Photography & travel

/// Photo trip Iceland

Iceland. Now it finally came true. My trip, which has been postponed twice since Corona, could now take place in mid-March.

Led by a professional photographer with significant Icelandic experience and his accompanying photography friend who is equally professionally committed, five other photography enthusiasts, including myself, arrived at Keflavik Airport as agreed. When we got there, everyone was probably very curious about each other, even though we were able to get to know each other in advance via a zoom meeting in exchange about the upcoming 8-day trip.

Weather conditions included everything from sun, rain, snowfall and drifts, light winds to hurricane force. Clear and wide view, to the point of disorientation. Here I would like to describe my travel impressions, even if the travel route is not entirely chronological. We stayed not far from this dream beach, the Black Sand Beach Reynisfjara, which we visited on the 2nd day after our arrival early in the morning at sunrise. Get out of your feathers, what you can call feathers. Sure, three and four people in the car, seems cramped at first glance. But the immediate and benevolent feeling of going on this journey with very pleasant and cordial people made everything so special that moving closer together in a very small space created true harmony.

by jose christudas

Because of the northern lights to be expected at the Kirkjufell Viewpoint, in the north of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, we drove there first on the day of arrival in Iceland. Our Daniel had let his Northern Lights app do the talking and spontaneously made a well-versed course change. The plan was to travel the south coast first. The northern lights that appeared in the sky at night were truly a dream. The weather brought us infinite luck, the nightly dance of lights was overwhelming, a scenario of colors that I could not have dreamed of.

In the evening we parked our campers at Kirkjufellsfoss Parking Lot, a few kilometers from Kirkjufell Mountain. It was the first night we spent in our two campers. I had slept well, albeit for a short time. The journey to Iceland, as well as the first impressions of the day and into the night, when we marveled at the northern lights, eventually caused tiredness. But as an early riser, I’ve been tried and tested, so it’s easy for me to get up early in the morning.

The first breakfast was good. We bought on the day of arrival. Enough to not need any supplies for 2-3 days. Ultimately, we always had the opportunity to get something somewhere along the way. So right after breakfast we went out into the rather cold air. In the distance, the beautiful Kirkjufell rose in all its glory, surrounded by a barren landscape including the picturesque waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss, which falls in two stages by a total of 16 meters. A feast for the eyes of the landscape that made our photographer’s heart beat faster, despite the fact that it was very cold, around zero degrees, with strong winds. From walking the slope down to the bank of the river, we were all more than careful, because our spikes were still well stowed away in the camper. Good and strong shoes are a must on such tours. You should always have spikes with you in your backpack. From then on I was prepared for it

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It had rained during the night and the wind howled all night. It was a great experience, a real adventure that this trip should give us. Of course, the heating was on at night, and the blankets were pretty good so far. It was still fresh (laughs). Thanks to a thin and light fleece sleeping bag, which I had bought in advance at home, like so many others, I was well wrapped up and felt very comfortable. So it was time to get up, freshen up, have breakfast and get into the weatherproof clothes, including my special rubber boots, which I had bought before my trip.

Since we had stayed the night at a nearby campsite, it was only a short walk to the beach. The morning was fresh and quite windy. There were hardly any people to be seen. So we reached the wet black beach. The sun was already rising on the horizon to ring in the day. A treat for the eyes, for mind and soul. Time to capture this impressive backdrop on camera.

by jose christudas

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The view of the open sea and the sound of the waves broke through the calm that the rising sun brought with it. As the sun rose, the huge rock formations on the beach began to cast their shadows on the black glittering sand. An impressive scenario of shadows literally invited to be immortalized in photographs. Here I looked for my ideal position, positioned the tripod and camera so that I could take this picture. Happy and content to have captured my composition on the chip, I kept looking at the sea and the surrounding area, just to understand what I was experiencing here. In addition to observing the events of our photo troupe, how each individual swarmed out and took their pictures. The light of the rising sun was getting harder and harder and we had made the best use of our time, because slowly walkers and photographers came to spend their time here..

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With its black sand and rocky backdrop, Black Sand Beach Reynisfjara in Iceland is a place that took me back in time. Millions of years back in time.

It seemed like time had stood still and so we enjoyed our time walking around, looking around and of course taking pictures. The rising sun brought its colors into play with the light and brought the day to life. The sound of the waves and the powerful, cold wind broke the silence again and again and conveyed the Icelandic roughness.

For all of us, this time on the beach was a great experience, a real highlight. The ideal weather conditions alone, a real gift.

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It is the indescribably beautiful and fascinating Northern Lights that took my breath away. Even though I had read a lot about it in advance and looked at many pictures, I would never have dreamed of seeing it with my own eyes in such a graceful and overwhelming formation in the sky.

Daniel, our experienced photo tour guide and Iceland fan, kept observing the aurora borealis forecast and aurora borealis warnings on his Aurora app, and how high the exact probability is of seeing an aurora borealis.

After our day was already an unforgettable highlight with the morning visit to the Black Beach Vik/Reynisfjara, this day should last until late at night. After cooking together and eating delicious food, we all sat well strengthened, huddled together and comfortably together in our camper. Now it was time to wait and simply fill the time with lively and euphoric exchanges. Daniel kept opening the sliding door of the car, took his camera and pointed it at the sky. Then all of a sudden, looking at the display tells him, „Up and let’s go“.

Suddenly everyone jumped up. Three of us ran to our camper and all dressed well and warmly, grabbed our prepared photo equipment and off we went near the shore, not far from our location. Tripods were set up and cameras adjusted. Especially for the Northern Lights I had brought my Nikon with a 14mm 1.8. Since I can use a maximum of (only) 18mm KB at f 4.0 on my Fuji. Background, the generous wide angle of the Sigma lens, as well as being able to reduce ISO and exposure time as best as possible. Photographing them optimally is not an easy task ;-).

I wasn’t the only one standing there, speechless and excited. Because what we saw there in the sky was more than can be dreamed of. Dancing lights in the night sky. Mostly colored green, they can take on different colors – from purple to red, even pink, orange or even blue. It was also wonderful that we were on the water, so that the northern lights were beautifully reflected in it. One is and remains an experience for eternity. Some of us had experienced this on previous trips. For me it is and will always be UNFORGETTABLE!!!

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Just two weeks before our trip to Iceland in March, it was snowing here without end, even so that the roads were impassable or hardly passable for many days. There were pictures of immense snowdrifts and cars that were so snowed up that in the end nothing worked at all.

How lucky we were on our trip. During the day the temperatures were a few degrees in the plus range, at night it sometimes went down to -5 / -7 degrees. In addition, the weather changed constantly, from sunshine, rain, snow and a lot and above all very strong wind, which also appeared from time to time in hurricane strength. Just like it is customary in Iceland.

Here we were near Jökulsárlón, the deepest lake in Iceland, on Diamond Beach. Our photo and tour guide Daniel got us in the mood for the beach the evening before at a cozy dinner. Whether we would be as lucky with the weather as we have seen at other spots remains to be seen. It was waiting and looking forward to what may come. Our positive attitude towards everything could not be clouded by anything. Since we had also stayed overnight there, there was no long way to the beach.

Daniel explained to us about the special properties that the beach has. It never looks the same, because the ice sculptures washed ashore, which are constantly changing and melting due to water and weather, give the whole scenario a constantly changing impression. Whereby the mood lighting contributes the greatest part to this. Something very special for us. So we use the time of sunrise to immortalize our impressions. The sun rose quickly and the light faded the colors. Time to head back to the camper to catch up on our breakfast that we skipped in the morning. What timing, all of a sudden, out of the blue, it started raining.

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Jökulsárlón is the most famous glacial lagoon in Iceland. There we had parked our campers in a small parking lot to take a few pictures here in the early evening. With a lot of luck it could work out that we get to see the Northern Lights. But it would take until night.

Time in the early evening to go to the banks of the river, which is only 500m long and is only a few minutes‘ walk from the car. It is the outflow from the glacial lake Jökulsárlón. Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi is crossed by the ring road on a 108 m long bridge. We walked along the shore down to a section of beach where we wanted to take some pictures. Once there, however, we found that the opposite shore would have been far more ideal for photography. However, to get to the other side, it would have taken quite a long way, which would have cost us almost an hour. So we decided to walk back to the camper and make dinner before heading into the night. The sun had also set in the meantime.

Then, however, such a mood of light unfolded that inspired me as much as the bridge that I had in view the whole time. Because photographing architecture was not really on my radar in Iceland in this sense. With this bridge, however, at least one architectural motif should result. Now was the right time for it. The light seemed perfect to me and once again my euphoria knew no bounds. I just had to take this chance now. In short, I asked my photo friends to wait a moment for me to take just this one picture. So I set up my tripod, unpacked the camera and filter, set everything up and exposed. The first picture was a bit too dark for me. It was the second picture, just the way I like it. I was overjoyed to have brought back an atmospheric architectural motif from this trip.

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Anyone who has ever traveled to Iceland will certainly have tried to visit one of the unbelievably beautiful ice caves that are worth seeing. My trip this year in March gave me this blue wonder of nature when our photo troupe visited the ice lagoon Fjallsárlón.

It was a very windy night so I was awake early from the rocking of our camper van, or maybe it was the excitement of heading out early in the morning to visit the Fjallsárlón glacier cave. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon bordering Vatnajökull National Park in southeast Iceland. Its calm, blue waters are streaked with icebergs from the surrounding Breiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue, which is part of the larger Vatnajökull glacier (thanks Wikiopedia).

Before that, of course, there was breakfast, this morning a little faster than usual, because we were in front of our tour guide Stefan, a Swiss compatriot who has lived in Iceland for many years and organizes and guides ice cave and glacier tours, and how could it be otherwise, a committed and is a professional photographer.

Stefan picked us up with an amazing vehicle. Cubits long, room for 10 people, with huge tires, which was necessary for this rough and rocky terrain, which we drove through for almost half an hour. Depending on the situation and difficulty of the terrain, the vehicle was adjusted accordingly using air and hydraulics. At some point we stopped in the middle of this impassable and unreal terrain formation, from there we went on foot and already with a safety helmet on, a good half hour to the coveted ice caves.

We were told a lot about Iceland, this bizarre landscape and of course about the glacier, the ice cave and the effects of climate change. Exciting as well as depressing, because the extent of climate change became clear on the rock faces that ran parallel to our path. It’s amazing how the ice is receding. Global warming knows no mercy. „Take your time taking pictures,“ says „Nothing will stay the same here.“

From afar we looked at the sublime glacier Vatnajökull, the mightiest glacier in Europe. It extends over an area three times the size of Vorarlberg. Its ice sheet is up to 950 meters thick and it has 50 „fingers“ (foothills). Imposing and without words, I could only stow and marvel. I was so happy to be able to experience that. The closer we got, the more we saw the entrance to the ice cave. Although this had also changed a lot since our photo guide Daniel was here the last time. Not so long ago, Daniel married his wife here last year. All in white and beautifully photographed by his photo friend Fabian. He showed us incredible pictures of it.

Before entering, there was a briefing on safety and behavior. When I walked in, I didn’t believe what I saw. A light-flooded sheet of ice, in the most beautiful blue, washed out sparkling clean. It was incredibly quiet around us, and above all we should have enough time to look around here and, of course, to take our pictures. It was a real adventure. So we walked back and forth in the cave, even went a little deeper, but only with spikes that we strapped under our sturdy shoes. Anyone who slips here can slip more than dangerously. It can hurt, really hurt.

We spent a good three hours in the cave, and we all had our joy, because of course we let ourselves be staged here and there. Everyone wanted to be in the picture themselves. Our guide Stefan posed for this picture. Many thanks to Stefan for this overwhelming ice cave tour !!!


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From afar we looked at the sublime glacier Vatnajökull, the mightiest glacier in Europe. It extends over an area three times the size of Vorarlberg. Its ice sheet is up to 950 meters thick and it has 50 „fingers“ (foothills). Imposing and without words, I could only stow and marvel. I was so happy to be able to experience that. The closer we got, the more we saw the entrance to the ice cave. Although this had also changed a lot since our photo guide Daniel was here the last time. Not so long ago, Daniel married his wife here last year. All in white and beautifully photographed by his photo friend Fabian. He showed us incredible pictures of it.

Before entering, there was a briefing on safety and behavior. When I walked in, I didn’t believe what I saw. A light-flooded sheet of ice, in the most beautiful blue, washed out sparkling clean. It was incredibly quiet around us, and above all we should have enough time to look around here and, of course, to take our pictures. It was a real adventure. So we walked back and forth in the cave, even went a little deeper, but only with spikes that we strapped under our sturdy shoes. Anyone who slips here can slip more than dangerously. It can hurt, really hurt.

The day started dry, cloudy and slightly windy for us when our tour guide picked us up with a special vehicle that was ideal for the route and brought us as close as possible to the glacier cave. Since it cooled down well at night, there was nothing wrong with packing yourself up really well. Even if we would spend a few hours well protected in the ice lagoon Fjallsárlón, we photographers are aware that we often stay in one place for a long time and that a lot of movement usually falls by the wayside.

Happy and content. That was probably what we all saw after our visit to the blue ice lagoon. An experience that is second to none and will definitely remain unforgettable for all of us. From there we were brought back to our campers. Time for a hearty breakfast with hot coffee and tea. In the meantime the weather had changed. It was getting worse and worse and looked like it would last longer.

Before we left there, however, we could not resist immortalizing the Vatnajökull glacier, which lay so beautifully in front of our feet, in this remarkable lighting mood as a farewell. As suddenly as the light broke over the glacier, it was gone again. The light went, the image stayed, in the head and on the chip.



Already our ice cave ascent in the early morning was pure magic, I had never seen anything comparable. I had neither expected such an overwhelming impression that the blue lagoon aroused in me, nor could I have imagined it.

After our walk back to the car, Stefan, who accompanied us for the cave visit, brought us back to our campers. After a hearty breakfast we set off to Dyrhólaey Lighthouse, 200 km away, a lighthouse located on the central south coast of Iceland. On the way we were impressed by the constantly changing landscape, which now seems much more barren in winter anyway. Still, incredibly attractive, precisely because it was often so bizarre and alien to me. The longer I looked out the window, the more impressed I was. A country I would like to visit again. Absolutely!!

Then suddenly, in the middle of the dreamy landscape, we saw a waterfall that emptied into a large river bed. We just had to stop there. Without further ado, Daniel grabbed the radio and let Fabian know what we were up to. Said and done. We stopped at a nearby bay, wrapped up warm, grabbed our cameras and whatever else we needed, and ran to the edge of the rushing river. What a scenario in the middle of this beautiful nature, surrounded by rough rocks with a blue sky and a cold wind. After a few tries, I then found my ideal location, attached the camera to the tripod and tried different exposure times to get the falling water volumes in such a way that they didn’t end in a pure white trail without any structure. Since it was still very bright outside, I decided to use an additional gray filter. In order to polarize the light, I also used a polarizing filter, which removes the reflections on the water surface. It was again an exciting and very nice experience, just like that, along the way.

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Now there were still two days until our trip to Iceland should come to an end. But there was still time to explore the sights that day. In strong winds and driving snow, we visited the Kvernufoss waterfall, which is located in the south of Iceland and plunges a good 40m into the depths.

The way there was not easy. A fence had to be climbed, which was quite easy, as there was a kind of ladder over it. Driving snow blew in your face the whole time. When we were just before the waterfall, we noticed that it was not possible to walk the narrow path that led past the waterfall without spikes. Strong wind brought us a nice shower, and blew the falling water exactly in our direction, directly towards us. Soaking wet and tireless, we ran up a small slope behind the waterfall. It was very narrow to stand there. So only four of us could squat down with our tripods. We were wet and cold and quickly frozen. Clothes and tripods iced over, gloves wet and frozen. Nevertheless, under these conditions, we crouched there to take at least a few pictures. It was clear to us that this would not be a longer photo session. It was like that in the end. Frozen and soaked, we then walked the half-hour walk back to our campers. Get out of your clothes and have a quick cup of hot tea, that’s what we all needed now.

We were happy to finally be warm and dry again. However, to warm up properly, we unanimously agreed that afternoon to visit Fontana Bad Laugarvat, a stylish lakeside spa with natural steam rooms, outdoor mineral baths and a sauna. fantastic. The evening ended with a cozy get-together, cooking and a delicious meal.

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The last day of our journey had dawned. After stormy and heavy snowdrifts during the night, the weather calmed down early in the morning and even the sky cleared up again. Nevertheless, during the night it was pretty cool. Although the temperatures were only slightly below zero, felt by the always icy wind, it seemed to be a lot colder. After breakfast, the plan was to visit the imposing and fantastically situated Gullfoss waterfall, probably the most beautiful and best-known attraction in Iceland, which is located directly on the famous Golden Circle. Our journey there didn’t take long, since we were only about 40 km away from there and stayed overnight in a small camper place. The air was still full of snow and the weather forecast promised that it would continue to cover even the heaviest snowfall. When we got there, we immediately looked for a suitable location. Our photo guide and Iceland expert, Daniel, knew exactly that it would make sense to park the campers in such a way that, in the event of heavy snowfall, we were already standing in the direction of travel and free of other vehicles, safely away.

Said and done. Well packed and off we went to the Gulfoss waterfall, about 15 minutes walk away. It was deserted and so we were able to spread out on the adjoining viewing platform with our tripods and cameras. What a spectacular view. The water ran roaring down the partially frozen broad overhang. The view of the snow-covered landscape offered us a fantastic backdrop, in which the whole beauty of the river Hvítá with its impressive waterfall was embedded. After a while, the light gradually disappeared. The clouds, which were still bluish at the beginning, lost more and more of their color, it looked like snow. A lot of snow. So we use the time to look at the waterfall from another perspective, about 300m away. We took a few more pictures there, but then all of a sudden it started to snow. The others were already heading back toward the parking lot. I stayed maybe less than 10 minutes, which, however, resulted in me getting caught in a snow storm and barely able to see my hand in front of my face. The ropes that were stretched left and right along the entire path as a sight and hold line helped me not to lose my bearings. Even though I was less than 20 minutes away from our campers, I was scared during those minutes. I had never experienced anything like this. I was even approached by a handful of people who asked me if you could see the waterfall. I was speechless inside, what did you want to see there now, let alone risk it.

Arrived at the parking lot, I met two more people from us. Together we tried to keep to the path and not to lose sight due to the extreme snow drifts. Our car had to be somewhere. There they were. Off to the camper and defrost. What an experience, unbelievable. Now there was no time to lose. Because the heavy snowfall meant that our road could possibly be closed due to the weather. It was like that. We had to take a different route with a detour of over 130KM towards Reykjavik, where two of us wanted to spend a few more days and the rest of us would catch our return flight from Keflavík. In the end everything went well and safely. There wouldn’t have been much air left, so everything had snowed in. We wouldn’t have been able to get out of there a few hours later. Our alternative route was also blocked. In the end, it was a small window of time before the whiteout!!

Iceland is a dream come true for me. Experienced through and through. Sights beyond my imagination. Especially, I have to say that at this point, was the extraordinary constellation of photo friends, who adjusted to each other so harmoniously, pleasantly and lively. It couldn’t have been better. I am grateful that I was allowed to make this trip.