25 Mar 2016

Iceland #10 - Day 5: No Icebergs, Again!

Having got to bed at around 2am after my northern lights trip and subsequent celebratory beers I treated myself to another lie in; it was forecast to snow or sleet until around midday anyway. I finally managed to turn the alarm off the repeated snooze at around 11am, still catching up on sleep from the first few nights with companions. The weather was better than forecast, with a patch of brightness over the sea, so I got myself dressed and geared up and headed off to the beach. Before I set off I took a few shots of the partly-frozen lagoon that lies between Hali and the sea - it always looks so serene. A photographer was down on the ice to give a little scale. The sky was a strange mix of large ominous white clouds to the east and grey stripey ones to the west. The sun was desperately trying to break through.

Driving along the east beach at Jökulsárlón I could see that there were still no icebergs there, so I drove across the bridge to the other beach. The tracks down to the parking area were still very snowy but the beach was mostly snow-free. I took both cameras and both tripods with me, and all my lenses, thinking I might do some time-lapse shots, or something. There was no sign of rain, but I had the camera's rain cover with me, just in case. As I reached the top of the beach I saw a couple of scraps of ice, but nothing really resembling an iceberg. I wasn't despondent yet, since the main group I'd seen the previous day had been a little way along the beach. A woman crouched down to capture the scrap - I hope that wasn't her only chance of seeing ice on this usually wonderful beach. I passed a couple more pieces of ice as I headed away from the car.

I walked for 15 minutes along the beach and only saw one, small iceberg in the surf. 

Again I felt devastated. It was quite a nice little iceberg, but nothing special. I put on a few filters and started playing around with different exposure lengths. It started off looking pointy, but then the waves knocked it over and around, so at least it changed shape!

The sun came out a little from time to time, so I started to try out just taking shots of the sun on the waves, again with various filters on. I got the second camera set up so I could try different combinations simultaneously. I tried the step-down ring on the 24-70mm lens again, but it still didn't allow me anything other than a 70mm shot without dreadful vignetting. Using the selection of filters I had a strange collection of photos of blurry waves and stripey skies, with a variety of different colour casts (bluey-green from using the Tiffen 10-stop Apex and pink from using the B+W 3- and 6-stop ones).

iPhone 4S photo
iPhone 4S photo

In addition to the lens, I'd also rented a 1.4x extender to use with the 70-200mm lens, to give me a little extra distance. I tried it out on the 60D (giving it even more reach, as it's a cropped frame), hoping to capture some decent wave shots. The light was very strange and the waves were growing, but I still wasn't quite getting what I wanted, with or without filters. 

The clouds were thickening and darker ones approaching, which I knew meant imminent snow or rain. I packed away the 5Diii and little tripod and wandered back along the beach towards the car. It began to snow and by the time I reached the parking area it was bucketing down, I was getting wet and the snow had already begun settling. A man drove an SUV to the top of the beach and got out to stare at the sea, the snow falling heavily around him. He'd come to retrieve something (a glove) and soon got back in the car. 

I headed back to Hali, stopping at the usual place along the way to capture a spot I've now photographed in various weather conditions. It wasn't looking quite so impressive swathed in mist. I passed a car at the side of the road that had turned off and become stuck in heavy snow, with the wheels spinning on the spot. I didn't have the ability to help, so I kept on driving.

I had a spot of lunch, plugged in the batteries, had a nice big cup of tea and checked the weather forecast. It wasn't likely to improve, and any leftover northern lights certainly wouldn't be visible in the evening. I headed back to the beach for "sunset" but ended up taking some more slightly disappointing shots of the waves again, with pebbles; no icebergs had miraculously appeared with the change in tide. The sky was flat and grey with no contrast whatsoever and as it darkened it just became even more dull. The sea briefly became a more interesting greenish-blue colour, but other than that it was totally uninspiring and I drove home, having had a very disappointing day.

Click here for my blog from Day 4 - Some Icebergs and Some Lights!
Click here for my blog from Day 6 - The Icebergs Return

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