March 2015 – photoshoot at Buðir

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This tour log describes the final day of an exhilarating 8 day Winter photo workshop with a lovely group of photographers from Ireland. The tour had been a riot, we had some severe weather some great light, some magical auroras and a solar eclipse.

Due to the promise of no sunrise on the final day, we had some drinks and a chat about photo business marketing the evening before, at the Hotel in Grundarfjorður. This was one of only a few positive experiences at this hotel.

On the morning of the final day we loaded our luggage and set off without much of a rush. The cloudy weather seemed unlikely to change for our obligatory stop at Kirkjufell mountain for our morning shoot.

Gone with the Wind

After loading our luggage into 3 SUVs, we heading towards the famous Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall in the morning drizzle. Here we suffered a drenching and one poor chap saw his camera bag blow off the cliff into the waterfall below… loosing a $3000 Nikon camera.

kirkjufellsfoss panorama
kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

The whole group went through a short bereavement for the lost camera, before the clouds lifted, giving us a few, not so disappointing, photos of Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and Krkjufell mountain in the background.


Bad Weather Ideas

Spare Socks

We stopped for lunch at a friendly grill in Olafsvik where I had to reveal, embarrassingly, that I had run out of socks. Embarrassing because, I was the tour organiser with the most experience and the only one of the group who didn’t fly into Iceland. Yet 8 days had left me without a dry change of socks.

Subdued, we decided to head to the South side of the peninsular to see if conditions were any better there.

Buðirkirkja Church

Around 40 minutes’ drive from Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, the hamlet of Buðir clings to the southern tip of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Due to its natural harbour and convenient access to the northern side of the peninsular via a decent mountain pass, Buðir once had the potential to serve as a commerce hub during the Danish Days. In Icelandic “Buð” means shop and is pronounced just like the English word “Booth”.

We were greeted with some lovely light and skies as soon as we drove down the winding road from Frodoheiði. Here was Buðirkirkja, the black church in all it’s glory with a choice of clear skies to the south and cloud clad Mountains to the North.


Telephoto Compression

I started with my 135mm prime and got some distance from the church so that I could bring the mountains in larger in the background. This is a classic demonstration of telephoto compression. I decided to go mono here because there was very little colour to start with and I think the mono conversion has really helped the textures in the wooden church.

Maybe Buðirkirkja church is too close to the edge of the frame, it would be nice to see a little more mountain to the left of the church.

Blue Skies at Buðir

Blue skies can be very welcome after days of rain, so it was really nice to photograph a different colour for a change. There is enough cloud in the sky to communicate some depth in the background.


With a wide 24mm I ducked into the church grounds and set up a high tripod to centralise the barrel distortion that is inevitable when you are up close and wide. Luckily for me, the sky behind is just perfect and provides a beautiful backdrop to a well lit church.

Barrel Distortion

Barrel distortion only normally affects the horizon in a natural landscape photo. However it is more noticeable and can become an issue when the scene features a building. My way of coping with the slight barrel distortion of my 24mm prime, was to set the camera on my highest tripod setting, so that the distortion was shared between the top and bottom of the church.


On the shadow side of the church I saw the reflected colours in the windows and wanted to get close enough to make a feature of them. The closeness has given the steeple a real distortion.

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