13 Feb 2015

First & Last of the Day in Iceland

I arrived in Iceland late last night for the eighth time! Obviously I'm a bit obsessed with the place. I will eventually do a blog for each day with a selection of the photos I take, but I thought that while I'm away I'll just post the first and last photo I take each day. There's a good challenge to make sure I don't stuff them up.

Day 1
The first photo I took today was taken from a snowy parking area just before I reached Þingvellir (or Thingvellir, which is the nearest English equivalent). The last photo I took was taken along the Ytri-Rangá riverside in Hella, where I'm staying for the night (a last-minute rearrangement, as there were a couple of huge gales forecast near Vik and Skaftafell for today, so I postponed the drive to Jökulsárlón for a day).

Day 2
Fortunately the winds and rain weren't so bad that I was forced off the road, and I made it in one piece to Jökulsárlón. My first stop was at a very windy Seljalandfoss, where I took the photo from the car-park. The last photo of the day was taken on my beloved Jökulsárlón beach, in horrible drizzly conditions. It's forecast to rain heavily all night, so no more photos to be taken until morning.

Day 3
I wasn't thinking about the blog when I took either the first or the last photo today, so not very happy with them! The first was taken here at Hali, where the sky suddenly turned pink, in spite of a forecast of heavy rain until 10am. The last shot was taken overlooking Jökulsárlón beach at night. There was a forecast for a couple of hours of clear skies, but sadly these were to the south. To the north there was a lingering cloud over some very vague aurora. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Day 4
Another day at the magnificent Jökulsárlón. The forecast for the whole day was a mixture of sun and snow showers, and it was rather accurate. The first shot was taken from the car when I arrived for my morning shoot at the beach - the snow and wind were driving towards me. It soon improved! The last shot of the day was actually just now, of the northern lights. Proper ones, this time! I took a few at the lagoon, and then some more when I got back to Hali, as they were on fire!

Day 5
It was my last morning on Jökulsárlón beach (although I will be passing through it again, and may well stop!), so I headed there early to catch a bit of dawn light. The colour was tricky, and I didn't fall in love with any of the icebergs, so overall a disappointing shoot. This iceberg was an interesting one at least; animal-like shaped. The last photo of the day was taken near Hvalnes; the light had gone and I was too lazy to get the tripod out again, so yanked up the ISO and took it hand-held from the car! The night isn't over yet, but snow's forecast, so no chance of any northern lights being visible tonight.

Day 6
I woke up early, hoping to see northern lights, and there they were, dancing light green stripes visible out of the window of my cabin. My first photo today, therefore, is of the aurora. The skies soon clouded over, and the weather for the rest of the day ranged from very windy to wet and very windy. The last shot I took was on my second trip of the day to Hvalnes, where I spent ages watching huge waves crash against the black rocks. There wasn't much light but I wanted to capture some movement, so I had to bump up the ISO. As a result, the image is rather grainy, so I thought I'd give it a little B&W conversion.

Day 7
I stupidly wasn't organised to be anywhere for sunrise, so my first shot was taken of the next door cabin. The last shot was taken on Stokksnes beach, after the post-sunset glow had gone. It was a stunning last hour, but the best of the light had gone by the time I took this!

Day 8
My first shot of the day was of a reindeer, along the road between Höfn and Jökulsárlón, as I began my journey back west. There was full cloud cover, so no return trip to Stokksnes. I ended today's journey with a little shoot of the waves crashing at Vik beach, using the 100-400mm lens.

Day 9
My penultimate day in Iceland started early, with a trip to Reynisfjara beach for sunrise - the stack in the photo is the middle one in last night's shot, seen from the other side of the headland. The last shot was taken from just outside the cabin I'm staying in at Þingvellir. I'm staying in a beautiful cabin, waiting for a storm to hit which may mess up my travel plans for tomorrow... I drove past the cabins a few years ago and decided that one day I'd stay there.

Day 10
My last day has been a disappointing one - storms spoiling my fun! Oh well, at least I got to my final destination - Garður, 10km from the airport - in one piece. Or at all. Had I stayed in Vik last night I would've been stuck, as the road's been closed all day due to gales and blizzards. As it was, the wind was pretty strong at Þingvellir, up to 23m/s (51mph) in the morning, so I was stuck there for some time. My first photo was taken from the comfort of my cabin (there was no way I was going outside!). The winds eventually died down and I had a slightly hairy drive back to Reykjavik with snow blowing madly across the road. After a quick stop to see Solfar, the pond, and Perlan, I then stopped by to say hi to my friends Johannes & Sigrun (where I was fed delicious home-baked special Icelandic cakes!). Then it was on along more snowy, windy roads to Garður, where I took my last photo, hand-held as the wind was still crazy, with horribly high ISO.

So, that's all folks (until my day-by-day account with lots of day-time photos - coming soon!). I've enjoyed the challenge of trying to think about my first and last shots a bit more. Now looking forward to getting home, seeing the hubby and pooch, and poring over nearly 200GB of photos!


  1. Hi Sophie

    @i_am_canad_Ian here
    A comment: Day 3 - last photo -- you even caught a meteor at the very top, centre frame

    A question: Day 4 - last photo -- Can I request the exif so I get an idea of what it takes to get a shot like that? (Not a noobie...just can't seem to capture like that)

    A bone to pick: Day 5 - first photo -- What exactly is wrong with that shot? The light... the texture...the contrast...what?


    1. Hi Ian,
      Day 3 - I thought it might have been a plane...
      Day 4 - ISO 1000, f/4.0, 20-seconds. The lights were so bright that I could drop the ISO down a bit (usually use about 2500 for NL).
      Day 5 - yeah, it just doesn't work. I think it's the light, or lack thereof, on the left hand side. And the colour was just tricky!
      Cheers, Sophie

  2. Sophie, it's been great seeing your photos each day. I can't wait for my visit to Iceland in the summer, although as we're visiting on a cruise ship I won't be able to get any early/late shots, and it will depend entirely on what the weather throws at us while we're there! I'm hoping my other half will like it so that we can go back under our own steam one day and travel around. Look forward to seeing the rest of your photos shortly. Bobbie