When I had the opportunity to travel to Iceland a few weeks ago to shoot for ten days it was a dream come true. Over the last few years I’ve been fascinated with the images I’ve seen come out of Iceland, so when one of my old interns told me about the trip he was doing with a few friends I knew I had to join them.
Once we had the trip booked, the next step was to decide what gear I needed to take and what wouldn’t be a huge inconvenience to fly with. I knew I was going to need a strobe for specific lighting conditions, and with the Profoto B1 Air I've regularly rented from pictureline, it would work well for this trip. It’s small enough to carry on a plane and powerful enough to shoot most any situation I would find myself in while in Iceland.
I discussed my upcoming trip with Dave Ward of pictureline, and he mentioned that since I shoot Nikon it might be a good trip to test out the new Nikon TTL-N remote trigger for the Profoto B1. He was able to get me access to a prototype version of the product since it wouldn't be released until September 15th. Profoto was amazing and agreed to send me with a couple of lights and the new un-released prototype trigger.
Once my friend Nate and I arrived in Iceland we were able to get our car, gas, food, and other supplies in Reykjavik and meet our friends on the Northern coast of Iceland. We made a plan as to what parts of the country we were going travel to and what we wanted to see. After some discussion, we decided we would head out on the Southern peninsula for about 4 days days then hit a couple of spots outside Reykjavik. Following that we would head back to Reykjavik get more supplies and our friends would fly home. Following this, Nate and I headed back out to the Southern end of the Island for the remainder of our trip for an additional 4 days.
Shooting in Iceland in the summer months is crazy because the sun sets so late and rises really early. What was just so amazing to me is that the light just hovers over the horizon for hours creating amazing light for a really long time, creating golden "hours" unlike the single hour we have in Utah.
The weather was pretty good while we were in Iceland. Half the trip was sunny and and the rest was overcast and rainy, providing an awesome variation for some different photograph effects. It’s pretty chilly there most of the time and almost always windy. I spent most of my time shooting in pants and jackets and in thermals at night. Campfires weren’t an option because there isn’t any native trees to Iceland so no forests or wood for a fire. Dress warm is the moral of the story.
Gas is crazy expensive also. It’s sold by the liter and comes out to be about $9 gallon. You have to plan where you are driving specifically or else you will end up spending a fortune in gas. There is a road the goes around the entire Island that takes 16 hours to drive. Our friends did the entire loop over 2 weeks, Nate and I did about half of it over the time we were there and a bunch of extra little side trips. The driving alone was a great adventure!
The Profoto B1 Air 500 W strobe and the prototype Nikon TTL-N remote was an item I was so stoked to have the opportunity to shoot with in conjunction with the lighting in Iceland. The small size and attached lithium batteries are a dream to travel with. For my shoot with the runner, I set up the Profoto B1 on a small collapsible stand with a sandbag for added stability; Iceland is insanely windy!
The Profoto kit did wonders for lighting an ice cave we climbed into, completely illuminating the interior of the cave. When testing out the TTL function of the light, the majority of the time I would start on TTL then just adjust it up or down, if needed, getting a pretty solid exposure. There were a few times that I needed to shoot in manual mode and override the TTL setting. I’m sure with a little more time and practice with the light I could have trusted the TTL a bit more but since I needed to nail the light quickly I would just switch to Manual Mode because I knew what the outcome would be. It is a great light to travel with due the small size. It easily fit in the top of my backpack so I would have all my gear with me when I needed it without having to carry anything else in my hands which was great when crossing rivers, waterfalls and hiking.
I also appreciated the ability to turn the strobe off and on and control the output of the light from the remote. I shot a time-lapse of the tent late one evening and had the B1 in the tent to light it up. Then, towards the end, powered the light off using the remote only to simulate someone going to bed, it was really helpful. It would have been really hard open the tent, get in there to turn off the light and zip it back up in 15 sec.
Overall the trip was amazing. Hands down the coolest place I’ve ever been. My favorite places I found were off the beaten path away from all the touristy places. Don’t be afraid to drive on some dirt roads to see where the go. The southern part of the island was my favorite. Big mountains, huge waterfalls, insane glaciers, and surreal landscapes is hands down the best place to shoot. We had a 4 wheel drive SUV but even with that we found limits to what we could access to due to mainly big river crossings. Next time I go back I want to get something even bigger. If you can swing the extra cost, get a Land Rover Defender 110. I want to go back with mountaineering gear to really get where others aren't able to. If you are looking for an epic adventure that is also a photographers dream, look no further than Iceland. It will not disappoint.
Special thanks to Dave Ward at pictureline, Michael Gray at Profoto, Blake Hansen for letting me tag along on your trip, Nate Gunn, Ty Thunell, Geoff McEntire, and Austin Owens for letting me get shots of you.
Provided is a list of equipment I brought with me to Iceland to achieve these adventure photographs!
- Nikon D4 Body
- Nikon D810 Body
- Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VR II Lens
- Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 Lens
- Nikon 50mm 1.4 Lens
- Nikon 20mm 2.8 Lens
- 1 Two Stop and 1 Three Stop ND Filter
- 1 B+H Polarizer Filter
- Step-Up Rings
- Extra Batteries for Bodies and Trigger
- Rode VideoMic Pro
- Tripod and Head
- Sandbag (no sand while traveling) to put rocks in for weight
- 13” Macbook-Pro
- 2 Lacie Rugged 1Tb Drives
- 1 Profoto B1 Air 500w strobe with Nikon TTL trigger and extra battery
- Stand and 1 30” shoot through umbrella
- Memory Cards, Card Readers, Cables and misc. computer items
To learn about Brandon, check out his website and instagram, and to see additional photographs from Brandon's incredible adventure, visit his blog!