Moss on red

Moss on red

Moss on red

Taken on February 4, 2012 at Lake Kleifarvatn in South West Iceland. This is a strange volcanic lake. It goes very deep in places and used to be the deepest lake in Iceland. There are no rivers leading in or leading out and yet the water level rises and falls. The lake is fed by underground lava tubes.


  • ƒ/13
  • 24 mm
  • 30 sec
  • 100


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

Medium weight Gitzo
6 stop B&W ND filter
Magic Cloth = Black Mitten.


This was a location that was tagged to the end of a Winter tour because it was conveniently on the way out to the airport at Keflavik. I rarely expect too much from this place. The frequent cloud cover over the grotesque lava rock is a challenge. Winter brings extra dimensions with the ice and snow and this week was a strange warm spell that melted 90% of the ground snow. This gave the Moss a surprising airing and in a way revealed some of it’s hibernation secrets.


As usual, there was no light at Kleifarvatn, so I wanted to shoot for the details. I liked the blacks and whites of the lake and mountains in the background, but the sky was featureless. I wanted a strong foreground to dominate the bottom of the frame. One of the things I look for is the basic outline of the foreground. Is there anything that can frame the background? Can I be creative with overlap? Can I balance shapes? I also look for a variety of textures or colours or both.


Unlucky for some, I tend to avoid f/13 for superstitious reasons. Truth is I started at f/14, but my results were a little dark within the 30 sec shutter. I changed to f/13 and brought the focal point a little closer to favour the foreground. The DOF is nice and despite being so close to the foreground, the background doesn’t suffer too badly.

Magic Cloth

This was a nice long exposure at 30 sec. This is a good shutter speed to get a little creative with the Magic Cloth. The whole scene can easily be left for 3 – 6 seconds with such a flat sky. After waiting 3 seconds, I moved the cloth down slowly over the image (now we are up to about 15 sec). In the remaining time I used several angles to bring the cloth up to expose the foreground. I am trying to stop before the edge of lake, but because I have such a long exposure, I can do this carefully. Because of my composition with the rock up the right side balancing the dark beach on the left, I can introduce many angles of extra exposure to the foreground.


The original file is dark.


My first move is to crop the sky to make it 16:9. On the histogram we can see clipping shadows.

Straightened and shadows lifted ready for photo shop.

Godafoss Red

Godafoss Red

The one thing we agreed on was to leave our tents erect and stay another night at the falls.



I demonstrate a lightroom preset on this photo of Brunahorn in East Iceland.

Hvitserkur Gull

Hvitserkur Gull

This basalt structure has withstood many thousands of years of Icelandic weather, although it recently had a concrete base manufactured to prevent erosion.

Photo Calendars


RSS IcelandAuroraPhotos

  • Iceland : Jokulsarlon Reds Photo Print by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    36.72 GBPThis photo was taken on a beautiful evening on the banks of Jokulsarlon the glacier lake - in South Iceland. The sun was setting behind the glacier and all the clouds lit up red. This spectacle was reflected in the glacier lagoon.This Iceland landscape print has a partly glossy, partly matte finish and it'll […]
  • Iceland : Gullfoss Waterfall on Canvas by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    67.00 GBPGullfoss waterfall is the largest waterfall in Iceland. What you see in this photograph is just the lower falls, there is a large complex of cascading waterfalls behind me. This is a very dangerous place to be taking photos. Everything is covered in thick ice on this January morning and one slip and I […]
  • Blue wing (glacier ice) - Archival Matte Print by IcelandAuroraPhotos
    21.25 GBPWinter sunrise on the diamond ice beach at Jokulsarlon, Iceland. The rising sun fills the scene with warm light and the blue iceberg is a nice contrast against the black sand beach.Museum-quality poster made on long-lasting matte (uncoated) archival paper.- Paper-weight: 250 gsm / 110 lb- Shipped in sturdy packaging protecting the posterPrinted and […]

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This