Photographing an erupting Geyser

Photographing an erupting Geyser

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.


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.


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. 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. 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 point of metering to the point of exposure the scene might be too dark. Finally, I put the camera into continuous shooting mode so that I could create a sequence of events.

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

Iceland photo tour
Some beautiful shapes and colours.

Iceland photo tour
The bubble bursts – the water jet breaks the surface.

Iceland photo tour
We have lift off!!

My favourite…
Iceland photo tour

HDR 1 – taking the exposures

HDR means High Dynamic Range photography. It refers to a method of capturing a larger range of light detail than is possible with a single exposure.

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