godafoss and its amazing half circle waterfall

Landscapes of Iceland

Iceland is on another level when it comes to landscape photography. Simply put, there is no place like it in the world–that goes for both just its sheer uniqueness as well as its unrivaled variety of extraordinary landscape photo opportunities.  Mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, valleys…volcanoes…yep, there is quite the list.

I’m in the field getting ready to guide an extraordinary adventure through this land of fire and ice, and had the opportunity to scout a few days ahead of time to check out new areas, as well as some time-honored favorites.

The trip started with one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country…Seljalandsfoss. If you are headed to Iceland, an ultra-wide angle lens isn’t as helpful as you may think. However, at Seljalandsfoss, it’s a key lens…all of my favorite photos were with my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 (at 16mm each time).

a towering seljandsfoss waterfall

Continuing on along the south coast, I turned north across the East Fjords to an infamous pass, known as Oxi Pass.  Nearly impassable outside of the summer season, the view is extraordinary.  In fact, driving north, it wasn’t until I looked in my rear view mirror that I noticed what a spectacle I was driving across!

Here, a classic 24-105mm lens was perfect, as it allowed me to crop exactly as I needed to frame the photo.  The below photo was at 45mm. Check out that soft, angled light!

The near-persistent clouds help to provide exquisite lighting, as patches of sun peak through in strategic areas of thelandscape.

amazing light at oxi pass

Once I was back in the land of waterfalls, the next one didn’t disappoint!  Noted as the largest waterfall in Europe, Detifoss is magnificent.  By using my 24-105mm again, I was able to zoom in a little and frame the shot with two travelers in front of the mighty falls.

the mighty detifoss waterfall with visitors in front

When possible, finding people with bright colors helps tremendously with “travel” photos like this. Just that little bit of pop in the red color helps draw the eye and make the shot a “picture yourself here” photo.

Finally, I made it to the stupendous Godafoss Waterfall.  Showcasing an alluring horseshoe shape, what it lacks in volume or height it makes up for in the variety of angles you can find to photography this beauty.

Once again, I’m trading in my ultra-wide, which was just too wide, for my 24-105mm. It’s incredible how in landscapes as big as Iceland, the ultra-wide is really too much width in your photos…a “normal” wide angle is the go-to.

godafoss and its amazing half circle waterfall

This was also the waterfall that turned out best with a “slow shutter” technique.  What’s interesting here is that you really don’t need anything slower than 1/6th of a second to capture the “silkiness” in the water.  Anything slower and it’s just too much water flowing too quickly to turn out well.  This is a good thing!  For many other waterfalls of the world, 2 or more seconds is a must, which makes it impossible to hand hold (still, 1/6th of a second is best on a tripod).

Choosing the right filter will also help you achieve that silky texture. Tune in to this clip to learn more!


If you are a nature photographer and have Iceland on your list, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s a magical combination of landscape and travel photography where you have endless material…combine that with wildly alluring light, and you have all you need for world-class photography.

I hope to see you out there!


Court Whelan Signature