Snorkeling vs. Scuba Diving: What’s the Difference?
The Silfra Fissure in Southwest Iceland is considered one of the best snorkeling and diving spots on Earth.
For scuba divers of all experience levels, capturing the perfect photo can be a magical souvenir from your time in Iceland. But how can you take the perfect picture? What settings should your camera be on? And how can you maximize light conditions?
Diving in the Silfra Fissure is one of the best scuba spots in the world. The water is crystal clear as you descend between two tectonic plates in the cold glacial water - a true once-in-a-lifetime experience - unless you plan to return!
However, the unique conditions of the fissure make photography a little more challenging. Weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, so it’s best to know all the tips and tricks for Silfra photography before heading into the water. Our expert guides on our Silfra Fissure diving tours may also be able to provide advice on the day to make the most of your time underwater.
Practicing scuba diving before getting your hands on a fancy camera will help to improve your shooting skills. It might go without saying, but if you’re an inexperienced diver, you will find underwater photography more challenging. With more practice, you can navigate deep waters with ease, so the weight of a camera or navigating the buttons will come more easily. In turn, more effective imagery is possible.
So, if this is your first time diving, don’t feel put down when you struggle with photography on top of the scuba experience! Try to enjoy the incredible setting and appreciate the wonders of the two tectonic plates beneath you.
As avid photographers will know, getting the perfect shot might take time. Dives can last an hour or more at Silfra, so being prepared to stay under for this length of time is essential. What’s more, the water temperature is only marginally above freezing, and this can be a real shock to newcomers.
If embarking on one of our diving tours, you’ll always follow our safety requirements for diving, meaning you’ll have the right equipment, be it a wet or dry suit and everything else you will need. Note that thick gloves can make a camera a little more difficult to operate, so have your settings right before suiting up. Don’t be tempted to take off your gloves, because your fingers will quickly feel the cold and lose feeling in some cases.
One thing to know about Iceland is that the weather almost never does what you want it to do. Even in summer, you can’t guarantee sunshine to provide the optimum light conditions. Even more modern cameras that are proven effective in low light conditions may struggle once you descend beneath the water’s surface.
Sunshine will provide ideal light conditions without trying, so a lower ISO will be acceptable. However, on those darker rainy days in Iceland, the ISO will need to be close to 1000 or maybe even higher to provide a good depth of field to capture effective photos.
In some ways, it’s best to approach photographing Silfra Fissure as a landscape. The clear water allows around 300m of visibility, providing a wide scene worthy of capturing. However, the fissure itself is actually swimmable in just a few minutes.
To recreate the images you’ve likely already seen of Silfra, the huge underwater gorge, a wide-angle lens is effective. These lenses will give the illusion of more space between your camera and the objects it picks up. In this way, the water can be made to look like air, making the appearance of a floating diver surreal and amazing.
One of the best tips for photographers hoping to capture incredible underwater scenes at the Silfra Fissure is to go back on consecutive days. If you’ve got one day planned there, this doesn’t allow for much learning while shooting. Some common advice from photographers who have been before is to check your images on a laptop screen to confirm whether your camera settings are doing as much justice as possible. This is easy to do on one of our multi-day diving tours!
Snorkeling or diving at Silfra is a must-try experience for every adventurer visiting Iceland. If you’re visiting for only a short while or are keen to pack as much into your time here as possible, why not combine your diving tour with another exciting activity or experience, such as the Golden Circle? Arctic Adventures offers a huge range of active tours to suit any interest.