Perfect Storm – Icelandic Winter

blizzard photography Iceland
The art of blizzard photography in Iceland

Down Day

It was the 4th Feb 2016 and we were in the middle of our 5 day workshop. A violent storm brought strong winds and extreme snow fall to our Guesthouse at Hali.

To start with, we were staying put on this day, there was no way we were going to risk a drive into the nature. We saw this coming from the Icelandic weather reports on Monday and we knew that we might face a down day, but we didn’t know we would be facing more snow in one evening than anyone living there can remember. We sometimes have down days mid workshop if the weather is very bad, but this turned out to be a mind blowing adventure. Conditions reminiscent of the recent Everest movie forced a mixture of inventive creativity and painful challenges, individual bravery and teamwork.

As a workshop instructor, you always risk the bored moaning of guests, but on this occasion I was inspired by their determination and naturally, I wanted to join them.


The chance to capture the effects of a blizzard while it happens can be immense fun so long as you are in a safe area surrounded by working people. I followed our guest, Paul Evans as he made his way around at the beginning of the blizzard. Taking my 135mm prime with lens hood to prevent snow getting on the lens.

blizzard photography Iceland
The blizzard photographer in Iceland
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Tired Fence post

For this next shot, I wanted to show the strange tangle of fence wire and the detail on the tired fence post with the rest of the posts disappearing into the distance.

blizzard photography Iceland
The art of blizzard photography in Iceland

I was only able to shoot in one direction because of the horizontal nature of the snow. Even though I had a telephoto lens hood, I was getting snow on the lens if I held the lens anything other than away from the wind. AS I made my way around I came across this scene of working vehicles preparing for the rest of the storm.

blizzard photography Iceland
Extreme blizzard photography in Iceland

Shocking Surprise

Over dinner, I was shocked to overhear a group from Australia on the next table who were expressing surprise at the weather and stating that they weren’t expecting these conditions. It made me wonder why us locals heard about it, but the tourist population were in the dark. What are the Icelandic government doing with all that extra TAX money? It wouldn’t cost the airlines too much to warn passengers of approaching storms, but how do you get the message out to the people who are in Iceland for those long hire car trips around Iceland and don’t know the local road websites such as Vegagerdin.is Could our government invest in some facebook and google ads? I have heard that governments have very good relationships with those guys.


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Photos from our guests

Jason Presement worked hard to capture this scene. Keeping your lens clear in these conditions requires constant monitoring, the only thing disrupting the clarity in this shot is the horizontal snow. There is enough beautiful details to see the way the snow has embedded itself into the horses rough body hair. The waving horses tail and the horizontal snow give us a mere glimpse of how strong the wind was. The real essence of this art work is the headstrong pose of the horse, showing a defiant character who is maybe enjoying the challenge.

Iceland Blizzard Horse
Iceland Blizzard Horse

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2 comments

  1. Awesome photos. The sideways snow really tells the story. Those photos have to be difficult not only for the snow and wind, but also for the lack of light that comes with blizzard conditions.

    I was recently on a photo tour with Jórunn around the Black Church with very high winds but no snow. That was difficult enough to photograph in; I can’t imagine these conditions.

    You guys made lemonade out of lemons!

    1. Thanks Jay, yes the light wasn’t great and because of all the white I was around 1 stop over most of the time. Thankfully our modern DSLRs have great high iso performance so it was no problem shooting hand-held at iso800

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