Iceland is a country often overlooked by travelers. Not much is known about it, the name suggests its covered in ice, and although part of Europe, it’s not actually attached to Europe. Most travelers visit Iceland in the summer, understandably, as the winter is colder and darker (only about 4 hours of daylight, as opposed to 24 hours in the summer). But Iceland in the winter offers a photographer a unique and captivating experience! Here are some reasons why:
1. Northern lights/aurora borealis
This is something mentioned on many people’s bucket lists, and something Iceland is very well known for. Obviously, you wont be able to see it in the summertime.
My friends and I were lucky enough to spot them on New Years Day. At first we weren't even entirely sure if it was them or not because they appeared a white/grey color to the naked eye. However, on camera they appeared as a much more vibrant green, as you can see. They were also moving very slowly, as opposed to ‘dancing’ the way most people describe them. Regardless, they came and went very fast! So have your camera and tripod ready.
2. Frozen waterfalls
We’ve all seen stunning, beautiful waterfalls, but how many people have seen stunning, beautiful, FROZEN waterfalls!
3. Elongated prime time for shooting
Because of how north the country is located, sunrise and sunset last quite a while. The lighting at these times is ideal as it creates drastic shadows. Not to mention sunrises and sunsets create beautiful skies to photograph and watch. In the winter sunrise is roughly 11am, and sunset 3pm, so you will most likely be awake to see both daily!
4. Less tourists in your Shot
Summer in Iceland is a very busy time. Accommodation is fully booked and car rentals are fully booked, the main attractions are going to be packed. Winter is low season. Obviously, there are still going to be tourists, but way less.
5. Find the crashed US Navy plane!
Ok, admittedly you can do this in the summer as well. A US Navy plane crashed here in the 1970's, and the wreckage still remains. If you are driving the south of the island you will pass it. However, it is about 3km off the main road, which means you either need 4WD to get to it, or you need to walk it. You will also need a GPS because it is literally in the middle of nowhere (the coordinates are 63.459523,-19.364618).
Walking took us about 30-45 minutes one way, in extremely windy and rainy conditions. These wintery conditions made it all the more rewarding to find the plane on our own! The dreariness and being surrounded by nothing but black sand/rock was also an amazing experience.
Most are also unaware that Iceland Air offers free stopovers for up to 7 days in Iceland. So the next time you are flying between Europe and North America, consider adding this amazing destination to your trip!