As I sit here in my hotel, drinking green tea (I have just turned 30 you know..), I’m reflecting on this things this trip has taught me about Iceland:
1. The weather here is bat shit crazy! It changes constantly! You may have a clear sky for two minutes, then it’ll fog over so bloody hard that you can barely see the car in front of you. A few minutes later it’ll rain..
2. Pretty much everywhere here is heated by geothermal activity. Only 15% of the electricity here is used. The rest is sold off to other counties.
3. It is literally the cleanest place I have ever been. Even the tourist areas! In the 500km I saw, I could only find a single coffee cup.
4. The water is the best tasting ever! Keep your bottled spring water, natural glacier water is the best!
5. This place is expensive! Even that is an understatement... A cheap sandwich will cost you £6! A cheap full single course meal will set you back at least £35, and if you want an alcoholic drink, you’re looking at a starting price of £15. Doesn’t sound too bad..? Well, Icelandic woollen socks, around £32, and a jumper over £100!
6. The people here are amazing! It seemed that everybody could speak English and would do anything thing to help.
7. Weather doesn’t stop life here! Back in Britain, a little smattering of snow will cause everybody to panic and bring life to a complete standstill. In Iceland, they just get on with it.
8. These guys really celebrate Christmas!! Everywhere you look you will see Christmas lights. There was a church we drove past with a load of crosses, and each one was adorned with lights too! Fireworks are a predominant part of the festivities too.
Weather can really ruin your plans. Some areas, especially in tourist spots, can be closed off if the ice and snow builds up too much. The idea is to keep tourists safe.
Speaking of tourists, the really get in the way. It is to be expected at a tourist location, but if you want to get a super beautiful shot of Gullfoss, you’ll have to be around when the tourists are not.
I packed super light for this trip, I didn’t even bring a tripod! The trip was only a short one and I knew we wouldn’t have long in each location. With that in mind, I packed a Nikon D7000, 17mm - 50mm 2.8, PeakDesign slide lite camera strap (designed for mirrorless camera systems but I thought I’d give it a workout), a PeakDesign capture clip, and a Zeta ex 77mm circular polarizing filter. I threw the filter on the front of the lens as an extra layer of lens protection, and this particular polarizing filter doesn’t eat much light at all. That way I have to option to polarize the shot, or not, without having to attach or detach anything.
I wasn’t there for full on photography. It was a getaway to enjoy. However, the sun in the winter doesn’t really rise until 11am(ish) and sets at around 4pm(ish). This means if you’re on a tour, you’re not at optimum locations at the best times. The sun stays very low in the sky though, so you’re getting beautiful soft light for those few hours.
The photos I took of the place wasn’t as spectacular as I had hoped, but like I said, I wasn’t there for full on photography. It was more the experience of the beautiful country and to get a feel for the best places to go back to. Keep in mind that with the fog, geyser eruptions and waterfall mist, you are going to get some hazy photos. It can be unavoidable and in my instance, this was the case. If physically possible, placing yourself in a position so that the mist isn’t coming toward you can fix this problem. Also, keep in mind that the mist quickly freezes in freezing cold air. Any moisture that touches the front of your glass can instantly turn to ice.
Weather changes in an instant, so preparedness is of the upmost importance. A little pro tip here is to take the hotel provided shower caps out with you. If you get caught in a rain shower, throw the shower cap over your camera. It could save your camera from irreparable damage!
Iceland needs to be explored fully! Honestly, this place is a landscape photographers dream! Everywhere you look you’ll be greeted with the most picturesque views and scenery imaginable! I’d recommend making a point to go and explore this beautiful country at least once in your lifetime. I promise you won’t be disappointed.