Godafoss Red – North Iceland Waterfall

Godafoss Red – North Iceland Waterfall

Sunset 15th August 2016

Goðafoss is one of the most beautiful locations in Iceland. The waterfall is in the North of Iceland and is easy to access from the ring road. This shot was taken from the East side of the falls at the level of the river.


  • ƒ/14
  • 24 mm
  • 30 sec
  • 400


Canon EOS 5D Mark III
EF24mm f/1.4L II USM

Medium weight Gitzo
6 stop B&W ND filter
Magic Cloth = Grey sleeve of my jacket.

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This was our second evening at Godafoss. The first evening was ok, but we wanted more. The one thing we agreed on was to leave our tents erect and stay another night at the falls. We were a little late getting back from exploring Selfoss and Myvatn, but after a short coffee, I caught up with my fellow shooter. The sky was turning red in the West, so we found a high position on the East side. But with so many tourists, it was difficult to find some great compositions. There was a huge rainbow going on behind us which moved some of the tourists out of the way. This was a treat for the people on the West side of the falls.

As the sky became a serious red, I knew it was time to get down to “The Rock”.


This was the first shot I took as I arrived at the drowning Rock. My companion was to the left of me and I am just avoiding his tripod leg in my frame. A little later, I moved in closer to the rock. For now, I didn’t want to disturb my companion. I know my 24mm well and I always aim to get a bit of the left bank and include the little waterfall on the right. I wanted to position the rock well into the frame. Then the decision is all about balancing the sky and the foreground. The sky was amazing, but I found the rocks on the banks to hold slightly more interest, so they won.

The Rock is an unavoidable foreground subject for many serious photographers. The Lava Rock most likely fell from the canyon walls. It sits in the river close to the East bank. The rock can be very ugly, but if you visit at the right time it can be beautiful.

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Magic Cloth

This was a very basic cloth technique. With the 30 second exposure, I allowed 3 seconds on the sky. Then a karate chop action to cover the whole scene. This location can be extremely wet, it depends on the wind direction and strength. There was very little wind, so this time it was damp conditions. For the remaining 27 seconds, I used the cloth to dry the filter and expose the foreground. So the foreground wasn’t getting the full 27 seconds of exposure, more like an extra 10 or 15 seconds.


The compromise on this shot was the iso and the exposure time. I had my 6-stop filter on as I arrived at the scene. The light was changing and things were getting darker. I was struggling to get a decent exposure within 30 seconds. I had to act quickly, so I took my iso down to 400. There is nothing wrong with iso 400 on the Canon 5D3, looking back, I could have easily used f/11, or at a squeeze f/9. There is no need for the waterfall to be sharp because there is so much mist. Using f/9 and iso 400 could have given me a 15 – 20 second exposure. This would have meant half the exposure time on the sky and therefore a truer representation.

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A total guide to taking photographs of the Northern lights for Digital Cameras & wide angle lenses. This night photography guide includes camera settings, equipment suggestions and some Northern lights photo examples.

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Aurora Mountain – Northern Lights Photo

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My Camera Gear

Canon 5D - full frame

These are heavy duty cameras. I have used the Canon 5D in all weathers. It has a powerful live-view and sensor.

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 l

Canon's 24mm Prime L lens was all I used for many years.  It is responsible for over 80% of the photos on icelandaurora Sharp from corner to corner.

Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod

Load Capacity: 26 lb Max Height: 60.8" Min Height: 8.7" Folded Height: 17.5"

Aurora on Canvas

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