and had left some isolated clouds which gave the sky some structure.

When I saw the scene I decided to make the picture including the sun but I was convinced I had to wait until she was partially covered by the mountains in order to have a manageable contrast.

I choose to frame the waterfall by including some ground covered with snow in the foreground and the sky with the mountains in the background. The waterfall was placed right in the middle. This composition required me to use a wide angle lens. I choose my 16-35mm f/4 lens which was set at 23mm to do the job.

I visualised to use a shutter speed of 10” or 30” in order to get this fluent structure in the water. To achieve this I used a 10 stop ND filter which resulted in a shutter speed of 10”. My pictures are intended to be printed on 60cm*90cm. This requires me to get the maximum of sharpness from the camera and my lens. Therefore, for landscapes I avoid using apertures smaller than f/11 (or larger than f/5.6) as I want my landscape pictures as crisp as possible. In this case the picture was shot at f/9. I focussed my lens on the hyper-focal distance to get a depth of field from foreground to background.

On my Nikon D810 I always use ISO 64 when my camera is on a tripod as this is the native sensor speed which gives me the maximum dynamic range for my pictures (especially useful in these kind of situations). However, in order to preserve detail in both the highlights and the shadows it requires me to carefully expose my shots based on the histogram and the highlights warning.

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