Iceland sits alone in the North Atlantic Ocean. It's a wild ocean up here providing photographers with opportunities to capture the raw power of the sea as it pounds against the island. You won't find crystal clear tropical waters here!
I have spent considerable time in various locations, and in somewhat extreme conditions at times, trying to capture some of that power in my images.
There are a few locations I would recommend visiting if you would like to try and photograph the sea here.
Located on the Reykjanes peninsula, Brimketill is a perfect location to capture waves crashing against cliffs, to see birds surfing the air currents above the water and generally feel the raw power of the sea.
To reach Brimketill you first travel out to Grindavík along Route 43. Just before Grindavík you take a right turn onto Route 425 and follow the road for about 10 minutes until you see a small sign saying "Brimketill." Incidentally, on the way there are a few places you can stop to see the ocean also. There is a graveyard close to the sea where the waves can be impressive on a stormy day.
At Brimketill once you have parked and if the weather is windy you may see the waves crashing up and over the cliff tops above the pathway. In my experience, if this is the case, be a bit careful when you start going up the steps and onto the walkway as the waves can crash up and over here from the right hand side making for a quite scary experience. Generally speaking, this only happens if the wind is directly from the South or South West. It's an impressive but unnerving thing to see! I have been up here in extremely stormy conditions and I will admit that it is frightening!
The walkway extends out onto the clifftop. On a still day there are a couple of tide pools visible. Please don't do as some have and go for a dip! The currents and sea here are extremely unpredictable. On a windy or stormy day you can watch the waves come towards you and break up into huge plumes crashing over the cliffs around you. The noise and energy here is unbelievable!
About 5 minutes further along the road from Brimketill is another great location for sea photography, Valahnúkamöl. Accessed off Route 425 by following the signs for Reykjanesviti lighthouse, this a safe and fun place to capture a range of seascapes.
Follow the road towards the light house (which is Iceland's oldest) going up and over the small hill. As you come down you will see the coast and car park area in front of you along with impressive sea stacks. Once parked you can spend time walking around the area here to photograph the large sea stack off the coast (see image of me at the start of the article) or further stacks just off to the left. In the distance is the island of Eldey where the last Great Auk was killed. There is a monument of one looking out to sea here which I always find quite poignant.
It is possible to sometimes walk up the cliffs to the left but the municipality will close these off if it is a) not safe or b) they're trying to allow the area to recover from damage. Therefore it is closed, please don't try and get up anyway, something I see all too often here. This is a great location to photograph sunrise, particularly in the winter when you don't have to get here so early!
Londrangur is located on the Snaefellsnes peninsular in the west of Iceland. Famous for its towering basalt cliffs, which are up to 75m high, there are some great opportunities to photograph dramatic images of the sea here. The cliffs are ancient volcanic plugs which have been eroded by the sea. Farmers do not use the area as the two cliffs are believed to be an Elf Church and an Elf Library. There is certainly something mysterious about the place.
You can reach Londrangur off Route 574 on the south coast of the peninsula. You cannot really miss them and there is a clearly marked car park on the left. The walkway here leads up onto the cliffs and a number of viewing points where you can photograph the coastline in both directions. The view, on a clear day, of Snæfellsjökull behind you is nothing short of spectacular also.
That's it for Part 1. In Part 2 I will cover another location in Snæfellsnes, Djúpalónssandur, as well as Reynisfjara beach in the south. I'll also mentioned a rarely visited coastline in the north of Iceland.