Photoessay: Icelandic seascapes

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Today’s series of images are some of the ones that stuck from my trip to Iceland a few months back – specifically, the seascapes. I was only there for a week, so seasonal weather variations were minimal. Nevertheless, we did get some drama in the skies (though no truly bad storms, thankfully). That said, I’m still one of those people who believes there’s no such thing as light that’s impossible to work with; better/worse, yes, but even the crummiest weather conditions can yield something visually interesting. Oddly, I have to admit that one of the scenes that spoke the most to me was the stones on the beach: constantly moist from spray and waves, they glistened, jewel-like. At a macro level, they look pretty perfect; at the micro level, despite being polished for years by the waves – none of them are quite. The closer you look, the harder it is to find perfection. I’m sure there’s probably a photographic moral in there somewhere. MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


More info on Hasselblad cameras and lenses can be found here.


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. Thomas Dittrich says:

    Thank you for showing this spectacular images. I think, I’ve to go to iceland for holiday. It looks like the X1D is a wonderful camera, even without the * in your recommended gear list. 😉

    • Thanks – the * denotes that I own one, not that it’s particularly recommended.

      As for Iceland – careful framing was required to exclude a lot of other people in most shots… 😦

  2. Remarkable! The third to last image is truly top tier landscape photography. I’m not sure if you have written one before, but you should do an article about how to curate a photo essay (number of images, where to start, progression, how to finish, etc.). Thanks for sharing.

  3. That second to last image is glorious. Happy Holidays.

  4. An excellent series with consistent light and style. Thank you Ming for your insightful contributions on this forum!
    The X1D is an outstanding camera. I took it for a spin a few weeks ago and after two days of shooting I felt pretty confident using it. I’m a manual focus guy, using mainly focus magnification. I wish the X1D had two focus magnification zoom stages and a more convenient button for it. Here the Sony A7Rii/iii is more convenient.

  5. Love the balance and focal points in your compositions! these are awesome vistas…maybe one day
    ….thank you and happy new year to you and your family 😊

  6. I have always thought that you make wonderfully insightful urban compositions and portraiture. However I suspect you don’t really get landscape phography . Processing may be minimal but use of light isn’t maximized for your scenes.

    • Thank you for your opinion.

    • To me, and without having been there myself, Icelandic natural environments radiate a combination of power, roughness and loneliness that I haven’t seen elsewhere. They reflect a sort of untouched, primeval state, and again, to me, the pictures above render that quality beautifully. They don’t place the emphasis on the beauty of the landscapes per se, which would be the more traditional approach to landscape photography, I suppose. Paradoxically, that’s what makes the scenes even more beautiful, in my opinion.

      As photography is a very personal thing, both to photographer and audience, I assume tthe “not getting landscape photography” remark is a matter of not liking this particular style, rather than your questioning the skill behind it ?

  7. What a super set of landscapes. I like the very natural looking processing you’ve done on these.

  8. Anatoly Loshmanov says:

    Happy Holiday to You and Your family !

  9. Wonderful shots… your skill and patience shows..Merry Christmas to you and yours
    May 2018 be your year… greetings from Lynd…

  10. Superb. Your patience and skill are inspiring.
    Happy New Year Ming.

  11. joecolson2015 says:

    I’m struck by how wild and untamed the coastal landscape of Iceland seems to be. I’d love to see it in person. In the meantime, your images will more than suffice. The photo of the stones on the beach is simple and captivating. My favorite is the third photo (X1D5_B0001999). Excellent!

    • Thanks! To be honest – other than the popular tourist locations in the golden triangle, the whole country is pretty much that way…ones limitations are only time and the ruggedness of your vehicle. (Unfortunately in our case, not rugged at all.)

  12. Egmont Bonomi says:

    As always, great shots Ming, happy to see you out in nature taking landscape photos again. More and more I see you taking street or reportage photos due to your busy travel arrangements. Also, nice to see some variation from the usual suspects “waterfall” theme we see too much of these days… 😉

  13. beautiful – iceland is one of the places i would love to visit –

  14. Les couleurs sont magnifiques. Le Blad doit y être pour quelque chose. En argentique, mes “noir et blanc” avaient aussi une tonalité bien particulière.

  15. Kristian Wannebo says:


    The small wet stones, me too.
    ( Isn’t though that lack of perfection what makes them “live” in a photo?)
    And the dark and lit sky!

    Merry Christmas, Ming!
    And a happy coming New Year!

  16. Wonderful pictures! I love the reflections of yourself in the wet stones 🙂

  17. The mist above the surface of the ocean waves is pretty cool. Amazing detail in the pictures.

  18. Steve Jones says:

    The clarity and natural look of these images is really so good that It gives a sense of ‘being there’ rather than looking at a flat image of the original scene.Your eye wants to linger on the landscape and drink it all in as though you were actually standing there. Beautifully captured Ming in every way from composition to color. And I’m happy you didn’t fall off any of those cliffs ( but i bet you came close! ) Wonderful stuff, and a very Happy New Year to you, in advance,

    • Thanks – I try to aim for natural rather than unrealistic or flat, but you have to have the right light to begin with – so much of the time the scene itself was really flat.


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