Photograph Iceland’s nature and locals behind the scene with one of the best

Experience the midnight sun, waterfalls and dramatic landscape. Sailing in midnight sunlight, birds, animals and the interesting locals.

We will travel on western part of Iceland for a week with the one aim to have fun and take great images. We will photograph horses running in the surf and horsemen riding their horses on sandy beaches and in the sea. We will look for birds in their nest or feeding the young ones. We will visit cliffs full of bird’s nest. We will sail in the midnight sun and in the twilights for hours around it. We will be awake or sleep as our spirit feels. We will scout for whales and hunt for exciting light.

On our bucket list during this week is to photograph horses, sheep, birds, the young ones, Snaefellsnes glacier and  waterfalls, seals, farmers, rural farms and villages, the locals and local scenarios. All in one work-win-fun package.

Come and join my exploring and photographing behind the scene in Iceland.

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson

About Ragnar:

Ragnar has a long experience as a photographer and if anything his passion for photography is increasing. He also loves to share and assist with technical or creative issues. Ragnar has worked for all the major companies in Iceland and his images have been displayed on some of the world most famous magazines. Ragnar’s main clients to day are,, and

Rangar has published 29 books and several new ones are on the way. Books Ragnar is now working on are about low light photographing the night sky and the auroras, a book about water and glaciers related to the year of the glaciers by Unesco, a book about the Icelandic horse and some more.

All the logistics is handled by the elite program organizer FocusOnNature, who takes care of you all the time, from beginning to then end. FocusOnNature ensure you only need to focus on photograph and have fun. During the photo excursion with Ragnar we do what we always have wanted to do, drive less and photograph more. So we are limiting us to the Snaefellsnes peninsula, digging into that area, do things with the assistance of the locals Ragnar knows so well and making the most of your time with us.

We don’t publish and  itinerary, but I know Rangar has a main frame in his mind. Ragnar is a natural hunter for exciting moments, continuously reviewing the conditions and situations, with the pure focus on making great images and he loves to have fun and good laughs. And he knows all the locals to make things possible that normally would not be possible.

All accommodation are single except otherwise wished for. All food and provisions, except alcoholic beverage  are included.

– Einar Erlendsson, FoucsOnNature in Iceland.

Photo Excursion with Ragnar Th Sigurdsson and registration

Ragnar Th Sigurdsson, bio

Iceland Rural North-West Photo Excursion with Gudmundur Ingolfsson

I would like to invite you to join me on a photographic excursion to the Westfjords in Iceland.

The Westfjords differ greatly from most of the rest of Iceland. 2011 it was nominated on the “Top 10 list of regions in the world to visit by the “Lonely Planet Guide”.

The Westfjords stand out from the ring road in Iceland. It is therefore further remote than other parts of Iceland. Its landscape is very different with deep fjords, steep mountains, and many beautiful waterfalls, rural farms and small towns.

I will lead you to interesting locations, but as a local I will also hunt with you for the interesting light. We have an itinerary, but we try to keep flexible taking weather into account and work some days long hours and others shorter to adjust to the forcers of nature we cannot control.

We will discuss on the road both geological and historic events related to the area so we can both visually and in our thoughts try to immerge with the places and nature we travel through.

This is an all-inclusive program. We meet you at the airport and look after your well being during the whole excursion time. There are 8 nights and seven days included in the program, so you can arrive a day early to the capital Reykjavik to adjust to time zone differences.

All accommodation is in single occupancy and most of the time with private bathroom. We include all food and seek your assistance to select provisions you like as possible. Only alcoholic beverages are what participants have to pay for themselves during our tour.

We will not be a large group. With good cooperation we can join our forcers to observe the right time and light for shorter stops on the way while we still work by our main itinerary. As mentioned before we try to make that as flexible as possible to maximize the use of our time.

Although this is not a workshop with lectures, instructions or critique sessions, I am always there for individual assistance and to share my photography knowledge. I am leading this excursion for you to make the most of your time and will only be photographing a little if and when I have time. So you don’t need to be an expert to join us.

For more information about my “Discover the West Iceland Photo Excursion, price and registration.

About Gudmundur Ingolfsson, team member of FocusOnNature in Iceland.

Tony Sweet – My Iceland Workshop 2012

Tony Sweet

We will cover:

    1. fantasy locations
    2. striking architecture in Rekyjavik
    3. long exposure opportunities
    4. creative compositions
    5. illustrations of the vastness of Iceland using scale
    6. Software pre-visualized images
    7. and whatever presents itself during our wanderings!

Aside from the remarkable landscape of Iceland, we also have various very interesting and uniquely Icelandic structures that are really fun to photograph and to include in this incredible landscape.

















The hillsides on the southeast coast are like something out of a fantasy movie, like Harry Potter. But, the size is only perceptible when this small shack is placed in the foreground.

One of the coolest new structures in Reykjavik is the Harpa Fine Art Center. Aside from the interesting small monoliths outside, we are allowed the shoot inside with tripods where the light play is fantastic!

When shooting this very cool small Icelandic church, the rain became a bit much to deal with. After returning to the vehicle, one of the windows was covered with heavy water drops. We all took turns shooting various versions of this image. Afterwards, the image was optimized using Nik Color Efex Pro 4, including the addition of the graduated blue filter.

















Composition is always paramount in image creation. Many of the farms have their own sanctuaries. In this case, the opening was used to frame the structure, more dramatically pulling the viewer into the picture space.

I am a huge fan of long exposures, especially in bright conditions. The thermal power plant gave a perfect opportunity to use my 10 stop neutral density filter to achieve a 10 second exposure to create the surreal look of the steam against the blue sky.

The vastness of Iceland is perfect for illustrating a sense of scale and the small blue farm house was the perfect juxtaposition color-wise and scale-wise. I waited for the shadow, created by the setting sun, to get low enough to balance the composition.

Then, there’s always just driving around to see what presents itself. On a post workshop trip up the west coast, Sue and I came across a small fishing village. Upon driving down a ramp to get to the dock, we looked back and saw this unbelievable scene! We photographed this in subdued light as the sun rose, lighting the house and the rocky shoreline, leaving the background hill in the shade for the greatest visual interest.

This street scene in Reykjavik was of interest to me during both of our visits and I finally decided to create an HDR stitched pan to get the look I was after. Later, optimizing with Nik Software, Lucis Pro, and Flypaper textures to finish off the image.

As you can see, this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak!

During our August workshop, we will be on the look out for:

  1. fantasy locations
  2. striking architecture in Rekyjavik
  3. long exposure opportunities
  4. creative compositions
  5. illustrations of the vastness of Iceland using scale
  6. Software pre-visualized images
  7. and whatever presents itself during our wanderings!

We look forward to sharing our favorite photography location on earth during our August 19-25 workshop.

– Tony Sweet –

More information and booking here.

Only couple of places left.

Michael Quinn – FocusOnNature Alumni

Mike Quinn

My photographic journey began in my early teens. My Mother recognized the creative side in me and she gave me my first SLR. It was such a surprise and such an enlightening experience. I rather enjoyed shooting nature scenes and I was always drawn to the local parks. I continued my journey during high school but set aside my desire till I moved to Colorado in 2000. Then with a renewed desire I jumped from film to digital with the purchase of a Nikon Coolpix. I shot my adventures around the state and my travels of the west.

After 10 years of shooting, I finally decided to see how far I could take my talents. I started to come to the conclusion that my images were not fully conveying the emotions that I felt during capture. They need something more, something to take them to the next level. I began by getting a DSLR and moving away from a JPEG shooter. I started to experiment with image processing in Lightroom and Photoshop and made gains but my images were still lacking that intense emotional feeling to them.

Then one evening during the winter of 2010 I stumbled across Einar Erlendsson and his “Focus On Nature” website, Photo Workshops in Iceland. I was just mesmerized by the images and the thought of a grand adventure in Iceland. I started to research the Instructors that were teaching that year. I was instantly drawn to John Paul Caponigro. Something about his style, his approach, his words and speech. I knew that I was meant to do this, so I took the leap and signed up. This was going to be my first International adventure, my first photo workshop – I was a total newbie and amateur. Einar and JP made it very easy to prepare for my trip and once in Iceland Einar made me feel like an old friend returning home from a long distant trip. I was fortunate enough to arrive in Iceland a few days early to take a Lightroom class from Julieanne Kost. She was very instrumental in forging a foundation for my Lightroom skills and igniting my creative vision. JP and Julieanne were running side by side workshops that year. We would leap frog each other’s groups during the day and spend our evenings and meals together. Einar’s staff photographers Ragnar Th Sigurdsson and Guðmundur Ingolfsson are two amazing people and photographers. Ragnar, well he is Ragnar – if he doesn’t bring out the inner child in you, nobody can.

I had no preconceived notion of what this was going to be like, but it was so much more than I could have imagined. JP was there to challenge my senses, my imagination, my creativity. This workshop was more than just the mechanics of photography. There were discussions about artists, philosophers, writers. There were discussions about nature and life’s journey. Einar and his wife Ásta were there to tempt our taste buds and to teach us the culture of Iceland. Ragnar was there to tell stories of adventures in the Arctic and to insure that we took time to have fun. Einar’s driver Sigurdur Einarsson, “Siggi” was there to take care of the transportation and portage of our luggage and camera gear. But he was also there to share stories of horseback riding in the Icelandic Highlands during the sheep roundup and to share menthol candies. The group was also something that I was not prepared for. This group dynamic lifted everyone’s skills and expectations. It was not really a competition to see whose image was the best, but something more nurturing and encouraging. Something personalized to each individuals needs and desires to do something really spectacular. I walked away from that trip with so much more than just images of Iceland.

My new journey really began after that trip. It stirred my deep rooted emotions to become the best that I can be, to put some significant effort into my art. If that adventure had not been the way it was, I don’t know if I would still be on this path. It really gave me a new pipe dream, something to chase after, something to aspire to.

The next spring I spent time with JP in Arches National Park at another workshop. I had been doing my homework since leaving Iceland. I sensed that something special was about to happen. I felt as if I was ready to take a dramatic step forward as I had been practicing and researching and just needed a challenge to pull it all together. John Paul threw down the challenged during that week and I embraced it with all my heart. I walked away at the end with something new, something different, something out of my comfort zone. JP taught me a very valuable lesson – don’t ask if you are allowed to do something, ask what happens when you do something. It completely changed the way that I look at nature scenes. He taught me that it was alright for me to go beyond the postcard shot, to truly capture the emotion of location, not just the documentation of the location. My art took a step forward that week.

That fall I returned to Iceland, how could I not. I had friends that I wanted to see and spend time with. Plus the scenery is just incredible, awe inspiring and so unique. Einar, Ragnar and his staff have this unmatched local knowledge that is so invaluable. They not only know where to go but also the best time of day to be there too. They take you to places that even most Icelander’s don’t even know about. This year I was more comfortable, more familiar with the routine and we were going to visit some of the same places. I was able to plan to get some of the shots that I had missed the first year. I was even more excited this year but at the same time more relaxed and pensive. I made a conscious effort to make sure to enjoy the experience, enjoy just being in the moment. I don’t think that my art took a leap forward this time around; I think that it was going through a refining phase. I was honing my vision and capturing more emotion in my images. I know that I was seeing in a different light than the first time. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time on several occasions during that trip. I also was fortunate enough to have sufficient skills and vision to capture what I was feeling at the time.

“Golden Light” is a culmination of my journey to date.

– Michael Quinn 2012 –

Haraldur Stefansson, photographer

Haraldur Stefansson

Halli’s passion for photography started back in 1980 at the age of fourteen when he worked during the summer as a delivery boy at the newspaper Morgunbladid in Iceland. At the newspaper he got the opportunity to see photojournalism at its best and learned from many of Iceland’s leading photographers. In the beginning his style was mainly lifestyle photography shot on black and white film. Then after a few years his fascination of nature and landscape changed his emphasis in photography. He started focusing on capturing all the different forms and shapes in Iceland’s fascinating landscape using color film.

Today, Halli has truly found his calling in landscape photography. Living in Iceland gives endless opportunities in capturing something new and fascinating in breathtaking Iceland. Halli has built up an extensive stock of landscape photographs which are sold through and .

After shooting landscape in color for about 25 years he decided to change his approach and for the last two years he’s again shooting in black and white.

Are you shooting film or digital?

When the film started to decline as the standard medium of photography and digital took over I was at first skeptical, because for me image quality is the most important thing.  I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the superb image quality I had enjoyed using Hasselblad, Leica and Linhof in the past for something that I was not familiar with, however I felt it was important to evolve along with new technologies in photography. This meant I shot both film and digital for many years, using my trusted film cameras along with digital bodies.  Today I shoot mostly digital; thanks to great improvements in cameras and software I am confident that my equipment gives me the quality I’m looking for.

Currently I am using Canon cameras, 1Ds MIII and 5D M III bodies and lenses ranging from 24/2.8 -300/2.8.  I exclusively shoot in RAW and start my workflow with importing the files into Lightroom 4.  After choosing the images I like, I process them in Silver Efex Pro2, then using Lightroom to further enhancement and the final touches made in Photoshop CS5.

Clarity and crispness signify my photos, I want the viewer to feel the cold of the glaciers just by looking at the photograph. In my mind the essence of photography is bringing things to life and allowing people to experience exotic places with the same emotion as if they were standing there in person.  With using these techniques, I’m able to show my work exactly as I experienced the frame when it was shot.

Halli’s work has been published in magazines, books, advertisements and other media around the world. Last month he had a private exhibition of black and white landscape photographs at the Art museum, Gerdarsafn in Kopavogur. Halli chose to name his excibition “Precious Iceland” in honor of the beautiful country he calls home.

You can find Halli’s black and white photographs at his website,

Expanding your vision – Allen Birnbach

Allen Birnbach

You’ve probably noticed that when you travel you’re more likely to come away with strong images.  Sometimes with images that break out of what you have been doing and set a new creative direction.  Why is that?

Humans are wired in a way so that when we move out of routine, our brain chemistry changes.  Maybe it has to do with the protective “fight or flight” response of our early ancestors. But in any case, this change in blood chemistry results in heightened awareness that alters how we respond to a new environment.

As photographers, this is huge gift.  Put in a new situation, we are more aware of composition, color, line, texture and pattern; the key elements every artist explores in their work.  Moreover, taken out of our routine world with more time to think about the world in front of our lens, we are more open to the “what if” in a situation.  We are more willing to try a different composition, play with a new concept, collaborate in a new way with a model.

Of all the places on the planet, Iceland is in my opinion the best place to capitalize on the heightened awareness that comes from travel.  With every ecosystem on the planet but one, there are incredible geological formations around every turn.  From steaming mudpots, to thundering waterfalls, spongy moss-covered lava, calving glaciers and crystal blue fjords, Iceland has spectacular landscapes begging to be photographed.  And with just a little over 300,000 inhabitants it’s easy to experience the raw, unspoiled environment just a short distance from civilization.

With all that is available for dramatic backgrounds, it’s really important to have great talent when shooting fine art nudes.  Models who in energy and spirit can match the magnificence of the environment in which they are placed.  Fortunately, we are working with models who are Scandinavian and European.  In my experience, these models are different from models in the United States.  They may share the same professionalism with talent in the U.S., but their attitude toward nudity is different.  They are comfortable with their bodies, and as a result not shy in front of the camera.  They are terrifically talented and great collaborators in the creative process.  With these great models, the opportunity to place them in remarkable environment and your heightened creativity, great things are bound to happen.

On our first day together, we’ll gather to get acquainted, talk about the legacy of images in fine art nude photography and look at the work of all the participants.  It’s an opportunity for a supportive critique of your work, and the chance to familiarize yourself with the people you will be working alongside of during the week.

Then it’s off to shoot on location.  Each day, we’ll seek out environments that will inspire you to explore the human form in all its power and beauty.  Watching the weather, we’ll choose where to go to optimize you image-making opportunities.  The rides to and from the location are full of conversation, music and laughs and camaraderie builds each day through  the week.

Once we are at a location, I’ll do a short demonstration that is tailored to your growth.  It may have to do with composition, the technical aspects of creating a great digital file or negative in challenging lighting, or how to work with talent in a collaborative way.  The shoot will not be about me, but about you and your development.

After the demonstration, you’ll take turns shooting with a model on a one-on-one basis, rotating with two other photographers in your group.  If you are not shooting, you’ll continue to learn by assisting the participant that is behind the camera, observing how another photographer thinks and works.  I’ve had many comments from past participants of how valuable this is for their own growth.

At the end of the day, it’s off to dinner, and editing work for a critique the following morning.  After the review and answering any questions on aesthetics or technical matters relating to shooting or post processing, we jump back into the SUV’s for another round of shooting.

On Saturday, after five days of location photography. you’ll spend time editing images and working in Lightroom and Photoshop to create final files for reproduction.  I’ll be there for a critique and to answer any questions about software and post processing techniques to maximize the impact of your favorite images.  We end the workshop with a fun filled dinner that  night to celebrate your new-found expanded vision.

I firmly believe that combining the human figure with the dramatic landscapes of Iceland can open up new worlds for you as a photographer.  I encourage you to join me in this wonderful exploration that is sure to create lifetime memories.

– Allen Birnbach

Fine Art Nude Photo Workshop in Iceland, July 1-7, 2012

Sigurgeir Sigurjonsson – Earthward

Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson, born 1948 in Reykjavík, started to look at life through the lens of a camera around the age of fourteen. As a teenager in the Reykjavík of the Sixties some of his earliest pictures were of his favorite bands and singers on the burgeoning music scene (which in 2010 was portrayed in his book Poppkorn). During that time he discovered that investigating his country and its people as reflected in the art of photography was to become his future. After studying photography in Iceland in 1965-69, he went abroad for further study at the Christer Strömholm school of photography in Stockholm in 1970-71 and in San Diego, California in 1980-81.Since returning to Reykjavík, Sigurgeir has published numerous books of photos: Svip-myndir in 1982, Hestar (Horses) in 1985, and his first collection of landscape photography, Landscapes in 1992. These were followed by some of the most popular photo books about Iceland and the Icelanders ever published: Iceland the Warm Country of the North in 1994, Amazing Iceland in 1998, Lost in Iceland in 2002, Icelanders with Unnur Jökulsdóttir in 2004, Found in Iceland 2006, Made in Iceland 2007, The Little big book about Iceland 2009, Lost in Argentina with Sæmundur Norðfjörð 2010, Poppkorn 2010 with Einar Kárason, Volcano Iceland 2010 and Earthward 2011.

Earthward – Text by Guðmundur Andir Thorsson.

We glide above the land, higher than a bird, and see rivers and ice, shore, ocean, sand ,rock, moss, flocks of birds which become the land too…and these are real phenomena of nature, which were in time and space, there and here; but in Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson´s hands these natural phenomena also become beautiful shapes in a work of art, which gain meaning from each other, and possess their own beauty in themselves, and in the artistry of the one who communicates them to us.

In these pictures, in other words, there is a lot of art. And pherhaps they would even be inconceivable in painters had not already opened our eyes to a new view of nature – liberated us from seeing only a mountain where a mountain is, only rock in rock, only clouds in clouds.

These images are in a dialouge with the Icelandic landscape painting. And not only the old-style paintings, which specifically depicted the conventional, stereotypeical mountain to hang in the the living rooms on the gentry, but the powerful Icelandic landscape expressionism seen in the work of such 20th- century masters as Svavar Guðnason, Kristján Davíðsson and the rest who painted eddies in rivers, the tidelines, and slapped thick lave on their canvases, without people exactly seeing it, although they instantly saw it, of course in the mind´s eye.

Man does not have the imagaination to think of shapes that don´t exist in nature.

The elite local team – “Siggi”

Sigurdur Einarsson, driver

During the last three years, Sigurdur Einarsson, Siggi as everyone calls him, has been without exception the driver of our workshop vehicle.

We use excellent vehicles for all terrain travelling during our workshops from Gray Line in Iceland. Most commonly we us a truck originally build by the well know German company MAN. The MAN is a 4×4 truck with both front and rear axel air locks and a great transmission. If we need to go over rough terrain the tires can be deflate to make the truck softer and then air pumped into them again with a built in pump.  We usually have few seats removed and use only 18 seats for our workshop tours. Both to make plenty of space for gear at the back as well as we have specially made boxes for tripods and gear bags, plus provisions at the front. So it is very easy to grab the immediate gear during field stops on the way out of the truck.

But there is no vehicle better than its driver and then I like to introduce to you the one and only Siggi, our great driver who drives our workshops groups safely between places, up steep hills, around bends, down slopes, across rivers, across deserts and between narrow cliffs.

Siggi is an excellent driver, but that is only one of his qualities. He is not the least always ready to assist and his concern for the wellbeing and the safety of his passengers is one of a kind. I sometimes arrive late to a field locations, as I have been busy with some admin work. Then I can usually just ask Siggi where people are and he will point out to me where each person is located. Siggi is continuously looking after individual passengers well being.

Siggi is also our helping hand when we make sandwiches on location; grill lobster, lamb or something we have picked up fresh from farmers. Or when we for example slice smoked artic char and put on rye bread or prepare some nourishment for coffee break during location stops. Finally Siggi wants to keep his vehicle clean. When we come late to our hotel and leave early next morning, we do not easily realize that Siggi has washed the car and cleaned it indoors and spread garbage bags around for people to use.

Siggi has traveled all over Iceland. As a young boy he traveled around the country with his parents and later with his wife and their children. He has also climbed many of the highest mountains in Iceland. Finally to top everything, Siggi usually bicycles to work nearly all year around. That is what I call being a hero taking into account the often cold, wet and windy weather we have during the winter.

Siggi says that the best thing about his work as a driver is making good friends. And he has got many friends. I can count many within our FocusOnNature family who are good friends of Siggi and keep in touch with him after participating in a workshop with us.