My first day in Iceland

Life is wonderful. I landed in Iceland this morning, made my way through the Reykjavik airport, got my rental car and enjoyed the colorful horizon before the sun rose as I scraped ice off the car windshield in the parking lot. This is my first trip to Iceland and I came a couple of days before the start of my workshop so I could make photos. When I am hosting a workshop, I take some pictures along the way but my real purpose is to help the people in the workshop, so I’m not able to concentrate solely on my photos.

The airport is about 30 miles from Reykjavik, so I decided to explore the peninsula near the airport today and tomorrow head to another peninsula to the north west. I do a ton of research before I go to a new place so I know some good places to shoot. Near the airport is the little town of Keflavik and I saw some fun pictures of sod roof houses, so that is where I started. The sun was about ready to show itself as I pulled up to the huts. I don’t do a lot of selfies, in fact, I hate going to beautiful places and s

eeing people taking pictures of themselves and nothing of what they came to see. Anyway, I was waiting for the sun to get high enough to eliminate some bad shadows so I decided to snap a selfie. I really needed a person in the photo to show the scale of how small these houses were and since I was the only person around I broke into my super-model mode.

I spent several hours driving around the peninsula, it is basically a lava field with crazy, not-too-pretty landscapes, hot springs, craggy coastline and a few towns. After leaving Keflavik I drove past the very small town of Hafnir and noticed a church painted black. I planned on visiting one tomorrow and didn’t know about this one, so I went into to town. The church was about the only thing there, I was hoping to get some breakfast but I would have had to knock on some house doors to find any food. The church was cool but the light wasn’t right, I needed to be there in the afternoon.

I have several things marked in my Google map to see, so I stopped at them all. That doesn’t mean they were good photos, but at least cool things to see. I stood in both Europe and North American at the same time. There is a place with a bridge that crosses a gully created by the two continents slowly moving apart. It was cool but I didn’t make any great photos. I then went to a light house and a hot spring that has a nearby huge geothermal plant supplying hot water and electricity to Reykjavik. My next stop was at a tidal pool on the coast where the waves were splashing on the rocks. It was cold enough that the spray froze after hitting the rocks, which looked pretty cool.

I finally found a town with a restaurant and it was now about lunch time so I had a great meal of fresh cod and french fries. I was told that food in Iceland was expensive but I was still a little shocked to pay over $25 for a fish and chips lunch. I saw several more fun sites and then decided it was time to head to Reykjavik and find my hotel.

After settling in to the hotel I went to shoot a lighthouse nearby on a little island. Grotta Island isn’t very big, maybe 1/2 long and 1/4 mile wide. There is a little causeway to walk across to get to the island. I got there as the sun was going down but the sky was perfectly clear, which doesn’t make for great sunset photos, it is better to have a few little clouds to catch the light and color. I made plenty of photos anyway and hung out until well after the sun was gone to see how the color would look. I love that time of day, after the sun is gone and before it is completely dark. There is a little house near the lighthouse that looks like someone lives there but I didn’t see any people. The path to the building and lighthouse were intriguing and I liked the way it made the whole scene come together.

Darkness was settling in and I was done shooting. I went back to the causeway to see the tide had come in and didn’t leave me much room to walk in the sand. At one point I needed to scramble up on some rocks to get back to my car. I’m glad I didn’t stay on the island longer or I might have been there for a long time. I made a run to Reykjavik’s most famous landmark, the Lutheran Church Hallgrímskirkja. It is the tallest building in the country and an impressive sight. I wanted a photo of it at dusk and I got there a little later than ideal but it still make a nice shot.

What a great first day in Iceland.

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