Tag Archives: Ring Road

Iceland Journal -“A Final Flurry” – Grindavik, Iceland

“And what began as a dream, becomes reality, becomes memory…”
– Ed Lehming

So, concludes my Iceland Journal (this one at least),as it began, an image of vast stretches of wondrous, raw, and ever changing landscape.

It has been a real joy going back through my photos, triggering memories of moments, which I have been able to document and share.

And so, I end this chapter of the story, as we end the year 2018 and head into 2019.

I would not have believed, at the start of 2018 that it would include a trip to Iceland, who knows what this year will bring?

Wishing you all a Happy New Year 2019!

Iceland Journal – “From Deep Within”

“I take pleasure in solitude, many see me as distant but only few know it’s when I’m most alive.” 
― Nikki Rowe

On day eight of our Icelandic tour, we headed inland from Borgarnes towards Geyser. The trip took us around a fjord still used as a whale processing area, with a large plant at the farthest end of the fjord. The plant was notable for the many talks along the surrounding will sides, used to store whale oil. It was off-season, so the plant sat mostly dormant with only one ship docked at it’s pier.

As I said, the trip took us inland and into more high plateaus, which were fairly unremarkable except at this highland lake near Laugarvatn, the far shore filled with geothermal plants and vents, belching out steam into the cold sky , which stood in contrast to the snowy hillsides.

I would have liked to have gotten closer, but we wanted to get to Geyser in good time and then to Reykjavik by the end of the day, so we had to choose our stops carefully.

Though our primary destination for the day was Geyser, these areas of activity made the  drive more interesting.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 210 mm
1/400 sec, f/10.0 ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Glaciers Ahead”

“Glaciers Ahead” - South Iceland

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

This single photo can sum up my Icelandic journey. By the way, I was not driving when I made this photo, I stopped and stepped onto the sparsely travelled road. The landscape, in its varied layers, over the visible distance, changes from rugged lava fields, the Eldhraun, covered in ancient moss, to rugged plateaus and the ever present yellow grasses flanked by steep talus slopes, filled with waterfalls and the dark high cliffs of Lómagnúpsnef, the bounding landmark to the western edge of the massive Skeiðarársandur, yet another glacial washout plain, this one, some 56 km wide and filled with a tangled network of creeks and rivers winding their way through black sand and golden grass to the sea. Their source: the vast glacier field known as Vatnatjökull, visible in the far distance.

As the road makes another turn, a huge boulder dominates the scene and yet another waterfall, Gulufoss, I believe, falls from the rim of the plateau. I can picture this plateau in late spring, spewing water through every crack and crevice.

Actually, only one of the glaciers that make up Vatnatjökull is visible in this image, Skeiðarárjokull, the source of the washout, can be seen stretching out in a bright white plain before the distant mountains and glaciers of Hvannadalshnúkur, Iceland’s highest peak, a 2,119 meter high volcano, also covered in ice, the summit obscured by clouds.

As the day progressed and we drew nearer to Hvannadalshnúkur, I found myself hiking through mossy lava fields to get a closer look at a small waterfall, driving a small potholed dirt road that rattled my teeth to get a closer view of Svínafelsjökull, one of several outflow glaciers coming from Hvannadalshnúkur. Here, I could almost touch the fractured glacier as it flowed between the mountains, melting into a muddy pool, filled with glacial icebergs of varying size and colour. We then spend time along the pond, enjoying the icebergs in their variety. I even had the chance to pick up a small, crystal clear fragment and taste it. A magnificent and unexpected experience. It was oh, so pure and pleasant. The taste of a glacier!

My journey, as I reflect on these images and memories did not end when I flew home, rather, it continues, as I begin to understand the incredible forces and dynamics that shape this country.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Skógafoss” – South Iceland

“Skógafoss” - South Iceland

“The places where water comes together with other water. Those places stand out in my mind like holy places.” 
― Raymond Carver

Water upon water, water flowing everywhere, from the high and cold places, that is Iceland.

And this, is one of the most known waterfalls for a few reasons. Skógafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland, at 60 meters in height and 25 meters wide. It’s also just a short drive from Reykjavik and one of the first significant waterfalls you see for the Ring Road, Highway 1. It’s also very easily accessible. In fact, you can walk right up to it. You’ll get soaked by the mist in seconds, but you can walk right up to it, as many people did on this rainy October day.

The waterfall itself is on the River Skóga, this the name Skóga / foss (Skóga / waterfall). It’s actually one of many waterfalls on the Skóga river, but the others are much smaller and further up the river from Skógafoss.

As I mentioned, many people walk right up to it; people with cellphones, point and shoot cameras, and the hardcore photographers with their tripods and water resistant coverings, all wanting to take some memory of the beautiful place home with them.

You’d think this would be dangerous, but despite the height of the waterfall, the actual volume flowing over it is not as great as you’d think. I would not recommend showering under it, but you can get very close, and very wet!

As I said, we visited on a rainy day, so were already in our rain gear as we approached. It did make for stunning photos either, as I was trying to get an angle that did not have people in it and the fine mist and rain  provided me with a soft white background rather than a few clouds and blue sky. I also did not want to commit to bringing a tripod and setting up like many others, so shot this handheld at 1/8 of a second, which is the best I can do at shooting hand held. Thank goodness for the Vibration reduction in modern lenses.

I thoroughly enjoyed being there and taking in this wonderful sight, despite the spray of water and the cool temperatures. It looks much more pleasant in the summer, though I expect it would be packed with people.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 78mm
1/8 sec, f/13.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Djúpavogshreppur” – East Iceland

“Djúpavogshreppur” - East Iceland

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” 
― Rachel Carson

I couldn’t help but match my favourite Rachel Carson quote with this image. The scene above left me breathless as I beheld it for the first time. I was captivated be the shape of the high mountains which bound this relatively short Eastern Icelandic fjord, Hamarsjörður, and the stunning play of light on both the peaks and the flanking foothills. When I return to Iceland, next time, I plan to spend more time travelling these spectacular fjords.

In the foreground is Nontindur, a stunning 935 meter high pyramid-like peak. I was enthralled by these mountains the first time I saw them, the recent high level snowfalls accenting the horizontal tiers that make the peaks in this region so unique.

The light that morning, as we followed the Ring Road along the southern coast eastward from the town of Höfn, was absolutely gorgeous and makes the ever-present yellow grasses glow with a soft golden warmth that we experienced so many times on our journey. I was concerned that travelling to Iceland at this time of year might make for some fairly dull images, but was so pleased when I revisited these locations in Google Street View to find that the light and colours that I experienced were by far better than that of summer, at least in the Google images.

As I composed the shot, from the side of the road, all the elements came together once more to produce this post card-like image that so wonderfully conveys the feelings I experienced while standing there, taking in the beauty.

In this case, as in several other shots I have been sharing, I deliberately put an object in the foreground to help establish scale. In this case, the freshly installed and sharpened fence post nicely echoes the shape of the mountains behind it and seems to be pointing to the peak itself.

Once more, I’m including the Street View link so you can also take in the surroundings that make up this shot. This is the exact spot I pulled off. You can even see the gate and fence post in the foreground 🙂


Iceland Journal – “Eyjafjörður” – North Iceland

“Eyjafjörður” - North Iceland

“Mountains, according to the angle of view, the season, the time of day, the beholder’s frame of mind, or any one thing, can effectively change their appearance. Thus, it is essential to recognize that we can never know more than one side, one small aspect of a mountain.” 
― Haruki Murakami

More mountains, their scale lost against the massive northern Icelandic fjord, Eyjafjörður. The highest peak, at the center, Kerahnjúkur, rising to 1,097 meters.

This was our view as we continued our round trip of Iceland, descending from high passes to enter the region around Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city, which sits at the innermost end of this 60 km long fjord, the longest in Iceland.

I was mesmerized at the stark whiteness of the mountains against the slate blue water of the fjord, coupled with the wonderful pinks in the distant clouds; layers upon layers of colour and texture. The entire region beyond these mountains, the Tröllaskagi peninsula, is defined by high, rugged, and glacier topped peaks and long, deep valleys.

The image was made at the end of October and yet, the entire landscape is like a scene from the arctic circle, which, while close, is till some 60 kilometers distant from this point. In fact, while Iceland is close to the Arctic Circle, none of the mainland is actually in the arctic, only a few northern islands can make that claim.

Once more, I’m adding the Street View link, so you can get a sense of scale. The image above is the mountains to the distant right on the Street View image:


Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Waterfall and Barn”

“Waterfall and Barn” - Þjóðvegur, South Shore, Iceland

“Waterfall and Barn” – Þjóðvegur, South Shore, Iceland

“The icy waters flow and drop in silver streams from high cliff tops; they nourish the land and flow among the ancient bedrock and volcanic debris; sculpting, cleansing, and nourishing this rugged landscape with their cool purity and gentle persistence”
– Ed Lehming

It seemed like this stretch of highway between Vik and Höfn was lined with some form of waterfall for much of the early part of the drive. This high and ancient plateau oozed water from every crack and crevice, creating waterfalls in so many forms it is hard to describe them all.

There were slow meandering ribbons of water that followed the slope of the land and high thundering falls that plunged through the void to thunder upon on rocks far below, and some flowed in wide ribbons across exposed rock, like a vast white curtain in the wind.

The source of all this water, kilometers from our sight, is the ancient ice fields and glaciers of Vatnajökull, covering some 14,000 square kilometers of Iceland’s interior in snow and ice.

With the number of waterfalls and the flow of the water, I can only imagine what spring and early summer must be like, as even in late October, it was simply magnificent to behold.

I read somewhere that Iceland has over 10,000 waterfalls. From my experiences during my ten-day trip, I think that number falls far short from reality. There are waterfalls everywhere. In fact, it was tough, being a ‘flatlander’ not to stop every few minutes along the highway to make yet another photo.

It should also be noted, for those new to Iceland, that many of these smaller waterfalls, while clearly visible from the highway are on private property and can only be viewed from a distance.

Along this coast, one side of the highway is the high plateau, while the other side is an endless lava field that stretches for kilometers south before meeting the shore of the North Atlantic.

I’ve embedded the Google Maps view for your reference:

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland – Day 10

“Kleifarvatn” - South-East Iceland

“Kleifarvatn” – South-East Iceland

“The very land oozed sulphurous steam, as if some ancient beast trapped below was exhaling through the cracks in the earth, yet the morning light filled the air with a quiet peace”
– Ed Lehming

Day 10, our final day in this wonderful land of contrasts: Fire and Ice, vast black plains and towering mountains. The land of endless waterfalls and barren lava fields.

On this final day, our loop ended where Highway 42 met Highway 427 along the south coast of Iceland, where our journey began on a dark morning at the end of October. We covered some 2,700 km of highways, side roads, and potholed dirt tracks.

The most amazing thing I discovered on this trip with my son is the incredible and indescribable diversity of this country. Every single vista, from majestic seaside mountains to the endless black and tortured lava fields is that there are surprises when you take the time to look closely.

I made far too many photos of the mountains we passed, but I fell in love with the Icelandic mountains, in their many forms, from tiered pyramids to flattened cones and every variation between. Some were pure black, made of ages of fine cinder and ash, while others were deep brown, covered in eons of moss. like ancient temples.

The deeper and more carefully you looked, the more wonderful they became, revealing details not noticed at first.

That is why I chose this as the final photo in this overview of our trip. When first composing the photo, I saw a lovely mountain lake with steaming volcanic vents in the distance. But, like the rest of the land, closer inspection reveals herds of grazing Icelandic horses and a farmhouse among the vents. The stark landscape opens up to be more than you first expect or see and the light, which shift sby the minute, always reveals more wonder.

The lake, in this photo, is called Kleifarvatn and is situated within one of Iceland’s many ‘rift’ valleys, areas of active geothermal activity. We drove around the lake, only a short drive from Reykjavik, on our way to the Krýsuvík Geothermal Area, a region of belching and bubbling mud pots, thermal vents, and hot springs as well as brightly coloured rocks, crusted with minerals. or final ‘photographic” destination before dropping off the rental car and heading to the airport.

Much of the trip was really about the journey and not the destination. As we drove to some of the more popular sites we were constantly amazed at the beautiful landscape between, despite low cloud and a constant dusting of snow at higher altitudes.

There are so many more places that we visited that a simple day by day review does not suffice. I will continue sharing some of the highlights of this trip over the next few weeks, retracing our journey around Iceland’s Ring-Road.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 145mm
1/400 sec, f/10.0 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland – Day 8

“Hvammsfjörður” - Western Iceland

“Hvammsfjörður” – Western Iceland

“Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part.” 
― Hermann Broch

There was a slight delay in my posts over the past few days. You see, for the last 2 days of my ten day Iceland trip, I was sick with some sort of gastro-intestinal infection. I have no idea where it came from. It felt like flu, but we really have had minimal contact with people, other than shopkeepers and our guesthouse hosts. In nay case, I was quite ill and fell behind on my posts.

On day eight we headed back inland and I have yet to process those photos. We left Borgarnes toward Reyjavik and decided to avoid the tunnel that connects the Akrenes peninsula with the mainland.

We had heard from on of our guesthouse hosts that there was still a whaling station active at the end of Hvalfjörður, Icelandic for the Whaling Fjord. It added a bit to our drive but was a wonderful side trip. Whaling season has ended, but the vast processing plant was interesting to see.

From the fjord, we headed inland, across high mountain plateaus toward Geysir, the location of the geyser that others took their name from. As expected, the place was packed with tourists ad a full sized restaurant and visitor centre had been built. It really was a fascinating site to visit, despite the crowds. Basically, anywhere within a 2 hour drive from Reykjavik is filled with tourists on day trips.

The original Geysir is now just a smouldering blue pool and an adjacent geyser, Strokkur, which erupts about every 4 minutes. The rest of the area is filled with bubbling hot springs and steam vents. It does reek of sulphur, which was not a great thing for my unsettled stomach. Once I get photos of Strokkur processed, I’ll revisit this location with its own post.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 90 mm
1/80sec, f/4.5 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)