The desolate drive along the Ring Road between Mývatn and Egilsstaðir in East Iceland passes through a windswept plateau where golden grasses creep up the steep slopes of hills (first panorama).
On our descent to Egilsstaðir in the Jökuldalur valley, I stopped to photograph the Rjukandi Falls as they poured over cliffs on their way to the Jökulsá a Brú river (second and third panoramas).
Light on Grassy Hillsides on the Plateau (#2), East Iceland (16″x81″)
Yst Í Rjúkandi Falls (#1), East Iceland (16″x35″)
Yst Í Rjúkandi Falls (#2), East Iceland (28″x16″)
At 44m tall and 100m wide, Dettifoss is a spectacularly large curtain of water pouring over a shelf of rock in northern Iceland. Sediment turns the waters (from the melting Vatnajökull glacier) of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river a strange grey. Mist billowing up from the canyon makes bulb panorama exposures near the falls difficult to shoot (the camera gets wet quickly, and the lens gets covered in water spots). To give a sense of the size of the Dettifoss, I also included a single-frame bulb photograph of the opposite bank (note the person in the red rain jacket standing on the rocks above the falls)
Dettifoss and Jökulsá á Fjöllum (Bulb #4), northern Iceland (16″x66″)
Dettifoss (Single Frame, Bulb #2), northern Iceland (16″x16″)
Selfoss pours over and through jumbled basalt columns a few hundred meters upstream from Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Selfoss and Dettifoss are both formed by the Jokulsa a Fhollum river in northern Iceland as it flows from the glacier Vatnajokull’s to the Arctic sea to the north.
Selfoss, northern Iceland (12″x18″)
After photographing Goðafoss from the cliffs on the north side of the river, I set my tripod up on the south and took a few bulb exposures looking down at the falls. This panorama is one of my favorites from the morning: constant mist billowing up from the cascading water changing into misty silk in the bulb exposure.
Looking down on Goðafoss from South (Bulb), northern Iceland (16″x48″)
Rivers and streams flowing down to the ocean create a tremendous number of waterfalls in Iceland. On my trip around the ring road, I stopped to photograph one famous set of waterfalls – Goðafoss – where a river pours over a shelf of rock creating five falls of various sizes. Driving rain kept me in the car for a few minutes, but the cloud passed and I was able to photograph the falls from a few angles without getting my camera too wet. I first took a few photographs after rock hopping to the cliff at the top of the falls (first photo below- no ND filter). I then walked down stream and set my tripod up so I could take a bulb exposure looking back up at the falls (second panorama- with ND filter). Note the dark rain cloud that is looming in the upper right corner of most of my photographs on this day.
Looking down on Goðafoss, northern Iceland (16″x54″)
Goðafoss (Bulb #2), northern Iceland (16″x54″)
On Snæfellsnes peninsula, streams flowing off the flanks of the mountain cascade over basalt cliffs, forming a series of falls in the shifting clouds.
Ólafsvík Falls (#3), Ólafsvík, Iceland (16″x40″)
After visiting Gulfoss we drove west back towards Reykjavik and stopped for a quick walk to Öxarárfoss, a waterfall in Þingvellir National Park. The falls cascade over basalt cliffs into the fault line/ravine along the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that separates the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. As a geoscientist and a photographer, this location was particularly exciting to visit for me. I clearly wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the falls- I ‘had to’ sit and just enjoy the view while waiting for a group of photographers to move on to their next stop before I could shoot panoramas of the falls from a variety of angles without interruption.
Öxarárfoss and Rocks, Þingvellir National Park, Iceland (18″x44″)
After photographing Gulfoss from below, I walked up the stairs and out onto the plateau above the canyon to photograph the river as it enters the falls.
Gulfoss Plateau, southwest Iceland (18″x58″)
In late May, I traveled to Iceland to hike and take photographs. We first visited Gulfoss, a giant set of falls in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Iceland has become much more popular to visit since my last visit 9 years ago, so finding an unobstructed view of the cascading water can be difficult. Furthermore, even in late spring and early summer, strong winds and near constant spitting rain make it hard to keep the camera lens dry while taking long-exposure photographs.
Gulfoss Upper Cascades, southwest Iceland (16″x42″)
While photographing Tanque Verde Falls, the striations in the rock kept drawing my attention. I tried to get in close to the cliff face to use the striped rock to both frame the falls and lead the viewer’s eye towards the cascading water.
Striations and Tanque Verde Falls, near Tucson, AZ (16″x36″)