Thingvellir National Park

Iceland Photo Guide and a few tips

Two of our guides, Hawk and Finn have written a free guide to Iceland for photographers. It’s an e-book on pdf-form, 148 pages and is divided into two parts.
Part one is called ‘Location, location, location’  – and as the name suggests, contains information on photographic locations in Iceland.
Part two is called ‘Proper Planning & Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance’ – and again, hopefully the name is gives a clue about the content.
The book can be downloaded in two versions,
A) with single page on the screen, which is better for printing and viewing on tablets or phones
B) with spreads (2 pages) on the screen, which is better for viewing on computer screens We recommend reading the book in Acrobat Reader.

Download Photo Guide to Iceland (single pages)

Download Photo Guide to Iceland (spreads)

Photo-tip 1 & 2

Photo-tip 1: Select a season
Select the time of year for your trip to the desired feel and atmosphere of the photos you want to shoot. Each season has its pros and cons.

Summer:  24-hour daylight and everything in bloom but also the most number of tourists – although Iceland can never be considered crowded.

Fall: Autumn colours with the contrast of the first snow in the mountains and the crisp air. The number of tourist’s drops but so does the temperature and the hours of daylight.

Winter: Short days with limited daylight provide plenty of challenges but there are still plenty of great photos to pursue; the Icelandic horses out in snowstorm, the Northern Lights and frozen waterfalls.

Spring: Over 75 different bird species migrate to Iceland in the spring and nest. Here you can find some of the largest bird cliffs in Europe, including the largest puffin colonies. The highlands are however inaccessible in the spring and most highland roads don´t open until after mid-June.

Photo-tip 2: Choose the right time of day for each site.
One of the best things about visiting a place that you have not photographed before is that you have no preconceived ideas about the various viewpoints and your mind is entirely open to new impressions, both motives and the ever-changing light. However, most sights and locations have a time of day when the light is best suited for photography but you probably don´t have time to linger and study each location for a long  time, besides, why invent the wheel… so put some effort into planning. Checking Internet forums, asking photographers who have been there or joining a photo tour are all valid options.

Photo-tip 3 & 4

Photo-tip 3: Stay in the right places
The Geysir area is one the biggest tourist attractions because of the geysers. It´s therefore difficult to get a shot of the spouting geyser without people in the frame. However, one the great things about Iceland as a tourist destination is the freedom to visit the attractions any time. The area is not fenced off or locked during the night – and since there is 24-hour daylight in June you can shoot the geysers at off-hours when there are no tourists. By staying in the hotel at Geysir you can shoot the geysers without any people – by taking a midnight stroll or waking up a bit earlier than everybody else. Same applies to other sites, such as the Blue Lagoon or Lake Myvatn, staying on location gives you an edge.

Photo-tip 4: Protect your gear
As in many places, Icelanders have a saying about the weather – if you don´t like it, just wait ten minutes. And why don´t Icelanders carry umbrellas? Because the rain is usually horizontal…

The point is, be prepared for rain, wind and dust or snow.

Photo-tip 5 & 6

Photo-tip 5: Catch a rainbow
Rainbows are only formed when the sunlight goes through spray of water at an angle lower than 40 degrees. With an abundance of rain and waterfalls and the fact that Iceland is so close to the Arctic Circle where the sun doesn´t rise very high in the sky, it makes your chances of shooting a rainbow quite good to excellent.

A polarizing filter is a ‘must have’ and really helps bringing out the colours in the rainbow.

Photo-tip 6: Buy your drinks in the duty free upon arrival in Iceland.
Iceland used to be one of the most expensive countries in the world, with food prices 68% higher than the EU average and alcohol prices about 126% higher. The price difference is now a lot less with the fall of the Icelandic currency after the bank crash of 2008 but alcohol is still quite expensive due to tax.

Of course, you could skip the drinks and invest in a new wide angle lense…

Nature Explorer can help you plan your Iceland photo tour. Please don’t hesitate to contact us

If you wish to book a guided photo tour in Iceland, please drop us an email to and we can start planning your Iceland photo adventure.


Price: FREE

Hope this helps planning your photo adventure to Iceland
If you want a private photo guide or join a photo tour, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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