How the magic is done - In the land of Fire and Ice

Bragi J. Ingibergssom has stunned us with a myriad of breathtaking nature and landscape photos. His impressive work has been noted not only here on 1X, but also in numerous photo contests. Today he will tell us how he created the photo known as "Land of Fire and Ice".


Canon 5D MarkII, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L @46mm, 1/250s, f/10, ISO160

Context

The idea for this image came at short notice. I was on my way to see the volcanic eruption in Fimmvörðuháls, Iceland, with my friends. We had to drive over this glacier on a big jeep and I was one of the passengers, sitting in the back by the window on the left side. I was looking out at the beautiful evening light and saw motor sledges drive by alongside the jeep now and then.

I then had this idea to try to catch one of them in the beautiful cold surroundings and warm light with the smoke from the eruption far off in the background. It was only possible to open half the window, but that was enough. When the next sledge came I was ready with my camera out of the window. I was a bit worried because although our car was moving rather slowly, it was shaking because of the uneven snow we were driving on. I was however rather pleased when I saw the outcome.

This trip on the glacier Mýrdalsjökull to the volcanic eruption in Fimmvörðuháls is very memorable for me. It was the first time I saw the eruption with my own eyes and had the opportunity to take photos of such a natural catastrophe. It was an adventure.

This is just one shot. When I took this action shot against the sun the situation was very special because the sun was behind some mist and not very bright and although the sledge was moving faster than us, we were driving in the same direction. Under normal circumstances, it would have been necessary to use a faster shutter speed to catch the action in sharp focus.

I was hoping this photo could show and describe for viewers the feeling of being on a glacier in these conditions, especially when travelling on a motor sledge. Additionally, I wanted to show the contrasts in the Icelandic landscape; the cold and the warmth, the ice on the ground, the fire from the sun and the volcano (although it is impossible to see the fire from the volcano, but the smoke from it can be seen in the background). I did try to make the warmth in this cold atmosphere stronger by increase the orange colour a bit in the post-processing. When the photo was published the reaction from viewers was very pleasing and judging by their expression, I´d think I achieved what I was aiming for.

Post-Processing

The photo was taken in RAW-format, converted in Camera Raw and then processed in Photoshop CS4. I did not have to do much in the post processing. 

 1)    I did the color adjustments in Camera RAW.

 2)    After the conversion, I cropped it a bit and used curves and levels to improve contrast and light.

 3)    In the end I used Noise Ninja to decrease some noise.

 4)    Finally I sharpened the final image using Unsharp Mask.

Hints

1)    Travel to Iceland.

2)    Take a trip with a group of people on sledges up to some of Iceland:s beautiful glaciers.

3)    Set up a similar scene, but try not to take the photo out of the window of a moving car like I did.
       I was just lucky this time!

Biography

Bragi J. Ingibergssom (Brin) was born in Iceland 1961 and work as a minister in the Lutheran church as well as being an amateur photographer. Photography has been his favorite hobby for a very long time, ever since he got his first camera when he was 12 years old. He travels a lot, which fits well with his love for nature and landscape photography. Ingibergssoms work has been published far and wide and have won prizes in many photo contests, for example the overall prize in the Digital Camera's photo competition 2009. 

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