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Magical Iceland: How To Photograph Narnia


by Bethena Herrin



Welcome to the enchanting world of Iceland, a land of awe-inspiring landscapes and ethereal beauty. From its majestic glaciers and cascading waterfalls to its volcanic formations and aurora-filled skies, this Nordic island is like a real-life Narnia waiting to be discovered and captured through the lens.


For aspiring photographers and adventurers alike, Iceland offers a plethora of breathtaking locations that are sure to ignite your creative spirit and leave you in awe. But photographing this magical land requires more than just pointing and shooting. It demands an understanding of the unique lighting conditions, the ability to adapt to unpredictable weather, and the skill to immortalize the dynamic landscapes in a way that truly captures their essence.


In this article, we will embark on a visual journey through Iceland’s fairy-tale-like landscapes, offering tips and insights on how to best photograph this land of wonder. We’ll explore finding the perfect locations, mastering light and exposure, working with winter conditions, and enhancing the enchantment through post-processing techniques.


Whether you’re an amateur photographer eager to improve your skills or a seasoned pro seeking inspiration, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and techniques necessary to capture the magic of Iceland through your lens.


Finding the Perfect Locations

When it comes to photographing Iceland, there is no shortage of incredible locations to choose from. From the iconic landmarks to hidden gems off the beaten path, each corner of this country offers a unique opportunity for capturing stunning images. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect locations:

  1. Research and Plan Ahead: Before you embark on your Iceland photography adventure, do your homework. Study travel guides, read blogs, and browse through images online to get an idea of the places that resonate with you. Create a list of must-visit locations and prioritize them based on your interests and the time you have available.
  2. Consider the Seasons: Iceland’s landscapes undergo dramatic transformations throughout the year. The winter months are characterized by frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and the possibility of witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights. In the summer, you’ll experience the midnight sun and lush greenery. Tailor your itinerary based on the season that best aligns with your photographic vision.
  3. Seek Hidden Gems: While popular tourist spots like the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon are undeniably captivating, don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. Iceland is filled with hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Talk to locals, join photography communities, and explore less-known regions to find unique and less crowded locations.
  4. Consider the Weather: Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, with frequent rain, wind, and sudden changes in conditions. Be prepared for all types of weather and plan your photography shoots accordingly. Cloudy or misty days can add a moody and surreal atmosphere to your images, while clear skies offer opportunities for capturing vivid sunsets or the magical dance of the Northern Lights.
  5. Interact with the Landscape: Iceland’s landscapes are not just meant to be observed from a distance. Get closer to the elements by hiking, climbing, or even taking a helicopter tour. Explore different angles and perspectives to create unique compositions and tell a visual story that goes beyond the typical postcard-like shots.

Remember, the key to finding the perfect locations in Iceland is a combination of research, flexibility, and a sense of adventure. Be open to serendipity, embrace the unexpected, and allow the landscapes to guide you towards extraordinary photographic opportunities.


Capturing the Magical Landscapes

Once you have found the perfect locations in Iceland, it’s time to capture the magic of its landscapes through your lens. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your photography experience:

  1. Compose with Purpose: A striking landscape photo begins with a strong composition. Look for leading lines, interesting foreground elements, and a focal point that draws the viewer’s attention. Use the rule of thirds or experiment with different compositions to create visually compelling images.
  2. Use Wide Angle Lenses: Iceland’s expansive landscapes deserve to be captured in their entirety. Wide-angle lenses, such as a 16-35mm or 24-70mm, are ideal for emphasizing the vastness and grandeur of the scenery. Experiment with different focal lengths to find the best perspective for each location.
  3. Capture Dynamic Skies: Iceland’s ever-changing weather often brings dramatic skies filled with clouds, rainbows, or vibrant colors during sunrise and sunset. Include these dynamic sky elements in your compositions to add depth and visual interest to your images. Consider using graduated ND filters to balance the exposure between the sky and the land.
  4. Long Exposures for Waterfalls: Iceland is famous for its countless waterfalls, each with its own unique charm. To capture the dreamy, silky effect of flowing water, use a tripod and experiment with long exposures. This technique will create a sense of motion and enhance the ethereal beauty of the waterfalls.
  5. Utilize Natural Elements: Iceland’s landscapes are often adorned with interesting natural elements, such as glaciers, icebergs, and volcanic rock formations. Incorporate these elements into your compositions to add texture, contrast, and a sense of scale. Experiment with different perspectives and angles to showcase their unique characteristics.
  6. Embrace Dynamic Lighting: Iceland’s ever-changing weather means you’ll often encounter dynamic lighting conditions. Embrace the interplay of light and shadows to add drama and depth to your images. Capture the golden hour lighting during sunrise and sunset, or experiment with moody and atmospheric shots on cloudy or misty days.

Remember, the goal is not just to capture the landscapes as they appear, but to convey the emotion and essence of the place through your images. Experiment with different techniques, remain patient, and allow the magic of Iceland to unfold in front of your lens.


Mastering Light and Exposure

When photographing the magical landscapes of Iceland, mastering light and exposure is crucial to capturing the beauty and essence of the scene. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the lighting conditions:

  1. Shoot During Golden Hour: The golden hour, which occurs during the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, offers soft, warm light that enhances the beauty of the landscapes. Utilize this time of day to capture stunning colors, long shadows, and a magical atmosphere.
  2. Expose for the Highlights: Iceland’s landscapes often feature a wide dynamic range, with bright highlights and dark shadows. To retain detail in the highlights, expose for the brightest part of the scene. If necessary, use a graduated ND filter or bracket your exposures to capture the full range of tones.
  3. Bracket Your Exposures: In challenging lighting situations, such as a high-contrast scene with bright skies and dark foregrounds, consider bracketing your exposures. This involves taking multiple shots at different exposure settings to capture the full range of tones. Merge the images in post-processing to create a perfectly exposed final image.
  4. Utilize HDR Photography: High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is another technique to handle scenes with a wide dynamic range. By taking multiple shots at different exposure levels and merging them in post-processing, you can create a final image that combines the best details from each exposure.
  5. Experiment with Long Exposures: Play with long exposures to create unique effects. For flowing water, use a slow shutter speed to create a silky, dreamy effect. For moving clouds, use a longer exposure to capture their motion and create a sense of drama in the sky.
  6. Use Filters: Filters can be invaluable tools for achieving the desired exposure and look in your images. Consider using a polarizing filter to reduce glare and enhance colors, or a neutral density (ND) filter to control the amount of light entering the camera and allow for longer exposures.

Remember, light is a powerful element in photography, and understanding how to control and work with it will elevate your images to a new level. Practice and experiment with different techniques to master light and exposure in the magical landscapes of Iceland.


Working with Winter Conditions

Winter in Iceland brings a unique set of challenges and opportunities for photographers. From frozen waterfalls to snowy landscapes, there is a magical charm to capturing the beauty of Iceland during this season. Here are some tips for working with winter conditions:

  1. Dress Appropriately: The first step to successfully photographing in winter conditions is to ensure that you are dressed appropriately. Layer your clothing to stay warm and comfortable during long photography sessions. Don’t forget to protect your extremities with gloves, a hat, and warm socks.
  2. Protect Your Gear: Winter conditions can be harsh on camera equipment. Keep your gear dry by using rain covers or waterproof bags. Be mindful of condensation when moving between extreme temperatures. Consider using lens hoods and filters to protect against snow, ice, and gusts of wind.
  3. Highlight Contrast: Winter landscapes often feature a striking contrast between the white snow and dark elements, such as rocks or trees. Embrace this contrast in your compositions to create visually compelling images. Look for opportunities to include leading lines or patterns in the snow to add interest.
  4. Capture the Ice: Iceland is known for its stunning ice formations during the winter months. From ice caves to glaciers, these icy landscapes offer unique and captivating photo opportunities. Join guided tours or workshops to safely explore and photograph these icy wonders.
  5. Utilize Reflections: Snow-covered landscapes provide ample opportunities for capturing reflections. Look for bodies of water, such as lakes or partially frozen rivers, to capture stunning reflections of the surrounding scenery. Calm days or early mornings are ideal for capturing clear reflections.
  6. Adapt to Limited Daylight: In winter, Iceland experiences shorter daylight hours, which can be an advantage for photographers. Take advantage of the extended twilight and capture the vibrant colors of sunrise and sunset. Embrace the challenge of shooting in low light conditions and experiment with long exposures.
  7. Be Prepared for Changing Weather: Winter weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in conditions. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and be prepared for snowstorms, icy roads, and low visibility. Flexibility is key, so be open to adjusting your plans and capturing unique moments that arise from these changing weather conditions.

Remember, photographing the winter landscapes of Iceland requires both preparation and adaptability. Embrace the beauty and challenges that the winter season brings and capture the unique magic that unfolds in this frozen wonderland.


Enhancing the Enchantment with Post-processing

Post-processing is an essential part of the photographic process and can elevate your images to new levels of enchantment. Here are some tips to enhance the magic of your Iceland photos through post-processing:

  1. Shoot in RAW: When photographing in Iceland, always shoot in RAW format. RAW files retain more information and provide greater flexibility during post-processing. They allow you to recover highlights, adjust white balance, and make more detailed edits without sacrificing image quality.
  2. Basic Adjustments: Start by making basic adjustments to your images, such as adjusting exposure, contrast, and white balance. Fine-tune these parameters to bring out the desired mood and atmosphere of the scene.
  3. Enhance Colors: Iceland’s landscapes are teeming with vibrant colors, from the lush green moss to the blue glacial ice. Use selective editing tools to enhance and selectively adjust colors, making them pop and creating a more visually appealing image.
  4. Sharpen and Enhance Details: Bring out the intricate details of the landscape by selectively sharpening areas of focus. Use adjustment brushes or filters to enhance details in rocks, ice formations, or foreground elements, adding depth and texture to your images.
  5. Remove Distractions: During post-processing, carefully examine your images for any distractions or unwanted elements. Use healing brushes or clone stamp tools to remove distracting objects and create a cleaner and more focused composition.
  6. Create a Mood with Tone and Contrast: Experiment with adjusting the overall tone and contrast of your images to enhance the desired mood. Iceland’s landscapes lend themselves well to moody and atmospheric edits, so don’t be afraid to play with shadows, highlights, and mid-tone adjustments to create a captivating image.
  7. Apply Graduated Filters: Graduated filters can help balance exposure and add drama to skies or other areas of your image. Use graduated filters to selectively darken or lighten specific areas, such as the sky or foreground, to create a more balanced and visually pleasing composition.
  8. Embrace Creative Editing: Iceland’s landscapes are a blank canvas for your creativity. Feel free to experiment with creative editing techniques, such as adding textures, applying artistic filters, or creating panoramas or composites, to bring a unique and artistic vision to your images.

Remember, post-processing is a personal and creative process. Don’t be afraid to experiment, try new techniques, and develop your own unique style that reflects the enchantment and magic of the Iceland landscapes you captured through your lens.



Iceland is a land of awe-inspiring landscapes and enchanting beauty, offering a photographer’s paradise like no other. From the majestic waterfalls and glaciers to the ethereal ice caves and Northern Lights, this Nordic island captivates the imagination and ignites the creative spirit. In this guide, we have explored the various aspects of photographing Iceland’s magical landscapes.


We started by discussing the importance of finding the perfect locations, whether they are popular landmarks or hidden gems off the beaten path. We then delved into techniques for capturing the magical landscapes, including composition, utilizing wide-angle lenses, and taking advantage of dynamic lighting conditions.


Mastering light and exposure is crucial for creating stunning images, and we explored tips and techniques for shooting during the golden hour, exposed for highlights, using filters, and embracing different exposures to capture the full dynamic range. We also discussed the unique challenges and opportunities presented by winter conditions, such as bundling up, protecting your gear, and making the most of the contrast and reflections in snowy landscapes.


Finally, we touched on the importance of post-processing in enhancing the enchantment of your Iceland photos. From basic adjustments to creative editing, post-processing provides the opportunity to bring out the true beauty of the landscapes and add a personal touch to your images.


Photographing Iceland is not just about capturing a moment, but about immersing yourself in a world of wonder and creating images that transport viewers to the magical realms of Narnia. With careful planning, technical skills, and a touch of creativity, you can capture the essence and enchantment of Iceland’s landscapes.


So pack your camera gear, embrace the spirit of adventure, and embark on a visual journey through the breathtaking landscapes of Iceland. May your photography adventures be filled with magical moments and unforgettable images that showcase the captivating beauty of this Nordic wonderland.