In the third part of my series showing photographs taken on sunny days as opposed to my preferred, rather more dramatic weather days, I’ve included pictures of some of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks, in the sunshine. Some of these images you will have seen before but I think they can stand a dusting off and a second showing. The reality for a lot of people visiting Iceland is a lot of very grey weather. I’m lucky to have visited enough times now to capture some of these places at their very best.
The Seljalandsfoss pictures were bizarrely taken at midnight after a very long day of commercial photography in the central highlands for a Reykjavik car hire company. Getting back to the apartment late after a long and difficult drive on deeply rutted dirt roads, I saw the barely setting sun and I knew my day wasn’t over. I had to make the hour long drive to the falls. I’m so glad that I did.
Click on the images for a larger, sharper view.. :-)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of Iceland on the sunny side over the last few posts. I’ve been very lucky to visit Iceland many times now experiencing all seasons and all weathers. An incredible and very beautiful place and very warm and welcoming people. I have made a lot of friends in Iceland. Their hospitality second to none.
Last week I posted some sunny pictures from Iceland. These are not the pictures I like to take of the dramatic weather that happens there but when the sun shines, it’s a delight and so I decided to share some of my sunny day pictures for a change. These pictures were taken of the Vatnajökull Glacier as it spills down from the massive volcano summit at two of many locations, the much photographed Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the not so often visited Hoffellsjökull. I say not so often visited, I mean by tourists. There are hot spring pools here that are very popular with local people.
The day we visited there were a plethora of huge oversize wheeled pick-up trucks, the bigger the wheels the better apparently, as is the way with some Icelandic men and I have to say, probably unfairly, a certain piece of banjo music came into my mind. I’m sure in reality, they’d have been very welcoming (no not welcoming in the “Deliverance” sense) if I’d stripped off to my shorts in the sub-zero temperatures and joined them in the wooden tubs fed by the hot springs but I had photographs that needed taking. Maybe next time.
For those of you not of a certain age, I apologise for the movie reference made in this post but can recommend the film Deliverance, made in 1972 with Burt Reynolds, John Voight and Ned Beatty. A very scary movie with a brilliant bit of banjo playing at the beginning. Look up Duelling Banjos on YouTube if you’re not familiar. The film follows three guys who decide to take a canoe trip into back woods USA with terrifying results.
..And now I feel old. I’ve just realised that when I was a youngster they’d only just mastered sound on films 4o odd years old and certainly hadn’t cracked the colour equation yet.
But I digress, here are some pictures of these two beautiful locations. Glaciers can look downright grey and dirty and not at all attractive in the summer months but in winter, they are stunning.. :-)
This is a photograph taken at Jokulsarlon, Iceland’s famous glacial lagoon. There are others but this is the one that most people visit. Here huge chunks of ice break free from the Vatnajökull glacier and float in the lagoon somtimes for many years before they are finally washed out to sea..
One of the must see places on most people’s Iceland agendas is Jökulsárlón. At Jökulsárlón, the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier (an offspring of the parent glacier Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest) spills down from the mountain top to a glacial lagoon where chunks of glacier float sedately in the water before eventually, and this process can take up to five years apparently, they’re washed out to sea where, depending on the tide, they are washed back up onto the black volcanic beach creating, as you can imagine, wonderful photo opportunities. The lagoon has seen a four-fold increase in its size since the ’70’s which I guess has to be a fairly clear indicator that things are warming up.
These pieces of ice now floating, and melting, in the lagoon and ocean were most probably deposited here during the last glacial period, that means these chunks of ice are probably between 11,500 and 21,00 years old. Makes you think doesn’t it?
Here are a few of my pictures along with a video I filmed with my drone at the Jökulsárlón lagoon along with a closer look at the glacier taken over another glacial lagoon, Fjallsárlón. Some of these pictures you’ve seen before, some are new.. :-)
24mm f/10 1/400 sec. ISO-100
35mm f/4 1/160 sec. ISO-100
24mm f/13 1/15 sec. ISO-100
70mm f/22 90 sec. ISO-100
Music Le Onde – Ludovico Einaudi
At this time of year, the sun barely dips below the horizon in Iceland so it doesn’t truly get dark. Sunset and sunrise are within about four hours of each other and during this time, twilight prevails. I decided it would be nice to visit Jökulsárlón again at dawn so after just a couple of hours sleep, we set off from Höfn for the hour-long drive. My previous visit to this glacial lagoon was a couple of months ago and you can see details of that visit here and here.
Despite there being much less ice in the lagoon itself this time, there was still plenty of ice on the beach as you can see from the pictures. I was doing very well at keeping clear of the waves until the wave in the first picture surged ashore. To say the water was cold is an understatement. I’ve been soaked many times taking pictures on the beaches around Cornwall. This particular soaking is one I’ll remember for a long time. For the next few hours, I drove the car barefoot whilst my hiking boots and socks dried in front of the heater vents. Click on the images for a clearer sharper view! :-)
I’ve posted before about Jökulsárlón. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lake fed by the same glacier, Vatnajökull, that I spoke about in my last post. Huge icebergs that calve from the glacier edge, float in this lake, some for many years until finally, currents send them on their way to the sea. You can see my first post from the lake here. It was also at Jökulsárlón that I saw the seals lazing on the ice and I posted those photographs here.
Visiting for the second time, I found my way onto the beach where some of these icebergs, having made it to the sea, are then washed up onto the black volcanic sand. Huge diamond like chunks of ice litter the beach for hundreds of yards. I happily spent a couple of hours, watching the action of the waves on these huge blocks of ice. These are the photographs I took whilst contemplating this beautiful spectacle.
Leaving the lake behind we soon hit the blizzard that was looming on the horizon in the photographs above. Looking for petrol, we came upon a frozen waterfall, Systrafoss, (sister falls) cascading down smooth rock at Kirkjubæjarklaustur. With the snow falling so heavily, we clearly weren’t seeing it at its best and is definitely on the list of places to visit next time..
Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon in the south of Iceland. I have visited before and you can see the pictures I took then here. It’s a very popular destination and in the depths of winter, we were treated to some amazing sights. I’ve a lot more pictures to share from this wonderful place but for now I’m just going to share these.
Seeing the seals on the ice was a real pleasure. We have seals here in Cornwall and I’ve often watched them but never photographed them. I was really pleased to get the opportunity to photograph these seals in this environment. I love their smiles despite the cold. Click on the pictures for a clearer sharper view..400mm f/5.6 1/125 sec. ISO-50400mm f/5.6 1/125 sec ISO-50
Jökulsárlón means literally glacial river lagoon and it is one of those places that most visitors to Iceland would like to see. Following on from my last post, you’ll know that the weather wasn’t the best but after a dawn start at the most southerly tip of Iceland, the plan was to drive on to Jökulsárlón. It’s a six or seven hour drive from Reykjavik, at least, it is if you’ve a photographer in the car who keeps insisting on stopping to take pictures. Otherwise you can make the journey in about 4 and a half hours.
Despite the weather, we were committed to the drive so we kept going. I wanted to see the icebergs whatever the weather was doing but I was very conscious we needed to get there before dark so I did try to keep my stops to a minimum. As it was we arrived with about an hour’s daylight to spare.
The icebergs in the lagoon break free from the Vatnajökull glacier and can spend anything up to five years floating in the lagoon before finally making their way down the river and out into the Atlantic Ocean. I knew they’d be photogenic, I just hoped the weather would let up just a little. It did with just a hint of brightness and the overcast skies, for me anyway, created the perfect mood..
70mm f/11 1/10 sec ISO-100
Save for the wind and the occasional creak of the ice, there was complete silence. It was bitterly cold and I almost felt like whispering. There was a very unique atmosphere, perhaps it was due in part to the weather but it suited this very unique location perfectly.
The black strata in the ice reflect dustings of volcanic ash from volcanic eruptions that may have occurred many hundreds of years ago and some of the strange shapes are the result of wind and rain, natures very own sculptors, at work.
The lagoon has been a location chosen by more than one Hollywood blockbuster including Batman begins and Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider. In 1985 the glacier and lagoon featured in the film A View to a Kill. Bond returned in 2002 when the lagoon provided the backdrop to one of the finest car chases I’ve ever seen as a Jaguar and Bond’s Aston Martin fought it out in Die Another Day.
Here I’ve been a little creative in the re-processing of the image above to emphasise the translucence and light reflecting/absorbing qualities of the ice. I’m once again grateful to a couple of people who took the trouble to climb the hill on the right of these images to provide some scale for me.. ;-)