Iceland from above

This post is by Christian Schartner (Website | Instagram):

After two great photo-vacations in 2010 I decided to visit Iceland again in 2017. The Northern Lights activity is, for still unknown reason, always higher around Equinoxes.

Northern Lights as seen on Flight AB3906 from Munich to Reykjavik during a G1 Solar Storm

All ready and packed I flew from Munich to Reykjavik. It has been an overnight flight, so always pick a window seat on the right side. Boom! At the half time of the flight, a green glow appeared on the horizon. Seeing the Northern Lights from an Airplane is something special. Photographing it too, because it’s hard to use a tripod in an airplane – I had to shoot it handheld.

Lonely House & Landscape around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The weather is usually a bit tricky in Iceland, and could be different in the whole country. If the north is sunny, the south is usually rainy – and the other way around. We had 5 clear days and nights in the south and then switched to the north.

Ring Road #1 near Jökulsárlón with Glacier in the Background

Speaking about the Northern Lights again. Short before our arrival, a Coronal hole turned towards earth and sparked three strong geomagnetic storms in a row.

Coronal hole turned

Strong Aurora Borealis at Kirkjufellsfoss at Grundarfjordur due to a KP6 Solar Storm

The first week has nearly been over, and so is the good weather in the south. Time to drive up to the north. While the south features kind of a soft and gentle landscape, the north is a bit rougher. The Myvatn area is in the center of the North Volcanic Zone in Iceland. Here you find a lot of Mini-Geysirs, mud-holes and bright blue lagoons.

Two of the highlights in the north are of course the big Waterfalls Dettifoss and Goðafoss (translated “Gods Waterfall). I had to skip Goðafoss the first two times when I was in Iceland before. This time my goal was clear: shooting it together with the Aurora Borealis.

Goðafoss Long Exposure at Sunset

Blessed already with the great weather of the first week, the second week was a bit more challenging. Especially the nights, as strong winds blew in sea-fog. The Aurora forecast didn’t look so promising too. I was staying in a B&B near Myvatn, in a small town called Reykjahlíð. The day was sunny, the night cloudy. I pretty much stayed outside for 4 hours with no results 🙁

You should never give up, one of my goals in life. After a nice whale-watching tour in Husavík, my plan was to drive to Ólafsfjörður. I stopped on the way back home at the waterfall (image above). The weather was still great and it was short before nightfall. Despite the weather forecast, it was like a race against time. The dawn and nightfall take quite long in the northern fall. At one point it was clear and dark at the waterfall, but the Northern Lights just didn’t want to dance with me. Clouds were coming closer and closer, my chances looked again pretty bad. I was happy with the first week, so I decided to pack my stuff and leave. Already in the car, some kilometers further, suddenly the sky lifted up and unveiled a beautiful Aurora. I drove back fast and ran to the same spot, just to get this magic shot.

What a great time in Iceland.

The long-awaited shot, Goðafoss & the Aurora Borealis

Equipment used:

  • Nikon D800
  • Nikkor 14-24
  • Nikkor 70-200 2.8 ED Nikkor 24-70
  • Nikon 28-300

Few more pictures from Iceland:

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