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Thread: Best Aurora Lens - Iceland Trip

  1. #11
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    A little hint regardin auroras.....stop looking only KP numbers, once i stopped that i have seen wayyyy more auroras. Also spring solistice or what ever that is english is 20.3 this mean week befora and afret even a slight activity can give quite nice shows. Here is one good english speaking site to see what is coming in northern europe and covers iceland too.

    https://www.virmalised.ee/aurora-alerts/

    Basically the bigger the speed and more red bz is you are good =) and the oval image naturally helps

  2. #12
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsaa View Post
    A little hint regardin auroras.....stop looking only KP numbers, once i stopped that i have seen wayyyy more auroras. Also spring solistice or what ever that is english is 20.3 this mean week befora and afret even a slight activity can give quite nice shows. Here is one good english speaking site to see what is coming in northern europe and covers iceland too.

    https://www.virmalised.ee/aurora-alerts/

    Basically the bigger the speed and more red bz is you are good =) and the oval image naturally helps
    Thanks...and looking at the live aurora cams, there are aurora's right now from Sweden to Iceland, even though it is only KP2. I was also wondering how late I would have to stay up to see auroras...willing to jeopardize the next day's activities....but, it is only 8:30 pm in Iceland right now and checked two live cams both of which showed auroras.



    Just ordered (rental) the Sigma 14 mm f/1.8.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 03-07-2019 at 08:56 PM.

  3. #13
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    basically kp1 show auroras in norhern finland and iceland. But that is more to show how deep south is possible to see them. Last night there was cme in sun which if direction is right is going to launch little show in earth, hopefully.

    Many of my photographer friends have said that ...went to iceland see auroras...no luck since iceland is notorious of the weather bein cloudy....but go northern finland (utsjoki area example) and you have much higher chances =)

  4. #14
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Sure, I could add Northern Finland to my list of places I need to go. How are the waterfalls? Bears (polar or brown)? Epic salmon fishing? What time would you recommend coming over?

    As for Iceland, I am treating auroras as a bonus. Ultimately, vacation is a state of mind and a chance to see something new and different. It has been on my list for awhile and I am excited to check it out. If the waterfalls are ugly (iced over), if no auroras....if cloudy/rainy/snowy weather...etc. I'll still have a good time. Its all a bonus.

  5. #15
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    Okay...I have followed this thread from the start and was anxiously waiting for some time to reply. I think your call on the Sigma lens is a good one.
    My girlfriend, a good friend and me were visiting Iceland for 10 days exactly a year ago. We drove around the entire island using the ring road and I have learned a few things that I would take into concideration for a next visit.

    First of all, it is an island with a landscape that I've never seen before. It is really amazing.


    • Make sure you have a good kit of clothing. Iceland isn't actually that cold I think, but the wind and rain can make it feel like it's freezing a lot harder than the thermometer says it does. Wind and waterproof clothing are a must. I had Goretex shoes, wind and waterresistant pants and I had a jacket that was waterproof till 25K. I even coated the jacket again before going to be sure. Anyways, my shoes(high hiking model) were about 2-3 years old and I found out that they weren't waterproof around the edges of the toe, so basically I got wet feet. The jacket worked great, but not on the places where my backpack pressed onto my shoulders and eventually my jack wasn't as waterproof as I hoped. Luckily this happened a few days before we went back home, otherwise I would have bought some new Icelandic local waterproof stuff.
    • The same counts for your camera gear. Even though I used "pro" stuff with weathersealing, my 70-200 F4L IS got some condensation behind the front element and focal display. Also my 5Ds's topdisplay became humid. The humidity was extreme and long periods walking in the rain aren't doing your gear good, the weathersealing will fail at some point if you're unlucky. An extra plastic sleave or something is recommended (and cheap).
    • There is not much I can tell about the weather. We had dry weather up North, but snowy. Wet weather on the East. And a mix of wet and sunny days in the South. There's nothing more unpredictable than the Icelandic weather(you'll most probably fail too predict the weather
      using your local(home) experience). Good thing is that Iceland offers really good(and frequently updated) weather and road information. Use them! As said, the road information is really good. It warns for ice patches on the road, road closures, and even for closed hiking routes and Ice cave information. In our situation the amount of rain caused a few very popular hiking routes to be closed down because of the mud and als the ice caves were getting unstable at some point.
    • We rented a 2 wheel drive car. Pretty much everyone else drives 4x4's. We got stuck twice in the north. Once when we drove onto a parking lot near the side of the road. The road was made free of snow, the parkinglot wasn't. Took about 10 minutes of digging with our hands. And one time when we had to park our car next to our cabin which we had to reach by going of a steap snowy ramp. Driving backwards with 1 person on the hood of the car did the trick eventually.
    • Every car I've seen had spiked tires. The rental companies try to sell you some sort of all risk insurance for sandstorms when you get to the airport. If you watch the weather-forecast carefully I highly doubt that you'll get into such situation. Especially since the wintertime is also quite wet. In our case the car rental would become twice as expensive as is was, so we decided to take the risk. Anyway take some good photos of the car when you rent it. Decide for yourself what you want, I'm just telling this so the car renting company can't take you by surprise. Which they will absolutely do.

    I'll see if I can come up with some more tips and location...hopefully I'll have some time tomorrow. This is also a good motivator to finally start to sort out the photos of the trip

    As for lenses. I took the 16-35 F4 L IS and 70-200 F4L IS
    I took 988 photos total.
    660 with the 16-35, 299 photos at 16mm, 208 photos at 35mm, the remaining part somewhere in between
    228 with the 70-200, 111 photos at 70mm, 78 at 200mm, the remaining part somewhere in between
    I do have to admit that I take quite some multi exposure shots, so interpret this information in whatever way you want

    Enjoy your trip in Iceland!

  6. #16
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Thanks Jan.

    I've tried to focus on good clothing. We both have some version (Goretex, eVent, etc) of breathable/waterproof boots, pants, and jackets. As the jackets we had are more intended for summer, we actually picked up these very loose fitting "froggtogg" jackets that are supposedly waterproof. They are like a Tyvek. But, they are very lightweight and can go on over a heavy coat and are backups, so, even if only ok, I am good with it we always have the originals. Also, ice trekkers for the boots.

    Water inside the camera? TDP doesn't have the stunned emoji I want to use. I'll definitely throw in some extra ziplocks and trash bags. I have a ruggard rain shields, but those are more aimed at bigger lenses, ok...just ordered 2 of the smaller rain shields. But, it sounds as if I'll need to let me camera acclimate inside a ziplock/trashbag.

    Went the SUV route on the car rental. And, one of the only times in my life, picked up the "recommended" insurance from expedia even though I'll have coverage through my credit card and my actual auto insurance. But, we'll be sure to photograph the car. I hadn't heard about sand storms and am planning on declining insurance offered at the counter in Iceland.

    Can't wait to see some of your pictures and any suggested locations would be great.

    Thanks again...Brant

  7. #17
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    Okay...now that I've browsed through my photos I remember that we called it the Black and White Island. I must admit that we weren't very lucky with the weather most of the time. However there's still something magical about the place, even with bad weather.

    Most touristic places are pretty much next to the road. If you go a little further you might be surprised by the beauty around the corner.

    A quick selection:


    Iceland overview by Jan Paalman, on Flickr

    So basically:

    1. Some random boat in a place in the East/South East, still have to check Google Maps and try to pinpoint my photos to the right location
    2. A beach near Vik I believe. Black sand/grind, seriously heavy wind and rain. Do watch out for sneaker waves! It's like waves in Iceland don't follow rythm
    3. Same as 2
    4. Diamond beach...again bad weather. Only small Ice Blocks and loads of tourists. At the other side of the road is the glacier lake (Jökulsárlón) where all the big icebergs are drifting. I personally found it more interesting. But this really depends on the weather and tides I guess.
    5. Svartifoss, I really enjoyed the hike to this waterfall. It's a one of a kind waterfall. Hard to take decent photos though. It's high and not that wide.
    6. Strokkur/Geysir, part of the Golden Circle. We had great weather this day, loads of wind though. It doesn't get more touristic as the Golden Circle, but still I enjoyed it quite a bit. Seeing a geysir is something really cool. Also Gulfoss is amazing, I loved it. All of the Golden Circle stuff is next to the road. You barely have to walk.
    7. ^
    8. ^
    9. Some church we spotted somewhere down the road during the Golden Circle trip.
    10. Pingvellir national park. I quite enjoyed walking around here. The area is really beautiful. There's also a nice "small" waterfall and there's some Icelandic cultural history. You can also scuba dive here the water is crystal clear.
    11. The Kerid crater. Some go here during the Golden Circle trip. It's next to the road. It's an old vulcano crater filled with water with ice on it. I thought is was a great sight.
    12. First encounter of Northern Lights, somewhere in the South.
    13. A little later during the night at our apartment next to this farm. It was quite cloudy unfortunately, but we definitely had our first real experience with Northern light. We also checked Seljalandsfoss at about 2300h. You would be amazed how many other tourists try to take photos of the Northern lights at touristic hotspots. Unfortunately the waterfall is being lit by (too strong) lights. There's a very difficult contrast to take good shots (at least in our case)
    14. This is actually at Skogafoss...well...sort of. Skogafoss at ground level is very crowded with tourists, a nice view though. However if you climb the ladders to the top of the waterfall the amount of tourists shrinks down already. Up top is cool. However if you take some time you can hike really well from the top, following the river upstream. Lots of rapids and waterfalls in a valley like scenery. I personally think this was absolutely worth it. Muddy though in our case.
    15. This was also an unforgettable day. Just before sunset I checked a map and saw this road that would lead to the feet of a glacier. We decided to drive into a road and had a little walk. We came at this glacier and could walk straight into and onto it. It was amazing. It makes you feel really small. Be careful though. My friend and I followed two other tourists taking photos between the ice in the glacier. I took some photos of my friend, then looked upward and questioned the stability of a big chunck of ice (about 2 sq Meters I reckon). We decided to get away there. Another couple were about to come to the same place when we were just leaving there. I told them my concerns and they decided not to go further. Five minutes later we walked about 100m further on the glacier when we heard a big crash. The ice chunck actually fell down, the glacier looked completely different. I don't my friend or the first couple would have survived it if it happended when they were standing there. Watching from "higher" ground is a "pro" tip Name of the glacier: Sólheimajokull, at the end of road 221 is a parking place.
    16. Solheimasandur, the crashed DC3 Planewreck. Also a very touristic spot. Unfortunately we had bad weather again. It's a boring walk of about 40 minutes over a gravel road. Perhaps the view is better when the weather is good. My father took me to every airshow in the area when I was young, so this one took my attention. I really wanted to go. Afterwards I don't think it was worth it walking to in bad weather. I reckon that this will be a hotspot for Northern Lights photography as well.
    17. Reykjadalur. This was the best hike we did. It was extremely muddy, knee deep at some parts, but with really good views. At the end you come at this hot spring creek where you can take of your clothes and take a nice warm bath in nature. There's also quite some geo activity to take photos of. Normally it's an hour walk, I believe we did it in almost 2,5 hours with photo stops. When we were almost back at the car there were some American girls who started the hike on sandals...we tried to explain it was a long hike, but they thought they could do it faster by running. Never heard of them again
    18. This was one of the views on our way back from the creek.


    Well... I just have to add this photo in big format...just check the size of the people in the photo. And the guy is actually taking photos of the chunck of ice that later fell of. It's about 5-6 body lengths to the left of him.


    Solheimajokull by Jan Paalman, on Flickr

  8. #18
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    Great pics Jan!

    I have to agree: Iceland is a place like no other I've been to. Sometimes cold and bleak, but a strange kind of beauty.

    Our trip a few years ago was in late august / early September, so very different weather conditions. But for what it's worth I have a few uploaded to flickr here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskgeczwP

    For particular recommendations, take a look at Fjardrargljufur in southern iceland. Very interesting river canyon just a short drive from the ring road, though I'm not sure what it would be like in winter. A drive around the Reykjanes peninsula is worth it too. Obviously this is where the airport is so you'll see some of it regardless and it's home to the Blue Lagoon which everyone seems to make a pilgramage to. But there is also some other great geothermal activity in the area and awesome colored water and moss covered volcanic rock (again, not sure what it's like in winter). There is also a small footbridge here which supposedly runs between the european and north american continental plates.

    Stephen

  9. #19
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    Just heads up if you still in iceland, this evening/night there should be really strong auroras since a quite hefty CME hits earth.

  10. #20
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Best Aurora Lens

    Thanks Kari

    Sadly I wrote this from the airport. If I see Northern Lights tonight, they will be from New Hampshire. And, they are actually saying we might be able to see them there.

    Iceland was great, but we never did see any auroras.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 03-23-2019 at 04:35 PM.

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