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  • Zsolt Varanka

Return to Iceland!

Eight years ago I took a travel agency to take me to a short, 5 days long trip to Iceland. Was enough to fell in love with the uniqueness and the natural beauties of the island, which is just a little bit larger than my home country, Hungary. I felt I saw so little at that time... Had not enough freedom to decide where and when to go. I do not know why, but, for some reasons until 2022 I did not have another, own-organized tour to Iceland, while visited various locations of Norway, also discovered the Faroe Islands at the North of Europe.


Actually, this autumn I planned to travel to the Dolomites again... However, my wife, Kinga mentioned she'd never been in Iceland, so would like to see it! Well, no question, the Dolomites is a fantastic location, but, at the same time, it is getting a bit difficult to get affordable accommodation and it is kinda crowded place all the time.

So, then... as we love the NORTH, so, let's go to ICELAND instead!


As we have taken our vote, I started to find some more information about a 'possible' journey there. Checked the flights, accommodation, rent a car, itinerary for a week ride, also the prices... Fortunately, there are a lot of resources reside on the internet, travel plans of many agencies and also of individual travelers, YouTube videos (check those created by Mads Peter Iversen), maps, and so on... Started to put them together still in August with travel plans to the end of October. Soon seemed it will work well, but hurry to book the flight tickets and the car! A few more days research and done! ...As had some crazy feelings because of the possible icy and snowy weather versus the car, I reserved a 4x4 vehicle with studded tires, just for sure!


Get a 4x4 car in Iceland out of the Summer season

Then, I have been working on to create a daily travel and visit plan listing the locations and sightseeing we'd visit, considering the very changeable weather of Iceland. So, allowed 2 or 3 times revisiting my most demanded locations, like the Diamond beach and Reynisdrangar. Finally, booked the guesthouse rooms according to the busy plan. Being lucky enough, we were witnesses of the Northern Lights aka Aurora Borealis at our second accommodation!


Aurora borealis at our accomodation

So far, I had only a quick test of night sky photography with my Tamron 17-28/2.8 lens, so, wondered, how it will perform when have a pleasure to experience the Northern Lights in Iceland! Well, no doubts, a fast 20/1.4 or 24/1.4 lens could be a more ideal option, but, I prefer to travel light, so carry the minimum gear with me. Therefore, I took only the Tamron 17-28/2.8, the Tamron 28-200/2.8-5.6 and the Canon 15/2.8 fisheye lens (with mount converter) with me to couple to my Sony A7III camera. My verdict: the wide angle Tamron works pretty well wide open for night photography (ISO 3200-8000, f/2.8, exposure time 3-6 sec).


Hike light: tripod and fullframe camera with wide-angle lens over the shoulder, telezoom, fisheye and filters in sidebabags

Planned the journey to max out the daytime from about 8.30 to 17.30, means, some days planed to drive one or 2 hours before sunrise and after sunset to get to location in the right time: sunrise and shoot during the last rays of sun at sunset, then get to the next guesthouse. As planned always to be in move we stayed at a location only one night (with an exception of the guesthouse at the East).


According to our plans, was going to drive about 2000 km. Picked up the car at Keflavík airport, drove to North-West to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, then turned to the South to visit the Eastern hot spots of the Golden Circle, afterwards headed to the East-South, then the South-West coast till Eystrahorn, then punched a return drive to Reykjanes in one day. Lazily, the last day was devoted to discover the peninsula of Reykjavík. The map below shows all the locations we would visited in Iceland one time, while, the current travel plan is indicated by the blue line, mainly following road 1.


Our travel plan (follow the blue line)

We were surprised when found some spectacular places were really full with tourists, like the Diamond beach, Reynisfjara beach and the Thingvellír National Park.


Thingvellír National Park

Thanks to the careful planning we were lucky enough to take nice photos at the Diamond beach during sunset and sunrise, as well!


An ice-particle at the Diamond beach

If you plan to go there, put in your wellingtons, as you'll need them! They'll give you more chance to get some great shots, but beware of the waves! If a bigger one comes, never go backwards, as might fell on your back if stumble in a large piece of ice, like I did :). I saw some guys fell as well, and others, who are flooded up to knee by the sea water, while wearing a sport shoe! Anyway, some cold water on my back worth the unique experience!


Take on your wellingtons at the Diamond beach

The Diamond beach is not only a great location for photographing unique ice particles, but a spectacular location filled with busy amateur and pro photographers, where one can find friends. There we met a photographer couple again, who we talked a day ago at a nice waterfall, Skútafoss, also met a french nature photographer, Sophie, (you may check her beautiful wildlife photographs on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sophieburg_photo/), who held a very large backpack having her heavy long lens to capture seals at Jökulsarlón.


Photographers at the Diamond Beach

Sophie at the Diamond Beach

Having tremendous number of spectacular photos, next mission is collecting the very best ones and build a photo-album for Christmas!


Enjoy the selected photos from our Iceland 2022 autumn trip on my gallery page: https://www.zsoltvarankaphotography.com/iceland


You may find a set if photos on my Instagram page, too:

https://www.instagram.com/zsoltvarankaphotography/


;)

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