This was a 4 day custom photo tour in the South of Iceland.
My guest, Phil, had planned this trip long in advance. It was the prelude to a week in Greenland on a photo cruise. In order to have comfortable accommodation, we agreed on a late schedule where we would be shooting up to midnight (with good light).
This tour always planned to start with a drive to East Iceland through Landmannalaugar. This was a bit of a gamble because we were guaranteed rain. The big question was about the height of the clouds and whether we were going to be able to see the mountains. As we drew closer to Landmannalaugar, we weren’t disappointed. The painted mountains suddenly sprang into view. We spent a bit of time in the Lava Field playing with compositions.
I booked our rooms at Geirland Hotel in Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The accommodation was arranged to be conveniently placed when we exited the park in the East. The east Iceland village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur is only about 15 minutes after the highland road joins the ring road.
That was such a good plan because the mountain road was so badly broken from the tourist traffic. As it grew darker, the drive became worse. Both, Phil and I breathed a sign of relief when we finally got onto the tarmac road. We arrived at the Geirland Hotel just after Midnight… a little tired.
We stopped at the Stjórnarfoss waterfall just 2 minutes after checking out of the hotel. Then a quick visit to the river gorge (in the rain) before heading further East. We stopped at the picturesque Foss á Síðu where I pushed the limits of my 50mm in the Arctic Conditions.
These hotels and guesthouses are a short drive from the Fjaðrárgljúfur River Canyon.
Arctic Terns on Ice
As we continued East, we came across a misty Jökulsarlon. These conditions are ideal for isolating icebergs, but you have to watch your shutter speed or the Arctic Terns with blur in your shot. If you are lucky, you will freeze one in the right place.
I enjoy shooting tourists. This time they were bombed by a Norwegian Sea Chicken.
Skalafell Mountain Road
After our evening meal, the clouds had lifted, but were still at 100% coverage. I drove up a local mountain track where we had great views over the local areas. This big boulder has been split by ice. Or maybe it was when King Arthur withdrew Excalibur.
The Skálafell mountain road firstly serves the hydroelectric power station called “Smyrlabjargaárvirkjun” which uses the over flow from a mountain lake, which is fed by meltwater from the Skálafellsjökull Glacier.
The mountain road continues for 16 miles up to the glacier and to Iceland’s highest cafe at the glacier mountain hut. The hut offers accommodation for anyone who wants glacier views and snowmobile activities.
The views from Skálafell mountain are spectacular. The coastal lagoons stretch all the way to Hofn in the east. A delta river runs through the valley below.
I have been wanting this scene with the Summer moss for some time. The lake in the middle ground is the lake that feeds the power plant.
This is a Game of thrones location in East Iceland. Just behind me is the spot where Jon Snow slept with Ygritte after she escaped his execution. These rocks can be seen in the background of the scene.
The morning of the third day we explored the less visited lagoon at Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon. I walked around with my 50mm prime and found some nice ice shapes to balance with the glacier background. 50mm prime lenses are quite useful at Fjallsarlon because you can create stunning panorama photos. Sometimes, I would limit myself to 50mm to train my compositional eye.
The 3rd day we were happy to find lots of ice on the beach. We were unhappy to find lots of tourists on the beach. Large numbers of tourists disturb the sand and put sandy boots onto the ice, but there are always good shots to be found. When it is rainy weather, it is very worthwhile to take a longer lens with a big hood and hunt for details in the glacier ice. So long as you are well protected from the weather, this can be rewarding.
On the afternoon of the 3rd day we headed East for the main part of the evening. We stopped for some East Iceland Landscape photography, but instead became engrossed getting as close as possible to these wild flowers in the rain. With the right combination of colours and raindrops, the hunt for micro-details can yield some great results.
We continued to Iceland’s East Coast when we spotted some interesting clouds over Brunnahorn mountain. This could be a sign that the rain was lifting. We spent a bit of time working the foregrounds.
On the return leg along the South Coast, we stopped for some peaceful landscaping in this Lava field before Kirkjubærklaustur. I was struggling to compose in this crazy landscape. As soon as I got a good one, I was photo-bombed by my guest.
This was a rainy photo tour! It rained probably 60% of the time. This was mostly drizzle or misty with little or no wind. We didn’t really get too wet and it was a lot of fun.
Here are some pictures from Phil.
Thanks for coming Phil!