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 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.

 

Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road Part 2

One of my highlights of this second trip of mine to Iceland was discovering Seydisfjordur along the Eastern Coast.  I had read about the photogenic Blue Church and decided to head there one morning since I was in the area on the Ring Road.   I descended into the town, nestled into a cozy fjord at sunrise:

Iceland Seydisfjordur at Sunrise

Iceland Seydisfjordur at Sunrise

The town reveals itself as you work your way down winding roads:

Iceland Seydisfjordur Morning

Iceland Seydisfjordur Morning

Iceland Seydisfjordur Blue Church

Iceland Seydisfjordur Blue Church

Morning light was kind to me and I captured the church in a nice reflection.  Sony a7r2 and Zeiss 100-300mm lens.  I also discovered great pizza and coffee in town and had the chance to take a nice nap. I ventured back here later on in my trip for sunset, to discover this is a better sunrise shot.

Navigating the road along the fjords takes time but is one beautiful revelation after another.  In the morning and evening, the birds come out and can be found nestling around the shallow parts of each fjord, or congregating on the meadows.

Iceland EastFjords Snow Capped Peaks Ring Road

Iceland EastFjords Snow Capped Peaks

Icelandic horses are out as well in the calm morning light.

Iceland Horses at Pasture Below Towering Peaks ring road

Iceland Horses at Pasture Below Towering Peaks

At this time of the year, May, there is still a bit of snow around in the East Fjords area.

Iceland Ring Road May Snow Remnants

Iceland Ring Road May Snow Remnants

So at this point, I am heading down the coast to my base at Hofn.  More to come soon.

Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road

After last year’s revelations on my first trip to Iceland, it was a matter of time before I returned for another view.  Go Campers Gocampers.is had generously offered me a serious discount on one of their campers in exchange for a selection of my images, which helped considerably with costs.  The Photographers Ephemeris, TPE , and its SkyFire add-in suggested that the good weather, or at least not bad weather was to be found to the north so I headed out that way on the Ring Road.  After stopping at Costco of course 🙂 IMG_7513

Driving along the northern part of Iceland was a great choice.  It was gray and cloudy but the landscape of pastures, fjords and geothermal activity was a lot different than the southern route.

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The fjords spoke of an active fishing industry, as well as remnants.

Iceland Older Fishing Boat

Iceland Older Fishing Boat

I covered most of the northern part of the Ring Road in two days.  In early May, most of the snow was gone, with little ice in the lakes.  I really wanted to see the East Fjords and then the South, where TPE was telling me the weather was improving.

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

Time to finally check out Stokksnes.  I’d done some image research and decided to go around sunrise at 3:30am to see how the light looked. I arrived at the Viking Cafe, closed of course, and set about figuring out the self pay station.  The land owner charges a small fee to roam his land for photos.

stokksnes iceland

The Stokksnes Self Serve Pay Station. Took a few tries but it worked and only charged me once.

I headed north out of the parking lot, which I later learned was an error.  If you want the typical shot that most people get at Stokksnes, you need to head east towards the Radar Station.  I kind of regretted my error but then no because I got some unique vistas and was able to catch a great sunrise as well.

So I wandered across beautiful black and past the “Viking Village Movie Set along the massive peaks of Vesturhorn.  The beach was mostly dry, with a tiny pool of water showing at this point.  It would grow considerably later on on my way back.  I reached the bog around which I could see Brunnhorn peeking past Vesturhorn.

At this point, sunrise skies were on fire and I was backtracking all over the black sand getting shots. I was in my Salomon shoes, and getting soaked but didn’t care.

Looking back the other way was good too, as is often the case with burning sunrises.

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Sunrise clouds above Vesturhorn on the beach in Stokksnes Iceland

I kept wandering back along the beach, while watching the sunrise.  I felt like I got some nice shots even though I didn’t make it out to the typical area.  I was thankful for the solitude, great light and calm smooth beach.

I got back to the pool of water on the black sand which was growing as I watched.  Looking back towards Brunnhorn, it looked like mercury reflecting the skies.

vesturhorn iceland

Vesturhorn sunrise skies reflected on a mercurial pool of water.

Vesturhorn iceland

Vesturhorn and sunrise reflected

I made it back to the van and napped for several hours.  My Salomons were pretty much soaked to the core so I was happy I had several other pairs of shoes with me.  Eventually I ended up back in Hofn for coffee.  Daytime was either sleeping or scouting time.  I did a lot of both.  Checking the weather, I realized that the next morning was to be another day of gray rain so I had to make tonight’s sunset and sunrise count.  I planned on focusing on Jokulsarlon partially because I knew there was more to be found there and the ice had certainly been re-arranging itself. But also because I truly enjoyed being there.

stokksnes iceland

One more view of the beach at Stokksnes

 

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

Day three was rainy and gray as promised.  I drove back up to Fossardalur but the skies were still low overcast. I spent a lot of time in the van and offloaded files to my laptop as a backup.

iceland roadtrip van laptop

Rainy day means van time and file management 🙂

At this point I was starting to get the feel for how long it took to get to certain places.  I knew for example it was about 2 hours to get from Hofn to Fossardalur.  I also learned the the roads really emptied out after about 9pm, where there was still about 2 hours until sunset. At this point I was halfway through my trip and knew I still wanted more time at Jokulsarlon and to visit Stokksnes for the first time.

So far I was pretty happy with my gear choices and logistical moves.  I had brought the right lenses and ND filters to make the most of various waterfalls and the ice art around Jokulsarlon.  I still had to chuckle, however, at bringing a very strong headlamp.  It never got dark during the summer, even after sunset so this was amusing. One item I threw in my bag which was constantly useful was my Duracell 175w power inverter:

Amazon Duracell 175w Power Inverter

This handy device allowed me to plug into the car’s cigarette lighter and have a power strip with two US plugs and 2 usb ports for charging.  Made power management a lot easier for sure.

Later in the day I got some peeks at blue sky and pulled over in random locations for interesting views.   This spot below was a nice calm reflection of surrounding cliffs coming back from Fossardalur.  The local seabirds (Skuas) must have had babies nearby because the farther I got out on the tideflats, the more relentless they were with divebombing me.  I got a few shots and the message and headed out.

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Iceland Low Tide Reflection

I decided for the next sunrise to check out Stokksnes.  This area shows up quickly when you do photo searches on amazing shots from Iceland.  It’s owned by a farmer who runs a little cafe and charges a few dollars to walk his land for pictures.  I drove to the Viking Cafe and checked out the layout for coming back the next morning around 2am for sunrise.  He also charges for camping so I decided to park off the highway closeby and head in from there.

Nothing to do but dinner at this point so I headed to Hofn and decided to visit another highly recommended restaurant in town.  Driving into town, I ventured down a few side streets to see how the locals lived and got around.  I got one photo of this cool Land Cruiser, clearly set up for adventuring.

toyota landcruiser iceland

This Land Cruiser is ready for action

I thought about going to the same place for dinner as before but decided to go down to the waterfront for a local favorite: Pakkhus.  Their promise was nothing fresher Lobster or Langoustine as it’s known locally.  I was going to order Fish and Chips but decided to take the plunge and order the house specialty.  I find lobster in the States to be tough and chewy, but this was clearly carefully prepared with two of my favorite shellfish accompaniments: Garlic and Butter

iceland langoustine pakkhus

Succulent Langoustine grilled with garlic and butter, and a spectacular local ale to go with

After such a beautiful meal, I took a short walk along the pier to see the local vessels.

Then off to rest a bit before sunrise at Stokksnes.

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.