Shipwreck, Iceland

Friends enjoying a picnic on a glorious summer's day in northern Iceland in front of a beached ship.

Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens @ 24mm. Exposure: 1/100 second f8 ISO 100.

Mystery and Narrative

It was a simply glorious day when I photographed this group of friends picnicking in front of this old ship. I was in the north of Iceland, driving around the country on highway one, when I spotted this amazing scene just off the road. It really was quite a surreal experience to find this rusted out old hulk well and truly beached. The fact that the scene included a group of friends picnicking in the bright sunshine only added to the mystery.

I don’t know what the ship was doing there. Perhaps it had run aground or was dragged ashore for other reasons. But, despite the fact that it was the middle of the day, I went about making a few photos to help remember the event.


Compositionally it’s a very straight forward scene. The red/orange colors of the rusted out hulk provided a great contrast with the cool blue of the sky. Actually having the people there was handy as it added a sense of scale to the image, giving a better impression of the size of our ship.

Enter the Polarizing Filter

The day was very bright and I was squinting to try to protect my eyes from the light reflecting back into them from the ship and beach. These kind of conditions can mean death to a photograph when so much of the texture and color present in the subject is reflected off surfaces and lost to the camera. The best option is to employ a polarizing filter to reduce the reflection and thereby keep the color and texture in place.

And that’s exactly what I did. Actually I almost never use a polarizing filter, preferring to photograph outside of the death zone that is midday sun in summer. But, when I do, I always carry a polarizing filter with me. It really can save the day and by spinning the filter around you can vary the intensity of the effect seen, in real time, through the viewfinder.

So, while midday in summer is probably my least favorite time to be making photos, you can still produce very acceptable results with interesting subject matter and a little technique knowledge. Add a story, real or imagined, and a sense of mystery and your photo will likely attract interest.

Metadata and More

Speaking of technical information don’t forget that, by scrolling over the above image, you’ll be able to bring up the caption and all manner of interesting information relating to how the photo was made. Click on it to see it enlarged, in all its glory.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru