18 March 2012

Second post from Iceland

(all shots made by Daniëlla with her iPhone and some goofy post-processing apps)
We spent a number of days at the glacier lake, hoping to get some good shots of the northern lights with the huge blocks of glacier ice that were lying on the beach. But it was very hard. The weather in Iceland can change in 5 minutes from clear to completely overcast with a blizzard blowing right into your face. And there were a lot of clouds hiding the northern light from our view. During the day we visited the glacier that produces all the ice blocks in the glacier lake. The colors on the glacier were beautiful.

It is amazing to see the blue and black ice of the glacier Breidamerkurjokull
that expands into the glacier lake Jokulsarlón.  
During our stay at the glacier lake it was full moon, which helped a lot with bringing out the ice blocks on the beach at night. As the northern light seems to come and go really quickly here, we didn't want to miss anything and decided not to have dinner in the guesthouse, but to take hot water with us and have noodle soup in the car. When the moon was out, we started working on a composition, hoping the northern lights would cooperate and appear at the right spot. It was freezing cold and the wind was blowing hard, and we had to wait a long time in the cold, but in the end we got the shot we were looking for. Patience is key. Oh, and lots of warm layers to avoid you from freezing :-)

Speaking of freezing.... we are so glad we came to Iceland at this time of year. The frozen water on all the waterfalls really adds character and makes this beautiful country even prettier to photograph! The spray of the water clings to the rocks and the most interesting ice formations and patterns are formed on the rocks. A real feast!

The half frozen Selfoss waterfall had amazing ice sculptures on both sides.
Last week we traveled to the northern part of Iceland, to well known places like Lake Myvatn and some of Icelands most iconic waterfalls: Dettifoss and Selfoss.

It is always nice to see a location from various sides, as it clearly changes your view on it. In most cases, you just walk to the other side, but with a waterfall.... hm... different story! Below you can see Dettifoss from the east side. You can see the full scale of the waterfall, but the view is somewhat obscured by the snow on the side. But you can also use it to frame your shot :-)

Dettifoss from the east side, where they made a new road in order to give easy access for everyone.
Visiting Dettifoss on the west side was another story. It was quite difficult to get there, as there was a lot of snow. But it was interesting to see it from both the east and the west, as the perspective on the waterfall was quite different. Below is a small movie clip that I made with my iPhone, showing you the view from the west side, where you can get very low and close to the waterfall.

There are several craters in the Myvatn area that you can visit. It is not easy to climb to the rim when the tracks are covered with snow and ice, but the view is worth the effort; both on the crater and the surroundings. Unfortunately, Marsel didn't know I was photographing him, and the distance was too great to shout at him and ask him to stand still, so he is a bit blurry in the shot. But it does give you an idea of how big this crater is. 

Apart from the beauty of the ice and snow, another advantage of traveling here in winter, is that there are hardly any tourists around. In summer it can be really busy in Iceland, because all the roads are easily accessible during the milder summer months. This means that you can visit the highlands of Iceland, which are in the center of the island. However, we prefer the current weather conditions and solitude. We often had the most spectacular locations all to ourselves. A very nice experience.

The only time we were extremely happy to see other people, was when we got stuck! 

We were exploring the back country to look for interesting locations off the beaten track for next year's photo workshop in Iceland, when we suddenly sunk deep into the snow. Hidden underneath it was a large pool of mud that was way too deep for our jeep. Reversing only resulted in spinning wheels and mud being thrown up into the air and onto the car. After various attempts with floor mats, we gave up. Luckily, there was a nice Icelandic man that spotted us waving for help and he offered to pull us out with his big jeep with huge tires. That did the trick. 

The lava from age-old eruptions has solidified and left interesting formations and rock arches behind.
 I swear the arch in the middle is trying to imitate Turret Arch - one of the most iconic arches in Utah :-)

We are glad we have taken the time to do the scouting, because it is actually quite difficult to stick to our plan of getting somewhere around a certain time when we travel. We see so many interesting things along the way, that we stop after driving for just 10 minutes for something that we want to photograph or have a closer look at. No, I am not complaining about it - it just shows how beautiful this country is.

As we were traveling north, the river next to the road gave us a spectacular sight: once frozen over, the water level had risen and all the ice broke. At the curves it was all pushed on the shores by the force of the water, forming two more rivers of ice :-) We drove back and tried a small road that was on the other side of the river, which came much closer and lower to the river than the main road. We asked a farmer for permission to walk on his land and went down to the river. The blocks of ice where huge and stacked up about 3 meters high. We had to be careful walking on the ice, as there were big gaps in between them. And needless to say - the ice was quite slippery.

We are currently staying in a wonderful guesthouse near Godafoss and had another great morning shoot. We left before sunrise and made our way to one of the most impressive waterfalls Iceland has to offer. In order to get a good perspective of the waterfall, we had to climb down, which was a huge challenge. The snow made it difficult to see where we were putting our feet, and at some parts the snow had accumulated, so it was extremely deep and our legs sank right in at times. Getting down to the river's edge was very steep, but we made it... and it sure was worth all the trouble! 

Godafoss is one of the waterfalls in the Skjálfandafljót river.
It runs across a lava field, which is approximately 7000 years old. 

The canyon just below Godafoss is about 100m wide.The waterfall is shaped in the form of a horseshoe and divided into two main falls and a few smaller ones, depending on the amount of water flowing through the river. 

Tonight we are going back to shoot Godafoss after sunset. Northern light predictions are good, so we are planning to stay out for a long time, hoping for the sky to clear a bit later in the evening. I am already looking forward to it :-) 



Christopher R. Gray said...

Thanks for the update. How much longer are you going to be in Iceland or are you applying for a work visa.

Henk Bentlage said...

Very nice update, will this be a summer or wintertrip you are planning to organise?

Visited Iceland last year in June and it was amazing. And worth another visit.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay.

Henk Bentlage

Squiver | Marsel van Oosten and Daniëlla Sibbing said...

Henk - it will definitely be a winter trip; snow, ice and northern lights - it doesn't get any better than that. And you're most welcome to join us of course. Hope you're well!


Post a Comment

If you want to leave a message, you can choose "anonymous". But please remember to put your name in the message itself, so we know who it is from! Thanks for leaving a comment.