My photos from the 10 day landscape photography tour are now finally visible 🙂 As I have earlier told you, I did participate to landscape photography tour in August 2010 by Daniel Bergmann. Christopher Lund was a second guide on the tour. Thanks to them for excellent arrangements! The tour group was small as there were only 7 customers (one from Australia, one from England, one from Canada, three from US and me). We stayed five nights in tents, three nights in huts, and two nights in hotel/motel.
We started our tour in South Iceland, and our first photography stop was Seljalandsfoss. From our camping place we did trips e.g. to Jökulsárlón lagoon and Virkisjökull. The Jökulsárlón lagoon was very interesting place: the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is calving icebergs continuously to the lagoon, where they melt and finally when they are small enough, they drift to ocean through small river. The lagoon and the nearby beach are definitely worth visiting, but they are also quite difficult places to photograph. This time the lagoon was filled with icebergs, so isolating individual icebergs was almost impossible.
On our way to the east, we stopped e.g. to Svartifoss waterfall. Svartifoss was quite small waterfall, but it was still one of my favourite waterfalls in Iceland. The basalt columns besides the water column looked really nice.
Next day we were already in the North Iceland, and there was more waterfall photography on the program. We visited e.g. the Dettifoss and Selfoss. Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in Europe in terms of volume discharge, but I liked the Selfoss more. And not only because of nice sunset colours, in my opinion the shape of Selfoss was much more photogenic. Walking 15 minutes from Dettifoss upstream to Selfoss is definitely worth the effort.
One thing about waterfall photography that I did not fully realize in advance: there is almost always really lot of spray from big waterfall! So in all big waterfall locations the front element of the lens got wet continuously, and I had to wipe it clean almost after every shot. So after doing one hour waterfall photography I had several wet (=useless for that day) microfibre cloths in my pocket… Luckily I had about 15 of them with me… (I was prepared to rainy Iceland.)
On our fifth day we visited two geothermal areas: Námafjall and Theistareykir. We went for sunrise to Námafjall, and that was one of the best sunrises during the trip. The following image is one of my favourite images from the whole trip.
At sunset time we were photographing in Theistareykir, in a valley with a lot of geothermal activity. It was mostly cloudy, only after sunset some interesting colours emerged to the sky. Geothermal areas are very interesting for me as nothing like that exists in Finland, and they offer all kind of odd colours and shapes 🙂
We were staying the following night in a hut. That hut had no electricity, but it was heated by geothermal hot water. Actually also the rest room of the hut was heated by geothermal hot water, and it was maybe the hottest rest room that I have ever visited… There was no adjustment possibility, the hot geothermal water was just flowing through the radiator….
On the following day we travelled across the central highland from Theistareykir to Hrauneyjar (mainly along F26). This road in the central highland was not in so bad shape as I had been expecting, as mostly this road was like typical private cottage road in Finland. The landscape was really barren, nothing was growing except near the creeks and rivers.
The next night we were staying in motel Hrauneyjar, and on following morning the group left to photograph sunrise in Veiðivötn area. I had been suffering from flu couple days, and I decided to rest (i.e. not to wake up at 4 am). Based on what I did see from others photos, I did miss some very unique landscape, but I was still happy about my decision as I recovered, and could do photography normally during the next days.
We stayed two nights in Landmannalaugar. The following picture shows the aerial view of the Landmannalaugar camping area (taken earlier during my aerial photography flight).
During the first evening in Landmannalaugar I climbed to Brennisteinsalda to photograph sunset. It was quite cloudy, so the others in the group gave up maybe one hour before the sunset, and left back to camp. I waited, and was rewarded with few minutes of sunlight before the sunset 🙂 I took also some photos at the top of Brennisteinsalda after sunset, and started to walk back to camp only about 10 minutes after sunset. It was quite nice feeling to be at the top of Brennisteinsalda totally alone surrounded by magnificent Icelandic mountains 🙂
On the following morning I decided to sleep longer, as the weather forecast for sunrise was not so promising. In the afternoon we visited Raudufossar waterfall, and it started to rain, so no more photography after that. On the last day in Landmannalaugar I put my alarm clock to wake me up 3:45. About 4 am I started to walk from my camp to the top of Bláhnúkur. Sunrise was 5:20, and I had about 350 meter vertical distance to climb. It was quite cold, about +5 C, and windy, but walking steep uphill path was hot! As I stopped few times to photograph (and rest…), I did not manage to reach the top before sunrise, but did not matter much, as already little bit lower good scenery was visible. After photographing the views extensively from the top of Bláhnúkur, I continued my walk down at the other side of Bláhnúkur. There was really nice yellow creek. I ended up back to camp at 12, and had my “breakfast” eight hours after waking up, but I had no complaints 🙂 Landmannalaugar area is definitely worth visiting!
From Landmannalaugar we travelled to hut near Álftavatn. And this road was rough! If I said earlier that roads in central highland were not worse than Finnish summer cottage roads, this road definitely was. Having a 4WD would have not been enough, also experienced driver was needed in this road. Before arriving to our hut we photographed this sunset. On the following morning we woke up (once again..) about 4 am, in time to photograph sunrise. The Icelandic nature offered once again a different type of landscape.
On the last day we (not any more all from the group…) woke up again around 4 am and went to photograph sunrise to Þingvellir. That location is famous for the fact the one of oldest parliaments in the world had met there (930-1789). There are also a fault lines that separate the the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
So, what is my summary from my Iceland trip? We were extremely lucky with the weather. Daniel’s excellent reading of the weather and our ability to change our plans according to the weather (=mostly camping, no reservations), helped a lot to achieve this. Local guide with local knowledge (=knows which location is good at what time of the day and in the current weather) was invaluable. Travelling in the group of course limits your choices, you can e.g. not stop always when you see something interesting, and you can not stay indefinitely in some location that interests you a lot. But in Daniel’s tour we had typically 2-3 hours photography time in one location (excluding short roadside stops), and that was a good compromise. And in Landmannalaugar we had almost total freedom to do whatever we wanted. I’m happy that I participated to this tour 🙂
My earlier aerial flight was also a success, and I can recommend aerial photography in Iceland (e.g. river details are amazing). The only problem now is that have hard time to believe that I will ever manage to be so lucky with the weather in Iceland… So what’s the point of going back to Iceland, if I anyhow will have a worse weather? 😉
P.S. I have still Reykjavik city photos and some landscape panoramas to process. Those photos will be edited and published during some dark and gloomy winter days…