Most of the readers know, that I spent about one month on Iceland during the winter 2015 and 2014 . Summer is very crowded over there and I was attracted by icecaves, northern lights and a destination with a winter feeling in a wild environment without skiing areas around every corner.

After the Falkland Workshop last year the idea was born during the Iceland trip to offer a workshop on Iceland. Jürgen and I tried to create a workshop with enough time for the participants to enjoy the main attractions including enough "space" to allow replanning due to weather and road conditions. This was my personal precondition for guiding a group over there. After two months of travelling in winter, I knew that it is very likely that every 5th day (if you are lucky) a storm will hit the island, often resulting in inpassable roads for hours or even for days. Some competing offerings visit the same places in 7-10 days, one workshop was doing the whole island in about 10 days. Whoever wants to go there, think twice.....

After a slow start, the workshop was fully booked and I met the group on a Saturday afternoon in Keflavik airport for two weeks full of photographic opportunities and a bit of adventure, too. And I am pretty sure that no participant regreted to visit Iceland during winter!

We got our share of Icelandic winter weather during the first week. A severe snowstorm hit the South and the South East and the N1 was closed down from Reykjavik to Vik and from Vik to Höfn for one day and one night. We had to stay an extra night in Vik, had some indoor lectures on composition, post processing and shooting technique and  some of us enyojed a hot tub bath during the snowstorm (in the tub we looked a bit like the japanese snow monkies...), but we could compensate the "lost day". Later in the week a storm hit the Vatnajoekull area. We could move around Hoefn, but the planned trip to the icecave had to be postponed again (we made it later).

The second week was quite extraordinary, sunny not to windy and lots of northern lights. It was definitly not a relaxing week! We all looked quite exhausted back in Keflavik! But we had a beautifull sunrise in Vik and an extraordinary sunset at Strokkur in one day. The day before the sunrise was at the entrance to an icecave and during sunset the whole Vatnajoekull area was turning deep purple! Amazing, but very exhausting!

All participants of the group coped with the sometimes extreme weather very well and I am sure they grew with the challanges! In the workshop gallery (link will follow) you can have a look on how they saw the island.... I have to pay tribute to each of them! Nobody was grumpy when we had bad luck with the elements (at least I did not notice), they had their fun at -20C taking pictures of Northern Lights or making our way to the icecave before sunrise battling strong headwinds full of ice crystals...Iceland in winter is a bit different, but never boring and always full of opportunities.

During the first week, I did not take much pictures. I was busy with the group and the essential lectures. Sometimes the locations where a bit dangerous due to wind and surf and I had to have an eye on the participants. How dangerous Iceland can be was shown during the second week. A tourist died on the magnificent beach near Vik, the body was never found, very sad. Somehow Iceland has to cope with tourists, who behave like being in Disneyland without understanding the risks of such an environment.

During the second week I was more often behind the camera, especially as we had superb weather at some locations.

Compared to the last years we had much, much more snow for the good or for the bad. Our weather was either very poor or above average. Enough words written, let the pictures tell the stories.

First days - Reykjanes and Reykjavik to Vik y Myrdal

Struck by the snow storm - Vik y Myrdal and our drive to Vatnajoekull area

Our first days in the Skaftafell area

Joekulsarlon and its black beach, icecave

Hoefn area and our first aurora borealis

The way back from Hoefn to Keflavik/Reykjavik was simply amazing. One highlight after the other in near perfect conditions. Even the snow squalls we encountered had its advantages as trodden places like Thingvellir looked serene and unspoilt! During the last two years I never had such a row of good conditions.

more from Vik area

Geysir area and Gullfoss

Thingvellir and around

Thingvellir is not my favourite location. Its atmosphere is by far to much influenced by the constant flow of excursion buses from Reykjavik. Our day there however was truly unique. The afternoon the day before we had a snow squall which made me to go back early (again some lectures...). During the night the clouds cleard it got very cold and we had excellent northern lights. The early morning in Thingvellir was amazing, cold and brillliant, new snow sparkling. Very atmospheric especially around the church in Thingvellir.

Reykjanes - again

Our last day - Reykjavik (not only landmarks...)

The day in Reykjavik was refreshing and relaxing. We could stroll through the city in beautiful winter weather, take some final pictures and hang out in one of the many coffee houses. I had my fun with the more modern and contemporary architecture in Reykjavik. After two weeks full of landscape a good change!
The weather forecast for our flights next morning was good, no need to worry about delays!
That is it for the moment, just one little episode left to tell.

We had been quite early at Gullfoss, one of the best waterfalls you can get in Iceland. It was nearly no wind, lots of ice in the waterfall, the sun was just rising and we where alone at the lower parking area. A bigger 4WD appeared, but nobody got out. After a while I looked again and a guy was preparing a little drone right next to the car, which was parked about 100m away from the viewpoints. I am sure he could not see anything. He went back into the car, the drone started and made some turns above Gullfoss.

After a while I looked again, the car had vanished. The pilot never set his foot on the viewpoints and left the car only twice, first to get the drone out, second to get the drone back into the car.

Photography and travelling is about experiencing the atmosphere of a country, a city or a landscape location. You will never feel the atmosphere inside a car. Whoever will travel together with me or will participate in one of my workshops, I promise, he/she will leave the car!


Munich, February 2016

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