Browsed by
Tag: Iceland

Drama over Kirkjufell

Drama over Kirkjufell

 

Drama over Kirkjufell

Located near the town of Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Kirkjufell may well be the iconic image of Iceland.

There is a reason this sight is so well photographed—it is very accessible, and has the ‘whole package’ of a distinctive mountain and two waterfalls in the scene (the second one is on the bend on the lower right of the image—the white water is beneath the fall).

Being so well photographed, the challenge with somewhere like Kirkjufell is to make an image that is unique.

Over the course of a couple of days during our Iceland adventures I was able to get several different perspectives, and was happy to get some real drama in the sky on in several images.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Lava, Light and Rhyolite

Lava, Light and Rhyolite

Lava, Light and Ryolite

Iceland’s highland region of Landmannalaugar is notable for the spectacular rhyolite mountains, valleys and hills. It is also known for several surrounding lava fields.

For photographers, these features make for spectacular subjects, but a good photograph has a good subject and great light, and Landmannalaugar is also well known for the spectacular light that can be experienced.

After quite an amazing trek up Blahnukur, we explored the adjacent lava fields, and found several vistas showing both the hills and fields, but the light in this vista really took my imagination. It was simply spectacular.

An all day trip to Landmannalaugar allowed time to explore, and you really need to be able to take the time and let the light conditions progress. Don’t rush.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom
Dark Skies over the Black Church of Budir

Dark Skies over the Black Church of Budir

Dark Skies over the Black Church of BudirThe Black Church of Budir is one of those Icealandic photography locations I had seen in various Youtube videos and guidebooks, and the look of this quaint, black, church intrigued me enough to ensure a side trip to visit the location while staying on the Snaefellsness Peninsula.

This was early in our trip to Iceland, and the skies were not promising. As we drove over the mountain pass from Grundarfjordur (the town adjacent to Kirkjufell), the heavy rain and low clouds did not give me great confidence of great images.

We of course persevered, and the cloud did not lift. If anything, it set in even further, with the surrounding mountains shrouded in a heavy cover.

So while not ‘ideal’ the conditions challenged me to look around, and instead of using the mountains as a backdrop, I changed composition to show the sea.

As with many locations in Iceland, the beauty of the scenery is often enhanced by the ever-present cloudy skies, bringing out the saturation in the grasses.

In this case, the black church provided a stunning contrast to the church grounds, and the skies enhanced the mood of darkness that the church naturally evokes.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom Classic
Storm over Godafoss

Storm over Godafoss

Storm over Godafoss

Godafoss was one of the key photography locations that I was looking forward to seeing and capturing during our visit there in September 2019. I can’t remember exactly how and when I first learned of this stunning waterfall, but it certainly came up regularly as we planned our trip.

We based ourselves out of Akureyri in northern Iceland for a couple of days, and made the journey out there on our second day. Of course the weather was quite overcast, and the distant mountains were completely hidden in the cloud. We still spent some time hunting for composures and hoping for the weather to clear. It didn’t, so we continued on to visit other locations around Lake Myvatn.

While I got a couple of nice images, I was not able to get the image I had in my minds eye—and had travelled half way around the world to capture.

The next morning was our last in Akureyri, and I planned to get up early to try again for the image I wanted, but the weather was even worse, so we had a leisurely breakfast, explored Akureyri and set off early afternoon for our next destination.

Our route would take us right past Godafoss, but the weather was still poor. As we neared the waterfall, we decided to stop anyway. I got the camera gear out, covering it up a raincover.

Suddenly there was a break in the rain, and the cloud lifted just enough to expose the distant mountains. The drama in the sky added to the natural beauty of this ‘waterfall of the gods.’

A little bit of persistence, and an equal measure of luck, helped me to get the photo I imagined.

View this image on my Photo Gallery or Flickr.

Hiking Landmannalaugar

Hiking Landmannalaugar

Hiking Lannmannalaugar

This is without a doubt one of my favourite images from our September 2019 Iceland trip.

We visited the fabulous 1 region on a day trip from Reykjavik, leaving very early, and getting back at around midnight.

The day was quite overcast, largely with a soft, kind of boring sky.

With our guide, Kaspars Dzenis, we set out to climb one of the mountain trails, up a peak known as Blahnukur.

The rhyolite of the ranges around Landmannalaugar was magnificent, and so we focused on some more intimate landscape imagery, ignoring the sky.

We noticed two hikers approaching a trail on one of the adjoining ridges, and set up and waited for them to get further along the trail.

I love the way the hikers provide not only a sense of scale, but also a sense of mystery – I can only wonder where they are going, and where the trail leads.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45–150mm f/4.0–5.6
  • E: Lightroom CC

  1. A great video to overview Landmannalaugar is Thomas Heaton’s Photographer’s View of Landmannalaugar. This video was where we first heard about this wonderful location. 
Earth’s Extremes

Earth’s Extremes

Earth’s Extremes

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day so I wanted to present an image the shows nature at it raw finest.

This was an image made over a valley between a lava field and the incredibly colourful rhyolite ranges in the Landmannalaugar region of Iceland’s highlands. We visited this location on a photo tour with our guide Kaspars Dzenis.

Clearly the weather was quite overcast, but the muted light only served to bring out the incredible colours of the rhyolite, the grassy valley and the blackness of the lava fields.

We love the Landmannalaugar area, and reviewing these photos is a special opportunity to think back on one of the most special hiking photography experiences.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Hjállparfoss

Hjállparfoss

Hjállparfoss

Hjállparfoss is a wonderful waterfall on the road to Landmannalaugar in Iceland’s highlands.

Meaning ‘Help Waterfall’, Hjállparfoss is actually twin waterfalls that feed from a common source, and merge back in a common pool.

Hjállparfoss is easily accessible and well worth a stop. There are several vantage points for the falls, having tighter shots (like this one), or other shots from further back.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Valley of the Tears

Valley of the Tears

Valley of the Tears

Known locally as Sigöldugljúfur Canyon, the Valley of the Tears is a stunning canyon nearby Haifoss in Iceland’s Highlands.

Arriving in a dusty carpark a short stroll to the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley exposing the stunning vista seen in this image.

As with so many of Iceland’s amazing landscapes, it is difficult to produce an image the brings to life the country’s rugged and amazing beauty.

Sigöldugljúfur is a lesser visited location for visitors to Iceland, but it is certainly well worth the stop on the road to Landmannalaugar. We were fortunate to be taken to this stunning location by our photo guide Kaspars Denisz.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Scuba Diving at Silfra Fissure

Scuba Diving at Silfra Fissure

One of the adventures I looked forward to most when visiting Iceland last year was the opportunity to dive in Silfra in the Thingvellir National Park.

There are two exciting draw-cards to diving at Silfra—the famously clear water and the fact that the dive occurs in the fissure between the continental plates of Europe and North America.

Des & Belinda diving at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. 
Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

We booked on with DIVE.IS, and completed our dive medicals and equipment sizing online, well before we left Australia. DIVE.IS’ system and customer service were seamless and responsive.

We were picked up from our hotel in Reykjavik at about 7:15am and then travelled to Thingvellir National Park for our dive.

As stated, Silfra Fissure lies on the tectonic fissure between the North American and European continental shelves. Above the surface the fissure is a couple of kilometres wide, but underwater you can reach out and touch both continents simultaneously.

Europe on one side, North America the other while scuba diving at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

The visibility here was nothing short of amazing — it was at least 50m, but the range of vis was limited by the rock shelves and formations in the distance. The water is glacier fed water filtered through the rocks of decades and centuries.

Crystal clear water at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

The dive entered at a set of metal stairs onto a metal platform where one group enters at a time, does their buoyancy checks before descending to 5-6m. You swim along, coming back up to the top of a wall in <1m ,before re-descending to a maximum of 18m (we got to about 15m). After a time you do a left turn into a lagoon, with a separate exit platform followed by a short walk to the carpark.

One of the shallow sections at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

The water was, of course, very cold. While the dive leader (Tanya) stated that the range was 2—4C, my (borrowed) Oceanic OC1 computer showed that the temp got down to <1C. The rental drysuits (Bear hyper crushed neoprene) and undergarments did a perfect job — no leaks. We also wore mitts and a hood, and although these were not sealed they did an adequate job of keeping relatively warm — although the hands did get so cold that you lost most dexterity.

Des and Belinda scuba diving at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

No life to speak of in the fissure — the reason to dive the site is for the site itself, with its spectacular rock formations and crystal clear water. The guide did mention that there are fish in the lake Silfra empties into, but they don’t come back up in into fissure.

Incredibly clear waters at Silfra Fissure in Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS

DIVE.IS1 is a professional dive operator, with good equipment, facilities at the dive site and very good leaders. Group sizes were small (3:1 max), and there was a very welcome hot chocolate waiting back in the carpark.

The dive itself was conducted very professionally, following strict safety protocols. There was oxygen at both the entry and exit points, and additional staff were on hand to assist with gearing up and de-kitting, and to assist during entries and exits.

With over 1,500 scuba dives to my name, I have had the opportunity to dive in many very special places, but the experience at Silfra will certainly go down as one of my top five dives to date.

An outstanding dive.

Des & Belinda kitted up and ready to dive at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS
With thanks

Images by Tania Roque of DIVE.IS and used with permission.


  1. As I write this the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. DIVE.IS has suspended tours until things improve, and are currently intending on resuming limited operations in early May. I wish the DIVE.IS team all the best, and look forward to diving with them again in the future. 
Preparing for Icelandic travels

Preparing for Icelandic travels

Iceland is a small country with so much to see. You could spend years in this island nation and only scratch the surface, so it is essential to spend the time and make an effort to plan your trip.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources available today to assist in your planning. This post will provide some idea of the process we followed and the resources we leveraged to plan for our trip to Iceland in September 2019.

Belinda and I started and finished our visit in Reykjavik, and drove the ring road around the island, staying at hotels or guesthouses in Grundarfjörður, Akureyri, Seyðisfjörður, Hofn and Vik, along the way visiting many highlights, including those on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the Golden Circle.

Glacial Surprise

We had a wonderful trip1, and the success of our trip was built mainly on meticulous planning2, which was critical in allowing us to:

  • Decide on priorities. Although tiny geographically, it offers an incredible array of experiences, which for us resulted in a lengthy initial itinerary. You need to work out what is important to you and assume you may never return so you can pare down that list. For us, diving at Silfra and seeing the magnificent landscapes were vital.
  • Accomodate the weather. Even in-between seasons like Autumn (when we visited) proved insanely variable. Rain, wind and poor visibility will slow your travel, may require you to rearrange your itinerary or entice you to return to a location or remain much longer than you realised.

  • Manage the unexpected. During our trip we experienced a flat tyre on our hire car, found that some roads were not open and we had to take some (rather interesting) detours as well as finding new routes that weren’t on our maps.

  • Take advantage of unplanned opportunities. Around almost every bend and over every crest incredible landscapes would appear and when we could, we would stop and marvel at sites such as a lovely lake with brilliant reflections on the road between Seyðisfjörður and Hofn.

  • Linger longer. We loved Akureyri and Hofn more than we thought. In both cases, our schedule allowed us the chance to stay a bit and take in the location a little longer. This was particularly valuable in Hofn when we checked into our hotel after dark, and awoke the next morning to look out the window and realise we were at the base of a glacier!!

Our planning was for a visit during Autumn, with days of a reasonably standard length, where all roads were open and where the weather was relatively mild. Our next trip will likely be at a different time of year, requiring a whole different level of planning. We will probably go in late Winter/early Spring, meaning much colder weather, shorter days, and many roads that won’t be open.

To achieve all of this, we used a variety of written and online tools to assist in our planning. The following are presented in no particular order but were all important in our pre-trip planning.

Reflections en route

General

  • Jeannie of the Iceland with a View website has a fantastic YouTube channel with plenty of great information on sites, clothing, getting around and many of the beautiful experiences to enjoy.
  • Hrafna is a native Icelander who has a great YouTube channel on the nation from a local’s perspective.
  • Various Lonely Planet guides were useful in our planning. In addition to the Iceland travel guide, we also got a lot of use out of the Best of Iceland travel guide.

Photography

Grjótagjá

I’d have to say that Belinda was initially more intrigued than me on Iceland as a destination, although I was certainly happy to go. When I came to realise the enormous photographic potential of Iceland, I got the bug. Belinda (non-photographer) also found some of the below resources both practically helpful and amazing introductions to places not originally on her must see list

  • One of the first resources that got me thinking about visiting Iceland, photographically, was Elia Locardi’s Photographing The World tutorial series, notably Series 1. These tutorial videos were an epic introduction to how Elia conceived, captured and edited some brilliant images of several outstanding Icelandic landscapes.
  • A companion series to Photographing the World was the Behind the Scenes series released on YouTube. This series was a valuable resource showing the logistics and challenges faced by the weather.
  • Mads Peter Iversen has an excellent YouTube series about Landscape Photography in Iceland, which currently consists of 53 videos. Additionally, Mads Peter has a Google map of Iceland Landscape photography, which proved to be a constant companion for us during our travels.
  • International Photographer’s Iceland map and ebook were brilliant planning tools. The map itself was opened up on our dining table constantly in the months leading up to our travels and helped us in pre-visualising our journey. The ebook was a valuable resource and was where I first learned about Grjótagjá—a cave with a geothermal rock pool that was an easily visited Game of Thrones shooting location.
  • Thomas Heaton is a favourite landscape photographer on YouTube, and also has many outstanding videos. His video about the highlands location of Landmannalaugar opened our eyes to a place to visit that had not been on our radar and was one of our favourite experiences.
  • Brendan van Son is a YouTuber with lots of travel photography videos worth watching, with a particularly useful episode on (recommended photography gear for Iceland) and iconic photo spots
  • James Popsys also had some entertaining videos about his visits to Iceland.

This post provides an overview of some of the main tools and resources we used to plan our Iceland adventures. There are further posts intended to cover clothing, photography equipment, and specific experiences we had along the way.

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, take the time to plan it out, but leave in plenty of room for the unexpected—whether it is the weather, the sites and scenes or simply the people you meet, Iceland has so much opportunity for adventure.

Visit our Iceland Photo Gallery or our Iceland Photo Album on Flickr.

[[dp_tags]]


  1. We certainly plan to go back again and will visit at a different time of year to get an entirely different experience. 
  2. In particular, Belinda’s research!