Vik is the southernmost village in Iceland, home for about 300 Icelanders. This may seem small to you and I, but it is the largest village for over 70km around. This doesn’t really matter to me. What does matter is it’s gorgeous seaside landscapes, ready for us to photograph. And, as you will see, timing is everything.
The most important seaside landscape is called Reynisfjara which is a black sand beach with amazing geological formations. On top of this, the lighting the night we shot was beyond words. As we all know by now, it’s all about the light. Shooting in the far north (near the arctic circle) has certain advantages. The biggest advantage is the amount of daylight (about 17 hours) and the amount of time during the two golden hours (about 2 hours each). What is he biggest disadvantage? It never truly gets dark making sleep quite challenging. Obviously the advantages far outweigh the disadvantage.
With two hours of evening golden light available to us, we could really work the scene. My target prime shooting moment is right about sunset, 9:51pm. We walked the beach a bit looking for nice compositions that included some interesting rock formations. We came up with two, one toward the east and one toward the west. Our eastern composition included a couple of spires in the ocean, some beach, and the ocean. I decided on a long exposure to smooth out the ocean water. It was 9:25pm, very near the prime shooting time, definitely well within the golden hour.
I was quite happy with the result. The sky was pretty, though unspectacular, the ocean water was smooth, and the spires were nicely silhouetted. I then turned around to face west, composed the shot, and fired away. This is just one minute later.
Again, I was very happy with my shot. The sky was beautiful and the wave line was very nice, arcing to left and pointing directly at the rock formations. I felt satisfied with both my shots and started to move off to another portion of the beach. I shot for about 40 minutes when Kathryn called out to me, “look at the sky and the water now. It’s pink!” I rushed over to my previous spot and setup for the shots. This one came first at 10:12pm, 20 minutes after sunset and at the back end of the golden hour.
I chose a longer exposure, 15 seconds, to give the scene a really dreamy look. The foam of the waves was a pinkish-purple, caused by the sky above us being pinkish-red, reflecting onto the water. I turned around to shoot the east shot just three moments later.
I went from being happy about my shots to being thrilled. With golden hour ending in a few minutes and sunrise just around the corner, it was time to call it quits. We’d be back at it in just a few hours. If we get anything like these shots, it will be well worth the short night.
Remember, it’s all about the light and waiting for right moment.