I’ve just come back from my third trip to Iceland in a little over a year and rather than write about what I did, I thought I’d share a little of the work I put in before travelling to make sure I made the most of my trip.
After my first trip to Iceland in February 2015, I started planning return trips. One thing was apparent; the island can change from day to day, day to night, season to season. While much of the island is inaccessible to us mere mortals with basic hire cars, especially during winter months, there’s so much to see, and it’s worth going to the same sites time and time again at different times of the year, and in different weather conditions, to get a true feel for the place.
I started putting together a Google Earth KMZ file after that first trip and even to this day I add places to it. Most of them, I’ll probably never see, however when used in conjunction with apps such as The Photographer Ephemeris you can keep all these locations stored within your phone and check sunrise, sunset, moon phase etc for these locations. I’ve got a couple of hundred locations in the file with everything from waterfalls, rock formations, lighthouses, or historic sites. I may share it one day…
I knew with only one week, I wanted to stick to the south of the country. I had some must see’s on my list, including the Ice Caves, having missed the opportunities on the last two trips, so this dictated much of my itinerary.
I knew this would be wholly photography focussed trip. With the wife back at home, I was planning and able to pack gear for time lapsing and videography. Note here – I’m not a videographer – far from it. I have taken shaky video with my DSLR on my past couple of trips and enjoy shooting it. I also started shooting time lapse after my last trip to Iceland, so wanted to incorporate this.
Anyway, it meant that I packed huge amounts of gear. Too much. It made things too complicated and ultimately meant I missed quite a lot of shots that I shouldn’t have, often being concerned about flying the drone when I should’ve been time lapsing, or playing with the Oslo when I should’ve been photographing – clichéd note for the future: Less is More!
Lesson for next time, concentrate on photography or videography, especially when travelling solo.
Arriving In Iceland:
I’ve rented a camper van now for the past two trips. While I had issues with my camper van this time, and the company I rented it from, I still maintain they’re one of the best, if not best solution for solo travellers. You get the freedom of chasing the good weather without worrying about accommodation bookings. You have somewhere to keep all your gear so it’s always with you, without having to unpack and repack every day. You also get a car in the equation to travel around the island.
Keep an eye on the weather. Veda is the Icelandic Met Office. They do a pretty good job of forecasting, but check regularly as the forecast for glorious sunshine predicted tomorrow morning, could easily change to heavy snow and strong winds overnight (I’m speaking from experience).
The best advice is to have a plan, but keep it fluid. The weather can change so quickly and often, that you could find yourself chasing bad weather if you’re not adaptable. I was in Jokulsarlon and the weather was awful. I looked on the Met Office and saw Hofn ‘could’ be a bit better so decided to head to Stokksnes. I wasn’t disappointed as the clouds rolled over the top of Vestrahorn and would cast patchy light all over the mountains.
Shoot, shoot, shoot:
Don’t be afraid to shoot, whatever the weather conditions. I wrote a post a few weeks before I headed out with a basic kit list. With a few elastic bands and some shower caps, all but the most torrential downpour shouldn’t put you off capturing something magical in the bad weather.