5 tips to photograph a Geyser

Whoosh.  The sound is immense, the boiling hot water shoots over 20 metres into the sky from a hole in the ground; and comes crashing down on the rocks before me.  We are treated to a visual delight. Huge amounts of steam form as the hot water hits the cold atmosphere. On our recent trip to Iceland, Vincent and I paid a visit to The Strokkur Geysir in South West Iceland, to capture this awesome natural phenomenon.
A Geyser is a turbulent hot spring in which water intermittently boils and then sends a tall column of water and steam into the air.  Geysers are generally unpredictable, and that is what is so exciting about them. The Strokkur Geysir, however,  is quite reliable and blows every 5-10 minutes. This gives plenty of time to predict when it is about to blow, but there is still no way to perfect the timing and still a chance to miss the shot.
This makes photographing a Geyser fun and frustrating at the same time.  Here are my tips on capturing the moment:

1.  Be patient.

Watch and enjoy. Learn how the geyser flows. Take in what you see before you; and let your personal excitement run free.

Once you have had your fill, relax and think about your image possibilities. Get a feeling for how the geyser operates and plan what you would like in your image.

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Waiting as the geyser smoulders in preparation to blow.

2. Use a tripod.

Creating your image on a tripod will allow for sharp, fine tuned and consistent images. Ask yourself; what is in your fore ground or background, is there a random little building or garbage can that spoils the finished image? Move your equipment until you are happy with the final frame.

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Using a tripod allowed me to create my frame.

3. Use a remote.

When the geyser blows, it is exciting and your natural reaction is to jump. Using a remote will help you get a clean and crisp image. The chances are when it blows, you will still jump and possibly miss the moment. Having  your finger on the trigger, means that you are able to react as soon as the geyser starts to stir. With the camera set up on a tripod, you do not need to think about the frame as you have already prepared the image, you just push the trigger.

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Using a remote, I tested my reactions to capture the initial blast

4. Check your focus point and camera settings.

Capturing The Geysir requires a fast shutter speed. I used 1/1250 to capture the water droplets as they flew from the ground. My focus point is the base of the water. I used an aperture of 6.3 although I could have used a larger aperture and made the background more blurry. It was quite a dull day, and I let my camera use its auto ISO settings and so these images were at ISO 4000.

I set my focus point at the hole where the the water blows from. Using manual focus, this meant that the focus was locked where I wanted it and my focus point did not change while the water blew out of the hole. Depending upon your settings, auto focus may follow the flow of water meaning that the main explosion from the base is no longer the main focus point.

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I focused on the hole where the water would shoot from.

5. What goes up, must come down.

The hot water has to go somewhere, and depending upon the way the wind is blowing, you may or may not get wet. Make sure you and your gear are protected, even by something as simple as an umbrella. The water from Strokkur Geysir can reach temperatures of  180°F; (82°C;). and as per usual, I got a bit wet making these images.

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Be cautious, if the wind changed, I was about to get a very hot shower.

There are more points to photographing this natural phenomenon, but these basic tips will get you started on making better images.  I hope my photography inspires you to explore and to make your own Geysir images.



And remember to follow my journey 🙂

#paulies365 #explorewithpaul #paulkporterphotography #vincentandpaulexplore 

Instagram: @pauliespics

Twitter: @pkpphoto

Facebook: paulkporterphotography

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