Category Archives: Iceland

The 5 Day Black and White Challenge

My old friend Thomas Hendele recently nominated me for the 5 Day Black and White Challenge, a thing on Facebook where, after being nominated, you have to post 5 different black and white photos over the course of 5 days. I thought I’d share my entries on the blog as well, for everybody who doesn’t use Facebook.

1. Dom Sculpture

Dom Sculpture

I still had some photos on Disk that I hadn’t gotten around to posting on my Cologne Photoblog before I shut it down, so I processed one of those.

2. The Sun behind Hallgrimskirkja

The Sun behind Hallgrimskirkja

A moody shot from one of my first days in Iceland in 2013.

3. Gdansk Airport

Airport Gdansk

Abstract Architectural photo of the roof construction at Lech Walesa Airport in Gdansk, Poland

4. Breitling Jet Team

Breitling Jet Team

They had some pretty amazing aerobatics displays between runs at the 2014 Red Bull Air Race in Gdynia

5. Speicherstadt Schwarzweiss

Speicherstadt Schwarzweiss

For the grand finale, I actually went out into the cold to capture a new photo of my new home, the wonderful city of Hamburg.

I hope you enjoyed and if you like, you can find me on Facebook under my real name: Jan Hapke.

Sunset at the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Some days in Iceland are more crazy than others. This was one of them. After making my way through winds that were so cold that my iPhone switched itself off, getting completely soaked from torrential rains and having to change all of my clothes in the car next to the road (fortunately nobody saw me), eating canned beans next to a milk truck in the middle of nowhere under a sky that reminded me of a surrealist painting and visiting a waterfall that looked rather boring, I arrived at the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon just as the sun was starting to go down.

I grabbed my tripod and camera, stuffed another lens into my pocket and jumped out of the car. I left the – still wet – backpack behind. I quickly made my way up a little rubble hill, rammed my tripod into the ground as good as possible to protect it against the extreme winds and started shooting picture after picture after picture. After sixty-some pictures, my memory card was full. And the spare cards were in my backpack. I ran and jumped down the hill back to the car, at times almost getting carried away by the wind. I don’t think the wind was strong enough to actually carry me away but it still felt funny. After changing memory cards, I sprinted back up the hill, much to the amusement of the few couples who were enjoying the romantic sunset from the warm comfort of their SUVs.

Jökulsárlón Sunset

Fortunately, I hadn’t missed much of the scene. In fact, the most spectacular moments had just begun. So close to the Arctic circle, the sun goes down very fast during winter. And just for a few minutes, it sets the sky on fire. Higher clouds are illuminated directly from behind, lighting up in an intense red-orange glow. The water in the glacial lagoon of course reflects the spectacle. And with drifting chunks of ice shining naturally blue the whole scene became even more breathtaking. I actually had tears in my eyes. Might have been due to the wind, though.

After about half an hour, the sun had gone down far enough to make the magical light disappear. I had taken almost 250 photos by then. Back in the car, my fingers were stiff and my face was burning from the frost. But I didn’t care much, I was too ecstatic that at the end of an otherwise suboptimal day, I got to see the most beautiful sunset of my life thanks to nothing but luck.
I turned up the music and the heat for the remaining 80 km to the next city, already planning to return the next morning for some daytime pictures of the glacier.

Kaffi Akureyri

With temperatures outside exceeding 30° Celsius today, I felt like looking at some pictures of colder weather. The coldest weather I have ever experienced was probably in March this year in Iceland. The temperatures were around -25° Celsius but because there was also a severe snow storm going on, the windchill was much lower. Packed into several layers of warm clothes and carrying my trusty weather sealed Pentax K-5 II, I went for a little walk outside. The only other option was hanging around the hotel all day because the roads leading into and out of town were closed due to the weather.

Kaffi Akureyri

Akureyri is the largest town in Iceland outside the Greater Reykjavik Area. I wouldn’t have found the center of the city without a phone with GPS and maps because, well, you can’t actually see that much during a snow storm. The local busses were still running, though and I noticed a few people leaving a bus and walking past this coffee shop (which to my amazement was open). I just stood still in the middle of what must have been a street and waited for the right picture. I don’t normally do a lot of street photography but here I was really fascinated by the way people dealt with the extreme weather.

The Blue Lagoon by Day

During the Sunset at the Blue Lagoon, I of course also took some photos that weren’t shot into the sun and as a result didn’t require as much post-processing. Before entering the actual geothermal spa that the Blue Lagoon is famous for, I took a left and landed on a little footpath that lead around some very shallow pools in the very dark lava rock landscape. The water, being very rich in minerals, had left a white residue on the ground of the pools and on the black rocks that had contact with the water, allowing the sun to be reflected from the ground better and making the blue water appear even more blue.

Little Rock Islands

Throughout the pools, some patches of rock were still sticking up, forming little islands in the pool. The walkway is built across a few of the natural islands and connected with a bridge. At night, it is illuminated by some tiny spotlights, making it at least possible to figure out where you have to go. Ultimately, the main purpose of the path is to connect the geothermal spa with the Blue Lagoon Clinic, a private clinic specialized in treating various skin diseases with the mud and water from the Blue Lagoon. From the Clinic’s parking lot, a regular road leads to the Svartsengi power plant.

Path along the Lagoon

After I felt I had taken enough photos of the Blue Lagoon, I still had about two hours before it would be dark enough for taking some night shots at the same place. The spa was a nice option to spend the time relaxing while drifting through the lagoon’s 40°C hot thermal water. I’m not normally much into wellness, but hey, vacations are always a great chance to try all the things you never do in your ordinary life. I don’t know the regular prices for a visit to the spa, but here, the basic entrance fee was around 35 euros and you get to use as much of their magic skin healing mud as you like. To my surprise it actually worked and made me look a lot better.
Until it all washed of again.
He. He. He.