WPY 2014

Photograph Details

Finalist 2014

Earth's Environments

David Clapp, United Kingdom

Magic mountain

David had travelled to Iceland partly to photograph the auroras, choosing to visit the Snaefellsnes peninsula because of its spectacular scenery. He had first set up by the frozen river below Mount Kirkjufell, but when the show intensified he scrambled up the bank to a pre-planned viewpoint with the mountain as the focus. At 2am, the intensity of the aurora light suddenly changed and a great burst pulsed across the sky in a totally unexpected formation. The aurora colour is the result of collisions between electrically charged particles from space and oxygen and nitrogen atoms high up in Earth’s atmosphere. David concentrated on the light behind the mountain, carefully composing the shot to create the illusion that curtains of light encircled the peak. As the light intensified, so did the contrast. ‘I slightly underexposed the image to avoid burning out the highlights, and painted light on the foreground with my head torch,’ says David. The otherworldly lenticular clouds hovering over the waterfall and the green light reflecting off the frozen river added some extra magic to the scene.

Technical specification

Canon EOS-1D X; 24mm f1.4 lens; 30 sec at f2.8; ISO 1600; Gitzo tripod 5540 + Kirk ballhead; head torch.


Kirkjufell, Iceland: latitude 64.9417, longitude -23.3074 Kirkjufell, Iceland: latitude 64.9417, longitude -23.3074

Kirkjufell, Iceland

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David Clapp, United Kingdom

A landscape, travel and architectural photographer, David also teaches and writes extensively about photography. His work is frequently published in the national photography press, and he is a regular contributor to many photography magazines. He travels widely from his base in Devon, UK, taking photographs in 34 countries to date, with a growing hit list of many more.