Iceland has been on my list of places to visit as long as I can remember; I figured it would be an awesome place to get some fresh air, explore and get inspired before getting stuck in to a wonderful summer of back to back weddings. So one dirt cheap last minute flight booking later, we had ourselves a little 3 day road trip around Iceland, specifically it’s beautiful, varied and relatively accessible south coast. Going at the end of May (before main tourism season kicks off) meant we had nice long 17 hour days to explore, with some great weather and cheap hotels and hire cars as an added bonus.
Basing ourselves in the capital Reykjavik, we spent most of our time on the road, heading off in to a different direction each day and seeing what we could find, stopping along the way to explore caves, walk along the tops of glaciers and stand in awe of some epic waterfalls. Rather than rush to fit as much of country in as we could, we decided to stay in one small area within 5 hours drive of Reykjavik, but explore these areas slowly and with an adventurous curiosity, while trying to avoid coach loads of tourists at the big attractions in the middle of the day.
The landscape in Iceland was expressive and beautiful, but changing moods with the weather and every few miles travelled. In just one day we experienced torrential rain, grey moody skies, barren black sand deserts, bitterly cold glacial lagoons, beautiful warm sunshine, epic intense waterfalls and fields of green and brown filled with Icelandic ponies. The land, the weather, the climate just couldn’t seem to make it’s mind up, but it didn’t matter, regardless Iceland was always beautiful and a total blast to drive through, hike across and photograph.
Iceland Travel Photography Tips
- Bring a zoom lens. You’ll find yourself shooting from a moving car quite a lot, as the the stopping places on the main bring road are few and far between, and although primes lenses are great for many things, framing shots through a car window are tricky if you have to keep switching lenses all the the time.
- Especially around waterfalls, your cameras will get wet. Use tissues to remove the moisture from your lens first, before cleaning with a lens cloth otherwise you’ll get horrible streaks on your glass.
- You don’t need to hire a 4×4 in the summer. Everywhere we visited was easily accessible via a dinky little car. Save some money on that hire car.
- Stock up on lots of snacks and water at the super market on your first day. You really don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere and realise you have nothing to eat. Also even though it didn’t get dark until nearly midnight, most shops were closed at 6pm, and restaurants outside the capital close at 10pm. Meaning hot food can be surprisingly hard to find after a long day hiking.
- Unless you are a real landscape photography buff, leave the tripod at home. I’m much happier with a smaller, lighter kit bag and having more fun walking around and exploring, while being more fluid with how capture the atmosphere of the places we visited.
All images below shot on Nikon D810 with Sigma 24mm f1.4 or Nikon 58mm f1.4.