Iceland – [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 we share some helpful tips for your planning. 

When to go?

Spring (Northern Lights, 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 (limited to southern part of island), 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

Gear

Recommendations:

  • 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.
  • Filters
    • 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 

Clothing

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

Landscape Diversity

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),
  • Mountains
    • Kirkjufell
    • Vestrahorn – iconic shots and tides
    • Estrahorn
  • Pick a project – Churches, Marshmallows
  • Black beach (Vik ) 
  • Moss
  • Canyons (Pagkil)

Wildlife

  • Puffins / Terns /. Reindeer

Areas

Reykjavik (Capital)

Golden Circle

Haimey Island

South (Vik /)

East (Estahorn, Vestrahorn, Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach)

West

North

Misc Tips

  • Leverage webcams to view possible shoot locations

Other Resources:

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.