Day 1 - SydsPics
Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, United Kingdom

Photographing Iceland in 6 Days

In June of 2017 we took the trip of a lifetime. 

Mission: Go all around Iceland in 6 days, driving on route 1 (the famous Iceland Ring Road which goes around the entire country) and photographing the most famous and some not so famous natural wonders this picturesque country has to offer.

Day 1 : Reykjavik - Akureyri

Day 1 took us from Reykjavik the capital of Iceland, driving north on route 1. We stopped at Borgarnes (a petrol station with one of the best views in the world) for a some fuel and coffee and then headed over to the Grábrók crater. Our next stop was  the small fishing village of Hvammstangi which provides some good photo opportunities. After a quick lunch, we drove to our next destination Víðimýrarkirkja stopping along the route to grab some quick photo ops. A visit to the historic turf church and some friendly meet and greet with the local Icelandic horses and we were off to our stopover for the Night - Akureyri (the capital of North Iceland).


After leaving our hotel in Reykjavík around 8:30 AM (and missing our first breakfast of the trip), our first stop was a petrol station in the small town of Borgarnes which is located 60 km north of Reykjavík. This is undoubtedly the most picturesque petrol station I have ever seen. Located next to a lake with snow-capped mountains in the background, it makes  a nice setting for a quick photo stop (although a little expensive, the coffee wasn't bad either).

45 mm | F/16 | 1/50 s | ISO 100

Towards the Mountains - Borgarnes, Iceland

A shot right outside the Borgarnes petrol station. This is undoubtedly the most picturesque petrol station I have ever seen. Borgarnes is a town located on a peninsula at the shore of Borgarfjörður in Iceland. The town is located 60 km north of the capital Reykjavík and is connected to other places in Iceland through the second largest bridge in Iceland, Borgarfjarðarbrú.


Our next stop was the Grábrók crater. Well you cannot go to Iceland and NOT see a crater, can you?

Grábrók is the largest of three craters within the same volcanic fissure. There is an easy walk way which goes up and around the crater. The climb is quite easy with wood walk ways and it takes about 20 minutes to go up and around the crater. The view from the top is spectacular. One one side you can see a river and a small village (just a couple of houses) in a valley surrounded by towering peaks and on the other side you can see the smaller but fascinating "Smábrók".

18 mm | F/16 | 1/30 s | ISO 100

Grábrók Crater - Iceland

Formed approximately 3,400 years ago, Grábrók is the largest of three craters within the same volcanic fissure. The fissure is only about 7 kilometres (4,3 miles) in length with the average thickness of 20 metres (66 feet). Both the lava field and its craters have been protected as a nature preserve since 1962. All three craters, Grábrók, Rauðbrók and Smábrók, are easily accessible from the Ring Road

75 mm | F/16 | 1/30 s | ISO 100

Stuck in the Middle - Farm near Grábrók, Iceland

A typical Icelandic farm hanging on the edge of massive cliffs. Surrounded by mountains on one side and a River on the other, this picture represents the tough life of Icelandic farmers.
The white dots on the grass field are Whooper Swans which have migrated to Iceland for the summer.
This picture was taken from the top of the Grábrók volcanic crater.


After the climb (on an empty stomach) and running around to make the most of our time (there is just so much to photograph), hunger finally struck!   

Our next destination was the small fishing village of Hvammstangi. Here we visited the Icelandic Seal Centre which has some nice specimens and information on Icelandic Seals and their relationship with the people of Iceland.

Thankfully , the village was also our lunch stop. It is a small yet well equipped village and a good stop over with a well stocked supermarket to buy any anything you may need.

The village also is a good destination for Seal watching with daily boat tours.

35 mm | F/16 | 1/50 s | ISO 100

Hvammstangi fishing village, Iceland

Icelandic village in the north-west part of the country, on Vatnsnes peninsula. Home to the Icelandic Seal Centre, the village has a a good harbour from which seal watching and sea angling trips are organised.


After a hefty meal and a great scenic drive we were headed towards Víðimýrarkirkja and Icelandic Turf church. But as I said earlier, Iceland is so beautiful that you cannot drive more than a few miles without spotting amazing photo ops.

And sometimes when the photo op is -A deep and gorge with water rushing ferociously and a wooden bridge overlooking the gorge at the exact point where it forms a waterfall, you absolutely have to STOP and get the camera out.

16 mm | F/16 | 1/3 s | ISO 100 | 6 stop ND

Víðimýrarkirkja church is one of the few preserved turf churches in Iceland. It belongs to the National Museum. The church was built in 1834 and has turf walls, but timber gables in the front and back.

The church sits on an amazingly photogenic location with snowy flat top hills in the background and is painted in a combination of contrasting colours which add to the overall image. I was there not at the best time light wise which is a common symptom when travelling and trying to photograph a place in a limited number of days, and is usually the case when travelling to another country. So, long story short, I had to use AEB (Bracketing) to deal with the contrast in the image.

24 mm | F/16 | 1/250 s - 1/15 s | 5 shot AEB | ISO 100

Víðimýrarkirkja Turf Church, Skagafjörður Iceland

Víðimýrarkirkja is turf curch located in Northern Iceland.. This beautiful church was built in 1834. There are only 6 turf churches remaining in Iceland. Víðimýrarkirkja has been cherished and preserved for its immense cultural value.

As we came out of the church, we got a welcome surprise. The local farmer who owns the land next to the church, had just gathered his horses. These Icelandic horses are amazing. Very friendly, great looking and have a rich history. Honestly, they deserve a blog post of their own.

The low evening north sun was casting a beautiful warm light on the horses and a beautiful backdrop of snow capped mountains and clouds made this a scene worth capturing.

After I took this picture, the farmer, an awesome person, noticed us and brought the horses right to the gate to meet us. Icelandic people are great, the time we were there, we notice time and again how nice and helpful everyone was.

We were able to pet the horses and one of them even got a good nibble on my wife's jacket. Luckily, the jacket held. 

66 mm | F/9 | 1/250 s | ISO 100

Icelandic Horses Landscape

These small yet majestic horses are an integral part of the Icelandic culture (almost 100,000 of them in a country of 320,000 people).. They have 5 natural gaits: walk, trot, canter, tölt and flying pace.. Their sure footedness will get you across rough terrains.. These horses, moments after this picture was taken, walked right up to us and we got to experience just how friendly they are..

This was the best end to an amazing first day of photography in this brilliant country filled with natural beauty. From here we drove to Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland and Iceland's second largest town. We stayed the night in Akureyri. It is a charming little town with a nice high street market with some great places to eat. The harbour also has some great sea food options.

The church is the most prominent feature of the town which sits on a hill top over looking the town. Akureyri also has a botanical garden which is worth a quick visit.

It was a great first day. Check out the next part for Day 2 of Photographing Iceland in 6 days.

Gear Used

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