The fast pace of the first two parts of the trip is now paying its toll, but luckily the coming 2 days will be more relaxing. Of course we still get up very early, but the idea of having a full day at Vestrahorn/Stokksnes and then at Jökulsárlón brings down the pace and gives us the opportunity to sleep a bit more than the “normal’” 3-4 hours. Still I got some moments of stress :-).
So the first day at Vestrahorn, man what an area…. Black beach with strange green grass coming out of the black sand, the sea, and these impressive mountains in the background, I LOVE IT. Unfortunately it was cloudy. First we went to the sea to do some long exposures, but I did not get the results I wanted and decided to go find a nice composition with the green grass. That was also quite difficult as I wanted all the mountains in frame so I should not get too close. I had to search very hard, which also means that you look very closely at the scenery and try to see it all. So actually photography can also help you to experience a place even better than when you just go for a quick look when traveling around J. After a while I found a nice composition, but still these clouds…. nice, but not good enough. Then I found a second good composition, and still it was just not what I had hoped for. So I decided to leave the black beach as the sun was already up for almost an hour and would give it a try in the evening and next morning. Then I saw a small opening in the clouds and it was clear that the sun would shine a little bit soon. So I ran back to my last spot and just when I was ready for it, that little moment came giving the landscape just a little bit of extra that I wanted, YES!!
So now it was time to relax and scout the area at the other side where we needed to do some rock climbing. First stop was the lighthouse. It was low tide and I wanted to go to a certain spot, but I hesitated again because it was below the line of the high tide. While sitting on a rock making some long exposure pictures the water suddenly came in, and in, and in… is it going to stop… what…. pfffew… nothing to worry about (except when I did go to that certain spot). Then I joined Julien who found some seals and we quietly observed these animals after which we enjoyed the sea banging into the rocks. While going back to the car we found another nice composition with Vestrahorn and decided to call it a day and go back to the Viking Café for a nice chocolate cake with some coffee. Then it was time to relax and we drove a bit, found a nice area where we ran up a steep hill for fun, and enjoyed the scenery without the camera… life’s good!! During sunset we went to Vestrahorn again but the conditions were not good enough to make good pictures. We did had fun when 2 Japanese guys with a normal car got stuck. In total panic they let us do the job and as a reward we got some nice beers which we happily accepted, CHEERS!! The idea was to go to the lighthouse again but a nasty fall on the rocks and rain at the spot made the evening a complete failure (except for the beer).
The next day we started again at Vestrahorn hoping for a nice sunrise, but it was again cloudy. Even the mountains were not visible, so I just walked around again to scout a different part of the area. I liked the nice contrast between the black sand and the white clouds hiding the mountains. I also found an interesting composition but just like the day before it wasn’t what I had hoped for. Going back I decided to create just one final picture with the funny hills covered in green grass. Next stop was Jökulsárlón… wait… sun? Yes… “Julien please drive faster to that spot where I was earlier in the morning”. I jumped out of the car and ran to the spot. With a filter attached, but without a tripod I was able to capture the moment I wanted. Not the green grass, but a grey rock with the warm lights of the sun, just like the little part of Vestrahorn in the background. Happy with the result we drove off to the ice lake.
Jökulsárlón, what a fantastic place with all the ice rocks going from the lake to the ocean. Man, the way the ocean moves these big icerocks in and out of the icelake during high or low tide is just unbelievable! This place is also very touristic, but if you do your best you can find more quiet spots. Here it proved to be quite difficult to find a good composition. I found one, but while setting up, one big ice rock just flipped over and my composition was gone. The other moment all the icerocks kept on moving so I had to move while I was waiting for a bird to be at the right spot in my composition. It proved to be easier to go into the details and that’s what I did most of the time.
Then it was time to go to the beach where many icerocks are washed ashore. Because it became darker I played around with some long exposures again, but that was harder than expected. The water either moved the ice rock or the tripod, meaning that you needed to stand next to the camera and get wet in order to prevent it from falling. Or you just pick up the camera and run for the incoming water what I did most of the time J. Either way, it was fun, but after being outside in the wind playing with ice for a while I got quite cold and decided to stop. Then I saw one small ice rock and wanted to get the details of it and I was amazed when I saw it together with Julien in the background… wow… definitively the picture of the day…. YES! Satisfied by the results and amazed by the power of nature we went to bed knowing that it would rain the next day and we could sleep for a long time.
The final phase of the trip started. It was raining so we didn’t mind to do a long drive from Höfn to Keflavik with a stop at the black beach of Vik. A wonderful place (it also stopped raining when we arrived here), but also quite touristic. Nothing wrong with that and I don’t mind, but it triggers me to do something different than what others are doing. So when I found some rocks I decided to crawl behind it and try to find an interesting composition and waited for the bird again. Of course I also did a nice long exposure while getting wet by the ocean again.
With a short stop at the Seltun Geothermal Area, we went for the sunset at the lighthouse Reykjanesviti, but unfortunately the sunset was disappointing. Determined as we are we went to the same lighthouse for the sunrise, but unprepared it was quite hard to find a nice composition. Eventually, I took my last three shots here, one with the lighthouse, geothermal area in the background and (finally) the sun, one zoomed into geothermal area and to finish one of the same lighthouse but now with the moon. Back at the hotel we had time to relax, have a proper breakfast and think about all the things we experienced the last 8 days. Then it was time to pack and go home back to my family!!
Now while writing the blogs, processing the pictures I experienced the trip again and sometimes got goosebumps when I realized what we had experienced. What a trip, what a country… I’ll be back!
Curious about my personal top 10? Then have a look at my portfolio of Iceland!