Chasing the Midnight Sun in Iceland
A few years ago I headed to Iceland with some photographer friends, we headed there over the summer solstice, during which the sun never really sets. Depending where you are on the island you can get up to 22 hours of daylight, with the other two hours being more like twilight than actual darkness. This makes it perfect conditions for landscape photography, as you get the "golden hour" for about half the night, sunset colours can start as early as 8pm and not finish until 4 or 5 am the next day.
Sunset after midnight
In order to capture as many photos as possible during the amazing light we decided to camp our way around Iceland. We would set up our tents and go to sleep around 4-5 am, sleep until mid-afternoon, get up, pack up our tents, go find some coffee and a meal and then start taking photos.
Iceland is very well set up for camping, there are public camping grounds all around the island, most of them not far from the appropriately named ring road that circles Iceland. Each camp ground has basic public amenities such as toilets and showers, some have kitchens where you can cook as well. They also often have amazing views like the following photo (the view outside the tent, not my horrible feet):
The entire island of Iceland feels like it is covered with waterfalls, green grass and green moss, which is why it is pretty much heaven for me. If you have been following my photography for any length of time you'll have noticed that waterfalls and green moss are a favourite subject of mine, hence my repeated trips to the Otways in Victoria and to Tasmania. We visited waterfall after waterfall after waterfall and I didn't get tired of them at all. You may notice that their names all end in "foss", foss means waterfall.
The sheer scale of some of the waterfalls is absolutely mind boggling, I approached a few of the waterfalls while holding my camera remote to put me in the photo for scale (#muddyphotographerforscale), each time I ended up completely drenched without even going under the waterfall.
Skogafoss with muddy photographer for scale
Really the very best feature of visiting Iceland at that time of year is the light. The weather can be very unpredictable, there is a local saying that "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes" as it changes constantly. We used radar and weather apps to try to stay out of the worst of the weather and mostly succeeded.
Early one morning we set up camp in a town called Vik and then headed up the hill to where there is an iconic church building. During the summer solstice the church building is surrouneded by lupine flowers, which makes it quite picturesque. I captured the following photos that morning:
You may have seen the last photo on your TV if you have Google Chromecast, Google have been using it on there for about 2 years now.
Iceland also has multiple glaciers, black sand beaches with icebergs on them, these were a favourite subject of mine, I ended up being knee deep in the water with the icebergs trying to photograph them. I have a love of cold water and cold weather, so this didn't bother me one bit.
Me in the water (photo by Colby Brown)
I could write almost endlessly about my trip to Iceland, it was one of the best trips I've ever done. I'm working on running photo tours there next year with another photographer, so if you are up for an adventure, enjoy camping, photography and sharing a few laughs, let me know, as we'd love to have you along! I'm also working on getting back there during their winter so I can get snow photos, frozen waterfalls and hopefully some of the Northern Lights.
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