Icelandic Rainbows: a Photo Essay

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A vivid rainbow in Southern Iceland

One of the things that stood out most about Iceland was the moody weather. During my trip in early October, it easily felt like there were three seasons in a single day. Rain and hail were intermittent. The weather changed as quickly and dramatically as Kanye West’s moods. There was an upside to ever changing weather… a constant supply of rainbows.


Rainbow and plane wreckage on Sólheimasandur beach in Iceland

Iceland is a giant rainbow factory. I’ve never seen as many rainbows, or ones as dramatically impressive anywhere else on the planet.

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A rainbow appears above Skogafoss waterfall

There were so many rainbows, I was convinced we were going to stumble upon a unicorn factory.

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A vivid double rainbow along the ring road in Southern Iceland

I shot the panorama of the double rainbow above with my iPhone 6s.

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Rainbow + waterfall = win

There were times where I’d think “that looks like photoshop” because the rainbows were so vivid and real. It was a nice reminder that there is an upside to rainy weather, and added to the already stunning Icelandic scenery.

Meeting Icelandic Horses: A Photo Essay


Cuddling Icelandic horses

Editor’s Note:

Anastasia Chernykh is the social media manager for My Life’s a Trip. She is also a very talented photographer. Anastasia lives in Kharkov, Ukraine but we met up in Iceland in October for a photo trip. I’ve asked her to share some of her images from our trip. I hope you enjoy this post she wrote about the highly photogenic horses of Iceland.

- Jen Pollack Bianco

It’s not common to see an animal roaming the cold landscape of Iceland, unless it’s a sheep or a horse. While the first ones I met were easy to scare and too shy to pose for a photograph, the latter are among the friendliest creatures I’ve ever met.

They are small in size, more like a pony than horse. They are incredibly calm and will allow you to pet them for a cube of sugar or a handful of grass:)

Icelandic horses claim to be among the oldest and purest breeds in the world. Brought to the island by the first settlers between the 9th and 10th centuries, they soon became the sole breed in Iceland. To prevent the disease, Icelandic parliament prohibited the import of other breeds to the country over a thousand years ago. Even though the animals originated from Iceland, those that were exported are not longer allowed to return.


Having easy access to the fresh grass, horses still prefer to eat out of hands

Icelandic horses come in many different colors, for which there are over 100 names  in the Icelandic language.


Not all horses are that into people

There are a few horse farms in South Iceland that offer horse riding tours (around $100 for 2 1/2 hour tour) and horse rentals.


Lined up for a sweet treat


A dapple gray Icelandic horse


Horses under stormy sky


These guys are familiar with camera

If you’re not ready for a riding lesson, consider at least a few minutes stopping for a few minutes when you come across a herd of these beautiful horses  if you’re driving around the Iceland. You won’t regret it!

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Making new friends in Iceland 

Exploring Glaciers in Iceland: a Photo Essay


Melt from Svínafellsjökull glacier makes for gorgeous landscapes

Iceland is known as the “land of fire and ice.” Between the Nordic country’s geothermal hot springs, active volcanos, and glaciers, it’s a fitting nickname.


Clouds, Svínafellsjökull glacier, and autumn scenery

Iceland is home to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, which has multiple tongues. One of the prettiest I saw during my Iceland trip was Svínafellsjökull. It’s located in Skaftafell, which also part of Vatnajökull National Park in southern Iceland.

Autumn scenery of Svínafellsjökull Glacier

I shot the video above on my iPhone 6s. I thought the southern Icelandic scenery was so Nordic zen.

Damp moss adds to the many textures of this Svínafellsjökull landscape

Svínafellsjökull and Skaftafellsjökull are spurs (or sub-glacier) of the Vatnajökull ice cap.

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Moody light and a stream make Svinafelljokul hauntingly beautiful

 I loved how you could view the blue ice of the glacier right from the Ring Road.

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A brief hike leads up to the tongue of Skaftafellsjökull glacier

The blue ice of Skaftafellsjökul added an extra dimension to the already moody and gorgeous Icelandic scenery.

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Moody blues of Skaftafellsjökull

You can hike up to (and on) the tongue of Skaftafellsjökull glacier.


Glacier hiking in Iceland

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Moody mist and shifting light made for an interesting photograph

If you’re planning on doing a glacier hike, be sure to hire an experienced guide. There have been a few accidents in this area.


Autumn colors, mountains and a glacier. 


Ana photographing the icebergs in a glacial lake

I shot these images on the first day of my two day Glacial Lagoon Photo Tour in Iceland.

Visiting Iceland’s Famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Beach


Ice glistens like crystal on the black sand beach at Jökulsárlón

The coldest morning I spent this year was when I awoke before dawn so I could photograph the sunrise on the beach at Jökulsárlón, the glacial lagoon in southern Iceland located in Vatnajokull National Park. The images in this post are some of my favorites from that frigid morning, and the afternoon before.


Afternoon view of an iceberg in Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón has both a large glacial lake and a nearby beach, where you can see the icebergs head off into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Some chunks of ice wind up on the beach. In the shifting morning light, they can glisten like giant crystals and are incredibly beautiful.


Calm before the storm on Iceland’s Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

 Jökulsárlón is such a uniquely beautiful spot it’s a favorite spot for Hollywood filmmakers.


Cold light on an iceberg in Jökulsárlón

Scenes from the James Bond films Die Another Day and A View to a Kill as well as Batman Begins and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider have been shot here.

Left: pastel morning skies on the beach at Jökulsárlón  Right: waves crashing on icebergs on the Jökulsárlón beach

Here’s some video I shot on my iPhone 6s of that chilly morning on the beach at Jökulsárlón:

Video of sunrise at Jökulsárlón Beach. The wind you hear was cold.

With gorgeous soft light that makes the ice seem to glow from within, it’s not a surprise that Jökulsárlón is such a dream location for photographers.


At sunrise, the light is as cold as the icebergs on the beach

The glowing icebergs and dramatic landscape make Jökulsárlón one of my favorite spots in Iceland. Tourists love it and many photographers were deeply committed, dressed in waders to keep the chilly waters of the Atlantic from getting them wet.

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Ice ice baby

 The light was so gorgeous many of the images I shot required no editing or retouching.


Chilly morning on the beach of the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

 Visiting Jökulsárlón was part of my two day Glacial Lagoon tour with my fabulous guide, Jorunn Sjofn Gudlaugsdottir.


Beached iceberg

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Photographers love Iceland’s Glacial Lagoon

This is a popular spot for photographers to attempt to capture shots of the Northern Lights, although they did not make an appearance the night we tried.

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Dirty ice and lots of tripods = Iceland realness

I am so grateful we called off our aurora hunt just past midnight so we had the energy to get to Jökulsárlón’s black sand beach before sunrise. It was so worth it.

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Blue ice in the morning sun

I had so much fun shooting I did not realize how cold my hands were until I got back into the car and took off my gloves. I usually wear fingerless cashmere gloves for shooting, but I’d advise something warmer and more weatherproof if you’re shooting here at dawn.


Lonely blue iceberg

I usually wear fingerless cashmere gloves for shooting, but I’d advise something warmer and more weatherproof if you’re planning a trip to Jökulsárlón shooting here at dawn (or at night).

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Left: glowing blue ice and puffy clouds Right: this piece of ice looked like a fish up close

If any photographers have suggestions for gloves that work for photographers in cold and damp climates, please leave your suggestions in the comments thread.


Ripples and bokah on the Jökulsárlón Glacial lake

Exploring the Sólheimasandur Plane Crash Site in Southern Iceland


Wreckage from the 1973 DC-3 on Sólheimasandur Beach pluse a red coat and a rainbow

The Sólheimasandur plane wreck in Southern Iceland is a must-see destination for aviation geeks and photographers alike.

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Moody clouds and rainbows add Icelandic atmosphere to the U.S. Navy Douglas Super DC-3

Located on the black sand of Sólheimasandur Beach, on the coast of Southern Iceland, the wreckage of the US Navy DC-3 plane is worth exploring.


The DC-3 fuselage adds an unexpected element to Iceland’s already dramatic landscape

The Sólheimasandur plane crash site is not morbid — all the crew members survived the crash landing which was caused due to extreme icing that forced an emergency landing on the black sand of Sólheimasandur beach.

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Left: You can still faintly read the United States Navy on the fuselage Right: wires dangling from the cockpit

Rarely can you get this close to plane wreckage. You can even climb inside.

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The Sólheimasandur plane wreck has been hit by graffiti artists. I don’t think the pink works.

According to Jórunn Sjöfn Guðlaugsdóttir, our photo guide in Iceland, the plane wreck site is much easier to reach since markers have been placed on the beach to guide tourists to the site. But you definitely need to be driving a 4×4 since the sand is soft in some parts.


It’s amazing that you can actually walk up to (and into) the DC-3 wreckage

the Sólheimasandur plane wreck site can be reached off the ring road. Between the Skógafoss waterfall and Vik. The GPS coordinates are 63.459523,-19.364618.

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Sólheimasandur is a popular stop for aviation geeks and photographers visiting Iceland

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Dramatic clouds, rainbows, and black sand at Sólheimasandur wreck site

Visiting the wreckage on Sólheimasandur Beach is a bit surreal. The plane feels like a leftover prop from a movie shoot.


Anastasia’s red coat adds a nice pop of color against the black sand of Sólheimasandur beach




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