Iceland Winter Workshop Report 2015

In February 2015 I led my annual winter workshop to Iceland with good friend, local guide and photographer Daniel Bergmann. This is the fourth year in a row I have led a dedicated winter trip for landscape and Northern Lights in Iceland. This year we were fortunate to experience some of the best light I have had the pleasure to photograph in during the winter months. It was also the coldest I can recall with snowfall down to sea level on several occasions. Iceland’s 2015 winter was one for the recent record books with greater snowfall, and colder temperatures than recent years.

The weather always plays a major role in the itinerary of a winter workshop to Iceland (and that is just one reason why its a very good idea to travel with a local guide who can accurately read the weather). We had planned to visit the west coast and Snæfellsnes Peninsula during the first few days of our workshop but storm force winds gusting over 30 metres a second meant it was prudent to alter our plan and we headed east instead. It was a wise decision as winds were so strong in the west that many of the roads were closed and photography would have been impossible. Our decision to head east opened up new opportunities for us and we were able to take advantage of some really great light and fantastic conditions.Josh12015During our ten days on the southern peninsula we experienced snowfall down to sea level which provided us some magical opportunities for landscape photography. We also had some of the best light I have yet to experience during the winter months in this amazing country. Our timing in this regard was absolutely spot on as several days either side of our workshop would have been sub optimal with strong winds and rain.

Heading east from Reykjavik our first stop was the Þingvellir region which has some wonderful landscapes and waterfalls. Þingvellir can be quite busy during the summer months but is less crowded during winter and its quite easy to find yourself alone in a  location once you get away from the tourist hot spots. We photographed a number of different locations in this area including the spectacular Gullfoss waterfall.GullFoss in WinterWe spent several days in the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon area; photographing at Fjallsárlón as well as the black sand beach and Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon areas. Winter at the lagoon is wonderful with many of the icebergs frozen in place it is possible walk out a short way onto the ice when the conditions are safe.

Iceland-7629We also visited the precipitous mountains at the Stokksness peninsula where we were  treated to some spectacular evening light that made for incredible images. Stokksness is a wild place and this was the first time in four years of visiting this location that I can recall experiencing such amazing light and conditions.

Iceland-7951-Edit22015During our workshop we visited a huge ice cave in the south of Iceland where we spent several hours photographing the incredible texture and color that is found in these amazing natural structures. We were fortunate that there had been heavy snow fall a few days earlier and all footprints from previous visitors had been erased.Iceland-7851-Edit12015We also saw and photographed the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over Hekla volcano as well as the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon during our time in the south of Iceland. If you have ever wanted to see and photograph the northern lights and see the stunning landscape of Iceland covered in fresh snow and bathed in winter light I will be leading another trip to Iceland in winter in March 2016 (only a few places remaining before it will be sold out). The 2016 workshop will focus on the frozen north of Iceland. We will see and photograph places rarely visited during the winter months including geothermal areas, waterfalls, mountains and more. You can download more information including a detailed itinerary from my website at www.jholko.com or email me to register your interest.

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