Iceland rises, sets and rays | Travel Photographer

There is nothing like waking up in the morning in the chilly Icelandic air watching the sun rise over the horizon.   We had rented a camper in Iceland to give us the flexibility to park near the areas where we wanted to photograph either a sun rise or a sun set.  Well, that was the plan 😉

It is hard… nay…nearly impossible to go to Iceland and not see the sun in all of it’s splendor.  We unfortunately didn’t get to see the sun as much as we wanted to as most of our days were filled with grey clouds and rain.  As they say “if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait 5 minutes” and this is soooo very true.  The weather can change fast.  Hiking for an hour under blue skies could mean that the hour return is in a downpour.  Dress in layers.  Be patient.  Enjoy the moments you have.

Travelling in summer time is the best to capture the beautiful light as it lasts for 2-3 hours – compared to the 10-20 minutes it lasts the rest of the year.  You could feasibly shoot 3-4 nice spots with the same light.  Due to schedules and so on, we went in the early fall.  Maybe next time, I’ll travel there in the everlasting light of summer.

We did manage to experience some amazing sun sets and sun rises.  And it is so important to take the time to just stop and watch.  As a photographer, it is so easy to get wrapped up in thinking of compositions, apertures, filters and if your tripod is stable enough that you can forget to just live the moment…. and once it has been lived, get the shot 😉

Before jumping into the images, if you haven’t already, check out my write up on some of the waterfalls we photographed!  And all of the images can be printed, so if you’d like them hanging on your wall, send me a note and let’s chat 🙂

A morning at Gullfoss


Our first somewhat sun rise attempt was near the famed waterfall of Gullfoss.  Famous mostly because it is the easiest to get to for the day trippers out from the capital Reykjavik.  On our very first night in Iceland, jet lagged and tired, we parked our camper a few minutes walk to the falls.  We woke up in the morning, still tired and jet lagged, grabbed our gear and made our way down to the falls.

The sun, sadly, was a bit to our right and not right over the falls.  With hindsight, I would of walked down the path close to the falls and taken some images there, but the sun was just not strong enough to make the tiny trek worth it (although I did go down a little later to explore).   There was another photographer there, and he showed me some of his images from early on down by the falls and I simply chalked up the day to not being perfect.  Can’t win them all, right?

I then started to turn my attention to just capturing the sun… anywhere and anytime.  We came upon the Kerio Crater while driving and had a great explore… along the tops of the crater all the way down to the water that now sits at the bottom.  Catching shots of a sweet double rainbow.


Actually, at this point, pretty much anything with sunrays was inspiring me 🙂



The town of Vik


Our second night was spent in the town of Vik.  A little too late to capture the sunset (we had done way more random exploring than we thought we would of that day), we parked across the road of one of the black sand beaches, whipped up some supper (pasta, again?!?) and settled in for the night.

What our first morning lacked in intensity, our second totally made up for it.   My morning coffee was had seeing some beautiful clouds taking shape.  We drove the kilometer or so to the edge of the beach, no one else was around.  After taking a few minutes to just listen to the waves crashing on the shores, I got to capturing what was probably one of the most magical mornings of our entire trip.




Geothermal areas around Mývatn


This area was a place we had scheduled to stay overnight to catch the aurora… right by lake Mývatn.  It was a gorgeous area, really peaceful.  Sadly, we only breezed through the town.  We had an appointment with a small garage to have a look at our internal camping heater (which caught fire earlier that day) and after a few hours in the garage, we were told we had to drive 3 hours away to get to a bigger city to have the thing looked at by a bigger garage.

We ended up leaving the town right at sunset and found a nice little lookout over the lake and the geothermal area to snap a few quick shots.  Would of loved to spend more time in this area exploring, but looks like the lava pillars and rootless vents of the area will be explored another time



The town of Stykkishólmur

After our little camper catching fire incident, it was only 3 nights later we had the chance to camp out for another sunrise.  The next one took us to a little town of 1,100 people on the west coast of the country.   This was a random decision based on the stops for the next few days.  The joy of trips without much of a set itinerary 😉

Stykkishólmur was a really cute little town.  Not much going on, basically a place that lives off of fishing.  People went to bed early and got up even earlier.  We found a little spot for a sunset, which was just beside someone’s residence, with a nice view over the water.  We weren’t sure what we would see as the skies had been grey all day, but we were treated to a pretty amazing sunset.




Driving the west coast & Kirkjufell mountain

We drove most of the day in the on and off rain, with our destination being the mountain of Kirkjufell (and the waterfall right beside).  On our way, we stopped each time the sun came out.  Whether it be at a little church in the middle of a field or just seeing the sun peeking through some clouds off in the distance, we just wanted to soak up some warmth.



And then we camped at Kirkjufell.  Grey skies for the sunset, but we had some decent light for the sunrise the following morning.  I remember stepping out of the camper with my instant Nescafe coffee (tasted like crap, but was soooo good) and just looking around at the scenery and even though we had been in the country for 9 days, I was still in awe.



And then came Akranes

Our final stop with our camper was the town of Akranes.  About 20 kms from the capital, it is a port town and one of the bigger ones we had been in the last 10 days…. wit ha population of 6,000.  Not much going on in the town, even the waitress at a small coffee shop we stopped at told us the town is dead after 6pm.  We found a lighthouse by the water and had one of the windiest sleeps we had the whole trip.  I was sleeping up top in the camper (I couldn’t bend my knees fully while on my back haha) and the wind almost felt like someone rocking me asleep… very violently! 🙂

The morning greeted us with some really nice cloud formations on the horizon that almost looked like they were on fire!



So ends the sunrise, sunset and sun rays set of images!  Again, if you haven’t checked out my write up on the waterfalls, do so HERE!

And if you are interested in any prints, send me a note and let’s chat!

Thanks for reading 🙂