How it was photographed – Lake Myvatn

By popular request, another of my explanations of how an image was captured.


Lake Myvatn - North Iceland


  Camera:   Canon 1dx
  Lens:   Canon 70-300 Lis at 128mm
  Aperture:   f4.5
  Shutter speed:   1/125sec
  ISO:   640


  • Where was this taken?
    Lake Myvatn is in the beautiful location of Northern Iceland.
  • How was your camera set up?
    This was one of those images taken on the spur of the moment. I always have a camera ready to use with me, and this scene was presented to me as I stepped out my apartment to travel to the airport to return home. I had no time to set anything up. The camera was set on aperture priority and the lens set to f4.5 to make sure that I had enough light to get a high enough shutter speed to keep the image sharp. ISO 640 (a multiple of the camera base iso of 160 where it is at its best for least noise) helped in this regard.
  • Did you use any camera support?
    I didn't have time to set anything up. so I made sure that the lens image stabilisation was on. I adopted a stable stance, learned from my days as a shooting coach, to hold the camera as still as possible.   At the bottom of a deep breath out, I squeezed the shutter button very gently.
  • What about colour balance?
    The camera was set on auto white balance which, if I had taken no action would have resulted in incorrect colours. The beautiful pink sunrise would have been 'corrected' to some extent by the camera. Once the important shot had been taken, I quickly shot an image of a grey reference card in the same light. I was then able to get the correct white balance when processing the image in lightroom by using the grey card white balance and applying it to my image.  

I think the important lessons to be learned from this are as follows.

  • Always have a camera with you.
  • Grab a decent shot while you see it, and if it is still there, take some more shots with adjustments. Therefore if the subject disappears, at least you haven't missed it.
  • Use a high ISO if needed to keep the shutter speeds high enough so that the image is as sharp as possible - a noisy image can be corrected to some extent, but a blurry one is wasted.
  • Learn a good stable standing position, or if possible brace yourself against a solid object. Even with higher shutter speeds this will help. Remember that every image has camera shake no matter what the shutter speed, it is just the amount that varies.
  • For consistent and repeatable colour balance, shoot an image of a grey balance card in the same light as your subject. You can either set your custom white balance for the subject in camera (RTFM) or use it when post processing. Some photographers just set a camera derived white balance of 'cloudy' or 'tungsten' for example. Well, all that does is give each image the same amount of incorrectness(!) and you still have to correct them in post processing.



I found Iceland to be a magic and wondrous place for photographers. If you get a chance, give the lakes a miss for a year and take a trip there. It will probably cost about the same.

If you have any questions or observations, feel free to discuss them below.


Graham Taylor

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