Seagull and Patterns on Water, Húsavik, Iceland

Beautiful patterns of light and dark surround a seagull on the waters of Skjalfandi Bay, Húsavik, Iceland.

Canon 5D Mark II camera, Canon 70-200mm f4 and Canon 1.4x Extender @ 280mm. 1/320 second f8 ISO 400.

Húsavík is a lovely port in northern Iceland. Only around 40 km below the arctic circle Húsavík supports around 2,500 inhabitants and is a popular spot for whale watching tours.

I signed up for one such tour on a beautiful wooden ship out into Skjálfandi Bay.

The Call Of The Blue

While I did see a blue whale, which is apparently quite a rare experience, it was well off in the distance. It didn’t so much breach, as break the water’s surface, as it emerged just long enough to bring in some air prior to diving again.

Consequently, while my timing was good, my photos of the blue whale are unspectacular in the extreme. I just wasn’t close enough, nor were there any significant acrobatics from our abundantly large, blue friend.

That last sentence includes a rather oblique reference to a line from Star Wars III, Revenge of the Sith.

Lindarbakki Turf House, Bakkagerdi, Iceland

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Even though I didn’t get any photos of the blue whale that are worth publishing the experience was fun and I’d recommend a whale watching tour to anyone visiting Húsavík.

The landscape on either side of the bay on which we sailed was really quite beautiful.

A fishing boat in front of distant mountains in Húsavík, Iceland.

A Photo Based Around Patterns and Color

On the way back into port I was able to photograph a seagull floating on the water’s surface.

The light was quite soft and I was immediately drawn to the lovely warm/cool color contrast within the scene and to the patterns formed by ripples on the water’s surface, leading the eye towards the bird.

A close up of freshly caught fish in the seaside village of Húskavík in northern Iceland.

Camera’s Don’t Make Photos, People Do

Close inspection of the photo at the top of this post shows the transitory nature of such moments.

The wake from our ship and a gust of wind across the water’s surface completely obliterated this image within a few seconds of me seeing it.

To be able to respond, in a timely manner, to such scenes it’s necessary to have the camera ready and to constantly be reviewing exposure, depth of field and shutter speed (i.e., movement).

Under such circumstances, with changing light and reflections causing producing different exposures, I might have to adjust my camera settings a dozen times prior to a decent image forming in front of me.

Mighty Skógafoss, Iceland

Take Control Of Your Camera


So, while the photo in question was made at 1/320 second, it was really made over a period of several minutes while I readied myself for any possible photo opportunities as we sailed back into port.

Taken a step further the photo was made as a consequence of an attitude and an approach towards my photography that has been developing over almost four decades.

Stay ready and be on the look for an interesting photo. Above all else, don’t give up my friend.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru