Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s Part III

At this point, I was in the valley heading back to camp.  Flat and boggy which was ok by me. The last of the golden light was on the hills and sheep were grazing here and there.

Heading to the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

Heading to the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

A small waterfall below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

A small waterfall below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

More bog and flowers about as the sun sets over the hills.  Tiny white flowers dotted the landscape.

In the valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

I made the decision to go around the Laugahringur lava fields which was a lot easier than picking your way through the lava forms and flows.  This took me past an area I had had my eye on all day, Brennisteinsalda, with vents letting out sulfurous steam clouds.

Brennisteinsalda the open and colorful small sulfur rocks and hot springs that are sometimes covered with smoke. This place therefore has a strong sulfur smell. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens.

Brennisteinsalda the open and colorful small sulfur rocks and hot springs that are sometimes covered with smoke. This place therefore has a strong sulfur smell. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens.

After a bit more careful hiking through the lava fields, you are back on a normal trail that takes you along a canyon past the Blue Mountain trailhead.  Soon I was back at camp and dipping into my bottle of Aleve.

This was an amazing hike.  You really have to explore the area a bit beyond the parking lot and camping area.  There are easier hikes but this one serves up amazing views for all your hard work.

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s Part II

If you are here, you have to hike a bit to see the surroundings.  So I did some research and found a vigorous loop that would take me around the area and provide amazing views from above.  One source recommended Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil, one of the longer hikes, but with a huge payoff.  I set out early hoping to be in the views around dusk.

The first part takes you up and over several peaks with incredible vistas in every direction.  Each peak seemed to be better than the last.  I largely had a place to myself, only running into four other people.

Hiking the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands

View towards Bláhjúkur, Brennisteinsalda and Laugahraun along the hike.

Lone Hiker Along the Suðurnámur mountain ridge, Icelandic Highlands.

Lone Hiker Along the Suðurnámur mountain ridge, Icelandic Highlands.

Hiking the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands

View along the Jokulgilskvizl between the Barmur Ridge in the Icelandic Highlands.

About an hour into the hike, I got hit by a strong rain squall.  Fortunately I had my parka with me and slipped into it.  There was enough wind that I figured it would pass, and it eventually did.  I talked to two hikers who said the rest of the way was sunny and clear.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Two hikers I talked to about the weather…

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 100-300mm lens

Views over the ridge at Frostastaðavatn lake and beyond.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Massive geological features along the trail and the lava fields of Graenagil to the left

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Golden light on the green landscape of Landmannalaugar.

The trail and its views were captivating.  I lost sense of time, except for the sunset coming on brought me back.  The rain had indeed passed.  I started to descend to the valley below, taking care going down the slopes slick with loose gravel.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Trail to the valley below in Landmannalaugar

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Tiny sheep on the golden hillsides of Landmannalaugar.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lensIt felt good to be descending but I also missed the views from up on high.  More in Part III.

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s

I have been enjoying my Fujifilm GFX50s camera since the moment I bought it last January.  I knew I had to get back to Iceland with it and see how it captured the fascinating landscapes there.  I also wanted to visit the Highlands around Landmannalaugar for the first time along with my many usual favorite locations there.  So I booked a sturdy 4×4, did a ton of research and off I went in early August.  I also packed two drones to capture the vast landscapes.

Drones and Luggage Heading to IcelandI got into Iceland and quickly heading along the Ring Road and then to the Highlands via F Road 208.  30 miles to Landmannalaugar it said.  How bad can that be?  Well its about 3 hours of rocky rutted road with 6-7 stream crossings deep enough you leave a wake.  Crazy but incredible.  The scenery began to change to wild hillsides of contrasting green and brown with occasional blue.  This was what I was after.  I put the drone up to see how it looked from above.

Driving to Landmannlaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannalaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannlaugar Iceland Drone Views

Driving to Landmannalaugar Iceland Drone Views

I reached the campsite area around Landmannalaugar and set about capturing some dusk light images of the area

Landmannlaugar Iceland Blue Mountain Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain Fuji GFX50s

Landmannlaugar Iceland Half Moon Rising Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Half Moon Rising Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain and Campground Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Blue Mountain and Campground Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

Landmannalaugar Iceland Plains of Barmur Fuji GFX50s

There are many hikes in the area and I decided to take on the most rewarding but also roughest one. Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil is a 4-5 hour adventure with spectacular views in every direction.  I planned on doing it in the evening for the best dusk light.

More on that in my next piece.

Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road Part 5 Fiery Stokksnes Sunrise

Each morning in Iceland you wonder if the weather is going to turn out.  You’ve looked at the weather reports, talked to locals, checked out TPE and Skyfire.  Everything pointed to a good sunrise so off I went at 3am, heading to Stokksnes.

As I was hiking out to the point, the skies became slowly fiery.  I noticed that the storm the day before had cleaned up many of the footprints (bonus).  I got to where I wanted to be and set up both cameras.  Sony a7r and 16-35 on my smaller tripod Gitzo GT0531 and the Zeiss 28mm Otus on my a7r2 handheld.  I got the a7r going with Sony’s Smooth Reflections app and wandered around capturing other shots with the Otus.

I just watched the sunrise unfold, so glad I had gotten out of bed.

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Sony a7r Smooth Reflection app

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Sony a7r Smooth Reflection app

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Sony a7r Smooth Reflection app

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Sony a7r Smooth Reflection app 16-35mm Lens

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Pano Zeiss 28mm Otus

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Pano Zeiss 28mm Otus

 

Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road Part 4

I mentioned a weather apocalypse of sorts around Hofn and it hit hard one morning.  Crazy weather is worth venturing into at sunrise or sunset because the potential for great shots is there.  Safety first, of course.  Arcteryx thought enough of my suffering and brand placement that they asked to use this photo in their website promotions.

Iceland Stokksnes Morning Hailstorm Arcteryx

Iceland Stokksnes Morning Hailstorm

 

Iceland Stokksnes After the Hailstorm Zeiss 28mm Otus Sony

Iceland Stokksnes After the Hailstorm

That morning, a beautiful sunrise wasn’t to be.  But venturing east, I found the golden light behind the storm.

Iceland Ring Road Hailstorm Sunrays

Iceland Ring Road Hailstorm Sunrays

Which in turn lit up the surrounding peaks nicely.

Iceland Ring Road Morning Golden Light On Dusted Peaks Zeiss 28mm Otus and Sony A7R2

Iceland Ring Road Morning Golden Light On Dusted Peaks

Iceland Ring Road Snow Capped Peaks Reflection

Iceland Ring Road Snow Capped Peaks Reflection

At that point, the light was on the wane so I headed back to Hofn for a nap and breakfast.  Time to rest and rejuvenate for afternoon at Jokulsarlon.  On this visit, there wasn’t much ice on the beach as it was still cold and frozen at the glacier. But wandering the beaches along the lagoon is always a pleasure.  Its interesting to see how the ice arranges itself, changing each day.

Iceland Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Sculptures Zeiss 85mm Otus

Iceland Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Sculptures

Later on back at Hotel Hofn, I learned of their happy hour and 20% off meals for guests. this lead to more relaxing and planning for the morning.  Hopefully without the hailstorms

Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road Part 3

Much of the story of my trip around Iceland can be told in the rows of images on my screen here as I type.  Time spent in the North.  Time spent in the East Fjords. Much time spent in and around Hofn, and from there to places like Jokulsarlon, the Ice Lagoon, or Stokksnes.  Then back to Hofn each night after sunset.  I had found a nice hotel in the town and craving a shower and solid bed, I stayed there for three nights.

One evening, I came out to find one of my tires flat.  I was irritated but grateful it wasn’t on some side road in the night, raining all around me.  I made some calls and found the local car shop which fixes tires.

Iceland Hofn Tire Repair

Iceland Hofn Tire Repair

Patched up, I visited a place called Stokksnes three time in the next few days.  I got ok weather, awful weather, and lastly amazing weather.  Stokksnes is the place where the landowner charges about 8$usd to visit his land.  Once you see the view from out along the beach, you’d pay almost any price.

Iceland Stokksnes Beach Sunrise

Iceland Stokksnes Beach Sunrise

Later on that morning, heading back to the camper and watching for great reflections in the smooth-as-glass tideflats.

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Dramatic Tideflats Reflection

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Dramatic Tideflats Reflection

All this while also watching for sunstar opportunities on the black sand dunes.

Iceland Stokksnes Black Sands Dunes Sunstar Sunrise

Iceland Stokksnes Black Sands Dunes Sunstar Sunrise

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Wave Spray Zeiss 16-35/4

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Wave Spray Zeiss 16-35/4

I had a great first visit to Stokksnes with the light and sunrise.  I knew I would be back on this visit, but didn’t know I would have to go through a weather apocalypse of sorts before I got another amazing sunrise.  Once done here each morning, I would head out east or west for as much good light as I could get.

Iceland Clouds on the Move

Iceland Clouds on the Move

Iceland seems to be a lot about the scenery but also about the wind.  It’s constantly going.  I got in the habit of opening the door, and holding onto it as it opened.  I was happy to have brought quite a bit of Windstopper gear. My camper was my travelling photo taking operation.  This was great not only to have everything you need with you, but also for impromptu napping.

GOCampers Iceland Mobile Photographer and Napping Space

GOCampers Iceland Mobile Photographer and Napping Space

Being based around Hofn, I had to stop in at Pakkhus for my one splurge meal.  Langoustine (lobster), fresh off the boat, baked in butter, garlic and other secret herbs and spices.  I had a nice pint of  a local beer called Wee Heavy, which reminded me of the old Hales Brewing Wee Heavy.

Iceland Pakkhus Hofn Lobster Langoustine Feast beer food travel

Iceland Pakkhus Hofn Lobster Langoustine Feast

Back on the road for more early morning scenery. Sunrise was about 330am, so it made for an early start this time in May.

Iceland Southeast Morning Symmetry

Iceland Southeast Morning Symmetry

More from Hofn here shortly, and then moving west again.

 

5 Days in Iceland – A Photographer’s Eden – Part Two

I awoke in the parking lot at Jokularlon, the Ice Lagoon.  I had taken a few shots the night before, after all who could resist.  But now It was time to explore the area.  The beach where the ice washes up is on the east side of the highway.  The much larger parking lot and lagoon is to the west.  Serious crowds and tour operators start to show up early, including this entourage with a bride from China.chinese bride iceland

jokulsarlon iceland

People along the beach at Jokulsarlon, a very popular spot for sure.

Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Lencticular Sunset

Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Lencticular Sunset

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I wandered around a while and then hit the road.  During the day is scouting time for me and I wanted to see what lie further down the road.  About an hour later I reached Hofn, a small town that would become my base of sorts.  I got some supplies at the local grocery, had lunch at Kaffihornið, a local restaurant and explored a bit.  There’s a large campground here with coin operated showers, a luxury I would put off for another day or two. At this point, my morning routine was to find a spot for espresso, use their WC after I had made my purchase and use the opportunity to brush my teeth and splash my face a bit.  All with considerable thanks expressed and gratitude.

Heading north on Highway 1, vast expanses again.  At one point I parked and just watched the shadows of huge clouds move across a hillside.

iceland

Shadows of clouds moving across a huge slope during the day. Pretty mesmerizing!

I really didn’t know how much further I wanted to go at this point.  I was intrigued by a falls called Fossardalur, and hoped to find it.  One thing I was realizing about driving in Iceland was that the roads were narrow and pulloffs were, nonexistent, except for the occasional gravel driveway.  Usually what happened was I saw an incredible composition, then started looking for a pulloff with one eye in the mirror making sure I wasn’t holding up traffic.  Sometimes, however, I got lucky and there was an official parking area off the road.  After taking dozens of shots of other people, one time someone got a shot of me with my camera!

iceland arcteryx

And one time someone actually took a photo of me!

camera zeiss otus sony a7r2

My photo gear at the ready driving in Iceland

The rest of the day was driving north towards Djúpivogur, admiring the coast, dodging skuas and contemplating what was to be a gray rainy day the next day.

IMG_6593

My van, roadside again for the views

Eventually I found Fossardalur, and explored around the area there.  There is a lower parking lot (with the all-important porta-potties) which gives a hint of the falls and an upper one which puts you right in front of them  I got a few nice shots of the falls as the light began to soften in the afternoon.

fossardalur falls iceland

The various tiers of Fossardalur Falls

fossardalur falls iceland

The top of Fossardalur Falls Iceland

I explored around the falls area further and found a way down to the base from the lower parking lot.  There’s a somewhat tricky creek crossing but using my tripod as a stick helped get across it.

fossardalur falls iceland

The falls and various pools around the base.

More napping ensued into the late afternoon and I planned on heading back towards Jokulsarlon for the evening.  Rain was predicted by the next morning so I figured it was to be a day of scouting and rest.