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. My traveling companion (i.e., Joseph) and I signed up for one such tour on a beautiful wooden ship out into Skjálfandi Bay.

The Call of the Blue

While we 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 immerged 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 subverted reference to a line from Star Wars III, Revenge of the Sith. If you know what it is feel free to tell the world via the comments section at the bottom of this post).

Even though I didn’t get any photos of the blue whale that are worth publishing the experience was fun and I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Húsavík. The landscape on either side of the bay on which we sailed was really quite beautiful.

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 to the bird.

Camera’s Don’t Make Photos, People Do

Close inspection of the above photo 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 I might have to adjust my camera settings a dozen times prior to a decent image forming in front of me.

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 the last 35 years. Stay ready and don’t give up my friends.

Glenn Guy
Travel Photography Guru