9 Days in South Iceland.

Thingvallavatn, Thingvellir national park, Iceland

A few months ago my girlfriend and I decided to organize a trip to Iceland.

The main purpose of the trip being photography, I started researching on the web potential destinations. After a few clicks here and there it became clear that for first timers, the south of the country would offer a lot of photo opportunities packed next to each other.

I started placing pins on a virtual map. Google maps is great for that. You can create custom ones here: Map.

The great site 500px.com was key in determining what we would try to see and photograph.

I came up with this map.

Reading more about Iceland in June (our chosen month for traveling) it became apparent that the volatile weather would have been the first challenge and the second would have been the ruggedness of the terrain around a few destinations.

We decided to rent a 4X4 that could climb unpaved mountain roads an eventually be used for fording small rivers. I checked out youtube to see what to expect. Nothing transcendental, but a few videos depicting massive fails, where the truck gets stuck in the water created a bit of apprehension. In reality the whole fording thing was never really an issue when we actually got to Iceland. Try to cross at an angle, pointing downstream, in first gear. Ideally wait for some other vehicle to be around, just in case. If you run into trouble call 112 and on rescue truck will show up and help.

We rented out car, Suzuki Vitara from Go Iceland. The car got delivered to our hotel in Reykjavik. It ended up not being a Suzuki, because the Suzuki hit a sheep the previous day and the from of the car got destroyed! The girl from Go Iceland delivered a Hyundai Tucson, which worked great. I would recommend to try to time the delivery of your car with the time you plan on leaving Reykjavik, especially if your hotel is located in the center of the city, where parking is a nightmare and requires frequent trips to the meters to insert coins. Last, but not least, I drive stick so if you don’t make sure you ask ahead of time for a car with automatic transmission.

Thingvallavatn, Iceland

The other concern had more to do with our inexperience with photographing in the rain.

We had four cameras:

Sony Alpha A7IISony A6000Panasonic LUMIX GX7 and Panasonic LUMIX GM1.

Only the A7II is some how weather sealed. We ended up using a couple of methods to protect the cameras while shooting in the rain:

zip lock bags and ponytail elastics bands. There are plenty of tutorials on the web on how to use these.

and a small umbrella for my girlfriend.

I brought along a few microfiber cloth to remove water droplets from the front element of the lenses.

Finally, I never use lens hoods, but in the rain they make a huge difference in keeping rain drops away from your lens.

It was very important to have a smart phone with a data plan:

the data coverage is really good everywhere. I rented a car with a GPS, but the GPS (a Garmin) could not find half of our destinations by name. I ended up using Google maps on my iPhone all the time. It worked perfectly. I bought 800mb of data with AT&T and used less than half of it for Google maps and emails.

If you have an unlocked device you can get a local prepaid sim, Vodafone or Siminn.

Clothing:

we packed and used hiking boots (waterproof), hat and gloves and dressed in layers, in my case t-shirt, sweater (or two, because I’m always cold!), warm jacket and rain proof jacket on top. We also packed, but never used, waterproof pants.

The idea is not to be bothered or discouraged by the rain, especially during longer hikes. Having rainproof clothing and a good bag for your camera gives you just that. We’ve seen the weather change really quickly, from cold, windy and rainy, to sunny and warm and back. So make sure you carry the rainproof stuff with you, even if it’s sunny at beginning of the trail.

Camera equipment:

I had the Sony A7II with a rented Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar, which I loved and the A6000 with my Sony 24-240.

The combo turned out to be perfect, I never used the old Nikon lenses I brought along with the Fotodiox adapter.

I also packed my 3 Legged Thing tripod and my Hoya 77mm Neutral Density filter to smooth out water streams and waterfalls.

I bought this Chrome Cardiel backpack, that turned out to be really useful. It’s waterproof and folds to nothing. Once unpacked from my suitcase, I placed in the insert from my Kata bag and used it as a waterproof camera bag/daypack. It fitted both cameras, filters and rain jacket.

Jökulsárlón, Iceland

The final itinerary:

Night 1 Reykjavik, Hotel Borg

Nights 2,3,4 ION Adventure Hotel, trips to Thingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir, Haifoss.

Nights 5,6,7 Hotel Laki

Night 8 Fosshotel Nupar

Night 9 Reykjavik, Hotel Borg

The next few posts will talk about specific destinations and the hotels.

Gear List:
A6000

Sony A6000

A7II

Sony A7II

sony_fe16-35_f4

Sony 16-35

Sony24-240

Sony 24-240

LumixGM1

Panasonic Lumix GM1

Lumix-GX7

Panasonic Lumix GX7

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