Iceland, a land of otherworldly landscapes, is a photographer’s dream destination. A Virtuoso colleague recently traveled to the country with his wife and shares his photography tips (and beautiful photos) here.

1: Water.

Water provides constant motion that you can take advantage of by lowering the shutter speed to give it a nice, smooth feel. This of course requires the camera be mounted on a sturdy tripod. It also helps to have a remote shutter release so pressing the shutter button doesn’t shake it. If you don’t have a remote handy, use the camera’s self-timer for the shorter duration to take the shot.

2: Sunset Shooting.

Shooting into the sunset is always harder than it looks – our eyes see one thing, but the camera sees it very differently. Our eyes can capture the full dynamic range of colors, where even the latest of cameras still can’t. Use the HDR (High Dynamic Range) setting, which captures details from bright and dark areas to help avoid a completely dark foreground.

3: Icelandic Horses.

Icelandic horses make great photo subjects. They’re typically friendly and curious, which helps when trying to get their attention. Set the ISO high for a fast enough shutter speed, which will help with keeping the frame sharp even if the horses are moving. Having the aperture open wide helps with blurring the background, which makes the focused area pop.

4: People.

Iceland’s popularity makes it tricky to take a landscape shot without a tourist in it. But having people in a frame can be helpful when you are looking for depth of field and scale. In this shot, the row of rocks guide viewers’ eyes into the perspective. The people show the scale of the glacier and the peak behind it.

5: Mixed Light Situations.

There’s a significant difference between the light spectrum inside the cave versus outside it, as you can see in this photo. Shooting in HDR will compensate for this, especially if there is something interesting outside the cave such as sunrise or sunset. Most pro and semi-pro cameras do a decent job at capturing the dynamic range and merging them into a single image.

6: Abandoned Houses.

Iceland has its share of abandoned houses, often decorated with graffiti,  which makes the entire setting more interesting. Technically, this is an easy shot, but the composition matters a lot. The surrounding makes this photo pop – if I zoomed in to just frame the house, it wouldn’t be as compelling.

7: Black and White.

Black and white photographs have their own charm! Without colors to help make the photo appealing to our eyes, you have to get the composition right, plus find the right texture in a frame.

What’s texture? In this photo, some icebergs are transparent and others are translucent. Notice the black beach and how the clouds and sky provide yet another layer along with the ocean. These are the textural elements that eliminate the need for colors.

8: Shooting in the Dark

When you’re waiting for aurora borealis to show itself, have fun shooting in complete darkness while almost frozen. This shot was taken at a high ISO to get fast shutter speed (I didn’t want any star trails).

Shooting in-focus in the pitch dark presents another challenge. Try using a small flashlight with high lumens – point it at a faraway object and focus on that. That is your infinity focus – shoot away!