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  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Chad Copeland, a professional photographer whose work has appeared on National Geographic Creative and in adventure campaigns around the world, had doubts about the quality of smartphone photography. So, to see if the mobile devices could capture the kind of imagery he wanted, he headed to Iceland with an iPhone 6 and 6+. These are the photos he came back with and the lessons he learned during the process.

    (Spoiler alert: It’s time to ditch the DSLR.)

  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    The Assignment

    Leaving my reliable Nikon D4S kit behind, I flew to Iceland with a single objective: Make great photos with an iPhone 6 and 6+, as well as the Moment lens kit. Pictured: Blue lagoon.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    The Gear

    When I go on a shoot, I usually need ten to 12 bags, including several Pelican cases, for all my equipment. That adds up to about 600 pounds of luggage. When I went to Iceland, I brought a single Pelican case filled with an iPhone 6 and 6+, Moment Lens 18mm and 60mm kit, FreeFly Systems MoVI, M5 iPhone, Mount Watershot Inc. iPhone 6 underwater housing, Dome Port, Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit, and The North Face Himalayan parka.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Keep Moving

    There’s no shortage of natural creativity in Iceland. To make this photo, I strapped on my crampons and braved the stairs. Spray from the waterfall not only helped me capture a scene right out of Frozen but also coated me with ice. The key to success? I kept moving, using my wipe cloth repeatedly on the Moment 18mm wide-angle lens. Pictured: Seljalandsfoss Waterfall.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Diamond Ice

    I’ve made photos in this cave before with a professional DLSR, and it takes a few shots to dial in the correct settings. Having mounted the iPhone 6+ with the Moment 18mm lens on a tripod, I activated the interval-shooting mode through the ProCam app and walked into the scene. Pictured: Skaftafell Glacier.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Behind the Scenes

    I found that making amazing images with the iPhone 6 was often much easier that with a DLSR. Every photo I take with the DLSR is designed manually, meaning I control everything from the sensor settings to the focus. With the iPhone, I turn it on and we’re ready to go.

    Getting this shot: Hiking into a massive glacial ice cave is very dangerous. The ground you see here is a partially frozen lake with weak spots covered by snow. Needless to say, we walked carefully. Pictured: Skaftafell Glacier.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    The Drone

    The iPhone 6+ was the first to go up in the drone. I affixed the Moment 18mm lens, pushed the throttle forward, and watched the system lift off into the evening sky. The smartphone flew around for about 10 minutes before I could no longer handle the cold. I was surprised that the iPhone was still recording when it landed, with temperatures hovering about negative 37 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Trips like this aren’t easy to pull off because of how challenging it is to reach each location. The Defender 110 (provided by my sponsor Land Rover) connected all the dots to make these photos possible. I aim to present a beautiful and interesting image, but it’s often hard to show how much work goes into making that one shot. Pictured: Near Grindavik.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Get Creative

    When I walked up to the edge (see next slide) of that cliff under the lighthouse, I noticed fog lingering about 100 yards offshore. I ran out to the arch (directly under me here), placed my Nitecore Tiny Monster torch behind me, and stepped into the light. Pictured: Dyrholaey.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Mind Games

    At night, everything deceives you. Looking across at this arch, it seems small. Don’t be fooled. That rock is 400 feet high and has more than enough surface area to support two simultaneous football games. Pictured: Dyrholaey.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Use the Light

    After about of week of running around in the middle of the night making photos, I began to think I was becoming afraid of the light. One morning, I woke up and ran down to the beach to catch the sunrise. Pictured: Vik.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Super Stable, Super Simple

    I wanted to shoot a video exclusively using the iPhone. Normally, I’m lugging around a ton (almost literally) of gear and sorting through media cards, batteries, lenses, and camera brains (like the Red Dragon). What a relief this was. The ability to shoot 1080p between 24 and 240 fps was amazing. And using the FreeFly Systems MoVI M5 gimbal with its iPhone mount was easy. Pictured: Skaftafell Glacier.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Blue Unicorn

    It’s not every day you see a magical ice unicorn (with a broken horn) on a spooky beach at 1 a.m. When I came across this one, I knew I had to photograph it. Using the Slow Shutter app and the Moment 18mm lens, I went to work. Pictured: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland

    Stay Warm

    Iceland is brutal in winter. Keeping the phone from freezing was one of my greatest challenges. I made the majority of these images during calm periods between hurricane-force weather systems with winds in excess of 140 mph and temperatures well below negative 44 degrees. I relied on an inside pocket that kept the iPhone warm next to my body.

    The kit: Tripod, iPhone mount, wide-angle lens, and various LED light sources. Pictured: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon.
  • Photo: Chad Copeland


    When I return from a trip, I use an amazing app called Steller, which makes sharing stories easy. The best part from my Iceland adventure: The photo and video content was already on my phone.
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Filed To: Iceland, Cell Phones, Camera Accessories, Photography, Nature, Travel
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