Saturday, August 19, 2017

ICELAND: The Lava Fields of Berserkjahraun


Our final day in Grundarfjordur was off to a rocky start, as we discovered that one of our destinations was not accessible without 4-wheel drive (which our rental car did not have - please learn from our mistake!). Having only a couple other locations in mind to visit, we decided to leave Grundarfjordur a day earlier than planned - we would spend the morning visiting a lava field (Berserkjahraun), and then we would head south towards Vik. 

Berserkjahraun is a lava field, approximately 3500 years old. It's name comes from an Icelandic saga, in which a pair of Berserkers had been working on a farm, when one fell in love with the farmers daughter. In order to prove his love, the two Berserkers agreed to complete the impossible task of clearing a path through a lava field. Upon completing the task, the Berserkers were then tricked and killed by the farmer. While believed to be more of a myth, the remains of two large men were unearthed from the field by modern archaeologists. 




















The lava fields above are Berserkjahraun, and the other photos are from around our hostel in Grundarfjordur. Overall, our visit to the Snaefellsness peninsula was both relaxing and full of adventure. There is so much to see within that small span of coastline.

This is part of a series of posts about our trip to Iceland.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

ICELAND: Visiting Kirkjufell


Kirkjufell (literally translates from Icelandic to "Church Mountain") is a famous photo spot. You may have spotted it in Game of Thrones, or perhaps you've seen a stunning capture of it on Instagram. Regardless, this mountain is a must-see for many photographers visiting the peninsula.  It's unique shape provides an interesting subject, and from the right angle you can also capture a series of waterfalls. If you're lucky, you may also be able to catch a sunset or the aurora borealis in the background. 

We stayed at the Grundarfjordur Hostel, a nice little place within sight of the mountain. When planning a trip to photograph or visit Kirkjufell, you should know a few things. First of all, it looks completely different from another angle. Below, in the photo with the dilapidated building, you can see the other side of Kirkjufell in the distance. Second, if you want a good spot for a photo - get there early! We were there in September (shoulder season) and yet when we arrived an hour before sunrise, there was a lineup of photographers set up for a shot (you can see a photo of this below).  Thirdly, the weather in Iceland is constantly changing, and with it - the water levels. There is a small area of land where you can walk up to the lower waterfalls - if the water level is low enough. Within a little over an hour of us being there, the water level below the falls drastically increased and that location was not reachable by sunset. Finally, if this is a shot that you have your heart set on - plan to spend more than a couple days nearby. Due to the unpredictable weather, you never know when the elements will be on your side for the perfect shot. 

We spent a little over an hour at the location in hopes of a sunset but unfortunately the weather was not on our side. During our time there it rained off and on, but we were able to stay dry and grab some good shots regardless. On our way to the location, we stopped for a small dilapidated building along the road. There are plenty of these along the way in Iceland, but we didn't have time for all of them. 

For photographers, I'd recommend considering the following gear*, based on our experience: 1. the JOBY gorillapod is sturdy and easy to position on the muddy and uneven surface of the land surrounding the falls. A tripod is a must for a good time-lapse shot! 2. a wide angle lens (I use a 14mm) is the easiest way to capture all of the falls, plus the mountain in the background. 


Yes, that mountain in the background is the same mountain as the one in the header!













This is part of a series of posts about our trip to Iceland.


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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ICELAND: Haunted Beach Djúpalónssandur


At the base of Snaefellsjokull (on the South Western edge of the Snaefellsness Peninsula) rests a black sand and pebbled beach known as Djúpalónssandur. Once a popular fishing area, this bay is now largely uninhabited save for travelers. After passing through a small trail of mystical lava rock formations, you will find the black sand beach. All along the beach are the scattered and rusted remains of a British fishing ship, which crashed nearby in the '40s, killing 14 men. Rumor has it that this beach is haunted by those that lost their lives in the wreck, but we found the area to be more beautiful than eerie. 

Our time here was rather short, as it wasn't long before it started raining, but Iceland once again produced another gorgeous rainbow to brighten the situation. I would absolutely make a point to stop here if you are planning a trip along the peninsula, it's too gorgeous to pass up. 




















This is part of a series of posts about our trip to Iceland.

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