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.

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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.

Vestrahorn brown

Vestrahorn brown

This brown landscape scene captures the essence of the Vestrahorn location during the thawing season.

Valentine’s day

Valentine’s day

This was the worst weather I had seen at this beach. The terrific winds were blasting sand at the backs of our necks as we struggled with our cameras.

Hassy on the berg beach

Hassy on the berg beach

This photo was taken on a mild September morning with slight chances of gaps in the clouds for the Sunrise at Jökulsarlon glacier ice beach.



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