Iceland Revisited – Jan 2014

After my previous visit to Iceland in winter 2012/2013, which had been a success, we decided to return again in 2014 as 5 days was not nearly enough time to see and shoot everything.

Unfortunately this visit was not as fruitful the year before. The reason for this was because of the poor weather and although I had prepared for this, it was unseasonably warm and as a result it rained relentlessly.


Day 1

Because of the snow last year, I hired a 4×4 allowing me to explore a little further and not be held back by any snow or ice. After landing in Keflavik, I had an evening drive of 225km to Vik where the photography could start. Vik was just a stop over for the evening. It was too late by the time I arrived, however the plan was to shoot the sea stacks at first light (which is at about 10:30am at that time of year) and then drive on to Jokulsarlon, which is a further 192km.

Bleak Weather

The following morning my heart sank. If you look through my work you will see that I am rarely held back by bad weather, but what I was greeted with that morning was sent from the devil himself. Gale force winds & heavy, squalling rain. I suppose this is the risk you take with visiting Iceland in winter. I ventured down to the volcanic sands and ginormous sea stacks, but it was a struggle to get out of the car. The beach was far too dangerous and I would have been at severe risk of being washed out to sea. It was with a heavy heart that I started the car and continued east towards Jokulsarlon.

Rain

I arrived at lunch time, too early to check in to my cabin, which I hired for a few days.

The Weather

The weather had improved slightly, although there was still no light and poor visibility. I grabbed my waterproofs and headed to the shore of Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. This location is challenging because of the amount of icebergs that can litter the lagoon. It can be very cluttered, making it difficult to find a clean composition. Unfortunately for me, I could not produce the goods. I put this down to poor light, poor conditions and a lack of inspiration. I never thought I would say that about such a stunning location.

Poor Conditions

You can see from the above image that conditions were not ideal. The lagoon was cluttered with small, broken, slushy bergs and the light was non existent. These conditions are unusual in winter, however the unseasonably warm weather seems to have had an effect.

I continued down to the beach whereby it is not possible to leave empty handed. The weather was atrocious, however I still had a little success.

A little photography boost.
A little photography boost.

 


 

Day 2

The following day had not improved. I drove to Vesturhorn, a location I have been dreaming about. It is simply stunning!! I was devastated to find that this prominent mountain was not visible. I worked the location as much as I could, however the driving wind and rain held me back. It was just not meant to be.

This image does not do the weather justice.

Later that day and the weather became more workable so I headed back to the iceberg beach. I needed a confidence boost and this was the place to get it.

I worked the beach.
The moody weather worked in my favour today.
The moody weather worked in my favour today.

When shooting anything that is subject to glare, I always use a polarizer. I can think of no better filter to use when photographing these stunning icebergs. The polarizer works by eliminating glare reflecting from the icy surface.


Day 3

The following day and the weather was still against me and I had a long drive back towards Reykjavik. After a couple of hours the weather took a dramatic turn and became incredibly still and eery. I couldn’t believe my luck as I was only a short distance from Vik.

Finally!
Finally!

The beaches here are something special and offer ample opportunities for stunning seascapes.

Vik | Sea Stacks
Vik | Sea Stacks
Calm After the Storm
Calm After the Storm

 


 

Day 4

My last night was to be spent in the wonderful city of Reykjavik, but before packing the camera away and enjoying some city culture, I thought I would have one last little adventure.

4x4... Stuck!
4×4… Stuck!

After driving past what looked like a potential photograph, I foolishly turned down a gravel track in pursuit of one last image. What looked like soft sludge actually turned out to be rock hard ice. With 4 wheel drive and studded tires I still managed to get stuck. Iceland has a population of about 300,000, most of whom live in Reykjavik and as a result, at this time of year, it can be very remote. Luckily I was not the only person who though this road had potential as I was soon approached by a fellow photographer and his wife. They kindly drove me to the nearest petrol station (11 miles away) where I could get help. Thankfully the Icelanders are lovely people and a local farmer came and towed me free…

..and I even got my image!

Worth getting stuck for.
Worth getting stuck for.

Thank you for reading.