Day 3 Continued
After watching the jet skiers run around the lagoon and go swimming in their dry suits, I set off for a hike to see what I could discover. It was beautifully peaceful. Storms in the distance yet completely still along the shore, the occasional bird or seal swimming by. I'm not sure how long or far I wandered, it was just perfect so I enjoyed it without thinking about time. That's one wonderful benefit of it never truly getting dark, I did not have to hurry with my photography.
Wandering back towards the car I started seeing lots of people... which was strange; I hadn't seen lots of people in days. Turns out it was a photo workshop and I stopped to chat briefly with Marc Muench and Skarpi, which was really awesome. I have been wanting to meet them for years. Both were very nice, and I'm sure their workshop participants really had a good trip.
After a bit more exploring it was time to grab a little sleep and then get ready for the busy day I had planned tomorrow.
Day 4: Jokulsarlon and Skaftafell
Waking up around sunrise, I checked the cloud forecasts and decided to stick around the Jokulsarlon area. After some scouting around a bit to the north, I ended up back at the beach chasing iceberg photos. I tried for more intimate scenes and liked the way the waves were streaking over the black sands. It was a stormy morning and the light never developed, but the clouds were full of drama and I think it would take a complete white out to make this place unphotogenic.
After enjoying the beach for sunrise, I grabbed a few hours of sleep and then started back to Skaftafell. I enjoyed a gourmet breakfast of cheese from the local gas station, then arrived at the Glacier Guides office for their afternoon glacier tour to the ice fall. There were four others on the tour and after all gearing up we headed out for an adventure. The walk in over the moss covered moraine was so beautiful; with the green, the mountains, and the ice it was like we were on another world.
I really wanted to take some good photos of this trip and was surprised with the difficulty of doing so. A glacier isn't really a place to lose situational awareness, and I had visions of falling into a crevasse as I backed up to get a better angle on a shot. The guide also didn't want me wandering off for obvious reasons... I'm sure she didn't want to haul me out of a crevasse any more than I wanted to fall into one. The weather was constantly changing but the view from the top was breathtaking and I managed to set up a few images that I am happy with (like Hiking amongst the ice above). It was a great learning experience, and I was able to build on this knowledge on my two other glacier days later in the trip.
Happy but tired after the hike, I took advantage of the power outlet provided by the excellent staff in the Skaftafell visitors center to charge my laptop and back up my files. After the visitor center closed I wandered around the area looking for waterfalls. I hiked along a path and found several falls, but missed the best one at the end. I assume my fatigue played a part in this.
Eventually giving into my body's demands, I collapsed for several hours of sleep before the alarm went off to let me know sunrise was imminent. I had traveled farther up the coast towards the town of Hofn last night, but now looking at the clouds I regretted the decision. After a few critical minutes of indecision, I decided to drive as fast as safely possible while dodging sheep on the road, back to Jokulsarlon as it was right along the edge of the clouds. As I parked, the sun broke through and bathed the beach in a warm glow, the best sunrise I had seen in days. I ran the 200 meters to the shore and arrived to discover Marc's tour group was there and all the icebergs had photographers camped out behind them! Not being one to ruin anyone else's image by forcing myself in somewhere, I waited for a spot to open near these two icebergs I had my eye on. The sun was reflecting off the water and the ice to create a wonderful play of light and dark, warm and cold. The birds added an extra element and the fiery clouds were awesome. Despite being a bit out of position and late, I think the morning turned out well.
Finally pulling myself away from the Skaftafell region was hard. It was so beautiful but I knew other amazing places awaited. I drove up the coast towards Hofn where there is a very picturesque mountain that overlooks a tidal flat. I spent the rest of the day here. It was awesome dynamic light: clouds constantly moving and the sun intermittently breaking through. It was also very very windy, making it hard to get a reflection in the pools of water. It's hard to get an idea of how big the mountains are from the picture, but they were huge. I ran into a couple of surfers who were braving the cold water and small waves for some fun; they looked absolutely frozen when they got out of the water. They made me glad I was dry and wearing a wind proof coat!
As the evening wore on, I packed up and started the long drive back to Reykjavic to meet up with my sister who was flying over for the weekend. I was also driving back into a huge storm system and would spend the next several days in the rain. As the farms slipped by, I had to make one quick stop for a sheep picture because the scenery was gorgeous and I felt with so many sheep around I needed at least one picture of them during the trip.