Iceland, The Land Of Ice & Fire
A country of extreme contrasts situated in the far north of Europe, the small island nation fascinates with its impressive landscapes. Where else can you discover large glaciers, active volcanoes, northern lights and nearly 24-hours of sunlight in summer?
This has been my fourth trip to Iceland during the last three years. It is a destination totally different from any country I have visited before. It is a trip you really have to get ready for and when I say getting ready I mean it in a different way. It’s not only about booking your flight, hotel and packing your bag.
It started off with my clothes. What to wear in Iceland, was the big question before my first trip. I went on a shopping trip to the mall in Dubai, a city where the sun shines 365 days a year without a real winter. Yet, I was surprised to bump into other shoppers that were looking for the very same thing I was looking for. Iceland was becoming en-vogue. The one and only tip I can give to people who are traveling to Iceland is to wear layers, it actually helps to keep you warm and you can always discard one layer if you feel hot. I once read, there’s no bad weather, but bad clothing and that’s definitely right for Iceland. One more thing: if you hate to get wet, don’t even bother doing a trip to Iceland.
My biggest challenge whenever I travel is fitting my gear in one backpack that I can take with me on a plane. I know as a photographer you want to experiment and try all possible equipment, but with all the restrictions on the planes you must focus and decide which are your priority lenses and what other equipment that you should have on you. It took me at least two trips to Iceland to decide.
For the equipment, I recommend a wide-angle lens and of course the ZEISS Milvus 2.8/15 is on the top of my list. I must admit that 80% of my images were shot with this lens. ND filters are recommended and as much batteries as you can afford – due to the cold weather they need to be recharged more frequently.
And take the steadiest tripod you can get and I really mean that, during this trip I lost my camera in frequents of second, when I gave my back to the tripod. Always keep an eye on the camera fixed on the steady tripod!
Don’t expect luxury accommodation, especially if you are traveling from one location to the other. Of course, Reykjavik offers many options for accommodation, but once you are on the road, the hotels become more like guesthouses. But nevertheless, the people are very friendly, helpful, flexible and open to visitors. Maybe the Icelandic way of life influenced one of my workshop participants. As I asked her how she feels about the meaning of infinity, Sabah described it as a platform for happiness and dreams to live, laugh and love ad infinitum – a definition I really like.
I just noticed I used the word planning several times, however in Iceland you often must have a plan B, C or even D. Of course, you plan your route, you know which locations you are visiting, but in no time a storm can make you change all plans. So, in other words you are exposed to nature. But that’s exactly why landscape photographers will fall in love with the stunning Icelandic nature has to offer, whether it’s a waterfall, ice formations, glaciers, volcano or chasing the Northern lights – the best time to catch them is from mid-September to mid-April. I found the stranded melting ice blocks on the beach as a very fitting analogy for the tour’s theme of infinity: The transient relicts of gigantic icebergs are shining in the sun and shrinking until they’re dissolved back into the ocean. Resembling the true process of nature’s infinite circle.
Last but not least after a hardcore photography trip with very little sleep, you can only reward yourself with a visit to the Blue Lagoon.