Photographing Iceland in the Winter

5 locations to vist in 36 hours or less

 

What a wild ride I had trying to get to Iceland in early February of 2018! I had planned on leaving Saturday the 3rd with a return flight on Friday the 9th. It turned out I was about to learn a valuable lesson in international travel. Apparently, you need a minimum of three months left on your passport to enter Iceland. I was short by just a few days.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7S     / TOKINA   FIRIN 20MM F2.0   / HOYA   INTENSIFIER   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7S / TOKINA FIRIN 20MM F2.0 / HOYA INTENSIFIER / SLIK AL-420M

With prior knowledge of this law, my two friends and I showed up extremely early to the airport. We checked in at the counter, made our way through the hectic LAX airport security and relaxed at our departure gate for WOW airlines,  grinning from ear to ear while  talking about the cool places and things we were about to see. 

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / HOYA   HD3

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / HOYA HD3

This was my third trip to Iceland, but the first for one friend in our group. I knew exactly what to expect and where to take him, or so I thought. That moment finally came when all passengers were called to the gate. Both of my friends presented their tickets and their passports and were given the ok to board. When it was my turn,the employees stopped to look at my passport, talked amongst each other for a bit, then decided to take my passport to a WOW airlines manager. She told me rather bluntly that I would not be getting on the flight. Complete bummer. I was two days shy of the three months needed to enter Iceland. 

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / HOYA   HD3

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / HOYA HD3

Trust me, I was so upset and didn't know what to do next. The mood quickly changed for the group as I, the leader of the trip, could not get on the plane. Things were happening so fast because they needed to board other passengers and I was holding up the line. I told my friends to just get going I would figure out how to meet up with them.

As soon as I got home, I did my research and found out that a same day passport was a slight possibility. In order to get this, I scheduled a appointment with the Federal building in Los Angeles at 8am on Monday the 5th. Coming from South Orange County makes for a long trek in traffic so I was sure to wake up at 4:30am to beat the freeway hussle.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / HOYA   HD3

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / HOYA HD3

I made it there in time and stood in line. I got called in, did the work needed and the same day passport happened! I was so excited to have actually turned a misfortune into a minor miracle. I paid the $170 for the same day service and waited until 3pm to get my new passport. Upon receiving it, I quickly booked a one way ticket out the next morning leaving LAX on Tuesday and putting me in Iceland on Wednesday because of the due to the time difference. 

I texted the guys, letting them know I was going to make it out. They were excited that at least I was going to be there for the last thirty six hours of the trip. this At the time, Iceland was getting hit by a severe Nordic Winter storm which locked my friends in for days at the closest hotel they could find. It wasn't until I landed on Wednesday that the weather clear up enough to continue the adventure.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / HOYA   HD3

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / HOYA HD3

I landed in Iceland that Wednesday at 4:30am but was not picked up by my travel buddies until 3pm that same afternoon due to road closers. I spent so much time on a plane and in an airport that I felt trapped a scene out of the movie "Lost in Translation." 

Big hugs and smiles were shared all around when toy friends finally pulled up to the terminal. I was as motivated as ever to make these few hours count, encouraging my buddies to make this trip a successful one. I might be crazy for going through with this trip with so little time left, but I knew in my heart that with those few precious moments in Iceland, we could make would last in our hearts and mind for many years to come. 

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / HOYA   HD3

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / HOYA HD3

We did just that and made the best out of what we had. We visited places that we smiled and talked about at the terminal gate, and even got to witness a spectacular Northern light show that had me crying tears of joy and leaving my two friends breathless. This is why I do what I do even if the cards are stacked against me. If there is a will there is a way. 

Here are the photos of the places we visited in a mere thirty six hours. If you're short on time like I was, I recommend these locations to visit and photograph while on the island of fire and ice in the Winter. Hope you enjoyed the read and photos. Please do share with a close friend that you plan on visiting Iceland with.

 

 


Glacier Lagoon


Jökulsárlón (literally meaning “glacial river lagoon”) is commonly referred to as Glacial Lagoon by Westerners. At 814 feet, it is the deepest lake in Iceland and a major tourist attraction with boat tours of the lake being extremely popular. The lagoon was created in the 1930s when rising temperatures began melting the massive glacier there, breaking it up into smaller glaciers and leaving melted water behind. Since the 1970s it has
quadrupled in size as the glaciers continue to melt more and more rapidly.

CAPTURED IN TWO EXPOSURES THEN BLENDED IN ADOBE   PHOTOSHOP  . FOREGROUND - WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / TOKINA   FIRIN 20MM F2.0   / SLIK   AL-420M   | SKY - WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / TOKINA   FIRN 20MM F2.0   / COKIN   NUANCES ND256   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED IN TWO EXPOSURES THEN BLENDED IN ADOBE PHOTOSHOP. FOREGROUND - WITH THE SONY A7RIII / TOKINA FIRIN 20MM F2.0 / SLIK AL-420M | SKY - WITH THE SONY A7RIII / TOKINA FIRN 20MM F2.0 / COKIN NUANCES ND256 / SLIK AL-420M


The main glacier Breiðamerkurjökull is over 1000 years old and is constantly shedding large chunks of ice as the weather warms. As massive as the iceberg appears, only about a tenth of the iceberg is visible, the rest hidden beneath the water’s surface.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / HOYA   HD3

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / HOYA HD3


The lake is home to many varieties of fish, providing a food source for seals and several bird species like puffins, gannets, and the overly aggressive skua. Tides carry schools of fish in from the ocean. During the summer months when warmer weather has broken up the ice, large ice burgs float out to sea from the lagoon. No fish existed naturally in the lagoon and all have found their way into Jökulsárlón from the North Atlantic Ocean. The lagoon is a mix of fresh and salt water as melted glacial ice mixes with the sea.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / HOYA   INTENSIFIER   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / HOYA INTENSIFIER / SLIK AL-420M


Diamond beach


Diamond Beach is one of the few places in the world where visitors can witness large chunks of ice on beaches of black sand. Jökulsárlón’s premier beach gets its name from the plentiful ice chunks that wash up on its shores. When the sunlight strikes them, they sparkle like diamonds and are a dazzling sight.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / TOKINA   FIRIN 20MM F2.0   / HOYA   SOLAS 4 STOP ND   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / TOKINA FIRIN 20MM F2.0 / HOYA SOLAS 4 STOP ND / SLIK AL-420M


The ice can vary in color from white to blue to black. Color is determined by how much air is trapped in the glacier and the interplay between ice and light. Due to shifting tides and higher summer temperatures, the ice strewn along the beach will never look the same twice. A new array of beached icebergs will be visible every visit, making each trip to the beach unique.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / TOKINA   FIRIN 20MM F2.0   / HOYA   SOLAS 4 STOP ND   /SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / TOKINA FIRIN 20MM F2.0 / HOYA SOLAS 4 STOP ND /SLIK AL-420M


Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach have provided the backdrop for Hollywood films such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and the James Bond films A View to Kill and Die Another Day. It was the release of A View to Kill that sparked the industry of boat tours on the lake. Decades later, the lake sees up to 70,000 visitors annually.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / HOYA   INTENSIFIER   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / HOYA INTENSIFIER / SLIK AL-420M


Skógafoss


At nearly 50 feet wide and 200 feet tall, Skógafoss is the largest waterfall in Iceland. It produces so much mist that single or double rainbows are constantly visible in the sunshine. Be warned that standing anywhere near the waterfall will leave you drenched! It is only one of nearly twenty waterfalls on the Skógá river. During the major eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, so much ash found its way into the river that the waterfall appeared gray for weeks. Skógafoss has been featured in major Hollywood films like Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / SLIK AL-420M


Selandjafoss


This waterfall is very popular with tourists simply because it’s so close so the main road. The hike to the base of the waterfall can take as little as fifteen minutes.
In the Summer, fantastic photos can be taken from a cavern behind the waterfall during sunset and sunrise hours. During the Winter, reaching the cavern is very difficult and the position of the sun during that part of the year does not illuminate the landscape quite the same way.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / TOKINA   FIRIN 20MM F2.0   / COKIN   NUANCES GND16S   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / TOKINA FIRIN 20MM F2.0 / COKIN NUANCES GND16S / SLIK AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY  RX0

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY RX0


Hofn Mountain


Iceland has a stunning selection of mountains, and while I have not visited them all, my favorite mountain location to date is Vestrahorn at the South Eastern tip of the island. Located seven miles outside the town of Hofn, it is often called the “Batman” mountain by locals due to its shape.

CAPTURED WITH THE DJI   MAVIC AIR   AND POLAR PRO   VIVID CINEMA FILTERS COLLECTION   IN THREE PHOTOS STITCHED TOGETHER IN ADOBE   LIGHTROOM CC  .

CAPTURED WITH THE DJI MAVIC AIR AND POLAR PRO VIVID CINEMA FILTERS COLLECTION IN THREE PHOTOS STITCHED TOGETHER IN ADOBE LIGHTROOM CC.


To access the mountain roads, a ticket first must be purchased by the nearby Viking Café. For 800 krona (about 8 US dollars) per person, you get access not only to the mountain road, but to the set of the popular show Vikings which airs on the History Channel. Since this is one of the few places that requires paid admission, it is recommended that visitors check the weather prior to buying tickets. Fog and rain are common and can spoil an otherwise breathtaking view.

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / TOKINA   FIRIN 20MM F2.0   / HOYA   INTENSIFIER   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / TOKINA FIRIN 20MM F2.0 / HOYA INTENSIFIER / SLIK AL-420M


Another fantastic reason to visit the area is the dozens of wild Icelandic ponies that roam the area. These beautiful creatures come in a range of colors and while small in size compared to other horse breeds, have big personalities. Because tourism in the area is so pervasive, many of the horses are very comfortable with people and will be happy to come close in exchange for an apple or carrot. I have gotten many a shot where I swear these horses were posing for me. While the horses live wild all over the island, they are common here and extremely accessible, not to mention the backdrop of Vestrahorn
makes for unparallel photos!

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / ZEISS   BATIS 18MM F2.8   / COKIN   NUANCES GND16S   &   NUANCES ND256   / SLIK   AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / ZEISS BATIS 18MM F2.8 / COKIN NUANCES GND16S & NUANCES ND256 / SLIK AL-420M

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY   A7RIII   / SONY   85MM F1.8   / HOYA   HD3

CAPTURED WITH THE SONY A7RIII / SONY 85MM F1.8 / HOYA HD3


Last but least for all you foodies out there, my favorite restaurant on the island is in the city of Höfn and I always try to grab a meal there after a day of shooting at Vestrahorn. It was built back in 1932 to originally serve as a warehouse. It was built from scrap wood left over from other houses and was later converted into the Pakkhús restaurant. They specialize in locally sourced seafood, especially shrimp and lobster, and their menu is reasonably priced (for Iceland.) If you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to eat some truly excellent seafood!



If you enjoyed this article and are interested in purchasing the gear used to create these memories please use the links provided under photos. You can also visit my gear page here. It won't cost you a penny more and you will be helping me continue to bring you stories of exploration and inspiration. Thanks again guys! If you need any advice on Iceland, don't hesitate to drop me a comment or contact me here

Till next time. EXPLORE - CREATE - INSPIRE

THE SONY RX0 REAL WORLD REVIEW

TAKING THE SONY RX0 ON THE ROAD

VIDEO DETAILS - BE SURE TO WATCH IN 1080p

Just a crazy bunch of Hawaiians having fun! I decided to take a close friend off roading in my Jeep Renegade Trail Hawk. Having just received the Sony RX0 I was destined to see what this puppy could produce!

Attaching it to the front hood, side door panels and in the cabin itself. I came up with this short little edit. The Sony RX0 is truly a powerful tool in movie making and story telling. You better believe it that I will be making more short films with this little bad boy on my upcoming adventures.

Filmed at 24 & 60fps / Cine 2 Pro / AWB / ISO 200 / Program video mode

Edit in Adobe Premier Pro CC using Lumetri to color grade


As soon as I heard about the Release of the Sony RX0 I had to have one! Sony has advertised that this is NOT classified as a action cam and more of a device aimed at commercial video works etc. With no doubt it ceterainly is. But with its 15.3MP stacked 1 inch CMOS sensor in a super compact water and shock proof body I for seen it being a great addition to my bag of tricks for action and adventure.

Let’s just say it did not disappoint in both fields of photography & video. Amazing on the point focus, and dynamic range that was truly reminiscent of my Sony RX100V. Its so CRAZY SMALL and so darn fun to have around. It really increased my desire to story tell and create fun and inspiring short films.

Just being able to have it in my pocket and pull out at any moments notice with no fuss creating professional quality footage was already the game changer for me and a perfect reason to own the Sony RX0. YES! The Sony RX100V is compact in size already and full of more functions but the Sony RX0 has it beat hands down with being water proof & much smaller in size and so darn rugged! With it having both the same 1 inch sensor it does produce near to exact results.

If I was to point out the one thing that I see lacking and a concern to me most of all in the Sony RX0 Is its fight against low light. Because it's a fixed f4 it can suffer a bit when in video. But like anything there are the highs and lows in everything you buy. This camera is just so PERFECT for gimbal / slider work and even using it as a B camera to shoot and share photos and video of yourself and your A camera set up as pictured in a photo below. 

I've also found this camera to been EXTREMELY fun and versatile in the field of surf photography. With its 16 FPS burst mode capturing photos in RAW was a huge plus. This image below was captured during sunrise in Laguna beach, California.

I'M PRINTING THIS AND HANGING IT ON THE WALL! Captured in program photo mode @ 1250 shutter / ISO 200 / color balance sunny / burst mode. 

All images below were also captured with the Sony RX0. Like I mentioned before, for those looking for a B camera to capture the action and adventure on photo the RX0 is the one for you. For those that like to travel light and story tell creating inspiring films to share with the rest of the world the RX0 is also the one for you. Lets not forget how great the internal mic is on this thing. I couldn't believe it! You can get sense of how great it records sound from watching my video above. In my opinion the sound quality is much better then the Sony RX100V. You also have the ability to plug in a external mic which is a HUGE plus if desired which when using will cancel the onboard mic itself.


So what's next on my list of accessories for the Sony RX0 you might ask? I'm looking forward to the release of the Sony filter adapter kit for the RXO camera. This will allow me to attach ND filters and even polarizers to the front of the lens to obtain proper exposure while shooting in video mode. Allowing me to maintain that 180 rule or rule of double.

Till then the best bet is to put the camera in program video mode so it can properly set the shutter to achieve a well balanced exposure. YES of course it's not the best thing to do but in the mean time thats all we got.

It will also open the doors to the photo ability of the camera. Creating long exposed shots, etc. So much opportunity with this little guy its amazing! There are also a few other accessories such as a fully operating water proof housing that is constructed from a ground aluminum-alloy material that allows you to go down to 330 feet!

Another favorite of mine is the Sony cage for the RX0. It both protects, and adds accessory-mounting points to your RX0 Ultra-Compact Camera. A total of 35 1/4"-20 threaded holes are split between the top, bottom, and sides of this cage. For ease of operation, full access to the camera's buttons and ports is maintained when using the cage.

This cage is designed to quickly mount to, and detach from your RX0 camera. Use the cage to attach an on-board light, microphone, on-board monitor, external recording device, or other accessories to your RX0 Ultra-Compact Camera.

With all that said I can't wait to take this along with me on my next adventure to EXPLORE, CREATE, & INSPIRE. I hope you enjoyed the short video and the photos provided. If you are deciding to purchase the Sony RX0 please consider clicking on one of the links as it helps run the website and the fuel to the fire. And as always if you have any questions or comments I will be more then happy to help you out.

You can pick up the Sony RX0 HERE / water housing HERE / filter kit HERE / RX0 cage HERE

Till next time guys, have a great one!