Wild Photography Holidays - Photographic Adventure Travel: Iceland’s Northern Lights, Coast and Ice Workshop

Aurora over Kirkjufell

Iceland’s Northern Lights, Coast and Ice Workshop

Highlights include…

  • Snæfellsjökull glacier
  • Iconic Kirkjufell mountain
  • Fishing villages
  • Vast lava fields
  • Ice cave (February/March)
  • Black sand beaches
  • Sea arches and sea stacks
  • Volcanic craters and lakes
  • Abandoned turf farm
  • Icelandic horses
  • Skógafoss & Seljalandsfoss
  • Vatnajökull Europe’s largest glacier
  • Luminous icebergs floating in a turquoise lagoon
  • Bizarre glacial landscapes up close
  • Country hotel close to the glacier lagoon
  • Sunrises and sunsets in dramatic locations
  • Sea washed ice on black volcanic sand
  • Ephemeral Aurora Borealis (northern lights)

“The workshop was extremely well organised and the tuition from the leaders was the best we have ever had, even down to the processing of images using Lightroom. We were taken to the beautiful and varied locations at the best times of day and night (occasionally we were allowed to sleep!!). The leaders knowledge of the area was such that in the event of inclement conditions there was always an alternative location to visit. Thank you so much for a fabulous holiday.”

Margaret and John

Introduction

Our Northern Lights, Coast and Ice workshop concentrates on two of the very best landscape areas of South East and West Iceland. This itinerary kicks off on Iceland’s stunning Snæfellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland followed by a journey to the glaciated wilderness of South-East Iceland close to the iconic Jökulsárlón. This ten day workshop is ideal for those photographers that want to spend a bit longer getting to know the essence and soul of Iceland. We will enjoy sunrise and sunset opportunities in well chosen spots and of course there will lots of opportunities to capture aurora borealis; the northern lights. The northern lights are a magical experience with or without a camera. Iceland has some of the most accessible wild coastal and ice landscapes in the world. It is one of the world’s best locations to photograph the aurora borealis. It’s well worth considering that Wild Photography Holidays is run by people who live in Iceland and know their locations intimately.

General Summary

Here is a brief description of the three main areas that we visit during the workshop. All are very different and offer locations and subjects of great diversity.

West Iceland

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland is thought by many to be one of the most beautiful places on the island. Considered one of the world’s most powerful energy spots, it is home to many artists, photographers and other creative people. The area is dominated by the remarkable snow-covered volcano Snæfellsjökull where Jules Verne sent his intrepid travellers on their ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. The North Atlantic coast is never far away. Our hotel in Grundarfjörður is situated on the harbour front a stone’s throw from the impressive and much photographed Kirkjufell Mountain. In Hellnar we overlook the ocean from a cliff top perspective. Sea stacks, arches and black beaches provide unusual and dramatic locations for our photographs. We stay in a coastal hotel close to some great locations.

Vík, Dyrhólaey and South Iceland

Mýrdalur is the southernmost district of Iceland, bordered by the glacial river Jökulsá to the west and the river Blautakvísl to the east. Its northern border is Iceland’s fourth largest glacier Mýrdalsjökull, . Approximately 600 metres below it’s ice lies the rumbling subglacial volcano Katla. This area is famous for it’s spectacular black beaches, wild seas, stunning big waterfalls, fabulous mountain landscapes and dramatic black volcanic sandurs. We stay in a comfortable hotel close to Vík and all our locations.

Southeast Iceland

Here we find some of the most spectacular ice and glacial phenomena in Europe. There is dramatic mountain scenery, Skaftafell National Park, several glacial lagoons, black beaches festooned with sparkling sea washed ice, the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and magnificent views of Iceland’s highest mountain Hvannadalshnjúkur. The surreal arctic environment of the glacier lagoon was the location for films such as James Bond’s Die Another Day, ‘A View to a Kill’ ‘Lara Croft – Tomb Raider’. Other films shot in the area include ‘Game of Thrones’ ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ and Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ & ‘Batman Begins’. Our main base is just ten minutes drive from the Jökulsárlón.

Ice Photography in Brief

The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and its glacial surroundings are a dream location for photographers due to the sheer diversity of subjects. Large chunks of ice are constantly breaking off the glacier filling the lagoon with an ever changing landscape of unusually shaped floating icebergs of subtle colours. We will have plenty of time for long strolls along the shores of the lagoon allowing careful observation of the subtle changes in the icy landscape. The icebergs slowly make their way through the lagoon and out into the sea. Some of them are washed up onto the nearby black sand beach where they appear as sparkling sea-washed ice – here we can get up really close to the ice. The lagoon is well suited to abstract landscape photography, whilst the ice on the beach offers great potential for both intimate and big-sky landscapes.

Brief Itinerary

For full details please download the trip description PDF

Day 1: Arrival in Reykjavík

Participants will be arriving on a variety of flights. The first night accommodation in a three star Reykjavík city hotel is included. We will meet for introductions and briefing at 19:00 before heading out into the city for dinner.
Hotel Reykjavík (D)

Day 2–3: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Leaving the city behind we drive directly to Snæfellsnes. Our coastal hotel is beautifully situated for all our locations. Our hotel is well situated by the harbour of a working fishing village. The area offers sparkling fjords, dramatic volcanic peaks, sheer sea cliffs, sweeping golden beaches, interesting rock architecture including sea arches and vast lava flows all contribute to make the fascinating landscape of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The area is crowned by the glistening ice cap Snæfellsjökull, immortalised in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Hotel Snæfellsnes (B,L,D)

Snæfellsnes Locations

Below is an overview of our locations in no particular order during the days we are based in Snæfellsnes.

Snæfellsjökull glacier – the seaward slopes are particularly worthy of attention, with ropes of lava winding their way downhill. Weather permitting we travel to the snow line for some unusual close-up images.

Fishing villages – fishing is still the mainstay of the remote Icelandic communities that we will encounter, we may have an opportunity to photograph as the boats and fishermen come in with their catches.

Sea cliffs – the cliffs around the Snæfellsnes coastline are precipitous, majestic and very attractive with a huge variety of differing and interesting rock formations, that are easy to access for some great images.

Beaches – Snæfellsnes has black sand beaches of volcanic origin this generally gives some really unusual images. One fine example is the black beach of Djúpalónssandur with its strange lava formations, including Gatklettur, a rock with a hole giving unusual vistas through to a tranquil turquoise lagoon.

Sea stacks and arches – there are a variety of stacks and arches around the peninsula providing fine dramatic photographic subjects.

Green moss lava fields – these are vast and cover huge areas below the glacier, they are interesting to photograph alone or as fine foreground for other subjects. In Autumn they are particularly beautiful with dramatic colours.

Kirkjufell mountain – the chameleon shape of this mountain is well known to all Icelandic landscape photographers. It provides striking images both at sunrise and sunset; it’s also amazing to see the northern lights swirling high above its rocky ridges.

Berserkjahraun – situated between Grundarfjörður and Stykkishólmur this dramatic lava field flowed some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago and is young enough to retain all kinds of convoluted shapes, with fascinating colour and textural contrasts in the rocks and thick mosses.

Day 4: Snæfellsnes to Vík

We leave after a sunrise shoot and breakfast to take advantage of all the daylight hours. As we travel along the south coast our locations en route include the classic waterfall Seljalandsfoss, Icelandic horses in a lovely mountain location and sunset at Dyrhólaey. This location lends itself to both abstract and unusual landscapes particularly monochrome. The sunsets on Vík beach are often particularly memorable
.
Hotel Vík (B,L,D)

Day 5: Black Beaches and Waterfalls

Today we will have time to explore this beautiful area well starting with a sunrise on one of the black beaches. Maybe we will shoot from the east to catch some early morning light on the sea stacks of Vík beach. After breakfast we may return to a couple of waterfalls that are special in the morning light. These will include Skógafoss and a ’hidden’ waterfall! The beaches around this area are rich in basalt column architecture. Sea arches, caves, cliffs and big waves make for some dramatic photography particularly at sunset. Back for dinner, then hopefully a chance to capture the aurora in one of several good locations that we know around this area.
Hotel Vík (B,L,D)

Day 6: To Skaftafell National Park and Hali

This morning we journey along the wild and awe inspiring south coast of Iceland. We pass through vast lava fields covered with moss and an abandoned farm with turf covered roofs. The location of the farm beneath the mighty mountain of Lómagnúpur is spellbinding. Travelling further our vistas are of huge glacial sandurs, mountains and glaciers. We stop whenever the light and subjects are inspiring. By mid- afternoon we should have arrived at the Svínafellsjökull glacier where we will encounter and photograph remarkable close up perspectives of bluish green crevasses and the milky brown lagoon. This surreal icy landscape includes vistas of Iceland’s highest mountain; Hvannadalshnjúkur. There are sometimes a beautiful ice formations although it is worth noting that we can never predict what these natural phenomena will be like until we arrive as they are constantly changing. Driving east in the early evening we will take our first short look at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon; a location that we will become increasingly familiar with over the coming days. For the next three nights we are based in a comfortable hotel beautifully located by the North Atlantic Ocean.
Hotel (B,L,D)

Days 6–8: Southeast Iceland, Jökulsárlón

Our South East base is just a ten minute drive from the glacier lagoon and the black sand beach which is usually littered with sparkling sea washed ice. Both locations are excellent for sunrises, sunsets and aurora. Our daily locations are chosen in conjunction with the weather or the Aurora forecasts. We have to be very flexible to get the best images and we will often revisit worthwhile locations. It is worth bearing in mind that some of our locations are little-known and we do not publish them here. With this in mind here is an overview of some locations for days 6–8 in no particular order.

Southeast Iceland Locations

Below is an overview of our locations in no particular order during the days we are based in the southeast.

Breiðamerkursandur beach – here we find sea washed ice and stranded icebergs; a particularly good place to be at sunrise when the sun brings out the colours and striking structure of the ice; an excellent subject in its own right or as interesting foreground detail.

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon – we will photograph here in varying light conditions giving participants the opportunity to improve their images on repeating visits.

Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon – a remote less visited location with a dramatic glacial and mountain backdrop.

Mountain landscape locations – there are many close to our accommodation including small lakes with great reflections.

Svínafellsjökull glacier – we get really close to the complex and jumbled glacier. with its blue green ice.

Day 9: Return to Reykjavík

During our drive back to Reykjavík we have the opportunity to work the locations that we missed on the way out east due to poor weather, light or simply lack of time. Back in the city we will go out together for a final celebratory meal.
Reykjavík Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10: Transfer to International Airport

Today participants can choose to leave on any flight as the transfers are always timed to connect to the flights. Check out from the hotel is around midday but hourly extensions can be purchased. (B)

The Learning Process

This workshop is all about photography and lots of it! Whilst on location tutors will be working alongside participants offering technical and creative advice, practical help and encouraging a sound photographic decision-making process.

Evening tutorials including image development, image presentations and night shooting of aurora can be expected. Whether you are a beginner with your first DSLR or are considerably more advanced, this workshop will take you to the next level of proficiency and you will have a lot of fun with like-minded people.

What’s Included

  • Accommodation 9 hotel nights
  • All meals
  • Transport
  • Photographic tutor/tuition

What’s not Included

  • International flights
  • International airport transfers
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Snacks and beverages other than with meals
  • Travel insurance

Accommodation

We will be using a variety of accommodation. In Reykjavík we will stay in a 3 star hotel close to the city centre. In the country we will stay in scenically located family run hotels. The price is based on single rooms. Double or twin rooms are available for friends and couples who wish to share.

Complete Itinerary and Full Details

This page is only a brief summary. A complete itinerary and more details can be found in our trip description PDF
It is important that you read this full day-to-day description and further information for this holiday before making your booking.