Your Monitor – All You Ever Wanted Know

Your Monitor – All You Ever Wanted Know, and the stuff you didn’t – but need to!

I need a new monitor, but am undecided which to buy.  I know exactly which one I’d go for if money was no object – the NEC Spectraview Reference 302, but money is a very big object in that I ain’t got any spare!

But spend it I’ll have to – your monitor is the window on to your images and so is just about THE most important tool in your photographic workflow.  I do wish people would realize/remember that!

Right now my decision is between 24″ and 27″, Eizo or BenQ.  The monitor that needs replacement due to backlight degradation is my trusty HP LP2475W – a wide gamut monitor that punched way above its original price weight, and if I could find a new one I’d buy it right now – it was THAT good.

Now I know more than most about the ‘numbers bit’ of photography, and this current dilemma made me think about how much potential for money-wasting this situation could be for those that don’t ‘understand the tech’ quite as much as I do.

So I thought I’d try and lay things out for you in a simple and straight forward blog post – so here goes.

The Imaging Display Chain

Image Capture:

Let’s take my landscape camera – the Nikon D800E.  It is a 36 megapixel DSLR set to record UNCOMPRESSED 14 bit Raw files.

The RAW image produced by this camera has a pixel dimension of 7360 x 4912 and a pixel area of 36,152,320 pixels.

The horizontal resolution of this beastly sensor is approximately 5200 pixels per inch, each pixel being 4.88 µm (microns) in diameter – that’s know as pixel pitch.

During the exposure, the ANALOGUE part of the senor sees the scene in full spectrum colour and tone through its Bayer Array – it gathers an analogue image.

When the shutter closes, the DIGITAL side of the imaging sensor then basically converts the analogue image into a digital render with a reproduction accuracy of 14 bits per pixel.

And let’s not forget the other big thing – colour space.  All dslr cameras capture their images in their very own unique sensor colour space.  This bares little to no resemblance to either of the three commonly used digital colour management workflow colour spaces of sRGB, AdobeRGB1998 or ProPhotoRGB.

But for the purposes of digital RAW workflow, RAW editors such as Lightroom do an exceptional job of conserving the majority if not all the colours captured by the camera sensor, by converting the capture colour space to that of ProPhotoRGB – basically because it’s by far the largest industry standard space with the greatest spread of HSL values.

So this RAW file that sits on my CF card, then gets ingested by my Mac Pro for later display on my monitor is:

  • 1.41 inches on its long edge
  • has a resolution of around 5,200 pixels per inch
  • has a reproduction accuracy for Hue, Saturation & Luminance of 14 bits
  • has a colour space unique to the camera, which can best be reproduced by the ProPhotoRGB working colour space.

Image Display:

Now comes the tricky bit!

In order to display an image on a monitor, said monitor has to be connected to your computer via your graphics card or GPU output. This creates a larger number of pitfalls and bear traps for the unsuspecting and naive!

Physical attributes of a monitor you need to bare in mind:

  1. Panel Display Colour Bit Depth
  2. Panel Technology – IPS etc
  3. Monitor Panel Backlight – CCFL, WCCFL, LED etc
  4. Monitor Colour Look-Up Table – Monitor On-Board LUT (if applicable)
  5. Monitor connectivity
  6. Reliance on dedicated calibration device or not

The other consideration is your graphics card Colour Look-Up Table – GPU LUT

1.Monitor Panel Display Colour Bit Depth – All display monitors have a panel display colour bit depth – 8 bit or 10 bit.

I had a client turn up here last year with his standard processing setup – an oldish Acer laptop and an Eizo Colour Edge monitor – he was very proud of this setup, and equally gutted at his stupidity when it was pointed out to him.

The Eizo was connected to the laptop via a DVI to VGA lead, so he had paid a lot of good money for a 10 bit display monitor which he was feeding via a connection that was barely 8 bit.

Sat next to the DVI input on the Eizo was a Display Port input – which is native 10 bit. A Display Port lead doesn’t cost very much at all and is therefore the ONLY sensible way to connect to a 10 bit display – provided of course that your machine HAS a Display Port output – which his Acer laptop did not!

So if you are looking at buying a new monitor make sure you buy one with a display bit depth that your computer is capable of supporting.

There is visually little difference between 10 bit and 8 bit displays until you view an image at 100% magnification or above – then you will usually see something of an increase in colour variation and tonal shading, provided that the image you are viewing has a bit depth of 10+.  The difference is often quoted at its theoretical value of 64x –  (1,073,741,824 divided by 16,777,216).

So, yes, your RAW files will LOOK and APPEAR slightly better on a 10 bit monitor – but WAIT!

There’s more….how does the monitor display panel achieve its 10 bit display depth?  Is it REAL or is it pseudo? Enter FRC or Frame rate Control.

The FRC spoof 10 bit display – frame rate control quite literally ‘flickers’ individual pixels between two different HSL values at a rate fast enough to be undetectable by the human eye – the viewers brain gets fooled into seeing an HSL value that isn’t really there!

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Here’s why I hate FRC !

Personally I have zero time for FRC technology in panels – I’d much prefer a good solid 8 bit wide gamut panel without it than a pseudo 10 bit; which is pretty much the same 8 bit panel with FRC tech and a higher price tag…Caveat Emptor!

2. Panel Technology – for photography there is only really one tech to use, that of IPS or In Plane Switching.  The main reasons for this are viewing angle and full colour gamut.

The more common monitors, and cheaper ones most often use TN tech – Twisted Nematic, and from a view angle point of view these are bloody awful because the display colour and contrast vary hugely with even just an inch or two head movement.

Gamers don’t like IPS panels because the response time is slow in comparison to TN – so don’t buy a gaming monitor for your photo work!

There are also Vertical Alignment (VA) and Plane to line Switching (PLS) technologies out there, VA being perhaps marginally better than TN, and PLS being close to (and in certain cases better than) IPS.

But all major colour work monitor manufacturers use IPS derivative tech.

3. Monitor Panel Backlight – CCFL, WCCFL, LED

All types of TFT (thin film transistor) monitor require a back light in order to view what is on the display.

Personally I like – or liked before it started to get knackered – the wide cold cathode fluorescent (WCCFL) backlight on the HP LP2475W, but these seem to have fallen by the wayside somewhat in favour of LED backlights.

The WCCFL backlight enabled me to wring 99% of the Adobe1998 RGB colourspace out of a plain 8 bit panel on the old HP, and it was a very even light across the whole of the monitor surface.  The monitor itself is nearly 11 years old, but it wasn’t until just over 12 months ago that it started to fade at the corners.  Only since the start of this year (2017) has it really begun to show signs of more severe failure on the right hand 20% – hence I’ll be needing a new one soonish!

But modern LED backlights have a greater degree of uniformity – hence their general supersedence of WCCFL.

4. Colour Look-Up Tables or LUTs

Now this is a bit of an awkward one for some folk to get their heads around, but really it’s simple.

Most monitors that you can buy have an 8 bit LUT which is either fixed, or variable via a number of presets available within the monitor OSD menu.

When it comes to calibrating a ‘standard gamut with fixed LUT’ monitor, the calibration software makes its alterations to the LUT of the GPU – not that of the monitor.

With monitors and GPUs that are barely 8 bit to begin with, the act of calibration can lead to problems.

A typical example would be an older laptop screen.  A laptop screen is driven by the on-board graphics component or chipset within the laptop motherboard.  Older MacBooks were the epitome of this setups failure for photographers.

The on-board graphics in older MacBooks were barely 8 bit from the Apple factory, and when you calibrated them they fell to something like 6 bit, and so a lot of images that contained varied tones of a similar Hue displayed colour banding:

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An example of image colour banding due to low GPU LUT bit depth.
The banding is NOT really there, it just illustrates the lack of available colours and tones for the monitor display.

This phenomenon used to be a pain in the bum when choosing images for a presentation, but was never anything to panic over because the banding is NOT in the image itself.

Now if I display this same RAW file in Lightroom on my newer calibrated 15″ Retina MacBook Pro I still see a tiny bit of banding, though it’s not nearly this bad.  However, if I connect an Eizo CS2420 using a DisplayPort to HDMI cable via the 10 bit HDMI port on the MBP then there is no banding at all.

And here’s where folk get confused – none of what we are talking about has a direct effect on your image – just on how it appears on the monitor.

When I record a particular shade of say green on my D800E the camera records that green in its own colour space with an accuracy of 14 bits per colour channel.  Lightroom will display it’s own interpretation of that colour green.  I will make adjustments to that green in HSL terms and then ask Lightroom to export the result as say a TIFF file with 16 bits of colour accuracy per channel – and all the time this is going on I’m viewing the process on a monitor which has a display colour bit depth of 8 bit or 10 bit and that is deriving its colour from a LUT which could be 8 bit, 14 bit or 16 bit depending on what make and model monitor I’m using!

Some people get into a state of major confusion when it comes to bits and bit depth, and to be honest there’s no need for it.  All we are talking about here is ‘fidelity of reproduction’ on the monitor of colours which are FIXED and UNALTERABLE in your RAW file, and of the visual impact of your processing adjustments.

The colours contained in our image are just numbers – nothing more than that.

Lightroom will display an image by sending colour numbers through the GPU LUT to the monitor.  I can guarantee you that even with the best monitor in the world in conjunction with the most accurate calibration hardware money can buy, SOME of those colour numbers will NOT display correctly!  They will be replaced in a ‘relative colourmetric manner’ by their nearest neighbor in the MONITOR LUT – the colours the monitor CAN display.

Expensive monitors with 14 bit or 16 bit LUTs mean less colours will be ‘replaced’ than when using a monitor that has an 8 bit LUT, and even more colours will be replaced if we scale back our ‘spend’ even further and purchase a standard gamut sRGB monitor.

Another advantage of the pricier 14/16 bit wide gamut dedicated photography monitors from the likes of Eizo, NEC and BenQ is the ability to do ‘hardware calibration’.

Whereas the ‘standard’ monitor calibration mentioned earlier makes it’s calibration changes primarily to the GPU LUT, and therefore somewhat ‘stiffles’ its output bit depth; with hardware calibration we can internally calibrate the monitor itself and leave the GPU running as intended.

That’s a slight over-simplification, but it makes the point!

5. Monitor Connectivity. By this I mean connection type:

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VGA or D-Sub 15. Awful method of connection – went out with the Ark. If you are using this then “stop it”!

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DVI – nothing wrong with this connection format whatsoever, but bare in mind it’s an 8 bit connection.

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Dual Link DVI – still only 8 bit.

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Displayport – 10 bit monitor input connection.

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HDMI left, Displayport right – both 10 bit connections.

6. Reliance on dedicated calibration device or not – this is something that has me at the thin end of a sharp wedge if I consider the BenQ option.

I own a perfectly serviceable ColorMunki Photo, and as far as I can see, hardware calibration on the Eizo is feasible with this device. However, hardware calibration on BenQ system software does not appear to support the use of my ColorMunki Photo – so I need to purchase an i1 Display, which is not a corner I really want to be backed into!

So there we have it, and I hope you’ve learned something you didn’t know about monitors.

And remember, understanding what you already have, and what you want to buy is a lot more advantageous to you than the advice of some bloke in a shop who’s on a sales commission!

If this post has been useful to you then please consider chucking me a small donation – or a big one if you are that way inclined!

Many thanks to the handful of readers who contributed over the last week or so – you’ve done your bit and I’m eternally grateful to you.

 

Iceland Photography Trip

Iceland Photography Trip

For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of running landscape workshops in Iceland.

Now you know by now I NEVER try and sell anything I haven’t ‘done’ myself first, so the last Monday of February saw myself and Richard boarding an Easyjet Airbus at Manchester bound for Keflavik airport for something of a recce.

We had teamed up with the ‘oh-so-nice’ Malcolm Stott, a super guy who’s been traveling to Iceland as a naturalist and tour guide for nearly 50 years – what he doesn’t know about Iceland isn’t worth knowing!

Poor man – he had absolutely NO DAMNED IDEA what he’d let himself in for agreeing to take me and mini-me on a whistle-stop tour of the land of fire and ice.

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Poor Malcolm – look at him, taken on the last full day we were there – he’s definitely suffering from PTSD!

With all my experience in Norway I thought I’d got a pretty good idea what to expect – how freaking wrong can one be!

We piled into Keflavik while it was still daylight, got picked up by Malcom in our hired Toyota 4×4 and headed straight for the Northern Light Inn where we’d be staying for one night before heading up to the North east region and Myvatn.

Cracking hotel – and just 2 hours after Easyjets rubber hit the Icelandic tarmac we were out taking pictures of the Aurora:

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A lone photographer (it’s Malcolm really!) stands beneath the Northern Lights just south of Keflavik in Iceland.

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Aurora Pano over a snow-covered lava field. The light pollution on the right is the town Keflavik, and the horizon is still lit by the afterglow of sunset.

It was while at this location that Richard and I got our first taste of the scourge of serious photography in Iceland – bloody tourists!

They walk in front of you waving torches and camera-phones without so much as an excuse me – inconsiderate bastards – I could have got a lot of satisfaction had I thought of adding a Glock 19 to the kit !

So, lesson learned for the future – keep away from the tourist traps; or so we thought.

We moved on to a much more secluded location and a small frozen lake:

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The Aurora Borealis lights up the night sky above a frozen lake in Iceland, with the moon reflected in the ice.

We got back to the hotel around midnight, Malcolm retired to his bed, but Rich and myself were doing it pro-style, downloading and backing up images and pinging a post up on Facebook.  Coupled with a thirst for tea we didn’t see sleep until around 3am, which was far from ideal as we had a mammoth drive up to Myvatn the following morning.

I could do the drive myself in about 4 hours – but I’d lose my license and be bankrupted by speeding fines in under 2 hours – driving speed limits in Iceland are bloody awful if you are a UK driver!

The drive up to Myvatn was intense and non-stop, and we decided to stop at the iconic falls of Godafoss – big mistake – tourist alarm!

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A panoramic winter view of the iconic waterfall of Godafoss in North Eastern Iceland.

The wind was off the falls so we had problems with spray on lenses, so close work with a wide angle was impractical to say the least – so a further PoV and a pano approach with a longer lens was called for.

Once the vista view was done we waited for the sun to get low enough for the God Rays to start showing in the huge curtain of spray that we were ‘blessed with’ – the results certainly had the throng of Chinese tourists totally engrossed:

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Landscape photography is all about analyzing what you can see, and when you struggle to make the standard view work for you you MUST find something in the detail – and detail can be shot no matter how much of an ‘epic fail’ the scene appears to be.  Yes, the two shots above might not be your ‘cup of tea’, but I know someone will like them and make a purchase!  And we’ve got dozens of them – so it’s not a fail!

KNOW THY MARKET PLACE KIDS!

And NEVER go out on a landscape session without a short to medium telephoto – EVER!

In the evening, after checking in to the Hotel Sel at Myvatn and getting over the shock of the smell of the water coming from the taps in our bathroom (oh my God it was bad!) we were treated to another display of Aurora that must have peaked at Kp7 around midnight:

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The Aurora will just sit there in the sky looking awesome.

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Then suddenly it will split the sky at lightning speed, break apart and dance around all over the place.

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Then it’ll slow down and start to fade, perhaps coming back later – or perhaps not!.

Big Kp number displays are incredible to witness and in truth stills cannot do it justice – you have to stop taking pictures and just look up in awe – and I guarantee it’ll make you painfully aware of your own insignificance……it makes you feel like what you really are, less than a blip on the screen.

We had the opportunity the photograph the Aurora on 5 of the 7 nights we were in Iceland – we certainly filled our boots with it I can tell you.

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One of Rich’s many Aurora shots done with the D4 and the super-sweet Nikon 18-35mm – actually a far more forgiving combo than the 14-24mm+D800E combo I was using.

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The daylight opportunities in and around the Myvatn area where far too numerous for us to really do them justice in the time we had available, but we did our best:

The Hell-Hole of Námafjall Hverir

Not the best time of year to photograph this area – covered in snow, the vivid colours of the ground are hidden for the most part.  But it still feels like the gateway to Hell, and the over-powering sulphur-laden atmosphere leaves a lasting impression – especially when combined with the tap water back at the hotel.

But if you want to be in an extreme volcanic area you have to take it all in your stride.

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A panoramic view of a collapsed steam vent or fumerole at Namafjall in Iceland.

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The Namafjall fumeroles make a constant deafening roar as they pump tonnes of high pressure sulfurous steam into the atmosphere.

Now here’s the thing; sulfur, air and water go together to make sulfuric acid, especially when we take into account the additions of extreme heat and pressure – nice!

Tourists again find this spot a big draw – having a good time standing warming their dumb asses against the fumeroles and trying to hover their bloody DJI Phantoms in the acidic gas clouds!

Really, to get great images here you need to pitch up in the autumn, late in an evening when they’ve all buggered off in their coaches back to their hotels.

And before anyone says ‘they’ve as much right to be there as you Andy’ – NO they haven’t, not when they show such disrespect to the landscape and environment – you should see the litter they drop for starters…..bastards….grrrrrrr.

I was stood talking to a Norwegian geologist while at Namafjall, who told me in a very matter-of-fact manner that the magma was rising and was only around 800 meters below my feet……’great’ says I, ‘do all these Muppets know this?’

‘The tour leader on the coach tells them, but they either don’t listen or are too stupid to comprehend it’ says he.

I can’t blame the Icelandic people for letting them in – get their money before they get burnt to a crisp here, or drowned at Vik!

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Within this close up of a geothermal pool in Iceland there is sulfur, sulfur-eating bacteria, boiling mud and ice.  Getting this shot made me go light-headed through lack of breathable air!

Major Geological Landmarks

The Mid Atlantic Tectonic Plate Boundary – it’s Hand of God time!

Just over a mile up the road from Namafjall is this rather innocuous looking feature:

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The mid Atlantic ridge tectonic boundary at its highest elevation above the sea bed in Iceland. The European tectonic plate is on the right of the image and the North American tectonic plate is on the left.

But innocuous and insignificant it certainly is not!

Coachloads of tourists drive straight past it never giving it a second thought.  I’d love to photograph this from the other side with the sun setting in the gap – another shot for autumn.

The Tephra and Pseudo Craters of Myvatn

Hverfjall Tephra Crater

The geological processes which formed these two landmarks boggle the mind – both features result from a meeting of copious amounts of ground water and boggy ground and even more copious amounts of hot moving lava flow.  Put simply – you just wouldn’t want to be there at the time, believe me!

I’d been looking at the Hverfjall Crater for two days trying to find somewhere to plonk the tripod to get the shot I had in my head.  And towards the end of Thursday I found it, quite by accident, down a track leading to a stuffed bird museum (don’t ask!).

Stunning winter light and a pancake flat snow field, kill the saturation in post – yes sir thanks muchly.  Out comes to 70-200 f2.8 and just wait for the sunlight to pop from behind the cloud.

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Looking towards the huge Hverfjall Crater tephra cone across a snow covered Lake Myvatn in Iceland. The houses on the far side of the lake give some scale.

The big thing that got me was the light quality, which is something you can only get at high latitudes – it’s a landscapers dream.

About two hours later I found the location to shoot the next image, a group of pseudo craters around Lake Myvatn – the sunlight gave some cracking top lighting to this landmark feature.

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Winter snow and stunning light over pseudo craters or rootless cones in the north eastern region of Iceland. They were created by a huge steam explosion through an advancing lava flow as it moved across wetland bog around 2500 years ago.

And we have to have a colourful one of the lake don’t we:

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Lake Myvatn at daybreak.

Friday morning saw us making the next big move down to Skaftafell, and because the highland road was closed because of the snow, we had to do the N1 eastern coastal route.  Eleven hours driving, but a stunning drive it was – the light over the highland plain and the immense vistas of the Eastern Coast blew me away.

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The daybreak light over the North East Highland Plain was breath-taking. Shot with the D500 and 18-35mm combo.

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View across the mouth of the Faskrudsfjordur fjord and Skrudur island.

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Looking south towards the mountain range at the mouth of Stodvarfjordur on the eastern coast of Iceland.

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Looking south east from the inner end of Berufjord, again on Icelands unvisited eastern coast.

Two things struck myself and Rich on this mammoth coastal drive.

  • You can’t help but ‘pano everything’ because the vistas are just too epic.
  • Why is there no one here?

Skaftafell, Jokulsarlon & Vik

Checked into the Skaftafell Hotel and YAY – no sulfur in the water!

No way was I paying the price to eat in the evening here – so it’s over the road to the N1 services for the best meal I’ve had in ages – all you can eat buffet of breaded pork medallions, spring rolls, potatoes gratin and pepper sauce – under £30 for me and Rich – we were stuffed!

Aurora photography on this Friday night and small hours of Saturday morning came in two parts.

The hotel lies at the foot of two huge glaciers coming down from the huge Vatnajokull ice cap.  There’s something of a penalty to pay for being near the foot of a glacier, and that penalty is a katabatic wind.

Holy Crap! They come from nowhere, are so cold you can’t believe it, go so fast they’ll rip the clothes from you back, and then disappear as fast as they arrive.

Here’s one caught by Rich, on its way down the glacier to give us a battering:

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You can see the katabatic ‘cell’ approaching the foot of the glacier – it’s the gray ‘cloud’ full of fine ice particles which wasn’t there 30 seconds before!

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Another katabatic cell rushes down the glacier but we are too far away to feel it’s effects – thank God!

We gave up after 30 minutes and half a dozen batterings, and went back to the hotel – and waited….

And sure enough things calmed down and the skies cleared around 1am on Saturday morning, and we were off out again.  A different look to the lights this time around – very active but diffused:

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Three shot panorama – D800E+14-24 f2.8 @ 14mm

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Fjallajokull Glacier.

Above is a pano of the Fjallajokull Glacier, which creeps its way down from the main Vatnajokull ice cap.

This is 19 vertical frames stitched together for 49000 pixels – and there’s another three rows to go on this top and bottom, but it keeps making my Mac fall over when I try to put it together!!
Spot the lunatic tourist bottom right – he’s good for scaling. We were taking bets on whether he’d fall in or not, and how long he’d survive if he did – what a prick.

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To ND or not ND – that is the question? Answer – do both! A large chunk of blue glacial ice being battered in the surf on the western black sand beach at Jokulsarlon.

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A macro panoramic view of the intricate surface texture of glacial ice washed ashore on the beach at Jokulsarlon in Iceland.

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Looking up towards the immense icy peaks of the western end of Vatnajokull.  This was shot with the camera and me jammed in the gap of the open rear door of our 4×4 – trying to keep the camera steady during a massive katabatic blast.

I also got the opportunity to take one of those super-minimalist abstract landscapes:

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Bad weather from the North Atlantic approaching the coast of Southern Iceland, viewed over a perfectly flat sheet of snow-covered ice. This is a genuine image not a composite.

Eat your heart out Rhine 2 – hey, a bloke can dream can’t he?

Later the Aurora paid us another visit:

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One from Rich on the D4 + 18-35mm combo.

Sunday was a strange day.  Lack of sleep was getting to both of us and Malcolm too, but we headed for the East Beach at Vik for the iconic sea stacks:

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A panoramic view of the iconic landmark and popular tourist destination of the Sea Stacks at Vik on Iceland. The shot is taken from the quieter and less visited Eastern Black Sand Beach nest to the village of Vik.

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There’s a damn fine looking landscape here if the tide was a bit further in and there were NO people or footprints! Rich and Malcolm working hard.

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Then we moved on to Skogafoss Falls but it was rammed to bursting with idiots having a laugh falling over – I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a crowd.

I was standing in the river with a standard composition ready to go when a guy wades out in front of me, sits on my feature foreground rock and starts drinking a bottle of beer.  Then his mate starts taking pictures of him.  I ‘nicely’ asked them what their game was and their reply was they were doing a series of shots with ‘beer boy’ drinking a beer in the dodgiest situation they could find at various landmark sites around the world.

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WTF????

I just nodded and quietly left the river, packed up and went back to the car park before I ended up doing a stretch for murder…

So we drove on a few hundred yards and left the vehicle, having decided to walk up to the hidden waterfall of Kvernufoss:

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The waterfall of Kvernufoss which is hidden at the end of a small narrow valley near the larger and more visited Skogafoss falls on the southern coast of Iceland.

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What a stunning little hidden gem this fall is, it would be nice to go back in the autumn and get behind the fall curtain!

We left Kvernufoss for the long drive back to the Northern Light Hotel for our last night in Iceland, but we had not gone very far – Holtsos actually – when we were greeted by a view of the most magnificent sunset sky over the Westman Islands:

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The sun sets behind the Vestmannaeyjar or Westman Island chain off the coast of southern Iceland.

Here’s a wider pano with a rather annoying drone operator in the bottom of the frame to add some scale, and the rocks in the lake removed:

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Click me!

Then another minimalist shot emerged in front of me:

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As the sun sets in the west, the view south east across a partially frozen lake reveals delicate pastel shades of pink and blue in the sky and its reflection in the ice and open water of the lake.

No Aurora on Sunday night, the Valkeries obviously felt they had shown us enough, so it was a case of a few large mugs of the fabulous hot chocolate, a bit of packing, a shower, some more hot choc and BED.

Our plane wasn’t due to leave until 7.40pm Monday so we had some hours to fill, and our plan was to have a drive down to the Sea Stacks at Reykjanesta.  The sky was grey and there was a bit of a ‘blow’ on the go so things looked promising.

On the way I made Rich take one for the team:

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Great way to start the morning – sulfuric acid shower. He’s a good lad!

Reykjanesta is a stunning place, and also a place of great sadness – and a bucket-load of shame too.  This small bit of coastline was famous as the breeding colony for the Great Auk.  But their favorite breeding island vanished in a puff of volcanic action in 1830.  That was on top of their slaughter by British sailors in 1808.

Those few that remained took refuge on the small basalt rock island of Eldey which lies on the horizon about 15km offshore. But on the 3rd of June 1844 four Icelandic fishermen set sail for the island to secure a specimen Auk for a collector.

What they found when they got there is unclear, but suffice to say when they left Eldey the worlds very last pair of breeding Great Auks were killed and their single egg smashed.

And folk wonder why I hate the majority of human-kind.

As a memorial there is a near 6 foot bronze Auk set into the cliff top and it gazes out in the exact line of sight to Eldey – it brings a lump to your throat for sure:

20170306 115407 1 Iceland Photography Trip

The sea was like a washing machine gone mad with 20 to 30 foot breakers smashing into the sea stacks:

It wasn’t exactly fun, but it was exciting (apologies for any language you might have heard!) and I knew we had an escape route from this cave under the cliff – but we were on the ragged edge of safety!

The pics were well worth the effort:

D8E2019 Iceland Photography Trip

The Sea Stacks at Reykjanesta on the southern tip of the Reykjavik peninsula in Iceland. Large waves pound this beach constantly, making it a very dangerous place to visit if you are not careful.

D8E2028 Edit Iceland Photography Trip

The Sea Stacks at Reykjanesta.

That’s about it then, afterwards it was off back to Keflavik airport and a delayed flight back home for tea and medals thanks to a strike by French ATC.

I’m going to be organizing at least two landscape workshops to Iceland in 2018/19.  I haven’t formulated them yet, but they will most likely be in September 2018 and March 2019.  They will be formatted in such a way as to steer clear of the main tourist traps and concentrate more on locations that are not quite so well known.

I have had a lot of interest in these so far, but if it’s something you fancy just drop me a line.

Happy photography everyone, hope you enjoyed this post!