5 key reasons to use wide-angle lenses in Iceland
Iceland is a beautiful country for landscape photography, with mysterious canyons that give people the feeling of having entered another planet. Therefore, Iceland has become one of the most popular countries for landscape photographers.
While wide-angle lenses are a must for Icelandic landscape photography, they are well suited to Icelandic landscape photography, creating considerable depth in the scene and expanding your options for different compositions. It also allows you to include the foreground, middle, background, and sky in your photos at the same time — which is exactly what most people looking back want to remember when they traveled through this otherworldly landscape.
In this article, we’ll explain what a wide-angle lens is and discuss 5 key reasons to use wide-angle lenses in Iceland and things to know before traveling to Iceland.
1. What is a Wide Angle Lens?
A wide-angle lens is a lens with a short focal length and a wide field of view. Typically, it is more than 35 mm wide on full-frame cameras. Such lenses allow you to capture more of the scene than a normal lens, allowing you to include more foreground and background information in the image.
All wide-angle lenses come in fixed (prime) and variable (zoom) focal lengths. What you choose to use is up to you and your personal preferences. Fisheye lenses are also included in wide-angle lenses, although they produce more visual distortion and thus a circular effect – hence the name “fisheye lenses”.
2. 5 reasons to use wide-angle lenses.
Now that you know what wide-angle lenses mean, let’s talk about all the reasons why you should use wide-angle lenses to make your landscape photography in Iceland reach its full potential.
(1) Get creative
There are a million and one ways to photograph the Icelandic landscape. With volcanoes, huge glaciers, hot springs, vast lava fields, stunning shorelines, and black sand beaches at your feet, you’ll have plenty of time to shoot for days on end. Remember, although there are a billion photos of Iceland floating around, so to capture great pictures of the Icelandic landscape, you must find interesting compositions and find creative ways to compose them.
The Icelandic landscape is full of tiny details. From mossy rocks to cracks in the earth, these details make the landscape so unique. As such, they are perfect topics for thinking about what to populate a frame with.
Wide-angle lenses allow you to get as close to detail as possible without excluding important elements in the background, making the viewer feel like they are there. By highlighting your theme in the foreground, you can draw the viewer into the landscape, make them feel like they are in a new world, and give them a completely different perspective to appreciate Iceland’s magnificent nature.
(2) Photograph of the Northern Lights
When the northern lights get the upper hand, you’ll notice they’re all over the sky, and it’s impossible to photograph them with telephoto and zoom. Wide-angle lenses, on the other hand, allow you to capture plenty of scenery. Or, in the case of the Northern Lights, capture more of the sky.
As mentioned earlier, using wide Angle also allows you to capture interesting elements of the landscape and sky in a single shot, which is crucial for creating interesting aurora borealis photos. It’s important not to forget to add something interesting to the foreground because aurora borealis photography isn’t just about capturing the colors of the sky itself.
For all great photographs, some elements draw the viewer into the frame, toward the subject itself. To bring your Icelandic story to life, you need to make sure that the audience knows that you not only photographed the Northern Lights anywhere in the world but also photographed them in Iceland. This means taking advantage of wide-angle lenses to include the surroundings.
(3) Drama creation
The problem with using a wide-angle lens is that it can create quite a bit of perspective distortion in your lens. Vertical or receding parallel lines will appear converging, some objects may appear stretched or magnified, and the landscape may appear more irregular. Although it may sound strange at first, this perspective distortion can enhance your composition of the Icelandic landscape.
Wide-angle lenses capture more of the scene in front of you. It can create drama by using elements of the scene itself. You’ll be able to get close to the lead line and use perspective distortion to use the lines to extend to your subject, creating a dramatic pattern that draws the viewer into your composition. By doing so, you will be able to define the space being captured and add another level of depth and interest to your image.
You can make subjects appear larger and even exaggerate more details in the foreground to make them stand out from the rest of the environment. Using a wide-angle lens also allows you to capture Iceland’s natural scale — enhancing the sense of drama the viewer feels when viewing your photos as if you are recreating what you felt when you stood in Iceland and photographed it yourself.
The Sharp photos stand out. The trick to amazing landscape photography is to make everything as clear as possible. If you want everything in Iceland to be sharp, you can’t use a wide-angle lens at all.
The focal length of a lens has a great effect on its depth of field. Telephoto lenses have a smaller depth of field, while wide-angle lenses have an incredible depth of field. This means you’ll be able to get all the focus from a few meters to infinity using a wide-angle lens, resulting in images with maximum resolution.
(5) Shoot the midnight sun
Iceland… The land of the midnight sun. This particular phenomenon, in which the sun does not dip below the horizon, is only visible during the summer months from late May to July. On some nights, the sun can be seen almost 24 hours a day, and fiery sunsets blend almost seamlessly into the gorgeous sunrise. The midnight sun is one of the best times for Icelandic landscape photography! But how exactly do you capture all the golden glow of the midnight sun? Use a wide-angle lens, of course!
Creating sun stars is also a fun and easy way to add a bit of style to your Icelandic midnight sun photos. To make your sun star, you’ll want to use a wide-angle lens with a smaller aperture — that is, a larger F-number. Anything from F/16 to F/22 is perfect. When you photograph the midnight sun, a wide-angle lens combined with a small aperture creates a super-sharp view of the sun’s star.
However, to make the midnight sun appear in your shot, adjust the direction of your sun star. You can try to hide part of it behind the sea heap, or even have the sun nudge part of the man-made structure inside your frame. When the sun is slightly blocked like this, a solar star forms or you can get incredible bursts of brightness that make your shot stand out compared to other photos you’ve seen of Iceland.
3. 5 things to know before a photo trip to Iceland.
Before you pack your bags and head out, read up on 5 things to know before a photo trip to Iceland and make sure you’re ready for an epic adventure.
(1) Pick the right time.
Iceland has become famous for its scenery over the years, so no matter what time of year you visit this special place, you’ll find tourists there. More and more tourists pour in every year, and the tiny country of 300,000 people received over 2 million visitors in 2017. However, most of them visit during the summer between June and September, so the earlier you get there, the fewer tourists you’ll encounter.
Another benefit of visiting in winter or early spring is the opportunity to photograph some of the northern lights. I was traveling to Iceland in March and saw the aurora several times. Most of the time, the clouds were very dense, but a few times I was lucky and the sky was clear and a wonderful light show surprised me. You will only have this opportunity during your winter visit.
Still, the advantages of summer need to be considered. In summer, you can visit more islands with better roads and hiking conditions. For example, hiking in the highlands in winter is very difficult, all the huts are closed and the paths are covered with snow.
Summer is also a good time to visit if you want to photograph some puffins. They start coming to the island in May, and the puffin season is in the summer.
The great thing about winter is that you get long nights in the winter, lots of opportunities to see the northern lights, plus prime time from morning to night (about 3 hours in the middle of winter). Of course, on the other hand, in summer, the days are long and there are almost 24 hours of daylight. You won’t travel across the country in one season, so if you like landscape photography, multiple visits are almost mandatory.
(2) It’s not the Mediterranean, so bring your wool pants!
There’s one other thing you should consider when you’re making tough decisions about when to go. No matter what time of year you visit, it will be cold. Although summer can get quite warm, winter can be quite cold. With a name like Iceland, it’s almost common sense, but even in warm sunshine, the wind can chill you out and can ruin your time if you stay outside in the wrong clothes.
As long as the weather is dry, you can easily walk around to stay warm, but, no matter what the weather is like at the start, it’s always a good idea to have some raincoats with you when you go on a long hike. On my last trip, I met some people hiking in sweatpants and T-shirts. Although the weather looked good at the start of the hike, it changed quickly and 15 minutes after the start of the hike, rain, and wind came without warning, and the next moment I saw these people wearing only a T-shirt and freezing. Don’t make the same mistake: Bring weatherproof! Raincoats can be made from almost any type of outdoor gear.
As a landscape photographer, I’ve found that patience is one of the many factors that lead to a good result. So while you’re standing there waiting for the perfect light, frozen because you’re barely moving, wearing warm clothes is crucial for waiting for the amazing light to arrive. The last thing you want to do is abort your session because you’re not ready for the cold weather. It goes without saying, but we all say anyway, bring your camera gloves! The last thing you want is cold hands.
If you don’t like long hikes in bad weather, don’t worry. Iceland is great because you don’t always have to travel as you can usually find photo opportunities close to the road. Either way, be prepared to endure cold and changing weather conditions.
(3) Use your gear and worry less.
Now let’s get this out of the way: It’s going to rain, and even in your best raincoat, you’re going to get wet.
When you get hit by rain or water from a waterfall, or you notice snow on your camera, take it out and continue shooting. Shooting in the wet means more photo opportunities, awe-inspiring moods, and dramatic shots, and you don’t have to worry too much about your gear on the day.
Usually, the case and lens are sealed and much stronger than we thought. So use the expensive gear you’ve paid for, don’t worry, and keep shooting, and you’ll end up getting more out of your trip that way.
If you’re struggling to change your mind about how the weather can damage your gear, use camera rain shields from different companies to help protect your gear.
Before I put the lens and camera back in my bag, I chose an easy way to erase them from the lens and camera, and it was fine. To keep moisture out of my bag, I started collecting the small moisture-absorbent bags that come in many packages of things I buy. Then I store them in my photo bag. It’s like a charm, and it doesn’t cost anything.
(4) You’re constantly changing lenses.
Now that you’ve stopped worrying about your equipment, be prepared to keep changing lenses.
Switching between wide-angle to telephoto to mid-range zoom, I’m always changing what I think looks good and adding variety to my photos. The Icelandic landscape is conducive to many compositions in one area at different focal lengths. There are so many opportunities, so use the expensive glass in your bag to avoid being lazy and missing your photo opportunity.
The main reason I say this is because I was surrounded by random photographers in Iceland and I overheard someone say “it would be cool to use a telephoto lens, but I don’t want to change lenses now”. This mindset is the difference between a great photographer and a mediocre one.
(5) Stop taking the same picture as other people.
Yes, you must photograph Skoga Falls or any other famous spot in the Icelandic landscape, but please don’t copy other photographers. It’s not hard to find unique compositions. The country is so photogenic that it doesn’t just tick off famous photo spots.
My advice: Use those well-known images as inspiration, but if you stop chasing the same shots everyone else has taken and start looking at the country with your own eyes, there will be plenty of exciting new subjects to shoot with.
Try to go east to the fjords and north, where there are fewer pictures. In general, it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to drive on trails and explore interesting subjects. Famous places are famous for a reason, but there’s so much more to photograph in Iceland that can enrich your portfolio and the overall experience of your trip.
I’ve always believed it’s best to be well-prepared when it comes to camera gear, and I like having multiple tools to choose from. There are many opportunities to take beautiful photos in Iceland. Make sure you are prepared for all situations! Wish you a pleasant journey!
Why use a wide-angle lens?
Simply put, a wide-angle lens has a wider angle of view than a normal lens. Wide-angle lenses are ideal for photographing expansive landscapes, cramped interiors, and subjects that wouldn’t fit into the field of view of a normal lens, such as a large building shot at relatively close range.
Why would you use a telephoto wide-angle or fisheye lens?
A wide-angle lens increases your horizontal scope, while a telephoto lens allows you to focus on a subject from far away. Wide-angle lenses generally have a longer depth of field, which means that they are not the right fit for a situation like a portrait photography, where you only want the subject in sharp focus.
What are the characteristics of wide-angle lenses?
As wide-angle lenses also emphasize perspectives, nearby objects will appear bigger and faraway objects will appear smaller in the resulting image.
What is a wide-angle macro lens used for?
A wide-angle macro lens was used for capturing really small subjects up close while still capturing the background. A wide-angle macro lens can create some interesting and vibrant shots unimaginable on other wide-angle lenses.
What is the difference between a wide-angle lens and a normal lens?
A “normal” or “standard” focal length produces about the same image as the human eye would see with no magnification. A “wide-angle” lens has a shorter focal length than a “normal” lens, which produces less magnification of the object and a wider field of view than the normal lens.