Chris Burkard: Southern Coast, Iceland

The Image

Chris Burkard

Secret location, Iceland

Time / Date:
8:37 AM / Febuary 2, 2013

The Technical

Camera Body: Sony NEX-7
Lens: Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6

Camera Settings:
Shutter Speed: 1/320
Aperture: f/6.3
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 18mm

The Story


We we’re up north in Iceland when a storm rolled in and below out the waves. After checking the weather we realized the potential for clear skies the next morning down south, so we planned to drive through the night and make the south coast in the morning. After too many cups of coffee, sliding off the road and a few wrong turns we ended up on the beach exhausted but happy to see we were past the storm and the ocean had clean swell.

The Scene: 

What drew me to this beach was having stumbled upon it last time I was in Iceland and I’d seen the potential for it be a great location to shoot when the surf was good. After driving through the night finally showing up to the beach and seeing the great surf we felt truly blessed. This picture represents to me the calm after the storm, the emotion of the surfer having traveled all through the night to search for un promised waves.


I had my whole gear set-up in the car, pelican case, big DSLRs and telephoto lenses. However I shot this with a little Sony NEX-7 and an 18-55mm. I think there’s a lot to say about the portability of your camera set-up. I snapped this right after we got out of the car, it was a candid moment and having such a small, accessible camera in my pack really helps me capture these little moments. I probably wouldn’t have had time if I had to grab one of my bigger cameras, the moment would have been over.

Making the Shot:

When I’m shooting I try to make the landscape the hero of the image. However I also think putting a subject in to tell a story is important as well. Here I tried to combine the two to tell the story, while orienting the viewer within the landscape.

Editing & Processing:
I always open my cards in photomechanic to organize them and then edit them in adobe lightroom. This image didn’t really require a lot of editing, I usually add some contrast using the tone curve and add some saturation.

Looking Back: 

This image is personal to me because it was taken in what now is one of my favourite places in Iceland and this was the first time I was able to shoot surfing there. It reminds me of the hard work you go through to get a shot sometimes and how great it can be when it pays off.


My advice for anyone looking to shoot adventure photography is to search for the story to tell. This image is powerful because it conveys the emotion of the surfer overlooking the beautiful beach and surf. It’s raw, easily digestable and allows the viewer to place themselves in the photo.


What I find inspiring are the places I get to travel to and the amazing people I meet along the way. I’m also inspired by other creatives such as Ansel Adams, John Muir, Thoreau and Henri Cartier-Bresson to name a few.


About the Photographer

Chris Burkard is a self-taught photographer and artist, based in Central Coast California, whose work is layered by surf, outdoor, lifestyle and travel subjects.Burkard’s images are punctuated by energized landscapes and moments of bliss, by adventure seeking and the lifestyle that ensues, by movement and intuitive light-working capabilities. With the ocean as his main muse, Burkard has consistently captured this subject in timeless and expansive photographic impressions, utilizing the tool of surfing to approach the ocean’s intricate personality and then extending out to include the human personalities that draw meaning from this same source.

Facebook: /ChrisBurkardPhotography
Twitter: @chrisburkard
Instagram: @chrisburkard
500px: /burkardphoto
Vimeo: /burkardphoto

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Comments (1)

  1. Bill

    Nice image but don’t be afraid to share the location!

    We were there 2 days before you on Jan 31. It is just outside the gravel road to the NATO facility slightly east of Hofn. Last turn-off Hwy 1 before it enters the tunnel going north.

    That’s Batman mountain on the right side of the range.