I’ve seen my fair share of places in Europe and beyond, but one place seems to have it all…Iceland.
I don’t consider myself a landscape photographer…far from it. In fact, before my recent trip to Iceland, I’ve never ever taken a serious landscape image in my life. I have never been inspired to take one but Iceland has changed this. On our way along the coast heading east, we stopped at a stunning glacial lagoon. The ice was floating slowly towards the sea and, for the first time, I was triggered to get out my wide angle lens and my filter set, which I have had for many years but never made the effort to give them a go. It was both the stunning site and the wish to show people at home what I’d just witnessed. The result was not bad at all and I was looking forward to do some more landscape photography. Although not as exciting as shooting wildlife, it has been a great experience to work with these stunning landscapes and dramatic skies.
Along the glacial lagoon a lot of snow buntings were flying around and I managed to get a shot of a male and his reflection.
Divers have been on my wish list for a long time. I’ve seen them many times in the past but never had the chance to spend some time with them. I knew Iceland would be the place to finally spend some proper time with these birds and I have not been disappointed.
Both the great-northern diver and the red-throated diver were spotted many times and after a short but thorough recce, we knew where to photograph them. The best way is to take your time and return to these sites a couple of times to get the best out of it. These birds have been the highlight of this trip and I’m very pleased with the images I’ve taken: what stunning birds and so graceful.
A bird that I only have seen as a winter visitor is the redwing. They were seen all over the island and are as common on Iceland as the blackbird in Holland. Nonetheless…it’s a beautiful bird in its summer plumage and a joy to photograph, especially on a beautiful perch or lichen covered rock.
The red-necked phalarope was another personal target of mine. I have seen them in Norway but like the divers I’ve never had the chance to do them properly. Spending time with these tiny and brave birds was a delight. Their behaviour made me smile many times and it’s amazing that they are spending such a long time at sea before heading inland to breed. It turned out not so easy to get some decent shots as they are very energetic and are always chasing insect in an unpredictable pattern.
Harlequin Ducks prefer turbulent water, both in their breeding habitat, which is along fast-moving mountain streams, and in their wintering habitat, which is along rocky coastlines. The mountain streams are usually at low to subalpine elevations within a closed forest canopy, and have midstream gravel bars or rocks for roosting.
The slavonian grebe was another stunning bird to photograph. They also breed on Iceland and their call is one to remember. As like the red-necked phalaropes, the slavonian grebe is not shy at all and relatively easy to photograph.
When visiting a large waterfall we came across this ptarmigan sitting on a rock with a fast streaming river in the background. Using a long shutter speed I was able to blur the river in the background.
The puffin also breeds in great numbers on Iceland. This puffin was resting on a rock and yawned every now and then. With his beak wide open it gave this sweet clownish looking bird some more attitude. It’s always fun to spend time with them.
Iceland turned out an absolute personal highlight. The stunning landscapes, many bird species and fast changing weather makes this country a true paradise for serious nature photographers and bird watchers. Natures Images is well aware of this and knows how to make the most of it in a relative short time. In twelve days we have taken our guests to the best places in the best possible light. We have been returning to hotspots several times to make the most out of it. We have been soaking wet lying down in the water. We have been well fed in the finest restaurants. We have laughed until it hurts. We have driven over two thousand kilometres to take the group to the most productive places and listened to beautiful and rubbish music on the radio. The next trip to Iceland will be in 2015 and I can highly recommend this trip if you’re crazy about birds and don’t care about getting enough sleep.
Let me thank everyone on this trip for their great company and effort. A special thanks to Mark Sisson and Danny Green for…well you know why. You both turned out real friends and you have my eternal gratitude.