[This page is a work in progress]
We’ve had the opportunity to visit Iceland several times over the course of Spring, Summer and Fall. Here are some helpful tips for your planning.
Iceland is a beautiful country for landscape photography. The variety is incredible from black beaches, to amazing waterfalls, glaciers, icebergs, thermal areas, and volcanos. There is also amazing rock formations such as unique sea stacks and basalt columns in many locations. In the spring and early summer, there is an abundance of migrating and nesting birds (e.g., Puffins).
Iceland is roughly the size of Ohio. It has a very temperate climate such that the day to night time temperatures vary by only 10 degrees in a season. The main road around the island is called the “ring road” and it is tarred and easily traveled. Most roads off the ring road are dirt roads. Roads started with an “F” require 4-WD and most rental cars are not authorized on these roads.
Iceland has excellent internet coverage.
When to go?
Spring (Northern Lights- early spring, Migrating and nesting birds)
Summer (Flowers, Penguins, Terns other ) – up to 7 hours of golden light
Fall (Colors, Northern Lights)
Winter – ice caves, northern lights, snow, up to 7 hours of golden light
What to expect – Weather / Environment
- It is cloudy most of the time (think waterfalls, even lighting, black and white)
- It rains nearly every day
- Fog is dense and severe
- Wind – not uncommon to have gale force winds
- Waves – Rogue waves are not uncommon
- Weather changes rapidly and can vary across short distances
Check out local Iceland weather: https://en.vedur.is
- Waterproof camera bag and / or rain cover
- Sturdy Tripod (leave the travel tripod at home)
- Lenses (14mm-200mm), longer if you plan to photograph birds during nesting season.
- Polarizer — for snow, ice, water, waves
- ND filter — for waterfalls, ocean waves (at least a 3 stop and a 6 stop)
- Lens wipes / cleaners
- Compass / GPS if you plan to do any hiking
Warm clothing and rain gear:
- Rain gear is essential (pants, jacket, gloves, shoes/boots)
- Layers – long johns, fleece, down jacket and outer waterproof shell (bring the winter mittens / gloves)
- Consider duplicates of key items (e.g., gloves, shoes) in case they get wet
Glacier / Ice / Volcano / Ocean / Mountains / Waterfalls / Wildlife / Architecture / Geothermal / Hot Springs / Basalt Columns
- Waterfalls – filters, exposure,
- Detifoss – getting close to show power
- Skogafoss – looking for a different shot
- Bruarfoss – blending of shots to create one image (sky, river, falls)
- Glacier Lagoon
- Diamond Beach – timing – when to shoot, filters, subject moves, tides
- Northern Lights – (everything is moving, length of exposure),
- Vestrahorn – iconic shots and tides
- Pick a project – Churches, Marshmallows
- Black beach (Vik )
- Canyons (Pagkil – near Via, Fjaðrárgljúfur – between Vik and Skaftafell, Stuðlagil – between Egglissstadir and Myvatin)
- Puffins (June/July)
- Via area (note there are restrictions to nesting areas)
- Haiemey Island
- Borgarfjörður Eystri
- Reindeer (June)
- Between Glacier Lagoon and Eystrahorn
South (Vik /)
East (Estahorn, Vestrahorn, Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach)
- Leverage webcams to view possible shoot locations
Mads Peter Iverson (Primarily Landscape Photographer in Northern Europe.) We have found his YouTube series on Iceland to be helpful on understanding locations, angles and creative techniques. He has put together dozens of short videos, usually one per location and then also a map of Iceland. His videos include impressive drone photography to help one understand the location and the terrain. He also has a couple of impressive E-books on Photography and Composition, and he also leads workshops.