Fjalsarlon in the Summer

August 2015 – 2 day Jökulsarlon late schedule

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Summer days are long, so I timed this 2 day tour with a 14.00 start. This early August tour was along the South Coast as far as Jökulsarlon on day 1 and back along the South Coast to Reykjavik on day 2.

Sunset was around 10 pm at Jökulsarlon and the plan was to shoot until 11 pm, because the sky can remain colourful an hour after sunset. This would work well for longer exposure if there was any ice on the diamond beach.

Skogafoss Waterfall

Our first photo stop was at Skogafoss waterfall. Our 2 pm start gave us just enough time to catch some light on Skogafoss. In the Summer, Skogafoss is even more packed, especially as it hosts a large campsite.

Getting a shot of the falls without the crowds can be frustrating, so instead I put on my 135mm and wandered around looking at the people. I spotted this little girl in a yellow rain jacket picking yellow flowers, so I attempted a shot.

What I was looking for in the composition was to have a significant part of the falls in the background. At f/5.6 this was going to be blurred, but an important part of the scene, and an important part of the story.

Next I was looking for the flowers in her hands. This was important to communicate what she was doing. Some photographers saw me and shortly afterwards approached the girl and asked her to pose… she nervously obliged.

Picking flowers at Skogafoss
Raincoat and Dandelions

Tours Around Iceland

Glacier Lagoons

I rushed the tour to get to Jökulsarlon glacier lagoon, because I knew that there was a good sky and still conditions. The landscape along the way is stunning, but nowhere near as rich as Jökulsarlon with a good sunrise. We were in good time so we stopped at Fjallsarlon when the clouds started turning at 8 pm.

Fjallsarlon in the Summer
Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

We got to Jökulsarlon at 9 pm and the light was just starting to warm up and the huge ice chunks were busy with aggressive arctic terns. To take advantage, I loaded my 135 with the intention of shooting into the light, the fast shutter speed should freeze the birds perfectly. Not only that, but their wings became back lit against the darker parts of the background.

Arctic terns Jökulsarlon
Contre Jour Arctic Terns

As the sun dipped behind the Oræfa Volcano, it was just a matter of time before the sky absorbs some nice colours. I continued looking for compositions with my 135mm and tried to keep my shutter speed up to capture the terns in the failing light. I got some nice shots, but my regret is not shooting enough frames of the same scene to get different bird configurations.

Arctic Terns

After suffering a hissy fit from my customer because there were no restaurants available at 9 pm, I convinced him to stay, because there was an obvious climax to the summer evening sky in the making. We had already stopped for supplies, so it’s not as if we were going to starve.

Sunset Colours

Finally, the sky started getting colourful around 9.30 that evening. I put on my 24mm with 6 stop filter and got out my Magic Cloth. I have seen better skies at Jökulsarlon, but this wasn’t bad because there were a few layers to the clouds giving them a range of warm colours. The icebergs has lots of black stripes, which are layers of volcanic ash. The black stripes add texture and depth to the icebergs.

Jokulsarlon Summer Sunset

Skaftafell Campsite

After photographing this colourful scene, we headed back along the ring road to our campsite at Skaftafell National Park. We set up tents just after midnight, but it was a windy night and I struggled to sleep. This was a common problem on camping trips, my important resting period can be ruined by the stormy weather, or difficult customers.

In the morning, my guest explored the Skaftafell hiking trails to see Svartifoss waterfall and the Skaftafellsjokull glacier. This gave me a few extra hours to try to catch up on my sleep.

In the afternoon of the second day, we drove back along te south coast with stops at Reynisfjara beach and Dyrholeay sea cliffs.

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