Happy Monday—it’s time for you to meet another talented KelbyOne Member. Introducing Mike Jones! Mike and his wife are a creative team based out of the U.K. They love to travel and take photos of their adventures. One of which was Iceland.
1.) What can you tell us about your photo, The Aurora Borealis over Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon south Iceland?
During our planning we realized that the Aurora Borealis would photograph better over a lagoon/water with the opportunity to capture its reflection in the lagoon. The camera also had to point North giving me an opportunity to capture the full light show as it danced in front of me from left to right across the night sky. Hence this particular location was very carefully selected for this reason, it is out in the middle of Southern Iceland with zero light pollution from any source. It is possible to photograph the Aurora Borealis anywhere in the Northern hemisphere as we all know but, different locations on the globe yield different results. Due to Iceland having the same problem as Alaska in the summer i.e. 24 hours of daylight, we had to take the trip during the Icelandic winter period Jan to Feb. Iceland is obviously a cold place but, trust me its colder in winter especially at night when these images were taken.
(Here’s a few other shots from Mike’s Iceland Adventures.)
2.) What gear/software did you use to create this image?
Camera Body: Nikon D3X.
Lens: Wide Angle Nikon 14-24mm f2.8G ED AF-S, this is a brilliant lens, the only one I have used to capture the Northern lights. Nikon ML-3 wired remote control, Slik Grand Master tripod with AF2100 Pro trigger head. Heater blankets for the batteries and spare batteries to combat the effects of the extreme cold on the batteries. LED Lenser H7R Rechargeable Head Lamps and hand held LED torches.
Personal Clothing: Four layers of thermal clothing i.e. “ICE GEAR” plus expensive thermal underwear, two pairs of Ski socks, thermal head gear and or a balaclava, scarf. Very thick rubber mats to sit on or very light deck chairs, a large flask of hot coffee/tea. Two pairs of gloves, one pair very thin so than you can operate the camera and a thick second pair to put on over the thin pair when you are waiting for the Aurora Borealis to perform. Thick fur lined ice boots with crampons attached.
Software: Photoshop CC, this image was definitively an in-camera creation due to the very precise planning and methodology to capture it in camera, see above for the detail. Photoshop was used i.e. “camera raw” to only slightly tweak the Exposure, Clarity and Vibrance. In Photoshop two layers, one exposed for detail in the foreground and the second exposed for detail in Sky. Foreground is the top layer with a layer mask, layer mask on this level with a gradient masking the sky and revealing foreground detail below.
3.) What do you like to photograph?
As I mentioned earlier there was an inordinate amount of planning that went into capturing this image. It was very rewarding after all the planning, time, effort, and money that went into the image to finally capture exactly what I set out to capture and had pre-visualized. For me the image has also captured the emotional tranquility of the moment. Had it not been for the extreme cold and my poor ladies bruised ribs, I could have easily sat by the side of this lagoon all night. The crystal glass like ice debris trail in the foreground and to the left foreground have been captured in all their glory. The ice is straight off the glacier and then floats about in lagoon for months before it is washed up on the shore of the lagoon. The floating around for months cleans the ice of all impurities by which time it is crystal clear like glass. It then flows out of the lagoon to the sea and the process is repeated as it melts further and is now washed up on the sea shore as shown below.