Behind the Shot: Earth’s Maw

Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland
Behind the Shot: “Earth's Maw” By Luiz Carlos Junior— Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Photo By Luiz Carlos Junior

I planned to take this shot of  Gullfoss waterfall during the golden hour of the first day on our road trip on Iceland. After some photos in Geysir and Thingvellir, the anxiety and excitement grew. I felt I got some nice pictures, but it was time for the attraction of the day. The weather was great, and I was on time. I thought for a moment that the filter would be a big problem, because it was 82mm and my lens was 77mm. Without a proper ring, I used an old Cokin adapter and amazingly, it fit! I cleaned it, put it carefully on the lens inside the car and pumped my confidence. Nice! Down to business!

Gullfoss waterfall at a distance is impressive. The sound of the water in the masterful silence is simply divine. After walking a little bit, we found a well-marked trail indicating the path and I went down there until I reached the lookout. I climbed closer, almost trespassing the security area, and I was able to take long-exposure shots at a wide angle. I felt great, but it wasn’t enough. I looked back and saw two photographers in the cliffs, near the great maw where the water runs out of Gullfoss waterfall. I went there, in the middle of mud and dirty snow, with my Manfrotto Action Tripod stretched, supporting the camera on my shoulder. After fighting some slippery rocks and mud, I set up my Canon 6D against the wind and the water spray. Even distant, the falls insisted on spraying my filter and lens, and my camera started to get completely wet. Ok, don’t worry, I thought. The user guide said “weather sealed” when I bought it, so I cleaned the filter several times and took many photos, looking for new angles and compositions. This one came out clean, and is my favorite.

It was getting dark (10:30 P.M.) and I felt like I had the pictures that I wanted. My wife was in the car (for a long time) waiting, and we returned to our cabin for dinner and rest for the next day, which also promised many nice photos.—Luiz Carlos Junior

Equipment & Settings: Canon 6D, 16-35mm ƒ/4 lens at 30 sec., ƒ/22, ISO 200; Bower 82mm (adapted) Variable Neutral Density Filter, Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum. Don’t forget the very useful microfiber cleaning cloth!—Luiz Carlos Junior

Luiz Carlos Junior is a landscape and travel photographer based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the founder of Living Photography (, which focuses on photography education, prints and fine art photos. You can find daily photos of his latest travels on