The beach looked different with a light covering of snow and hail, most of the black sand covered. The snow nestled in the nooks of the icebergs and footprints. The beach was still covered with a dense amount of icebergs - the tide hadn't carried them away as it had in previous years, and it was actually difficult to get down to the shore-line. Surprisingly, I was the only person there for a good half hour - it's a great place to be alone!
I wandered along through the scattered icebergs and noticed some beautiful "still life" arrangements of icebergs with the sand and the snow, as well as beautiful patterns in the icebergs themselves.
Within minutes it was gone again, the skies dark and very ominous once again, the next snow-shower only minutes away.
After an hour and half out there I headed back to Hali for a little rest. I stopped along the way at a small pool next to a narrow bridge, where I'd stopped a few times in the past; the pool was frozen and a strange shade of green. The sky was impressive when I got home, with snow shower clouds swirling around the sun. I wandered back to see the horses, who were for a short while bathed in Icelandic sunshine.
I can never stay indoors for long when Jökulsárlón is so close by, so after a couple of cups of PG Tips (which I always carry with me now!) and recharge of the batteries I was back at the beach for 4.15pm, a good hour and a half before sunset. As earlier, the sun continued to come in and out of snow-shower clouds, and although the skies weren't very colourful, they were dramatic at times.
I wandered to the end of the beach where the river dumps out the icebergs into the sea. Here there was a large number of enormous icebergs bobbing around in the pounding waves; I guess it's here where they're smashed against each other and are broken into the smaller pieces that then wash up a little further down the beach at high tide. I was able to stand on some rocks and get a slightly higher view of the beach.
I headed home at 6pm, the dark clouds preventing enough light being available for twilight photos. Again my feet were too cold - my new boots really weren't doing their thing. The forecast for that evening was good - both for clear-ish skies and for a decent aurora display, so I made sure I had all the right equipment to hand (charged batteries, memory card with space, head-torch, foot warmers, and clean, non-filtered wide-angle lens). After another yummy home-made pasta and skype call home I eventually headed out at 10.30pm, as the detailed short-term forecast I was using showed a KP of over 3 due by that time (up from 1.67 earlier).
I parked at the café car-park, together with about a dozen other cars and a campervan, quickly turning off my lights, so as not to ruin the light for everyone else. I walked up on to one of the hills overlooking the lagoon, from where I had a good view across the lake to the north and west, and over the mountains to the north and east. The lights were out, but not very brightly visible to the naked eye. The camera, as usual, captured a lot more! There were a few annoying and persistent small clouds that got in the way of the lights on the horizon. It was extremely dark, and therefore difficult to compose each shot. On my trip there last year I'd developed an easy method to get around this, though, by bumping up the ISO to 25,600, taking a shot (only a couple of seconds), then recomposing and focusing and trying again, and when I was happy with the composition and focus I'd put the ISO back down (to 2,000-3,200 generally) and take a longer shot, knowing I wasn't wasting time on a poorly-composed, out of focus one! Later on I'd delete all the grainy high ISO shots.
The foot-warmers were helping a little, but I still felt very cold. I had my down mittens with me and would put my gloved hands inside them to keep them warm between shots, which was a bit fiddly, but effective in keeping my fingers alive. Eventually, though, the clouds were getting a little thicker, so I decided to call it a night and head home. The lights would probably go on all night, but there's only so many pictures of northern lights you can take in one spot!
As I parked at Hali I noticed that the lights above me were extremely active, dancing green lines above my head. I wandered along the track towards the horses and took another couple of shots before turning in for the night. I should have stayed out all night, as the display was in full force above me and there were fewer clouds here, but I was too tired and too cold. It had been a pretty good night after all and it had to end somewhere. I did manage to have a quick beer while I had a quick look over my photos!
Click here to view Day 3: A Day at Jökulsárlón
Click here for Day 5: Heading east to Stafafell