Iceland 2012 Trip

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Iceland 2012 Trip

Skogafoss and Jokulsarlon

Monday 28 May 2012

If we thought Seljalandsfoss falls was impressive, Skogafoss falls simply blew us away for the volume of water and the clouds of spray! With similar geography, access to the falls is across a wide, flat expanse of luxuriant green grass, what you would expect to find at Disneyland should it create such a spectacle. It was possible to walk into the mouth of the falls and the tiny people made a wonderful contrast for the huge waterfall behind.

You can see the people at the base of the falls.Raincoats are recommended!

When the sun came out, there was plenty of rainbow action from a vantage point half way up the cliff face.

It was 10.00 in the morning and with such an early sunrise, this meant the sun was effectively overhead. Some light cloud made the first exposures a little more moody, but it soon burnt away and the falls were bathed in direct sunlight. However, climbing up the cliff along the side of the falls gave us a great vantage point and the opportunity to shoot rainbows, so as the light changed, so did the opportunities to take photographs.

We continued onto Vik for lunch and took a few photographs of its elegant wooden church atop a small hill and surrounded by imposing cliffs. However, the midday sunshine means this will probably best translate as a black and white.

Vik was picturesque in spring, with the small red-roofed church overlooking the village.

Another hour or so up the coast we stopped at our next hotel. The Fosshotel at Skaftafell was to be our base for the next three nights, enabling us to explore the glacial lake and black sand beach at Jokulsarlon. Another early dinner and it was off to the glacial lake and the expectation that we would be out all night. As the lake was a 45 minute drive from the hotel, it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to shoot sunset at 11.00 p.m. and then return again at 3.00 a.m. for sunrise. Rather, the plan was to simply stay awake all night, photographing the lake at sunset and the beach behind at sunrise.

Icebergs backlit at Jokulsarlon.

Overview of Jokulsarlon.

Jokulsarlon has only recently become a glacial lake as the glacier behind recedes. Moraine mounds surrounding the lake provided a wonderful grandstand to view the icebergs that congregate at the mouth as the tides wash in and out. The larger icebergs won’t fit, creating congestion, while the smaller ones pass through and out to sea, only to be washed back in on the beach by the waves. However, it seemed that there were too many large icebergs inside the lake’s mouth, thus preventing the smaller icebergs from finding their way to the beach. However, each tide creates changes and we hoped to find a few more icebergs on the beach in the morning.

The evening was magical. We had around five hours in which to capture the landscape, but nothing remained stationery for long. Every now and then a large crack would signal an iceberg breaking or turning, and a wash of water along the shoreline would result.

After a few hours, I looked down the lake into the distance and wondered if there might be smaller icebergs along the shore. It looked promising so I set off to explore. After a kilometre or so, the small icebergs I had seen turned out to be much larger and further from the shore than I thought, but there were more icebergs further along the lake. I think I eventually walked a couple of kilometres, but it was well worth effort as I found a small cluster of greatly melted icebergs close to shore. I spent a good hour photographing them every way I could think of, with the setting moon both in frame and out. Funnily enough, the photos without the moon seemed to be the stronger, perhaps because the moon and its reflection unnecessarily complicated the composition.

Some small icebergs in the northern corner of Jokulsarlon. The next night they had been blown up the other end of hte lake by a change in the wind.

By the time I had finished, it was well past sunset, so I began my brisk walk back. There wasn’t much wind and a heavy due fell on my camera bag and tripod. It was certainly cold, but my layered clothing kept me warm and if anything, I needed to remove a few layers as I strode along.

As I arrived back at the vehicles, a few of the photographers had retired to one of the vehicles for a chat and a snooze. A few hardy souls were still on the lake’s edge and we noticed low cloud being blown in across the glacier in the distance. It looked fantastic, these shapeless wraiths floating over the glowing white icebergs.

Unfortunately, a few minutes later the cloud enveloped everything and, along with a much stronger wind, spelt the end of an amazing night. Plans for the sunrise were shelved and we elected to return to the hotel for some well-earned sleep.

Next: Svartifoss and Jokulsarlon

Back: Snaefellsnes to Seljalandsfoss




Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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