ICELAND DISPATCH #19 – 66 DEGREES NORTH

Yesterday afternoon we headed into the Landmannalaugar area of Iceland for the evenings photography – 45 minutes drive along more of Iceland’s infamous dirt roads. Landmannalaugar is a very famous volcanic area of Iceland encompassing multi-colored peaks, steam and sulphur vents  and crater pools. The weather on first arrival was somewhat overcast with occasional patches of brief sunshine and a few odd rain spots – a real mixed bag where pretty much anything can happen (and usually does in Iceland). We decided to hike up to the top of one of Landmannalaugar’s highest peaks stopping to photograph the geothermal vents and other features along the way. We had some wonderful photography amidst the back lit steam vents on the assent. We arrived at the summit a full three hours before sunset to be greeted by overcast light and howling winds; which after a short period of time had us all chilled to the bone. The ambient air temperature was about 5 degrees but the wind chill would have pulled it down significantly below that. Everyone decided to bug out shortly after making the summit and make for the 4WD for coffee and cake. Dmitry and I chose to tough it out for the next few hours until 11 o’clock in the hope we would get some good light at sunset. The next three hours were uncomfortable to say the least. Landmannalaugar’s volcanic peaks are exposed and open to the full force of the arctic winds; which scream down from the north. We spent the next few hours just trying to stay warm by hunkering down as best as possible on the lee side of the mountain – which is hard to do when there is no shelter.

Waiting for Light

Then, as if someone flicked a switch the wind simply stopped and the clouds parted as the sun began to set and we were rewarded with some stunning Iceland sunset light including a large rainbow amidst the distant rain showers. We spent the next hour or so rattling off frames from the summit as the light continued to get better and better. The ‘edges’ of weather combined with sunrise or sunset light are golden for photographers – we live for these moments and this was most definitely one of those moments. It was wonderful. In the brief hour of great light I reeled off more than a hundred frames.

With the light fading we packed up and started the steep descent back to the truck; arriving shortly before midnight (thanks to a wrong turn I took in the lava field – lava fields are natures natural maze).

Today we are headed back into Reykjavik to the airport to drop off most of the other photographers. I am then picking up another 4 wheel drive and am heading up north to photograph the geothermal pools and then to Gulfoss before heading back to the glacial lagoon. The weather forecast is very good for the next couple of days so I am hopeful of even more great Iceland light.

One Comment

  1. Posted August 10, 2010 at 7:00 am | Permalink | Reply

    Wow man! That’s incredible! So happy that it paid off! Have faith and thee shall be rewarded :)

    I’d love to see some more of the photos you managed to snap off! Sounds like it was heaven… literally.

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