Iceland Day 1 - LightPhonics Photography

Iceland Day 1

As the plane made it's descent, I thought we must be going through really thick, low cloud, as I still couldn't see anything out of the window. I was still waiting for the plane to pop out of the cloud when I felt the wheels touch down, and I realised as we slowed down that the surroundings were just an exhaustive expanse of white flat ground. The heavy snow and wind meant that visibility was limited to about 10 meters. We were supposed to be catching a connecting flight up to the north, but that was pretty obviously cancelled. Instead, the minibus driver who thought he was just taking us to the other airport got the pleasure of driving us for 8 hours through the middle of the night in this blizzard. We had no idea how the driver could tell what was road and what was field, but this crazy Icelandic driver pushed on.

We made it to a pizza place for dinner, and there were about 20 pieces leftover which were boxed up and entrusted to me. We carried on through the night, and I realised just how remote it is; we drove for hours without seeing any lights from a house or another car. Gradually the snow died down, but the wind built, and the bus was blown around allover the road, making for a couple of tense hours.

At around 4 am we arrived at our 'travelling hotel', which was a couple of lorries converted to have beds and toilets. The rooms were pretty tiny, with room to just about close the door whilst you were inside. They had radiators too, cranked up so high that I thought I'd gone in the wrong door and found the sauna. I dumped my bags and the pizza, and crashed, setting my alarm optimistically for the sunrise. I woke up 3 hours later, somehow before my alarm had even gone off. I opened the door in my boxers, ready to embrace the snowstorm, but to my surprise it had cleared fully and the sunrise colour was starting to appear. I left the door open as I got dressed, because it's not often you can get dressed in the middle of this:


As I started walking, I ditched my camera bag straight away as I always do, and set my tripod down. My obvious lead lines were the road and the telephone wires, so I climbed up to get the perspective of the road curling around the mountain. I walked along the low level of the mountain, and came to a point where I decided to set up and take a time-lapse.

After I had waited a while, I saw some of the rest of the group appear out of the lorry, and start to walk down to the water. I thought this would be a good idea, to get some nice long exposures but I realised I had left my bag about half a mile back, with my ND filters in; so I trustingly left my camera shooting, and sprinted back, picked up the bag, ran back to the camera, and then climbed down to the water.

I saw currents in the water, flowing between the rocks, and so I tried to capture these dark lines in a long exposure.


I wanted to try and get all of the surrounding mountains in too, so I stitched a couple of shots together:

As the tide started to rise, and the colour started to fade, we climbed back up to the road and headed back, as we knew we had a breakfast waiting for us.

After a surprisingly good breakfast appeared out of the lorry, we headed off in the Jeep. As we got there, it gradually got cloudier and started to rain, meaning that tis incredible fjord turned into an average day in England. Luckily, there were some abandoned houses about, which ended up being the main attraction. It was such a flat light day though, that the photos still managed to look a bit dull.

We had all lost hope for the day, and the few of us who were up for sunrise were gloating about having the only good light of the day. We headed back home, but as soon as we turned a corner around a headland, the sky cleared, and everything had an incredible orange glow. From this point we realised just how extreme the micro-climates are in Iceland. We parked up and scurried around for an hour, making the most of it. It was crazily windy though, meaning that I couldn't do my typical 30 second exposures of everything.

We got back for another impressive dinner, even more so considering it was coming out of a kitchen the size of a garden shed. After, a couple of us stayed in the dining tent drinking whiskey whilst we waited for the night to clear a bit. We went out, and caught a glimpse of the aurora/being overly optimistic.

The sky cleared above the truck for an instant, and I took this:

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