This aurora display was active over head and mostly in the Southern half of the sky. This made the ice beach an obvious choice as we were staying close to the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon on a 3 day photo tour. It is unusual to have such a strong aurora in the Southern half of the sky, so photos of Northern Lights on the Diamond Ice Beach are very rare. I was set up for 30 second exposures with Magic Cloth over the sky after 10-15 seconds. This particular shot was blessed with a superb wash of ocean during the exposure. Interestingly, the top half of the image is short exposure (because I was trying to limit star trails) and the bottom half is long exposure because it shows the wash of the ocean.
The ocean swells can really flood the beach. It is more of a “getting wet” danger that photographers face everyday on the glacier ice beach. There are greater dangers if you are actually in the sea because huge chunks of ice can smash against your fragile limbs when a big wave hits the shore. At night, you can’t see the big waves coming although it is the sound of the wave gives an indication of it’s size and strength. When you are engrossed in photography, the roar of a big wave is actually the best warning you get. The number one rule for photographing safely on this beach is to have an escape route. It is no good running from a wave if you trip over the first lump of glacier ice that is behind you. Other photographers can also block your escape route, so you have to be aware of all potential obstacles – especially when you are making night photography.
Photo tours & workshops
Many of our Winter tours and workshops have quality time at Jokulsarlon and the ice beach for Northern lights photography and catching sunrises. There is a lot to choose from if you want to include other locations or extend your trip.
The grass anchors itself in the black sand forming tussocks from the drifting sand. Small pools form after heavy rain or melting snow.
From this position, I had several challenges. It took 17 shots to get to this one and I already knew my composition!
We checked out the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall earlier in the day and there were 6 – 10 tourists walking through the scene at any one time.