Iceland the Highlands 2015 Workshop Report

In August this year I lead a new workshop into the highlands of Iceland with good friend Daniel Bergmann. Our Highland workshop for 2015 took a different approach to previous workshops in that we made the decision to specialise in just a few areas of Iceland that we regard as some of the most spectacular – in this case we decided to spend the majority of our time in the Highlands and several other key locations. This approach enabled us to spend more time in our chosen areas and gave us better opportunities for good light.

I am a strong advocate for spending as much time as possible in an area for photography and not moving from location to location too quickly. This approach both maximises the chances of really great light, but more importantly, it enables the photographer to slow down and get in tune with their surroundings and begin (hopefully) to see really strong compositions. It is actually exceedingly difficult to ‘hit the ground running’ in a new area and make great images right off the bat. More often than not the good images come after a period of time has elapsed and the photographer has had a chance to really tune into their surroundings.

As always, our daily itinerary was dictated by the weather and light to enable us to maximise any opportunities and to avoid any bad weather. As planning (and a little luck) would have it we were able to run with our originally planned itinerary without any severe bad weather.

Day One – We drove from the capital city of Reykjavik to Hrauneyjar in the highlands, our base for three nights. By using just a small number of good hotels and guests houses as bases throughout this workshop we were able to really maximise our time in the field. We spent the majority of our time in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. Our first stop was the spectacular Hnausapollur crater (water filled explosive crater) near Landmannalaugar. We then drove further towards Landmannalaugar with a stop at Frostastadahals (by the lake Frostastadavatn). We also had a windy sunset session at Veidivotn._MG_2174-Edit12014Day Two – We were back in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and now visited the gigantic volcanic crater Ljotipollur. We also walked up the rim and to the eastern side of it and photographed the Tungna glacial river. We then continued to Landmannalaugar where we hiked the Laugahringur trail up to Mount Brennisteinsalda. A few of us went all the way to the top, while most of us stayed below and photographed the amazing Laugahraun lava field and the many valleys surrounding Mount Blahnukur. This part of the highlands is one of my favourite areas for photography and offers really incredible opportunities.

Iceland-0534-Edit12015Day Three – We photographed Haifoss waterfall and its neighbor Granni (further inside the canyon) at the beginning of the day. We then went to the black sand area of Veidivotn crater lakes where we photographed right through until sunset._H9P3595-Edit-Edit12012
Day Four – We left our hotel in the highlands and travelled across the Sprengisandur route to get to the north of Iceland. We made a short scouting stop at Godafoss waterfall before heading to Lake Myvatn, where we were based at Hotel Reynihlid for three nights. We also photographed Godafoss the following morning at sunrise.Iceland-064012015Day Five – We visited the geothermal area at the base of Mt. Namafjall, called Namaskard or simply Hverir (an alternate name for the field). Later that day we visited the mighty Dettifoss waterfall in Jokulsargljufur canyon. First from the western side and then from the eastern side. From the east we also photographed Selfoss waterfall, further up river.
Iceland-0678-Edit22015Day Six – Aldeyjarfoss waterfall was on the morning menu and in the evening we hiked to the upper geothermal area at Namafjall to photograph the spectacular geothermal features where there are bubbling fumaroles and mud pits.
Day Seven – A travel day with a stop for a bit of shopping at Akureyri. We also visited Hvitserkur sea stack at the Vatnsnes peninsula in the afternoon during low tide.

Day Eight – Hraunfossar waterfall  and Barnafoss were our morning shoot. In the afternoon we visited the (still) fairly little known Bruarfoss waterfall. Then made a short stop at Geysir area (for the erupting geyser Strokkur) and ended with a fantastic meal at Lindin restaurant at Laugarvatn.Iceland-0758-Edit12015Day Nine – On our last day of photography we went into the Southern Fjallabak (Sydra- Fjallabak) area. We drove past the Eyjafjallajokull glacier and Einhyrningur mountain (the unicorn) before spending a bit of time on the edges of Markarfljotsgljufur canyon. We then drove further into Fjallabak and went as far as to the Innri-Emstrua river. We photographed mountains on the way that can be collectively said being at Emstrur.

Our 2015 Iceland Highlands workshop proved a really super trip that netted us some wonderful photographs from some of Iceland’s most amazing highland locations. Our time in the highlands this year proved successful and as such  I will be leading two workshops to the highlands of Iceland in summer next year. Both workshops will have an emphasis on different regions of the Highlands as well as different coastal areas. These are workshops that will get you off the usual tourist route and into some of the more inaccessible, interesting and least visited areas of Iceland. We all also visit a few of the iconic locations as well as a few tucked away gems we want to keep up our sleeves. If you have never been to Iceland before and want to avoid the tourist traps, or if you are an Iceland regular and want to get into new territory then these are the workshops for you.

The first workshop will run from August 14th until August 23rd 2016 and will focus on the Highlands and Northern area of Iceland.  We will also visit the precipitous basalt cliffs and rock formations of the Snaefellsness Peninusla, amongst many other areas. You can download a detailed itinerary and information PDF form for the first workshop HERE.The second workshop will run from the 28th of August until the 6th of September 2016 and will focus on the Southern Highlands and eastern coastal regions of Iceland. Our intention on this workshop is to focus on some of the lesser known highland areas in the southern part of Iceland. We will also visit the precipitous ocean lined mountains at Stokksnes as well as vising the spectacular Laki Volcano and the world famous Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. You can download a detailed itinerary and information PDF form for the second workshop HEREWe have chosen August and early September for these workshops as this is an ideal time to visit Iceland for photography. The days are still long with Sunrise around 5 a.m. and sunset just before 10 p.m. The best light for landscape photography is therefore during the evening and early morning. This means that we may have an early dinner and then head out to photograph and sometimes be out before breakfast for a morning shoot. On cloudy days we’ll have a more normal routine. What we’ll do exactly on any given day will be decided around the weather and other conditions and there will be small changes to our original plan to make the most of our time in each area.

Cost: The cost for each workshop is $7,450 USD. There is no single supplement and single rooms will be provided wherever possible.

Duration: 11 days/10 nights for each workshop
Includes: Accommodation for ten nights in single rooms. Food and beverages (excluding alcohol). All transport during the duration of the workshop in a modified 4-wheel drive vehicle. All tuition and guiding services.
Excludes: International flights, travel insurance and alcohol
Group size: 12 per workshop

Due to initial bookings and expressions of interest there are now only a few places remaining. If you would like to register your interest for one of the remaining places or would like additional information please contact me at info@jholko.com.

One thought on “Iceland the Highlands 2015 Workshop Report

  1. Joshua, your reports are always a real pleasure in the way they *almost* put the reader there with you.

    I want to especially thank you for the detailed EXIF data that you always add to to your images, so that entering their URL into Jeffrey Friedl’s EXIF viewer http://regex.info/exif.cgi allows your readers to see the details of your images.

    Like

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