Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In preparation for his first scenic travel book, Brian Rueb made a return trip to Iceland this summer

It's now been a year since California landscape photographer Brian Rueb completed his first two-month trip to Iceland. "That trip began with my decision that it was time for me to get serious about writing and illustrating a book. This summer, I made a return trip to gather more material. Iceland is a photographer’s dream. The light is amazing for hours every night -- the good light runs from about 10pm to 3am. The subjects are always astounding and the opportunities for original and aesthetic compositions is there on a consistent basis.

"I can now say that traveling in Iceland once is a photographer's dream come true, but being there TWICE was... well I wasn’t sure it was real. The first time I went I was on foot. I hitchhiked, walked, and bussed myself from location to location. Overall it was a long arduous process where I put over 400 miles on my boots and many more hours sitting in a strange vehicle hoping to arrive at a location that offered me good subject matter and great shooting conditions.

"On my second trip I had learned from the mistakes of the first, and I set out to come home with a new set of images to add to my portfolio. I was fortunate to be traveling with friend and fellow photographer Adam Attoun, and the two of us had a vehicle to use for the entire 12-day adventure. This allowed us to follow the light and get to locations that would give us the best chances to capture something magical. This trip was also my maiden voyage with the Singh-Ray thin-mount LB Warming Polarizer. The light in the Icelandic sunsets and sunrises tends to be very soft and warm and I was eager to see how this filter would help me capture the beauty of this often desolate landscape.

"I cherish the opportunity to be out in places like this doing what I love. I never know what life will throw me, and making the most of every photographable opportunity is a must. It’s what drives me to perfect my use of filters. I realize there is always a chance I may never be back to a location again, so I want to make sure I’ve captured it the way it deserves? I can usually do that, which is why I'm convinced that quality filters such as those from Singh-Ray are vital to my success. I hope the three images with this story will help confirm my point.

"The shot at the top of this story was made on a gorgeous night at Jokulsarlon, or glacial lagoon. This iconic location eluded me for most of my first trip because I hadn’t gotten the light I wanted on the first trip. This trip proved to be different. The lagoon was calm and the sky was perfect. Light rays blasted out from behind the clouds to give a very dramatic scene of warm and cool tones. I used the LB Warming Polarizer, which did a fantastic job of accentuating the warmth of the sunset and its reflection on the water. I combined it with a 4-stop soft-step ND Grad filter to help balance the brightness of the sky with the foreground. The polarizer also helped bring out the reflected colors that gave the overall image nice depth and balance.

"This image shows a waterfall in the northern highlands called Aldeyjarfoss. We arrived here to find rainy and overcast skies. There appeared to be some clearings on the horizon and we opted to stay and shoot the area knowing we probably wouldn’t be able to get back to this location. It’s by far one of the best and most powerful waterfalls I’ve ever photographed. Situated in a large cauldron of interesting basalt patterns this mighty waterfall give a perfect contrast to the interesting textures and colors of the basalt. While we waited, the patch of sky opened up and I knew from looking at this area that the LB Warming Polarizer would be ideal. The sun had come back out and was low in the sky. The clouds were also picking up some fantastic tones that blended well with the warmth of the rocks. I climbed down a very steep embankment to set up near the edge of the pool. The water surge was so powerful in this area that 2-foot-high waves periodically swept over the rocks I was standing on. This waterfall literally created its own wave pattern. It was a little nerve wracking standing here trying to compose. The goal was to use a slightly faster shutter speed to capture the turmoil the of the scene, and the polarizer provided just the right amount of density to let me get the 1/10 of a second shutter speed I needed to capture some of the detailed movement in the water and not blow out the whole area with a longer exposure. As I sat watching this force of nature in awe, I looked to my left and a wave of fog swept in and literally rendered the area impossible to photograph. It really was a right-place-at-the-right-time scenario.

"This last image was taken in the south of Iceland near the town of Vik, along the rugged coastline. I found this little area nook and knew by the wave action and unique rock structures that the images would be both unique and amazing. Because of the power of the waves hitting the rocks I opted to climb up onto a small shelf to allow me to get a better perspective of the whole scene as well as get a better vantage of the waves as they struck the rocks and ran off back to the sea. The sunsets are long in Iceland, and it was a treat to sit on the ledge and watch as the colors and clouds shifted into the right position to capture this image. I combined the LB Warming Polarizer with a 4-stop soft-step ND Grad filter to balance out the brightness of the sky and allow me to get more details on the darker rocks and water."

Brian is currently finishing up his book project and planning a photographic workshop to Iceland in June of 2012. For details, as well as more images of Iceland, check his website or add him on Facebook. Brian is based in Northern California and is a full-time instructor with the Aperture Academy in San Jose.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As always, awesome post.
Regards Coral.