A World Record Pursuit in Iceland with William Woodward and Lightroom Mobile
by Lex van den Berghe
posted on 11-09-2017
When William Woodward was presented with the opportunity to return to Iceland, he knew he had to accept. Though he had visited Iceland previously, this trip was different. This time, William would set out on a mission to photograph his friend, Tom Whittle, attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the ‘Fastest Crossing of Iceland on Foot.’ William explains, “Tom initially set this idea in motion with the focus on making the most of the moments we have and chasing our adventures, in honor of his late nephew, Sonny, who passed away from cancer at age 1.”
This overland crossing of Iceland, north-most-point to south-most-point, produced its own set of challenges, especially for a photographer – but 725km, 10 days, 12 hours and 55 minutes later the team successfully achieved their goal. William explained the hurdles he faced along the way, and how he adjusted his photography workflow to address the challenges of working on-the-go.
Photo by William Woodward.
Workflow on the Road
The largest challenge of the trip from a photographic perspective was how fast things could take place. “Very often there might only be a few moments to capture a unique perspective of the journey. I had no opportunity for reshoots of locations because we needed to ensure Tom’s forward progress crossing Iceland,” explains William. He set up an electronics command center in the truck, giving him the ability to change equipment quickly, as well as keep everything charged. According to William, the fast-paced nature of the trip “could only have been overshadowed by Iceland’s variable weather, going from sun to wind and hail in no time.”
On his workflow, he says, “Whenever we had a good Wi-Fi signal, I’d sync the images from my camera to Lightroom Mobile and live edit the raw files while we were on the go.”
Though he traveled every day, the two things that remained constant for William were shooting in raw, and syncing collections of images to Lightroom Mobile. This allowed him to sync, edit, update and share photos during his voyage across Iceland.
Photo by William Woodward.
William’s Top Tips for Using Lightroom Mobile
1. Shoot in raw. First things first, when editing images, it helps to have the maximum amount of information available to start your editing process. Raw images capture a much wider gamut of light and detail information than their JPEG counterparts, so if you have the option, go raw. Below are before and after edits of a raw file.
2. Use Curves. Curves allow you to add contrast, manage colors and tweak saturation and focus of an image. Find Curves under the “Light” tab.
A basic adjustment to the curve is what’s called an S curve, which adds a nice level of contrast to an image.
Going deeper into the curves area, you can affect individual colors as well. The next two images showcase how increasing the reds curve in the highlights changes the brightest parts of the image’s color tone.
3. Make Selective Edits. Selective edits allow you to apply a more targeted edit to a specific location or portion of an image. There are three types of Selective Edits in Lightroom Mobile: Brush, Radial and Linear.
One of the most common Selective Edits is one similar to a graduated ND filter in front of a lens. By dragging the edit across the image and lightening or darkening the exposure, you can balance out photos with large dynamic range.
If the predefined shapes of Linear and Radial Selective edits are too rigid, Brush allows you to ‘paint on’ any edit in any shape that you can draw with your fingertip.
4. Use Luminance. The Luminance feature allows you to change individual colors in your image. Under the “Color” tab, you have the option to “Mix”. This will take you to the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance sliders for individual colors.
Luminance can have a huge impact on an image. For images with dense greens, adjusting the luminance of yellow, a key component to green, provides some great opportunities to modify the feel of your image. Here you can see the different extremes of modifying the yellow luminance, as well as something in the middle, which is what I used for this image.
5. Camera Lens Correction. Something that’s an extremely simple, but often overlooked step of finalizing an image, is applying the Camera Lens Correction. Lenses each have their own levels of inherent vignette and distortion. By applying the Lens Correction, Lightroom Mobile will automatically fix those issues based on your specific lens.
Iceland’s landscape presents a mixture of volcanos and glaciers that produce micro ecosystems and environments like no other. On the varying landscapes, William says, “Two hours in any direction from where you are in Iceland, it is going to be dynamically different, and often in ways you wouldn’t expect.”
Photos by William Woodward.
Since Iceland’s roads are often fairly sparse, William’s team used a truck as their film vehicle. He elaborates, “The doors were open and the windows were down as I filmed and shot on a gimbal hanging out of the side of the car.”
Photo by William Woodward.
Advice for Travel Photographers
If photographers are planning a trip to Iceland, William’s biggest suggestion, besides going with no itinerary, is to focus on a section of the country. “You could easily spend the amount of time that most visitors spend seeing the entire Ring Road only in the East Fjords,” he explains.
Slowing down and focusing on a specific location helps you find the places that aren’t on every tourist’s list. “Oh, and go for a hike. That always helps weed out the window tourists.”
Speaking as a creative, William says, “Don’t forget to capture the in between moments. It’s easy to focus on the big picture, the grand landscapes, but the moments between make up the story.”
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