• Aurora Borealis
  • Blue Hour
  • calm
  • Center Framed
  • Cold
  • Dark
  • full body
  • holding each other
  • ice
  • lower thirds
  • night
  • northern lights
  • simple
  • Stars
  • Wide
  • Winter

The story behind the image

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Wedding photography in Iceland, I bet everyone dreams and thinks about a shot like this. The Northern Lights over the glacier lagoon (Jökulsárlón) on the Icelandic south coast. I was booked to shoot wedding photographs for this lovely couple from the states. We traveled the south coast over a period of 3 days, hunting for awesome light and awesome spots.

I give photography workshops in Iceland, so I am quite familiar with what the country has to offer location wise. But coming up to Jökulsárlón in the evening and having the northern lights over it for a session is just incredible. This place never fails to amaze me! Even after seeing it many times. It was one of the highlights of our wedding photo mission for sure. Absolutely epic conditions, and what a spot right?!
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I didn’t really give any directions, I hardly do that when I am out shooting these wedding shoots. I try to capture the couple in the moment. On the go, just taking things as they come and how they are. Luckily these guys were really good in posing themselves, and we both knew we were after the same kind of photographs.

When the Northern Lights started dancing I did tell them to hang around the waterfront of the lake for a while. So I could move around and snap several shots. They were really good in standing still in order for me to work out the perfect shot.

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What did you say?

Hey guys, just hang out down here by the lake while I go find my composition up there. Enjoy the moment, keep each other warm and I’ll let you know if there is anything else I need you to do

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Tone of Directions



This is a straight forward composition, and it works very well here. The couple in the middle and the ice and the lights do the rest for the image. I made sure to show a little more sky compared to the foreground because of the present Northern Lights. In conditions like this, any comp was going to be special. And this straight forward shot really shows that.

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Lower Thirds


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

The Northern Lights were bright enough for me to see my subject, the couple through the viewfinder and live view of the camera. I used manual focus to dial in focus. Autofocus will be tricky in these dark conditions.

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Focus Mode

Manual Focus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on

The couple

Equipment &

Nikon D500
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5
3 Seconds @ f/3.5 ISO3200 WB-Auto

The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:

Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.

Light & Weather

I had to use the available glow/light that came off of the Northern Lights in the sky and work with a long exposure in order to get the right exposure. Since the light was so low, it didn’t really matter how I placed my couple.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day


Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I have edited the RAW image in Lightroom, not using any presets. Bringing some clarity to the lights. Lifting the shadows around the couple and the ice. And adding some overall contrast to the image. Also used some noise reduction to tackle some iso noise.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic
Preset Used


The only thing that was a bit of a challenge was the cold, the couple started to get quite cold for obvious reasons as time passed.

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I asked my couple to keep each other warm as much as possible, and in between shots encouraged them to head to the car for a moment to help with the cold.

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Location Name


Location aDDRESS

Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Loation Type




Knowing where to go at what time of the year and day is key. Especially in Iceland where you dream of these kinds of shots. Knowing these things beforehand really made this shot possible, with a good dose of luck still for sure.

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