• Northern Lights over Kleifarvatn in Iceland

It's almost like being there

Olafur HaraldssonIceland really is the photographers dream and some of them do things a little bit differently. If you follow WOW air's awesome Facebook page you've probably seen the equally awesome 360° photo of the northern lights we shared recently. We would like to introduce you to the man behind this cool trend, Olafur Haraldsson.

Northern lights over Kleifarvatn in IcelandOlafur is, as far as we know, the only Icelander who has a master's degree in interaction design which means that he specializes in everything that has to do with user interface, user interaction and service design. He has also been focusing on making three dimensional models from photos and has his own business that specializes in just that.

Dynkur waterfall in Iceland Dynkur waterfall. See www.olihar.com for an interactive image.

“Interaction design is an opportunity to give people that “being there” experience, without them having to go there. I can give people access to places that they normally wouldn't see or go to. For instance I have taken some photos in New Zealand and Australia, a place that is so far away that most Icelanders never get the chance to actually go there. I can also give people the chance to see places that have to be preserved and are therefore closed to the public,” says Olafur. He recently photographed the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in this 360° fashion. “I love great architecture and photographing buildings is one of my favourites. When I show people the 360° photos of Harpa, and I'm talking about Icelanders here, that have never seen the inside of the building, they're all like “WOW, I have to go there.” The reason I also make these 3D models from the photos is to give people a chance to travel through this documented space as if they were actually there, but in the comfort of their own office or home.”

How does it work?
“The 360° photos look like the viewer is inside a bubble where he can look out in all directions, up, down, left or right, to change his view within the photo. It's most fun to look at these photos using a tablet because you can move the tablet to change the view. When taking these photos I use a special mount on my tripod so I can turn the camera to every possible angle. Of course you need a good camera and lens too. After I shoot the photos I remove the tripod from the picture.”

A northern lights sphere, IcelandPhotography always follows
Snow and northern lights in IcelandOlafur has been taking photos for the last 14 years and although he chose to study interaction design he says photography has always followed. “This all stems from my passion of mixing photographs and computer technology to make works of art. These works have been used as backdrops for commercials, it saves time to not have to take a whole crew to a locations to shoot a certain object and so forth. When you use a photo that's been taken like that you can move it inside the scenic environment later on. I've also done some work for the movie industry.”

Is nature your main focus?
“You could say that it's nature and buildings, or architecture. I am an environmentalist and I love shooting this grand scenery to help people explore it like they were there, especially places that are almost inaccessible.”

Olafur has lots of amazing photos on his homepage and we urge you to take a look at them, preferably from your tablet if you have one. Sometimes seeing is not believing and if you would like to see the wonders of Iceland with your own eyes all you have to do is pick a season and find cheap flights to Iceland with WOW air, it's that simple.