Photographing an erupting Geyser

erupting geyser
A normal photo of Strokkur as it is see by the public on a daily basis.

Golden Day

We were out for the day on a Golden Circle tour. The air was cold and clean and Winter light was Golden, the conditions were perfect for my favourite kind of Geyser shot.

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Strókkur

Shortly after sunrise, we made our first photo stop at Geysir where we were able to witness several eruptions of the Famous Geysir’s little brother, Strókkur. There are many ways to photograph Strókkur, but my favourite is to get a low sun behind the eruption and if you get the exposure right, you can have the sunlight shining right through the water jet. The easy part is positioning your camera with the sun directly behind the caldera. Make a note of wind direction because sometimes it can blow off course, and remember to adjust you position slightly as the sun moves across the sky.

Camera Settings

I normally tell photographers to use shutter priority mode and set 250/1 to freeze the action, but I decided to shoot in aperture priority because I wanted a nice quality focus and didn’t mind some motion blur.

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Tripod & Focus

A tripod is important because it makes sense to have your camera set perfectly for composition an focus as you are waiting – manual focus is best because it allows the camera to respond faster.

Exposure Compensation

The next important setting it to use the compensation and over-expose by a stop. This is because as the Geyser erupts, it will block out the sun, so from the time of metering to the time of exposure the photo might under-expose.

The opposite is true if the sun is absent or not behind the geyser. The sudden introduction of a big white mass needs to be predicted when you consider exposure compensation.

Continuous Mode

Finally, I put the camera into continuous shooting mode so that I could create a sequence of events.

Image Sequence


The blue bubble, actually not looking so blue with the sun behind it.

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The bubble bursts – the water jet breaks the surface.
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Some beautiful shapes and colours as the geyser filters the sunlight.
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We have lift off!! Showing off the explosive nature of Strokkur.

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My favourite…

Iceland geyser eruption
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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.

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