When I told people I was going to Iceland in November, they thought I was joking.  I guess not many people would volunteer to pay money to go stand in single digit weather.  Well, the joke was on them because I saw some incredibly beautiful and photogenic scenery.  Yes, there were some chilly moments, especially when the rogue wave crashed into my camera set up and made it up my gortex pants then down my cold weather boots to give my socks a nice soaker.  And yes, there were some super stinky moments, photographing a geothermal hot springs area spewing sulphuric steam.  And yes, there was one day where I couldn't find a photograph composition to save my life until the last moment of the day.  But overall, it was perfect because I came home with a nice set of photos, with a couple that are being added to my all time favorites, and while not super intense, I got three light shows compliments of the aurora borealis.

The first stop was about 3 hours away from Reykjavik on the Snæfellnes Penninsula to the iconic Kirkjufell.  This spot is a good warm up because of the two waterfall drops and the wizard hat mountain.  Also, the water surface is a great option if the northern lights decide to show up and the weather is clear.  We were not lucky that night, but our luck would change later in the week.

Outside of Akureyri in the north, which is Iceland's second largest city, is the grand waterfall Goðafoss.  Access should be available from both sides, though the right side of the falls were a lot closer to a parking lot. The trail on the left side was covered in ice, so shoe mounted spikes or products like Yak Trax worked wonders.  Ideally, it would have been great if more of the falls were frozen, but still a good winter scene.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the rest of the winter landscape in the north, which included several craters of various sizes and hot springs.  Fortunately, the sunrises and sunsets came through with their gorgeous cotton candy pink skies to make the landscape glow!

Heading back west, based out of the region near Höfn, we finally arrived at the spots I had been longing to see - black sand beaches, glaciers, washed up icebergs, and ice caves!  The glacial lake and iceberg beach of Jökulsárlón should be a mandatory stop on every trip to Iceland.  The ocean enters this inlet and carves away at the glacier, producing a lagoon filled with icebergs of all sizes.  The tide changes the landscape constantly, so you will come back the next day to a completely different set up of ice shapes.  These bergs eventually get carried out into the ocean where they are either pushed back up onto the black sand beach or are tossed around to shrink before they are subsequently deposited on the beach with the rest.  Once again, the skies did not fail in producing some amazing sunrises and sunsets, as well as blue hour colors before and after.  

iPhone Action Shot!

Just across the road from the lagoon is the beach full of icebergs.  The key is to find an interesting shaped piece of ice and capture it in contrast to the rushing waves.  To be honest, I don't think I really found one resulting photo that I loved, but the unreal scene of all the washed up icebergs was enough for me!  I also played around with making sun stars one sunset, using my wide angle lens on f/22.

About an hour drive north of Jökulsárlón is a peninsula with beautiful grass topped sand dunes where the wind can, undisturbed, create amazing patterns in the black sand.

This was also the area where we finally stopped to interact with a group of very curious icelandic horses.  One or two of them were quite the pests as I was trying to take some photos!

Finally, a trip to Iceland in the winter would not be complete without a light show from the aurora borealis.  We got three!  Though not super intense (probably a max reading of Kp 4), it was still great to see them again after the spectacular show we got last year in Sweden.  The last night I didn't even have to go more than 10 feet out of my cabin to see a rainbow of aurora arching over us.  It was also 2am, so I took the opportunity to goof around in the snow and take some aurora selfies too.  

Here are three time-lapse videos I put together with some of my shots!  Not sure why YouTube messed with the colors of the sky, but you get the idea!  Enjoy!