I have made two previous expeditions to photograph in Iceland, but both were in the summer. The sun rises and sets from the south in the winter, which results in different possibilities in addition to the winter scenes. We were there for about 10 days at the end of January.
We began our trip going to the Snaefellness Peninsula to photograph the iconic little black church that is on the southern coast. We were there in time for a wonderful sunrise, which gave us some great light on some of the surrounding mountains there.
From there we moved on to the waterfalls in front of the mountain known as Kirkjufell, which we were able to capture as the sun was close to setting behind us. I think I still prefer the colors at this location in the summer, but winter has its own appeal.
On our way to the southern coast of the island, we stopped at a thermal geyser area known simply as Geysir. After an overnight stay, we were able to capture the eruption of the geyser in the morning with the sun rising behind it. The sun lit up the edges of the geyser spray with it’s warm, orange light. It was exactly what we had hoped for.
Our next stop was the sea stacks off the coast near the town of Vik at what is called Black Rock Beach. Rather than sand, the beach is made up entirely of small black stones. It isn’t much easier to walk in than sand, but it is very attractive.
Near the beach is one of the iconic waterfalls called Seljalandsfoss. Although my favorite image of Iceland is of this waterfall in the summer, I was pleased with how well it works in the winter. There may not be a bad time to capture this scene.
Also on the southern coast is the famous glacier lagoon at Jokularson. Ice calves off of the glacier and floats out of a canal to the ocean and is then washed up onto the black sand beach. The goal is to capture a long exposure of the water running past the icebergs back into the ocean.
One of the things that you can do in the winter, but not in the summer, is photograph inside one of the ice caves that is underneath a glacier. This was definitely on my list as I had never done this before. The following are two photos from the ice cave, with one showing another person in it for scale. These caves can be huge!
A trip to Iceland just wouldn’t be complete without photographing the Icelandic horses. We spent some time with the owner of one of the farms that had quite a few horses. It was a special experience and we had some very close access to them. They can be extremely friendly and will walk right up to you. We learned a lot about them and how to properly interact with them.
I leave for Norway on February 10 to return to the Lofoten Peninsula. I was there last year and the scenes of the mountains by the sea covered in snow along with the little red cabins was just so special that I had to go back to it one more time. There is snow in the forecast as I write this, which definitely has me itching to leave.
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