We planned our trip to Iceland for June when there is the maximum amount of beautiful golden light. Since the sun never gets too low on the horizon, it is light all the time. It never gets dark! It is also the month with the least rainfall. With all this golden light and potentially less rainfall, our plan was to photograph all night (from 10pm to 4 am) and sleep during the day. It was a good plan, but it had one big flaw. Iceland is almost always cloudy. So much so that many nights the light wasn’t so beautiful. What could I do? I decided to shift gears and work on black & white photography, a genre I have mostly ignored.

I did a quick search online and found a reasonable definition:

Great black and white photography is all about telling a story, highlighting a subject, and expressing emotions, without the distraction of colors. It is not about shooting subjects that lack color to start with.

I tried keeping this in mind during each of our photo shoots. The following are my results.


When looking at this image, I notice the green grass first. Though a nice color, it does not support my vision of this scene which was cold and ominous.

The B&W result has my eye going to the church first and then the dark sky next. And, the feel is definitely ominous!

Gatklettur Arch at Arnarstarpi

I like the composition, but I found the green and yellow moss on the arch distracting, my eye goes there and won’t move to rest of the photo. I think the arch itself is the story.

Converting to black & white allowed me to de-sensitize any flora on the rocks, leaving the rocks to be enjoyed. Smoothing out the water keeps you from being distracted by ripples and waves.


Roadside Ruin in Snaefellsness

Photographers love old decrepit buildings. We are drawn to them like moths to a flame. This building was no exception.

Standing in front of the building I knew it was going to end up black & white. The color in the sky was bland with little definition in the clouds. The building itself lacked meaningful color.

Black and White accentuates this building’s story, its shape and its state of disrepair.


Kirkafoss & Kirkafel

This scene of waterfall and mountain is sought by nearly every Icelandic visitor. (Did you know that this is the most photographed mountain in all of Iceland?)

In this color version a lot of my attention goes to the green grass throughout scene. I want you to focus on the waterfall, then the mountain.

In this black & white my eye goes to the waterfall first as it is the brightest part of the image. Then the iconic shape of the mountain comes into view.


Vestrahorn Reflection

The most important part of this photo is the reflection of Vestrahorn in wet sand. I suppose I could have trimmed the clouds as they are not the main attraction. But I do love their ominous feel.

Although the colors are not really a distraction, I believe the brownish color in the mountain face is irrelevant and the blue sky is not a factor as there is very little of it.

The colors of this image do not support the story at all, hence I chose to make the image a black and white.


Eystrahorn is just 45 minutes north of its brother, Vestrahorn. In some ways it is more impressive.

This scene is fantastic however this color version lacks mood.

Standing in front of Eystrahorn the scene felt moody and surreal. I feel black and white better conveys this mood.

Color or black and white, what is your pleasure?