Behind The Shot: “Seljalandsfoss—Under the Midnight Sun” By Harry Lichtman—Iceland

Photo By Harry Lichtman

Photo By Harry Lichtman

Iceland boasts many waterfalls, many of which are easily accessible near major roads. This can be a good thing, but the downside is that these attractions have been photographed widely and original compositions can be difficult to come by. While many waterfalls were much larger, I was drawn to the more intimate feel of Seljalandsfoss. After walking around the falls, I decided on this vantage point. This profile angle took advantage of the setting sun (near midnight), included these vibrant grass-covered boulders and showcased the graceful flow of the water. My late arrival reduced the chances of having other visitors in the shot. I had taken some vertical exposures with my super-wide 16-35mm lens, but I was forced to move back from the foreground boulders in order to include the entire fall. This made the grass-covered rocks much less impressive. There was also some beautiful cloud action to the left of the falls, which would be eliminated with a single vertical shot.

In order to present the various elements the way I had envisioned, I decided on an unconventional approach to photograph the falls. For this image, I figured I could move very close to the boulders to make them prominent in the image by shooting horizontally and create a panorama moving upward. Staying dry was impossible, as the blowing mist was always traveling my way. Four horizontal images were taken, moving from ground level to the top of the falls, then stitched together in post processing. Lying on my back, I positioned my tripod/camera over my chest and uncovered the lens when the winds and mist subsided. A towel wipe down was required to get some spot-free sequences. In the end, I was able to capture the falls, the impressive sky and hopefully a little different perspective using this approach.

Nikon D810, 16-35mm f4, polarizing filter, ISO 40, all 4 shots at f16, 1/4 sec.

Harry Lichtman is a professional landscape photographer based in New Hampshire and recent recipient of the Smithsonian Windland Smith Rice International Award for Landscape Photography. His images are been published internationally in magazines, calendars, and travel guides as well as fine art prints to homes and businesses. More of Harry’s work can be found at