Landscape and Underwater Photography in Iceland

In August I spent 10 days together with my family in Iceland. It was our third trip to this beautiful island. On the last two trips, we traveled to Iceland with our own car via ferry from Denmark and slept in our tent on campgrounds. This time we decided to go by plane, take a rental car and sleep in hotels instead. Mainly due to the limited amount of time we had. The ferry to Iceland and back takes about one week.

The flight to Iceland with Iceland Air is rather cheap, but 4WD rental cars and hotels are extremely expensive. We paid, for example, 2300€ for our Suzuki for 10 days.

Besides having some fun together with my family I wanted to do four things on this trip to Iceland:

1. Visit the Snaefellsnes peninsula, which I missed on the past two trips, and shoot some classical landscape images there.

2. Go snorkeling and do some underwater photography in the Silfra crack.

3. Get a good image of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall at sunset (which I tried many times in the past, but always failed).

4. Visit the Rekjavik Culture Night Menningarnott (which we had already attended twice in the past and which is probably my favored culture event in the world).

We spent the first couple of days in Iceland exploring the Snaefellsnes peninsula, staying at the hostel in Grundarfjordur. Snaefellsnes is an extremely beautiful part of Iceland and definitely worth the side trip.

As a rental car, we had chosen the cheapest available car which was suitable to explore some of the backcountry gravel roads: a Suzuki Grand Vitara. It has 4WD, a center diff lock, and reduction gearing. Here are some images of our rental car on the Snaefellsnes roads:

Rental Car in Snæfellsnes

Rental Car in Snæfellsnes

I’ve added some new landscape images from this trip, including the ones shot at Snaefellsnes, to the existing Iceland gallery.

Next, we went to the Silfra crack at the Þingvellir national park, mainly for snorkeling and underwater photography. The special feature of Silfra is its visibility range underwater of up to 130 m. Typically you have visibility around 30 to 40 m in very clear seawater, often less. The Silfra water is probably the clearest in the world. The water is coming from some big highland glaciers but runs for 30 to 100 years through the lava before entering Silfra. Therefore it is extremely filtered. The underwater experience in Silfra is absolutely incomparable to anything else in the world and should not be missed. 

The only problem with snorkeling or diving in Silfra is, that the water temperature is 2°C, in summer and winter, which is not very warm. On the first day, I joined an organized snorkeling tour with DIVE.IS

Diving at Silfra

The tour included some rental drysuits. In the next days, I was using my own 8mm neoprene wet suit, which worked better than expected. My body, head, and feet always stayed warm, but I made a big mistake regarding the gloves. I thought for good handling of the underwater housing thin gloves are helpful. But at 2°C water temperature, you definitely need the thickest gloves available. After 30 minutes in the water with 2 mm gloves, I could hardly move my fingers.

This trip was also the first real test of my new underwater housing from Seacam. I will write in a future blog post some more details about my underwater photography equipment. Although my Seacam housing together with the Superdome is quite large as you can see in the following images the handling in the water and underwater is really great (no comparison to the DP2M in the Ewa-Marine housing used on my Maldives trip).

Diving at Silfra

Diving at Silfra

Although the shooting conditions were not easy (both temperature and light) I’m quite happy with the result.


I created a new gallery for my underwater images where I also included the Silfra images from this trip.

Typically hotels in Iceland are very expensive but not very impressive. In Grundafjördur we stayed for example at the youth hostel and paid more than 100€ per night. One exception was the hotel at Þingvellir, the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel.

Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel

It has a modern architecture, but despite this, it is perfectly integrated into the spectacular surroundings. The rooms have a clean modern design and the employees are very friendly and helpful.

Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel

In addition, the hotel has a nice spa with a hot pool outside and a very nice bar and lounge with a big glass front. I used this room for reviewing my images on my MacBook while my daughter was reading some books on her Kindle.

Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel

After a short side trip to the Geysir Strokkur, we went to the Seljalandsfoss and the wild coast near Vík í Mýrdal, and Dyrhólaey. I finally managed to get a great shot of the Seljalandfoss where the water is backlit by the setting sun and no people are standing on the bridge. I had visualized this image for a very long time, but it was not an easy task to realize it. You can find the result in the Iceland gallery.

Next, we went to the Reykjanes peninsula where we stayed at a hotel in Keflavik. When we arrived late afternoon our room was not ready because the last guests hadn’t left it due to some problems with their plane. Because we had to wait for 3 hours we got a free two-course dinner including some great lobsters for all of us. Not a bad deal and a nice compensation from the hotel.

Besides driving around and shooting some landscape images on the Reykjanes peninsula we went to the Blue Lagoon, the famous outdoor spa with its intense watercolor.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

On a very stormy afternoon, we went to Brimketill on the south coast of Reykjanes where I saw the biggest waves in my life. The breaking waves were as high as a big house, probably around 20 m. I managed to get some images without completely destroying my camera with seawater. Some other viewers were not as careful and got completely soaked. The following image of me was shot by a french photographer:


We ended our trip with another visit to the Reykjavik Culture Night, called Menningarnott. It is a really great event with many music groups with completely different styles playing throughout the city. You find the complete program here.

Here are some impressions from this event with its typical street artists and music performances:

Reykjavik Menningarnott 2013

Reykjavik Menningarnott 2013

Reykjavik Menningarnott 2013

Reykjavik Menningarnott 2013

Reykjavik Menningarnott 2013

Reykjavik Menningarnott 2013

The last image is showing the Polish singer-songwriter Brodka at the Harpa.

It was again a great trip and I really love this island. We will probably return to Iceland next summer for a fourth visit.

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