Having spent a few days in the Lofoten Islands in March, the second leg of my Nordic travels this year took me to the Faroe Islands.
Unlike a lot of places, it hasn't been on my ‘to-go’ list for that long a time but being easy to get to from the UK and keen to experience this unique landscape with my own eyes I headed over there for five days last week.
Anyone who has visited will appreciate how incredible the place is and the photography opportunities are endless. So here are just a few tips I took away from my time out there.
Prepare for all weather – often in a single day
It's not a tired cliche, it's a fact. During my short visit I experienced sun, gales, fog, cloud, hail, and (of course) rain. Be sure to pack your waterproofs, keep a spare pair of socks in the car, and leave your lens hood on unless you want to be wiping off raindrops after every shot. You will get wet so be prepared for it and you'll still be able to get out.
Work with the environment
The Faroe Islands can be quite a bleak place and sunny, blue skies (if you're lucky enough to get them) don't necessarily reflect its true, brooding atmosphere. It is often cloudy but don't despair – it adds to the mood. So work with the environment and think creatively about black and white conversions, long exposures, and desaturated images.
Respect the land
While there are ample hiking opportunities, be aware that you are not necessarily crossing public land. Chances are the ground beneath your feet is privately owned. Respect obvious land boundaries and don't go clambering over what is effectively someone's garden fence for the sake of a photograph.
The vast majority of my photographs were taken around 24mm and 50mm. There were occasions when I needed to go wider but not many where I needed anything longer. If you're planning on dedicating some time to bird-watching then definitely take a telephoto, but if not then pack light and limit yourself to one or two lenses.
Watch your highlights
On a typical day the foreground is going to be very dark compared to a back-lit, cloudy sky – essentially acting as a giant diffuser. I regularly found myself underexposing by one to two stops in order to retain highlight details, whilst keeping some foreground detail to recoup in processing. Keep an eye on that histogram and shoot to the left.
Isolate subjects to give a sense of place
These islands are sparsely populated; one village I came across had just 14 residents. Look for opportunities to isolate subjects such as houses, huts, and sheep shelters to give a sense of that desolation. Isolating them against their wild surroundings helps give a real sense of the remoteness of this environment.
Dramatic moments are everywhere
The landscape of the Faroe Islands is some of the most dramatic I have encountered. Rock pinnacles rise from the sea, the waves – especially during stormy weather –ferociously pound the shore, and the wind will effortlessly redirect waterfalls upwards. Look out for these moments where the elements are fighting against one another. There are few places on earth quite as dramatic.
If you're in need of any more inspiration than I recommend checking out the Visit Faroe Islands Instagram page here. But be warned: after that you'll be checking out the price of flights...