Monday, 18 January 2016

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

You've framed the composition. Jagged volcanic rock formations are silhouetted against the crystal glacier horizon. Looking up from the viewfinder of your SLR, reality is confirmed; you are standing shrouded in the ethereal glow of the emerald and violet Northern Lights.

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

Snap!

It's little wonder why Iceland is seen as the photographer’s paradise. For the seasoned professional or the so inclined amateur enthusiast, there is no shortage of subject matter. With contrasting landscapes covering the island, each one more breathtaking than the last, Iceland is a photographer’s dream destination; from the charming small town islands of Vestmannaeyjar, to the enchanting scenes of nature at the Golden Waterfalls of Gullfloss, your individual photography fairy-tale awaits.

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

Iceland itself is a unique mix of cultures and traditions that have been refined by a beautiful, yet demanding, landscape. Those who visit cannot help but want to capture a small piece to take home with them. Even those who aren’t normally ‘shutter bugs’ suddenly find a desire to pick up a telephoto lens, a small pocket digital shooter or even a phone, to capture one of the many scenes that touch their imaginations.

Memories preserved on film serve to awaken the spirit of adventure in every naturalist and call one back to the island’s majestic scenes (even for a second to third visit).

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

Inspired photographers of all skill levels set out into the wilds of Iceland to capture that perfect shot. Iceland may be small, but it has so much to offer in terms of variety. The unique and simple beauty on the island gives photographers the chance to shoot assorted subjects that are suited to every individual’s photographic flare; scenes of nature, wildlife, culture, midnight sun, Northern Lights… you’ll be sure to find your picturesque opportunities in Iceland!

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

Some quick facts! Iceland has very few trees, making unimpeded wide shots featuring wild, rocky terrain commonplace. Around 11.5% of the country is covered in glaciers. Amazing glass-like structures protruding from the foreground and cascades of ancient ice slides rolling through the mountains are some of the more remote, yet fantastic scenes on the island nation.

In summertime, specifically in June and July, the island experiences 24 hours of day light. The merging of sunrise and sunset make for some magical images of glaciers, beaches or waterfalls bathed in pink and orange light.

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

Wildlife

For wildlife photographers, Iceland boasts a rich birdlife. Puffins are exceptionally popular models. Stunning bird cliffs can be found around the country with breathtaking sunsets over the sea in the distance. The Icelandic horses provide a graceful subject, if not a tricky one; better snap fast, those ponies are quick!

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

Whale watching is a popular attraction that doesn’t disappoint. No need to take long trips out to sea, the huge water-dwelling mammals swim very close to the Icelandic coast. If you feel more like capturing images of domestic animals, there are also plenty of sheep and cows - in fact, the sheep outnumber the people 2 to 1! Of course, Iceland is also famous for Santa’s flying friends. Reindeer herds roam freely in some areas.

Northern lights photography in Iceland

In addition to Iceland’s night life, there are the “night lights”. The Northern Lights are another natural wonder that is unique to regions lying in the Arctic Circle. Streaking the night’s sky with vivid color, the Arora Borealis can best be seen in the winter months away from populated areas.

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

The sight of the northern lights were considered a sign of something sacred to the Norse people; seeing the breathtaking sight today, it is easy to see why.

Culture 

There is no place better for quirky images of culture, food, architecture or people than Reykjavík! It is known for its colorful houses, arts, great nightlife and a personality all of its own. The Icelandic population is a mix of Scandinavian as well as Irish heritage, which is reflected in their food, architecture, and character. Dotted around the coastline of the country are a few towns and numerous small fishing villages. Some are very remote and in idyllic settings. The traditional turf houses are small cottage structures covered with earth and make for a rustic, quaint picture.

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

Iceland’s individuality, diversity and remoteness are what make it such a desirable destination for the amateur or the professional photographer. From its natural wonders, to its animal life and the people who call it home, this island nation has so much to take in, and so much to capture on film. One thing is for sure, on your next Icelandic adventure, you shouldn’t forget your camera!

Photo tours and photo workshops in Iceland

Iceland24 can get you in touch with the talented Florent Gast (info@landmannalaugartours.com), a fully licensed tour operator in Iceland.

Florent Gast is a fantastic photographer that has years of experience in photographing Icelandic nature and both organizes photo tours and workshops in photography. The workshops are small and personal and include information about long exposure methodology, concepts of landscape photography, visual design and composition, working with filters, post processing for web and prints, basics of time-lapse and more.

Photography in Iceland - A Snapshot of Nature

All the pictures in this article (and most of the pictures on this website) are taken by Florent, many of them during photo tours, such as this one that appeared recently in The Icelandic Times.

Photography in Iceland
Rachel - Iceland24

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Hrísey Island

When I arrived at Hrísey Island for the first time, I instantly fell under its spell. The weather was magnificent that day, the sky so clear and blue I could see beyond the horizon, the sand so warm I was barefoot. Being so close to the mainland, I felt like I was in another country, another world. I thought that perhaps the weather had given me a false impression of this beautiful Island and that maybe I would become disenchanted with this place on a grey cloudy day. No! even in the rain, Hrísey is still as magnificent and captivating. I can only imagine how fascinating the Island must look in the high snowy storms of winter.

Hrísey Island

Hrísey Island, nicknamed “the Pearl of Eyjafjörður” is 8km2 in size and is located approximately 37km North of Akureyri. The Island has 170 inhabitants that live mainly from the fishing industry, and the Island is renowned for its mussels and little fish factory where dried fish is prepared and packed. There is one small shop, two café-restaurants and a guesthouse on the Island. 

Hrísey Island

In the summer, Hrísey sees a bit of tourism and is quite a popular destination among Icelanders. Every July, the Island hosts the Family Festival where you can experience live music, local food, orienteering, playgrounds, tractor rides, a trip to the beach with the  famous local clown and lots of other activities. In the evening, there is entertainment on the stage in the village centre and then on Saturday night a bomb fire where everybody sings together. From around Friday noon, ferries filled with people and groceries, arrive over from Árskógssandur to enjoy the Family Festival on Hrísey, but don’t  be put off by the crowds, it’s far from mass tourism. 

Hrísey Island

In the middle of July, I only saw one tent and two kayaks on the camping site, the owners were a couple of British travelling enthusiasts, but apart from that, the island was peaceful and relaxing.  With a growing artist community on Hrísey, artist residencies are available for one month or for several months in the old school that’s been converted into apartment studios.

Hrísey Island

A large part of Hrísey Island is a privately owned nature reserve, so you will need permission from the owner if you wish to enter. It is a paradise for ornithologists; forty species of birds nest there every year, the most abundant is the ptarmigan (small chicken-like bird). If you go to the northern tip of the island, you can admire the view from the Hrísey lighthouse. Not far from the swimming pool and sports centre, there is a small beach so deserted and serene it’s like you’ve arrived at the end of the world.

Hrísey Island

The people of Hrísey are uniquely well-known for driving around in tractors. If you need to go somewhere, you will certainly be offered the fun services of a tractor-taxi. If you prefer to walk, the Island is only 7.5km long and 2.5km wide, and on a sunny day without wind, Hrísey feels like heaven on earth.

Hrísey Island

Joanne, Iceland24
January 2016