Iceland in Winter

In February 2017, I ventured up to Iceland for the first time. Rather strange as this is one of the places easily accessible from Glasgow International Airport with its daily two hour flight courtesy of Iceland Air.

After spending a somewhat forgettable night in the touristy capital Reykjavik, it was into the 4x4 hire car, equipped with winter tyres and off I went to explore the south eastern corner around Vik and Hofn.

Apparently 7 out of 10 tourists who visit this amazing island never venture outside a one hour radius from the capital Reykjavik which is a real shame. Personally I thought the landscape changed dramatically, and much for the better, once I had driven two to three hours away from the city. Suddenly the roads became quieter, fuel stations become rare and the landscape started to become insane and other worldly. No wonder so many science fiction movies have been filmed here, were the Director is trying to convince you that its another planet. When you look at the crazy, almost impossible shape of the mountains, the barren zones of retreating glaciers, the black sand and massive waterfalls, you do indeed start to think you have left Planet Earth behind.

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My first couple of days was around Vik, shooting the black sand beaches of the area. The Black Basalt columns and the rock formation of Reynisdrangar. Local legend says they were formed from Trolls who were turned to stone luring ships to be wrecked on the shore. My days here had the bleakest of weather and as the massive waves raged in from the Atlantic it was a lonely and desolate place. It was easy to imagine this feezing isolated beach inhabited by Trolls of days gone by. I really wanted my images from here to capture the bleak and forbidding nature I experienced here. Hopefully that comes across in my shots.

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The weather cleared and brightened as I made the crazy drive to the cliff tops of Dyrholaey with its proud lighthouse and arch in the cliffs. The views east to Reynisdrangar and west across the Glacial Barren Zone was breathtaking.

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After a few days of wild, windy and rainy weather the temperatures plummeted over night as I journeyed east toward the Glacier Lagoon of Jokulsarlon. Dawn broke over breathtaking snow covered lands with the sky every conceivable colour from pinks to black as weather patters rolled in from the Atlantic. This was the Iceland I had come to see and it did not disappoint. Truly breathtaking. The Glacier lagoon is amazing, but for me the real photographic place was across the road on Diamond Beach. Once the icebergs leave the lagoon they travel out to sea through a small channel where they meet the raging Atlantic Ocean for the first time. Some of them are broken and pounded by the huge waves and get smashed into the black sand beach which has become known as Diamond Beach. Here icebergs glint like Diamonds against the black sand, and at dawn or sunset the colours are incredible and a photographers dream.

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My journey continued toward Hofn, across snow covered barren zones, with Glaciers, Mountains and Waterfalls at every turn. The snow got extremely bad, maybe 2 feet deep and the snow ploughs trying to keep the road open seemed to stop. My 4x4 started to lose traction out here and it was difficult to keep moving, and I decided that the far south eastern corner of Iceland, my planned final destination would have to wait for another day. So I turned and retraced my steps to Reykjavik, which turned into a long 9 hour, slow drive in deep snow. I will certainly return to Iceland in the winter as I want to shoot the Stokksness peninsula. However I felt that time and the snow on this trip was turning against me, so it will need to remain a challenge for another day.

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