Icelandic Seascape Photography - Part 2

In Part 1 of my article on Icelandic Seascape Photography I described a couple of my favourite locations for seascape photography. Luckily two of them are about a 30-40 minute drive from home for me. 

This week I go a little further afield to describe 3 other places I have enjoyed visiting around the coast.

Djúpalónssandur

This beach is located just a little drive further along from Londrangur in my last post. Following Route 574 after Londrangur you can take a little detour first to visit the Malarrif Lighthouse and visitors centre there. A good place for a comfort break too. Once back on Route 574 you continue on for a short while before reaching a turning onto Route 572 marked as "Djúpalón 2". I point this out because the beach itself isn't signposted - the 2 here signifies the 2km drive to the car park.

 

The road is paved and in good condition although it is narrow with a lot of blind corners. At the car park there is a small toilet but this is closed in the winter months. There are a few path options to choose from taking you to different points. If you have time it's worth exploring them but if you want to visit the beach take the path down into the little canyon. In winter you definitely need ice grips on your boots - I speak from experience here! Along this path you'll walk between some impressive lava formations including a hole in the rocks where I'm sure some creative framing fun could be had (it was too icy and cold on my visits to scramble about).

Following the path to the beach you will come across 4 different sized stones, if they are not covered by snow! These were a lifting game by fisherman with them competing to see which of the heaviest stones they could lift. Give it a go but be careful! You then walk up a slight rise where you'll see the wreckage of the British Trawler Epine strewn about. I think there is potential for some interesting detailed images of these parts and intend to return when there is less snow to explore more. 

Over the rise is the beach itself with it's famous smooth black pearl pebbles. Depending on the conditions, the sea here provides opportunities for some fun images. In windy conditions it crashes up onto the sea stacks. In calmer conditions it would be a nice spot to practice some long exposure photography. I still haven't visited in ideal conditions and my images so far have been more scouting images but there is lots of potential here. One word of caution: this beach is famous for its "Sneaker Waves" which can reach up remarkably high as some people discovered in this video here. Please be extremely careful here, even if it looks peaceful enough as the currents can catch you out quickly.

I personal love this beach more for the amazing rock formations that surround it. Some of the fractured lava here makes for some interesting detailed landscape images.

In short, there are a huge variety of image taking opportunities here and if you are able to, I highly recommend spending some quality time exploring the area. It's also not dissimilar to my next location but tends to be much quieter.

Reynisfjara

Ok, this one makes it on the list as it's still a fantastic location despite the exponential increase in visitors it is receiving. Located off Route 1 on the south coast, after a short drive on Route 215, is the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. There is a large car park and cafe at the entrance. Keep in mind that this place has become VERY popular. If you want to visit when there are less people I recommend the early morning/late evening when the visiting day trippers from Reykjavik haven't arrived/have left. In the summer head over in the night when it is still light anyway. Alternatively I have enjoyed it here in poor weather which offer some moody image opportunities and have the added bonus of keeping the crowds away!

 

On the beach to your left are the basalt columns which make for some interesting shapes and tower above. If you walk around the corner on the left you will see the famous sea stacks, said to be the frozen stone remains of trolls who were pulling a ship to shore but were caught by the rising sun. There are some lovely seascape image opportunities here. Long exposures would work particularly well on a calmer day as they may have the added bonus of removing the people who would be walking in and out of frame. On dramatic weather days the seas crashes up here and allows for some spectacular images. There is also a cave in the cliffs with interesting rock patterns and formations.

As with Djúpalónsandur, this beach is dangerous because of its "Sneaker Waves." In fact, people have died here having been dragged out to sea. Every time I visit I still see people playing with the incoming waves though without realising that just off the beach is a sharp drop which is where they could be dragged if one of the larger sneakers caught them. In high tide and windy conditions, don't even venture left around the cliffs as the sea can come right up to them.

The images I have shared from here are all iPhone images from my last trip in 2017. The weather was changeable to say the least. Some of the waves were spectacular and the view down towards Dyrhóley was spooky. Incidentally, Dyrhóley is another place to visit with great views on offer from the lighthouse on top of the cliffs. 

Reynisfjara is another great location to explore and you can find areas away from the crowds here still. In fact I would make a particular recommendation here. If you plan to visit this area and take in Dyrhóley, Reynisfjara and the aircraft wreck, as many typically do, I say skip the wreck. The car park is miles away from it, the walk is not very nice, it's really busy and the plane doesn't look nearly as good as it once did. I think people have stolen a lot of the parts! I would spend more time at the other locations instead.

To get some different views of the sea stacks it's also worth visiting the beach on the other side, just through Vík. Fewer people visit here for some reason but it offers some nice images.

 My wife and our two dogs taking a walk on the emptier beach found by driving through Vík

My wife and our two dogs taking a walk on the emptier beach found by driving through Vík

Húsavík to Hringsbjarg

This is less of a single location but instead a drive I would highly recommend which offers up some lovely opportunities to see the coast in the north of Iceland. I have only driven it once but I'm desperate to get back up there with my big camera and try to capture some of the coastline.

Húsavík is a pretty fishing town in the far north of Iceland. You reach it from Akureyri following Route 1 towards Mývatn before taking Route 85 north towards the coast.

 

 

There is a great fish restaurant in Húsavík called Fjaran where we had a lovely lunch overlooking the picturesque harbour. Here there opportunities to photograph some of the pretty fishing and tour boats and colourful buildings in the town. This would also be a good place to take in a whale sight seeing tour. I believe that these are only possible in the summer but this may have changed. This could provide an interesting opportunity for some unique nature photography and the advantage with this location over others is that it receives less traffic. You are therefore likely to get onto a quieter tour.

From Húsavík the road hugs the coast passing numerous farms and crossing small streams and rivers. On a clear day it really is spectacular and the views out to sea are special. There are a lot of places to stop along the way to photograph the coast. I imagine in the summer during the sunny nights, this would be a great location to capture the midnight sun just dipping below the horizon - you only get full 24 hour sunlight in Iceland from the island of Grimsey which is in the Arctic Circle to the north of here. The leisurely drive probably takes about 45 minutes in total but longer if you are stopping constantly as we were. 

The images for this part of the trip are iPhone images from my honeymoon. It wasn't a photography trip for me so these are just some snaps.

At Hringsbjarg there is a small car park which sits up on the top of some very high cliffs. On a clear day you can see right across the estuary area and over to the far side of the bay. There are a lot of birds here so bring your long lens. This would be another great location to capture the midnight sun and the coastline. On a wild day I image the view may not be as spectacular although it still may be possible to capture some waves crashing into shore.

If you are up this far north already I can recommend camping in Ásbyrgi which has good facilities and is very quiet. Plus the Ásbyrgi canyon is spectacular and empty. I want to revisit there this year and if I do will write up a separate post on this special location.

There are many more places to visit along the coast of Iceland including the grand east fjords, the west fjords and also the islands. I'm sure I will add to my posts in the future with other blogs about some of them but for now, this wraps up some of my favourite spots around the country for seascape photography.