Iceland: The Westfjords, & the North too

By Allie Richards

 

This year, we decided to run our Iceland tour with a new twist: the addition of the Westfjords. Paul had traveled to the Westfjords the year prior, so we thought, why not? In short, the trip was awesome! Here are some highlights.

 ⓒ Allie Richards

ⓒ Allie Richards

We’ve added a new stop to all of our Iceland tours - this is Kerið, a volcanic crater in the southern part of the Golden Circle. It looks different from every step!

 
 ⓒ Allie Richards

ⓒ Allie Richards

 ⓒ Allie Richards

ⓒ Allie Richards

 

As always, lunch on the first day is at Friðheimar, a tomato farm that manages to grow delicious tomatoes year-round, despite Iceland’s weather, wind and volcanic soil. We love taking our cameras inside with us - there are always interesting patterns to photograph.

 ⓒ Allie Richards

ⓒ Allie Richards

One of the crowd favorites of the entire trip is the Blue Lagoon - a world class spa retreat that is an absolute must if you’re spending any time in Iceland. Relax away in the steamy turquoise pools while sipping on a drink, and then photograph the moody landscape before heading to the next spot.

 
 
 ⓒ Paul Nguyen

ⓒ Paul Nguyen

Timing is everything in photography. We love this photo Paul took of the Sun Voyager at sunset in downtown Reykjavik.

 
 
 ⓒ Paul Nguyen

ⓒ Paul Nguyen

Iceland is pretty colorful. Look at this tiny yellow lighthouse!

 
 
 ⓒ Paul Nguyen

ⓒ Paul Nguyen

Our first stop toward northern Iceland was this old rusty ship in Akranes. Despite Iceland’s obvious opportunities for landscape photos, we always try to have our students try out different subjects and perspectives.

 
 
 ⓒ Allie Richards

ⓒ Allie Richards

The northern lights! Each trip we make to Iceland, we watch the aurora forecasts carefully to make sure that we catch the lights if they decide to show up. We don’t make any promises, but we’ve seen them every time we’ve been to Iceland in September. Everything needs to line up - the solar activity, the weather, surrounding lights, and you even need to coordinate with each other if you want to make a decent shot. This is Búðir, the Black Church.

 
 
 ⓒ Allie Richards

ⓒ Allie Richards

Another viewpoint that many look forward to is Kirkjufell, one of Iceland’s most prominent landmarks and mountains. It’s perfectly framed by waterfalls and given the right conditions, you can make some amazing photographs.

 
 
 ⓒ Allie Richards

ⓒ Allie Richards

We love how dynamic Iceland’s landscape is. There seems to always be something new to see. This is Gatklettur, a natural basalt arch above the ocean - prime for long exposures.

 
 
 ⓒ Paul Nguyen

ⓒ Paul Nguyen

And, the sight I personally was most looking forward to, Hvítserkur. Hvítserkur is another basalt structure that stands alone and seems to rise out of the ocean, and is known as “The Troll of the North.” At low tide and at the right time, you can capture compositions like this one where the waves meet the sand.

 
 Cracked surfaces of Hverir ⓒ Allie Richards

Cracked surfaces of Hverir ⓒ Allie Richards

 Svörtuloft Lighthouse ⓒ Allie Richards

Svörtuloft Lighthouse ⓒ Allie Richards

 

On every tour, we also try to scout out something new for ourselves and for future trips. Most of the time, our tour-goers see it as an adventure and are often pleased with what they find! Our Western Iceland group got a bonus: they got to see the north of Iceland too! We made it to the Hverir mud pits and the Námafjall geothermic area. This was a big hit and we’ll be sure to visit again. But be careful if you visit here! We’ve heard many stories of tourists getting too close or walking off of paths, only to find their shoes have been melted through and some even potentially suffered burns.

 ⓒ Allie Richards

ⓒ Allie Richards

On the way back from visiting the north, we made a stop at Goðafoss - “Waterfall of the Gods.” It was very rainy, and getting dark fast, so we only had a short time. There are many perspectives here, but we chose to walk to the bottom and shoot the falls from below.

 
 
 ⓒ Paul Nguyen

ⓒ Paul Nguyen

Another waterfall that surprised us, and our last photo stop of the trip, was Hraunfossar. These falls are not towering and tall, but smaller and very long. The water was a brilliant blue and complemented the early autumn colors of the leaves perfectly. A perfect ending!

Check out some photos of our group having tons of fun below!!
You can join us next year in September and experience Iceland for yourself.