With the blowing spray and crowds of people, taking a photograph that I was satisfied with at Seljalandsfoss was a bit daunting. I found a few brief moments when the wind shifted direction and I was able to take a bulb exposure of the falls from behind.
Seljalandsfoss (Bulb #1), southern Iceland (12″x18″)
Seljalandsfoss (Short Exposure #1), southern Iceland (18″x12″)
The cascading waters of Svartifoss slowly eat away at the rock, leaving jumbled piles of basalt in the ravine below. Columnar jointing in basalt flows + waterfall = perfect photography opportunity for a Geoscientist (and thousands of other photographers).
Svartifoss and Columnar Basalt, Vatnajökull National Park,Iceland (16″x36″)
We drove through a thick fog bank on the pass between Egilsstaðir and Breiðdalur valley in East Iceland. As we continued down the ring road towards Breiðdalsvík, we dropped below the clouds and could see the 1100 meter high mountains disappearing into the rain on either side of the valley.
Rain Clouds and Mountains in Breiðdalur Valley (#2), East Iceland (16″x64″)
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″)
I spent much of my time in southern Arizona searching for desert falls to photograph during the summer monsoon or winter rain storms. In Iceland, sustained precipitation and snow melt generate constantly flowing rivers and streams. Giant waterfalls cascade over cliffs every few hundred meters along the side of the ring road; it was difficult for me not to stop every five minutes, pull out my camera, set up my tripod, and shoot another panorama. Here is one of the many gorgeous locations along the Ring Road where dramatic clouds billow over cliffs disappearing into the distance.
Cliffs and Falls (near Budhir), northwestern Iceland (16″x41″)
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″)