Tag Archives: Jökulsárlón

New on 500px : Water Wars by MarselvanOosten by MarselvanOosten

When I traveled to Iceland for the first time, I had already seen thousands of images of this spectacular country. Creating something original, or at least slightly different, is not easy when most of the locations have literally been photographed to death. But, therein lies the creative challenge that pushes you to greater heights. Or frustration.

The famous black lava beach near Jökulsárlón is one of those iconic locations. The typical shots usually involve a few pieces of crystal clear ice, black sand, and slow shutter speeds. There is a good reason that most photographer, myself included, like to take this approach when shooting at this überphotogenic location: the results look stunning. Tranquil scenes with silky smooth water. However, I really wanted to try some different stuff as well, like the complete opposite.

The ocean here can be pretty brutal, just like the weather. On, or just after stormy weather, huge waves keep crashing into the beach, pushing even the biggest icebergs onto the sand. I decided to photograph the moment of impact from up close – with a wide angle. This means two things: 1. You will get very wet, and 2. you might get hurt.

The wet part is not a real problem, it’s just annoying. Wearing proper rain gear will keep you dry (unless you go down, which happens every now and then), but the equipment is of a much greater concern. I always use my RainCoat rain cover to protect my camera gear from rain and sea spray, so as long as I don’t submerge it, it will be fine. Talking about the RainCoat – LensCoat (the manufacturer) and Squiver have organized the easiest contest ever. Entering the contest is free and will only take you 15 seconds. You can win one of three RainCoats. I’d give it a try.

The dangerous part of this kind of photography is something that a lot of photographers don’t realize until it’s too late. These massive chunks of ice can be 5 to 7 feet tall and weigh a ton. When they’re just lying there on the beach, it’s all safe. But when a powerful wave hits them at full speed, all the ice gets pushed further onto the beach, all pressed against each other. If you’re standing in the middle of all these razor sharp glass rocks, you risk ending up without the lower half of your body. This is even worse with incoming tide. It takes a lot of concentration and athleticism to pull this kind of photography off. Coincidentally, I saw photographer James Balog do something similar a few years later for his documentary Chasing Ice – he was wearing a harness and his assistant was holding a rope to be able to pull him back in case of an emergency. That’s how dangerous it is.

And finally, I had to completely change my photographic routine. There was simply no time to first find a good composition, set up the tripod and wait for the right moment. I had to run into the ice when the water was still retreating, which meant that the ice was moving constantly, pulled back towards the ocean. I had between one and two seconds before the next wave would crash into the ice again, so that’s the amount of time I had to set up my tripod, get a composition and focus. The moment the water hit, I could take maximum two exposures and then I had to run like hell to not get submerged or crushed by the ice. Not the easiest photography, but certainly very exciting.

This is one of my favorite shots of that session, which I survived in one piece. On another occasion I tried something similar and ripped a muscle in my left calf. The first few days of the tour I had to walk with crutches.

If you would like to join me on our next Iceland tour and learn more about landscape photography and composition, please check out my website for more information:

Squiver Photo Tours & Workshops

Or download the brochure:

Iceland Winter Wilderness (PDF)

Hope to see you there!


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©2014 Marsel van Oosten, All Rights Reserved. This image is not available for use on websites, blogs or other media without the explicit written permission of the photographer.

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New on 500px : Attack by piriya by piriya

Strong wave hit icebergs along a black sand beach near Jokulsarlon, Iceland

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New on 500px : Stranded, Iceland by tucucumba by tucucumba

Todavía falta unos meses para que volvamos a visitar la Isla, la espera se hace interminable. Me encantan los eternos amaneceres y atarderes de noviembre, puedes preparar la toma sin ninguna prisa, sin miedo a que es sol se olculte en un par de minutos, sin prisas ni estres, disfrutando de esa luz mágica durante horas. Estoy enamorado de Islandia 🙂

There is still a few months to return to visit the island, the wait is very long. I love sunrises and eternal sunsets of November, you can prepare to photography no hurry, without fear that is sun goes down in a couple of minutes, no rush or stress, enjoy the magical light for hours. I’m in love with Iceland 🙂


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New on 500px : IceCube by YannQ by YannQ

Thanks a lot for your visit and support.

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WebSite : Ghost Reveries

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New on 500px : Cinderella by christianlim by christianlim

this is from the left most side of the jokulsarlon lagoon in which we had to slide down a hill to reach, the shoreline was very thin and parts of it you cannot pass through anymore. this pc was about 15kg and we had to lift it up from the water… i was drawn to it as it was shaped like a shoe. our guide was rushing us to finish as we needed to check into the cabins, so I was surprised that we had to get away from such a great sunset, what followed was two days of so-so sunset light. so I wish to be back a 3rd time on my own terms.

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