This January I made a trip to one of my all-time favourite destinations so far on my travels, Iceland. I had travelled to Iceland around 8 years ago, after meeting several Icelandic photographers who had become online friends through a photo competition website called dpchallenge. That photo trip back then was one of my first, but still most memorable, especially for landscape photography.
Back then Iceland it was a little known heaven for photographers, but now Iceland is probably one of the meccas for landscape photography. Taking photos in Iceland is an addiction I am sure many photographers would agree on. Everywhere you look is a stunning photo opportunity in Iceland. You cant drive your hire car or Jeep for more than 5 minutes without stopping at the side of the road for a photo. Anyway, I made the journey back to Iceland to meet my old Viking friend Larus with the main goal being to actually see and photograph the Aurora Borealis in Iceland. The last trip I was unfortunate to have not been lucky enough to see them, and hoping this time the conditions would be more favourable. Some of the places we visited are mentioned below.
Vik is one of Iceland’s most rainy areas but blessed with interesting and photogenic basalt rock formations in the sea, along with various stunning waterfalls. It is also due to its close proximity to the capital quite a tourist hotspot. Sunrise is great for the amazing sight of the famous basalt columns in the sea, bathed in beautiful golden sunlight. The beach here in Vik is made of black sand, as with much of Iceland’s photogenic beaches. So it makes for some interesting photos. It is is quite treacherous taking photos in this part of Iceland due to the rather tempestuous and rough sea and tides. Also in the close vicinity are the waterfalls, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, and a famous plane crash site.
Jokursarlon Iceberg lagoon is the other main stop in the south of Iceland you will want to pay a visit for photos. As well as the extremely photogenic iceberg lagoon and black beach with icebergs, there are also numerous waterfalls and also glaciers which drop off the Vatnajökull icecap. The Vatnajökull icecap is the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland, and one of the largest in area in Europe. All the surrounding glaciers are worth a visit for photos. Especially to include in potential night time aurora photos if you are lucky enough.It really is in my opinion one of Iceland’s most photogenic areas.
This region of Iceland is where I was finally greeted by the aurora Borealis. We had to quickly find ourselves a great foreground and/or background the take photos of, whilst the aurora played in the sky. We decided on a reflective pond with mountains in the backdrop. The next few nights we were treated to more, and I got to grips with more of the technique of capturing and photographing the auroras beauty. For me 30sec exposures seemed to long, and better to go with much higher ISO with around 10sec exposures or shorter. That way the sky doesnt look like just one green blob and you get more definition in the aurora curtains and flow. This part of Iceland is certainly worth hanging around at least a few days in order to maximise great sunrise/sunset photos around the lagoon and beach.
Another popular area to take photos in Iceland is on the far south-east coast near to Hofn. There is a mountain very popular amongst photographers that can be reached via a thin access road. This goes through a private bit of land. By law you do not have to pay the land owner as natural sights in Iceland must be accessible to the public. The mountain itself is quite an interesting sight and one of Iceland’s best to photograph. There are mounds of tufted grass scattered in the foreground, as well as the ocean on the right side. The sun illuminates these at sunrise. This area of Iceland and further east through the mountain pass are stunning and definitely worth a look at for photos.
One of our last stops on this photo trip around Iceland was the far north area of Myvatn, full of geological sights and attractions. These included taking photos of the waterfalls, Godafoss and Dettifoss as well as the Krafla lava fields, Namafjall and the geothermal areas. I think here I felt most relaxed, although it was extremely cold, down to around -24C each day. WE were treated with some of the best sunsets and rises on the whole trip. It also seemed to be a great area to photograph the stunning Icelandic horses, as there were quite a few farms in Myvatn and the surrounding areas.