Reluctantly Leaving Iceland Today

I’m sitting here in my room at the Hotel Berg in downtown Reykjavik after having a morning cup of tea thinking over my past fifteen days in Iceland. When I first looked out my window onto the square the sun was shining and there were no clouds. It looked like it would be a perfect day for flying home. Ten minutes later there is a full blown blizzard with white-out conditions just outside that same window. This seems to me to be a kind of metaphor for the unpredictability of weather and all plans in general in February in Iceland. Indeed the Iceland Review calls this February the coldest February in Iceland in seven years.

Yesterday as we were struggling to drive back to Reykjavik with punishing 40 mile an hour sidewinds, my guide and new friend Christopher Lund told me of his many experiences with four season days where all seasons were experienced within one day. With the weather always foremost in our minds we were constantly adjusting our plans and expectations during the trip. The planned helicopter rider over the lava flow had to be scraped because of weather and because the lava was not very active. Last night at Chris and Maria’s house where I was invited for a wonderful evening of food, music, friendship and Icelandic saga retelling, we were remembering the five major storms that had altered our travel plans while we were in various locations trying to get photographs.

I told Chris earlier this week that I really wanted to photograph some waterfalls in Iceland. Each day he had several amazing locations in mind and we trudged through snow, ice and freezing water to get these waterfall shots. I am particularly happy with these photographs because we were able to spend the time necessary to really work the scenes, dealing with low camera angles, neutral density filters, etc. It wasn’t always easy especially if the wind was blowing icy spray onto your Lucroit filter and the only way to get the frozen ice off your camera body was to hike back to the car and let the ice melt there before attempting more shooting. I think I appreciate these shots more knowing what we had to go through to get them.

Rainbow over the Skógafoss Waterfall on the Skógá River in southern Iceland

Urriðafoss Waterfall on the river Þjórsá in southwest Iceland

Dyrhólaey peninsula on the south coast of Iceland near Vík.

Öxarárfoss Waterfall in Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Bruarfoss Waterfall in winter, Iceland

The Strokkur geyser going off near sunset.

“Hey Snorri, whatcha doing down there?”

Icelandic horse near Vik.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in southern Iceland

Black sand beach from Dyrhólaey peninsula on the south coast of Iceland near Vík

Urriðafoss Waterfall on the river Þjórsá in southwest Iceland

Our guide taking us up on the Vatnajökull glacier

Photographer Christopher Lund at sunset on the Vatnajökull glacier

Walking on the Vatnajökull glacier at sunset

Walking on the Vatnajökull glacier

Me and my shadow overlooking the Vatnajökull glacier

The tongue of the Vatnajökull glacier

Icebergs on the black sand beach at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland

Icelandic horses on a ridge overlooking the Ring Road

Blue ice in ice cave near Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. The compressed ice inside the glacial caves is blue because damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun have not reached the ice to transform it into white ice.

Ice outside the ice cave

Self-portrait I took on a tripod inside an ice cave in Iceland

Iceberg on black sand beach at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, southeast Iceland

Ice and flowing water

Vik i Myrdal Church, Vik, southeast Iceland

Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks next to the mountain Reynisfjall near the village Vík, southern Iceland

Photographers Andrew Hancock and Brad Rogers walking down to Budir Beach, the black sand beach to photograph Northern Lights, Western Iceland

Nineteenth century black church at Budir, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

Poor driving conditions in western Iceland

The Black Church at Budir as seen from the snow-covered lava fields.

Wintry sunrise over lava fields in western Iceland

Northern Lights over Black church at Budir, Iceland

Ring road on the Snæfellsne Peninsula, Iceland

Picnic table on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

As I finish this post the snow has stopped blowing and the sky is now a clear blue. I can’t wait to come back and see Iceland in the summertime. Chris tells me the interior is going to be wonderful. I’m looking forward to it.

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