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Author Topic: Iceland Summer 09  (Read 14637 times)
Cooner
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« on: October 29, 2008, 06:37:42 AM »
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I've been interested in taking a photo vacation in Iceland for some time now and with the economic meltdown in that country it would seem to be a good time price wise.  For those who have traveled there, did you set out on your own or as part of a tour?  I've never been on a photo tour but having never been in the country I'm considering it.  How have those of you who have traveled to Iceland find the experience?  I'm specifically interested in your opinions regarding photo tours options vs. self guided tours.
Thanks, Douglas
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2008, 10:25:34 AM »
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Haven't been there, but these should get you started:

http://focusonnature.is/
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/location...locations.shtml
http://www.luguber.net/portfolio/portfolio...nd/iceland.html
http://www.nat.is/travelguideeng/national_...lsargljufur.htm
http://www.brucepercy.com/podcasts/IcelandPodcast.mov

Mike.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 12:26:34 AM by wolfnowl » Logged

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Jon Meddings
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2008, 10:32:07 PM »
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Quote from: Cooner
I've been interested in taking a photo vacation in Iceland for some time now and with the economic meltdown in that country it would seem to be a good time price wise.  For those who have traveled there, did you set out on your own or as part of a tour?  I've never been on a photo tour but having never been in the country I'm considering it.  How have those of you who have traveled to Iceland find the experience?  I'm specifically interested in your opinions regarding photo tours options vs. self guided tours.
Thanks, Douglas

Douglas, I asked a similar question on this forum a few months ago and my wife and I went in early September. We spent 10 days driving around the island and camping at various sites. It is spectacular. Best advice we got was to purchase a book called Lost in Iceland. The best part of the book is that each page has a beautiful picture and at the end of the book is a map with where each sot was taken. We planned out several areas we wished to visit and then searched out others of our own nearby. Great resource.

I've got a few of our pictures up from a couple of months ago at:

http://www.pbase.com/meddings/iceland&page=all
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Rusty Jackson
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2008, 01:16:38 PM »
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I was there the at the start of summer in 2007.  We drove thousands of miles and I has written a few thousand words about it.  All of which is on my web site.  So have a look:

http://www.terra360.com/

I would go a bit later next time, perhaps August or early September.  It just did not get dark enough sometimes, and when it did, it was late at "night" or VERY early in the morning.  In June 2007 it was 62 ISK to the USD.  I think now, officially, it is closer to 137 to 1 USD.  I have not seen any write ups about what it is like now save for a few short pieces saying "take cash" as many credit/debit cards might be a problem as the banks have failed.  There is a new and long article in the Financial Times about Iceland here:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/66c87994-aec1-11...0077b07658.html

It is a long read, but a good one.  No matter what the financial condition of the place, it is a WONDERFUL landscape and charming people.  That won't change.

Let me know if you have any questions I didn't cover about my trip.  I have all the Google Earth KML files on the web site too covering every meter we traveled.

Cheers, Rusty

ps. Jon Meddings I noticed covered a lot of the same ground I did (great shots!).... and he had better skies than us in September.
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Stephen L Starkman
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2008, 01:42:04 PM »
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I was on Daniel's July 2007 workshop and I have to say the country is spectacular and so are the people.

http://slsman.smugmug.com/gallery/4013489_...233560795_mo3t2

Stephen
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2008, 11:28:59 AM »
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I've travelled to Iceland three times now, twice in 2001 and again in 2006. Every time was "self guided", not a photo tour, as will my next trip there.
I had no problems at all and great trips.
"Self guided" costs less and gives you a lot of flexibility(assuming you're prepared to do some research before the trip, then hire and self-drive a decent car, a 4x4 is pretty essential). language for English speaking visitors isn't a problem as almost every Icelander speaks excellent English as their second language.
Iceland is full of amazing locations, so you don't really need anyone to show you round. Having said that, taking a one day 'super jeep' tour up onto the glaciers is well worth the expense and will take you to some great places normally inaccessible to tourists in normal cars.

I'd assume a 'photo tour' may be worth the extra expense if you'd prefer a workshop style trip, rather than a holiday, or feel you need help. I'd definitely look for a tour guided by a local photographer as local knowledge and back up would be what's worth spending the extra on.

Quite how the economic crisis will impact on tourism is difficult to say yet. Whilst the Krona has spectacularly fallen in recent months, prices are rising scarily fast out there for imported goods (food fuel etc), so although the exchange rate may look good as inflation takes off it's likely to still remain an expensive country to visit.

Hope this helps

Paul Holman
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Rusty Jackson
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2008, 11:38:14 AM »
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Quote from: Stephen Starkman
I was on Daniel's July 2007 workshop and I have to say the country is spectacular and so are the people.

http://slsman.smugmug.com/gallery/4013489_...233560795_mo3t2

Stephen

Great colors you got on the interior landscapes Stephen.  I love them.  AND ... I AM SURE we both took photos of the same horse!  The palomino colored (blonde mane) horse.  They were hungry!

Cheers, Rusty
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Marsupilami
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2008, 03:05:22 AM »
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Quote from: Cooner
I've been interested in taking a photo vacation in Iceland for some time now and with the economic meltdown in that country it would seem to be a good time price wise.  For those who have traveled there, did you set out on your own or as part of a tour?  I've never been on a photo tour but having never been in the country I'm considering it.  How have those of you who have traveled to Iceland find the experience?  I'm specifically interested in your opinions regarding photo tours options vs. self guided tours.
Thanks, Douglas
Hello !

As author of the hiking guide to iceland (published in germany by R.Rother, but also available in English) I just can say shortly it is a wondurful country for photographers. As I am a professional photographer my hiking guide has a lot of good tips to wonderful places. But try to get as much time as possible. 2 weeks is absolute minimum to travel around the ring road - four weeks would be perfect. (i have been in this country for a total of 22 weeks on several trips and there are still a lot of things to do)

Greetings

Christian

www.christianhandl.com
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gouldm
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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2008, 03:10:18 AM »
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Hi,

My wife and I went to Iceland at end June/beginning July for 10 days this year. We hired a 4x4 (Suzuki Jimny) and drove around the ring road (clockwise). We camped. The first thing I'd say is that I should have hired a bigger 4x4 (and yes a 4x4 is *essential*!)! The Jimny was the smallest 4x4 (and hence cheapest) available... but there was barely room for us and our equipment :-p I think next time I'd hire a vehicle that I could get all my gear into the boot (trunk) of so that it'd leave the back seats free for cameras and waterproofs!

We didn't hire a sat nav, but the first thing we did was buy a road map (there is only one, available at all petrol stations), and it's excellent. It has so much information, including petrol station locations and camp site locations.

I'd also agree with buying 'Lost in Iceland' too. I also bought 'Iceland The Warm Country of the North' by the same author (it also has a location map in it). I bought them half way through the trip, but I'd recommend getting them first thing.

Although I think you pretty much *have* to camp if your going to circumnavigate the island at your own pace, Iceland can be very windy (there aren't any trees, or at least none I would call trees... infact there's a joke about Iceland that goes 'What do you do if your get lost in and Icelandic forest. Stand up!' You'll get this if you go ;-))! This can mean that the tent blows about quite a bit making a lot of noise and making sleeping a little difficult at times!

I must admit, I've never been on a photo tour, but I know a guy who did go on a photo tour of Iceland (with the UK company Light and Land) and I don't think he saw half of what my wife and I did. Of course the secret to success is planning. I knew pretty much where I wanted to go and what I was going to see before I went. I spent plenty of time planning and it *definitely* paid off. Look on Flickr at the map area of Iceland.

In 10 days we did get to see pretty much everything we wanted to see, but I'd agree with the person that said it needs at least 2 weeks preferably 4!

Oh, and don't forget to leave yourself time at the end for a visit to the Blue Lagoon... you're going to need it, and oh boy is it nice and relaxing!!!

If you want any more info, please feel free to email me!

Regards,

Mark.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2008, 03:45:20 AM »
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Quote from: gouldm
yes a 4x4 is *essential*
It can certainly make life more comfortable, but in mid summer it's still a bit of a luxury unless you're travelling into the highlands. Most of road 1 is now metalled and those parts that aren't really aren't too challenging in a normal car. We even came a across a tiny Toyota Yaris traversing the cross highland kjlor route in 2001, slow, but cheap.
Spring, autumn or winter would be a different prospect though.
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Although I think you pretty much *have* to camp if your going to circumnavigate the island at your own pace,
I don't really agree with that and it might put some people off the prospect of a great trip round road 1.
There are plenty of hotels and guest houses to stop in in the main towns on the route.
The only time I would see camping as impossible to avoid is if you want to spend more than a day in the central highland areas. However an extended visit there is not something to be taken on lightly and would definitely be best done as part of a larger group. You'd certainly need a serious, well prepared 4x4 and the experience to drive it properly too.

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gouldm
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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2008, 07:27:04 AM »
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Quote from: Rhossydd
It can certainly make life more comfortable, but in mid summer it's still a bit of a luxury unless you're travelling into the highlands. Most of road 1 is now metalled and those parts that aren't really aren't too challenging in a normal car. We even came a across a tiny Toyota Yaris traversing the cross highland kjlor route in 2001, slow, but cheap.
Spring, autumn or winter would be a different prospect though.

Yes, it's true, we saw plenty of people driving around route 1 in cars and much of it is metaled... what I was thinking of when I said a 4x4 was essential were some of the unmetaled routes you would inevitably end up driving if you wanted to explore a bit (although the map I used does distinguish between metaled and unmetaled, though not the quality of the unmetaled routes!)... I remember driving the unmetaled road up past Detifoss... it seemed that it had been made by crushing the volcanic rock that that area is covered in and although it was not potholed or anything it gave the suspension quite a pounding.

Also I remember seeing that the hire company we hired our vehicle from prohibited cars from crossing fords (although again, you could choose a route that doesn't have any fords on it, and route 1 doesn't have any) and also prohibited cars from certain routes... so that'd be something to check out if hiring a car.

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I don't really agree with that and it might put some people off the prospect of a great trip round road 1.
There are plenty of hotels and guest houses to stop in in the main towns on the route.
The only time I would see camping as impossible to avoid is if you want to spend more than a day in the central highland areas. However an extended visit there is not something to be taken on lightly and would definitely be best done as part of a larger group. You'd certainly need a serious, well prepared 4x4 and the experience to drive it properly too.

I certainly wouldn't want to put someone off going to Iceland because they thought they had to camp! But I think if you want to go at your own pace (and by that I mean driving/photographing when you want to and resting when you want to) that camping is easier. We spent quite a few 'nights' photographing and sleeping during the day. We also stayed at a different location each time. One of the advantages of photographing during the night is not only that the light is good, but also that most of the tourists have left the more popular locations (esp those within easy reach of Reykjavik). Also, I think it was easier to arrive somewhere late and locate the campsite than it would have been to find a hotel or guest house. Of course it's also cheaper too :-)

There are plenty of campsites in Iceland and most of the ones we stayed at were very good, particularly the ones in the National Parks. If you've never camped, perhaps a trip to Iceland is not the best time to start, but if you've done some camping and have the equipment, then I think it is a good way to do it. We even managed it without incurring any excess baggage charges!

So, I was a little over enthusiastic saying that a 4x4 was essential, though I do think that I'd hire one if I could (the insurance covers collision damage, but not damage to the vehicle due to wear and tear - the number plate dropped off our Suzuki Jimny and we had to pay for it!). I was also little over enthusiastic in saying that you have to camp, but again we found camping to be the most flexible and easy to arrange way of going around the island the way we wanted to. But, certainly don't be put off by the 4x4 and camping suggestions :-)

Mark.
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2008, 10:55:12 PM »
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My first post but I have learned a lot reading from this forum.

I have a question regarding Iceland:

We, (me, my wife and 2 boys) are planning a trip to Iceland for two weeks in July. There will be a lot of photography involved.

Given the north location and the short nights that are not completely dark, I was wondering what are the good hours with good light for landscape photo?

Can somebody that has been to Iceland help me?

Thanks!

Yves
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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2008, 09:50:37 AM »
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Quote from: perreault
My first post but I have learned a lot reading from this forum.

I have a question regarding Iceland:

We, (me, my wife and 2 boys) are planning a trip to Iceland for two weeks in July. There will be a lot of photography involved.

Given the north location and the short nights that are not completely dark, I was wondering what are the good hours with good light for landscape photo?

Can somebody that has been to Iceland help me?

Thanks!

Yves
I was there in late June in 1974. At that time of year, with a tripod I could get good shots up until about midnight and starting again a few minutes later. In July there will be a slightly longer "nap time" available, but there will be many hours of great late-day light, and many of early-morning light. Just don't plan to do much sleeping.

Oh yes: midday light is usually pretty great, too.
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2008, 02:58:10 PM »
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Hi, Douglas,

I was in Iceland this year for 9 days in early August.  The "golden hour" at dusk and dawn was more like four hours!   That was great, but you find yourself stretching your day at both ends when you can keep shooting to 11pm and need to get up at 3am to catch dawn at 4.

I'd probably go a little later in the summer as well.  I had the good fortune of meeting Iceland's president and asked him about the best time of year to photograph the country, and he was emphatic about the quality of light in October being nothing short of magical.

Mind you, he is the first to admit to not being a photographer, but that being said, it's surprising to get such a clear answer from a layperson about the quality of light.  I'll probably book my next trip there in October just to check it out.

As to your question about tours vs. solo, it's got a lot to do with your style and budget.  I love Mark's account of his experiences--that's my style as well.  But on this trip, I was with a small group of photographers exploring the country.  We had a local guide, dedicated to us who took us places and showed us things that just weren't on the map.

We visited a rural farming family, accosted teenagers on the street for impromptu photo sessions and had many experiences that would only come from an Icelander showing us his country.  I'm sure I'd have had many equally unique experiences had we explored on our own, as well.

I guess in short, I don't think you can lose on this one!    Just plan ahead, take liberal advantage of the advice and help people are offering, and have a fantastic time.  You'll absolutely love it.

Hope that helps--happy to answer any questions I can from my experiences as well.  Have a great trip!

-Brad

P.S.  A few Iceland photos as http://GibsonPhotographic.com/Iceland.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2008, 03:00:56 PM by bradleygibson » Logged

rickk
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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2008, 08:43:04 AM »
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Quote from: perreault
My first post but I have learned a lot reading from this forum.

I have a question regarding Iceland:

We, (me, my wife and 2 boys) are planning a trip to Iceland for two weeks in July. There will be a lot of photography involved.

Given the north location and the short nights that are not completely dark, I was wondering what are the good hours with good light for landscape photo?

Can somebody that has been to Iceland help me?

Thanks!

Yves

Just prepare your family for a weird sleep schedule and bring eye masks for napping midday.
One of my trips to Iceland a couple of years ago was in mid-July, and a lot of the best photo ops were between 2100 and 2300 and then again after 0200. There were also some good coastal long-exposure opportunities during the even darker hours. All depends on what you are after, of course.
There 's no shortage of fine photography from Iceland, but I'd recommend Josef Hoflehner's work:

http://www.josefhoflehner.com/iceland.html

Have a great trip.
Rick
 

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Daniel Bergmann
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« Reply #15 on: December 25, 2008, 08:42:20 AM »
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Quote from: Cooner
I've been interested in taking a photo vacation in Iceland for some time now and with the economic meltdown in that country it would seem to be a good time price wise.  For those who have traveled there, did you set out on your own or as part of a tour?  I've never been on a photo tour but having never been in the country I'm considering it.  How have those of you who have traveled to Iceland find the experience?  I'm specifically interested in your opinions regarding photo tours options vs. self guided tours.
Thanks, Douglas
Douglas,

As for your question, a photo tour vs. self guided, both approaches have their merit. Iceland is a very photogenic place and it's easy to find great locations by just driving the main highway that circles the island. But to fully experience Iceland in summer you have to get into the interior (the Highland). That however requires camping and hiking, unless you are willing to drive back and forth from hotels, which I don't reccommend, although I do that myself on some tours. Camping is usually easy, there is a brochure published every year - a guide to campsites. The must visit campsite is in Landmannalaugar, in the Southern Highland - Fjallabak Nature Reserve. From Landmannalaugar there are many hiking trails for day trips and it's also worth hiking up to Hrafntinnusker (or driving up there, which requires a 4x4 with high clearance). There is a hut in Hrafntinnusker run by the Iceland Touring Association, they also have huts in Landmannalaugar (for those not willing to camp) and do actually have a net of such huts all over Iceland: http://www.fi.is/en

The best thing about camping in Iceland is the freedom to be where the best conditions are, and not having to travel with prebooked accommodation, because in some areas of the country you have to book hotels far in advance during the hi-season. Also, from a photographic point of view I would reccomend staying longer in a few carefully chosen locations, like for instance around the three national parks (Skaftafell, Jokulsargljufur and Snaefellsnes) plus Landmannalaugar rather than spend too much time driving around. Books like the mentioned Lost in Iceland, with maps where the images are taken, are very useful if you are travelling by yourself but tourist photographers (like Sigurgeir - the Lost in Iceland author) rarely go off the beaten path. That is fine for a first visit to Iceland, just seeing the main tourist locations during a first visit gives a good feeling for the country. The landscape photography hours in summer are usually late enough or early enough to have very few tourist around, if any.

If you have limited time or ar looking for inspiration by travelling with like minded individuals, or just appreciate the company of fellow photographers and having access to expert advice, then a dedicated photography tour is certainly better than travelling by yourself. The quality of such tours is very dependent on the tour leader. I have seen travel agencies run photo tours with leaders that are not photographers themselves and I know of an American photographer that came here with a tour without ever having been to Iceland before. Make sure that if it's a foreign photographer that's leading the tour that he at least has a local guide, preferably a photographer himself. Or rather, do a tour with a respected and experienced Icelandic photographer. That should guarantee a good experience in terms of logistics and locations. The weather in this country is such that there are prevailing microclimates and it can be raining for days in one location and sunshine just 20 km away. Knowledge of locations and different conditions at different times only comes with experience.

As for the logistics of photo tours in Iceland there are two main types: hotel or camping. I run both and each have their strength and weakness. Camping tours require good fitness, they can be tought (like having to break camp in a storm and take shelter inside a cramped hut) but they have much more flexible itineraries and you can camp in the best photography locations, which cuts down on car travel. But camping is not for everyone and hotel tours offer a more "soft" adventure. They usually have a regular schedule (in terms of meals and such), comfortable accommodation and internet connection but require driving back and forth between photography locations and hotels. I have some tours posted on my website, which should give you an idea what's available (at least what I've found to work best) and a PDF Newsletter on the home page, which you can download: http://www.danielbergmann.com

Hope this helps a bit and if you have any specific questions you can email me as I don't visit this forum on a regular basis.

Daniel Bergmann
Stuck in Iceland  
« Last Edit: December 25, 2008, 08:46:03 AM by Daniel Bergmann » Logged

Rusty Jackson
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« Reply #16 on: December 25, 2008, 09:06:31 AM »
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wonderful photos Daniel, definitely makes me want to go back and try again.

cheers, Rusty Jackson
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« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2008, 07:31:47 PM »
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Daniel, Love the new images....and yes, one day I'll be back. Maybe just for that salmon dinner tho...., er, noo! Stephen
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« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2008, 12:11:20 AM »
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I was on one of Danel's workshops in 2006 and can definitely recommend him as a fine photographer and leader of workshops. I'm very much a person who prefers to go it alone and find locations myself, but Danel's workshop was a very efficient and enjoyable introduction to the country. The company of the other photographers on the trip was excellent and often results in better pictures as you have exposure to many different ways of seeing.

Some of the my results from the trip can be found here on my Iceland photo gallery.

Cheers,
Peter

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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2009, 11:16:59 PM »
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I am in the process of preliminary planning for a self drive and camp photography tour of Iceland this June/July.

I had actually booked to go on one of Daniels tours, but the Australian dollar took a spectacular nose dive against the US dollar and the cost effectivley doubled for me - so now I am still going, but self guided. Sorry Daniel.. I REALLY wanted to go on your workshop. Hopefully if the A$ picks up there is always 2010.

The whole purpose of the trip for me is photography only - so I am a little gun shy of most of the tourist books/guides out there. What I really need is a list of must go to locations and how to get there. I have seen some wonderful work from Iceland, much of it with its location untitled and no notes of how to get there.

I will have 3 weeks on the ground, a 4WD and camping gear [hiring it all] - only travelling into iceland with one bag of clothes and 4 bags of camera gear   .

I would really appreciate anyone who has been there posting their hot spots and how to get there. I would also be interested in hooking up with anyone who might be there on a photography trip who has on the ground experience there. I am leaving the wife and kids at home this time  
« Last Edit: January 12, 2009, 11:17:35 PM by Josh-H » Logged

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