A great Iceland winter experience

This was my fourth trip to Iceland in less than a year and the amazement has not diminished one bit. Many times going to a new place is exciting because it is new but the thrill wears off. The thrill is still there in Iceland. The country has such amazing beauty and unique features. 

Diamond Beach is one the bigger attractions for photographers. Chunks of ice break off from a nearby glacier and wash up on a black sand beach. As the waves pound the ice the water polishes a brilliant shine. Light coming through the blue ice looks like diamonds. Usually the chunks of ice are small, the largest being two or three feet across. When we pulled in on Monday there were huge icebergs on the beach, some were 0ver 15 feet long and 10 feet high. I hadn’t seen anything near that large before nor have I seen any photos of the ice being that large. It was snowing while we were there, one of the few times of nasty weather we had, but the photos were still cool. We didn’t stay long since we were going to be going past the beach a couple more times. When we came back on Tuesday, all the huge chunks of ice were gone and the normal size ones were scattered across the beach. Nature is so wonderful!

But the highlight of this trip was the great ice caves we went to into. The first was a rare black ice cave. Talk about a photographic nightmare, shooting in a cave that has black ripples and a large, bright opening is extremely hard to do. It was cool to see but extremely hard to make a picture. The next one was much better, a traditional blue ice cave that had plenty of light pouring in through the ice. Another photographer had his wife posing with an ice axe near the opening, which made a great photo for us!

The weather in Iceland can be sketchy. One morning we went to one of my favorite places to photograph Vestrahorn, jagged mountains rising right from a black sand beach. When we arrived it was cloudy and then foggy to the point you couldn’t see the mountain. I was pretty disappointed because it is such a great shot. There are unique black sand dunes near the beach and we photographed there for a while and I could tell the group wasn’t too impressed. After about an hour they were ready to pack it in but I saw that to the west it was clearing so we waited a little while and got the payoff. The sun came out and lit up the mountains. I took the group back down to the beach and showed them how to shoot a reflection of the mountains in the receding surf on the black sand. It made a great photo.

Chasing the Aurora Borealis is never ending in the Icelandic winter. I have several apps on my phone to help determine where to be and when. Aurora activity wasn’t overly high but it was still fun to make some images of the lights and hear the squeals of the other photographers who hadn’t witnessed it before. (see my other blog post) We even caught some the Milky Way with the Aurora, which is pretty cool.

A photographer can’t think about Iceland without having grand waterfalls constantly flowing through the brain. They never disappoint, the huge falls are mostly fed by glaciers and are as spectacular as anyplace on earth. They can be overwhelming to photograph but by trying enough techniques great photos are fairly easy to make.

It was a great group of people on the trip, we had tons of fun, saw great sights, ate wonderful food and had lots of laughs. I look forward to returning in August and again next winter.

One thought on “A great Iceland winter experience”

  1. Great photos Loren! Who is that Viking in Iceland, oh it’s me Simon Hands from the UK. 🤣 your shots are truly representative of such a beautiful country.

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