Tag Archives: Aurora Borealis

Iceland – Sept 17 – 25, 2016


Plans for the 2016 September Iceland photo tour and workshop have been finalized.  Exceptional fall colors and if luck prevails, the Aurora Borealis will make this trip exceptional.

From the western peninsulas of Snæfellsnes and Reykjanes to the exquisite south coast including the exquisite black sand beaches and icebergs in Jökulsárlón and surrounding areas this trip is designed for all levels of photographers.  This trip is limited to a maximum 10 participants.

All Iceland photo tours and workshops for the past 4 years were fully subscribed within a few days so please register as soon as possible.


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No Aurora but the Milky Way

March 28, 2015 – Alaska Geo. Inst. forecasts a Kp index of 5 for the Aurora.  Kp 5 means – if the Aurora occurs you should be able to see it low on the horizon in Massachusetts.  Sounds awesome so we decide against going for the CamNats (Massachusetts Camera Naturalists) and head to Maine.  Acadia is always a great spot so we head to the loop road. WRONG most of the roads are closed.  A nice cop gives us direction on how to get to Sand Beach – so it is about midnight and we find our way to the parking lot.  Poor visibility forces us out of there and heading further towards Otter Cliffs.  The road is closed at the turnoff to Otter Cliff road. We pull over into a small clearing at one of the entrances to a parking lot and wait for the Aurora – nothing.  Well the Milky Way rises over the cliffs so we wait.  3:15 and the Milky Way shows its full arc.  It is cold, the wind does not help. I mounted the Rokinon 14mm on the Sony A7R to get this image.  The foreground trees were light painted during the exposure.

Please click on the image for a larger presentation.

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Milky Way – Acadia NP. Sony A7R, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 at f/2.8, 25 sec at ISO 1600.


A subsequent 7 image pano yielded the arc but the 14mm lend distortion is apparent.


Milky Way – Full Arc – Acadia NP – 7 image panorama.


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Iceland 1 – Day 3 (March 17, 2014)


Snæfellsjökull (the snow is only a foreground not a part of the glacier)

It is day 3 of this trip and we head out to the region known as Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This is a rugged region of Icelandic west coast that juts out into the Atlantic between Faxaflói bay and Breiðafjörður. The two coasts north and south separate by a range of mountains that run along the peninsula and culminate ending up at Snæfellsjökull, a large volcano and glacier at the land’s westernmost point.  This is the largest volcano on this peninsula.  This is the mountain that was featured in the Jules Verne book “Journey to the Center of the Earth”

Travel to this region is shortest when you take the 6 kilometer long tunnel that traverses under the ocean. Once through the tunnel, on the way Snæfellsnes to our first stop was the unique single crater volcano named Eldborg (The Fire Castle) is actually it is a caldera rather than a volcanic crater.



Next, we ant to the town of BÚÐIR. This is a former fishing village in the Búðavík bay. The settlement was abandoned in the early nineteenth century and today has just a hotel and a church. The church is a black church surrounded by a lava field. It has three white-framed windows and was constructed in 1703. The church has a surrounding wall made of lava and topped with turf.

Black Church at Boudir

Black Church at BÚÐIR


Some of the group photographing the Black Church

Some of the group photographing the Black Church

Our next location was an costal area Arnastapi at the foot of Stapafell. It is a small fishing village and harbor.  The rocks and cliff sides are rookeries.  This time of year the primary nesting sea birds were Fulmars with a few Kittiwakes.  Arctic terns also nest here and are known to dive-bomb when threatened.


Fulmar leaving its nest


A hose in Arnastapi

A house in Arnastapi

There are lots of photo opportunities in this area and one has to be very careful of massive rogue waves.  The waves are very unpredictable and if you are on a beach or near the ocean you must be extra cautious.

A quick snack and then on to another hunt for the Aurora. There were faint signs while we were driving so we stopped and set up.  This was truly rewarding.









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Iceland 1 – Day 2 (March 16, 2014)

Iceland continues to be cloudy, stormy and very windy. We planned of doing the Golden Circle route despite adverse weather conditions. On the way to Þingvellir we stopped at Mosfellsheiði (Mosfellsheidi in English).



Þingvellir (Thingvellir in English) which is the is the National Park where the Althing, open-air parliament that represented all of Iceland, was convened in 930 and continued remained active until 1798. It became a national park in 1928 and has a special tectonic and volcanic environment as a rift valley. It is in this area that you can see the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates particularly in the faults which traverse park. The largest of the fault cracks is the Almannagjá.


View from the overlook

View from the overlook

Þingvellir is on the northern shore of Þingvallavatn, that is the largest natural lake in Iceland.

Faults and Fissures

Faults and Fissures

As we walked along the fault cracks we noticed bus loads of tourists arriving so decided we would go ahead to the largest waterfall Gullfoss and beat the crowds that were bound to visit the famous Gyser before going to Gullfoss.

For a change Gullfoss was not as windy so the group was able to get some excellent images from the various vantage points.



Next stop was for lunch at the Geyser. Here again the crowds were impossible – it was school vacation week in England and hence the crowds.

After lunch we headed out to photograph the Geyser. A few quick eruptions and then we are in the middle of one of the fastest developing snowstorms. No one outside was spared. A few (sensible) members of the group decided to stay back in the restaurant – smart move. By the time one could walk from the gyser to the concession store photographers, cameras and tripods all became one big white snow covered mass.

Heading back around the Golden Circle we stopped and photographed a small church in Faxi called Haukadals Kirkja (Kirkja means Church – interesting that the Hindi word for church is Girja and sounds similar to Kirkja).


Haukadals Kirkja

Next stop was a coral of Icelandic horses on Route 35 before heading to another waterfall.



This is Faxafoss which is not very high but has some lovely form.



With the weather continuing to be problematic we heads towards a potential Aurora location. As the sun was going down we stopped overlooking a valley with a lovely little church. This is the church at Lake Ulfljotsvatn that is south of the Thingvellir national part called Ulfljotsvatn Kirkja.  The original church or churches were was established 1200.  The current church was built in 1914 and will be 100 years old this year. The lake is frozen but it is deceptive.  It is believed that centuries ago the priest and people traveling to attend mass drowned on their way trying to cross the lake as a shortcut to church.


The church at Lake Ulfljotsvatn

The Aurora is always a waiting game so we waited and waited. All there was to photograph was the full moon.

One can only have so much patience and with no signs of the skies clearing we returned to the hotel.


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Iceland 2

Here are a  few more images from the two Iceland PTAW’s (Photo Tours and Workshops).  We visited some wonderful geothermal areas in the Reykjanes peninsula as well as massive lava fiels and valleys.  This section of Iceland is like a lunar landscape.  The ocean’s might and the winds are a real indication of why this region is abundantly populated with shipwrecks.  There are more lighthouses in this region than there are villages.  The famous Blue Lagoon and spa is situated here as are some massive geothermal power plants.

The Lava Fields on a Stormy Afternoon

While visiting this lava field above we were pounded by a hail storm – that hurt.

It is here that the North American and European tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust are as clear as can be. At Þingvellir: the plates diverge about 1 inch per year. However the gap is refilled as volcanoes have been erupting on a regular basis.

Þingvellir from the overlook ridge

This overlook ridge is host to a magnificent  waterfall.  Getting to the base of this fall was most difficult as the path was sheet of ice.  The second workshop group was unable to get here as it became far worse of a hike the following week.

Waterfall at Þingvellir

The famous Blue Lagoon and the Power Plants are wonderful photo opportunities at night.

The geothermals at the Blue Lagoon

This coloration is a result of the sulphur in the air.  In some cases the color becomes greenish as in the image below.

Steam Stacks at the Geothermal Power Plant

The next two images are from the geo thermal areas of the peninsula.


Geothermal pool with Lava

Glorious colors are abundant around the mud pots and hot springs.

Hot Spring Scape



Considering that more than 3/4 of Iceland is barren, the barren beauty is breathtaking.

Snow Covered Lava Field at Sunset

More to come

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Iceland – the Fire and Ice Photo Tour and Workshop

Got back after two glorious weeks in Iceland.  The ever changing weather really kept me on my toes.  Each day was a surprise – nothing like what was predicted the night before.  It is fun to experience bone chilling gale force winds, hail that hits your face like BB pellets, rain that falls sideways, brilliant blue skies when it isn’t overcast, the smell of sulphur, hot springs, and whole lot more.

A few images of the Aurora Borealis will speak for themselves.

The aurora on the first night was small but brilliant.

First Night Aurora


We chased the lights for quite a while the next evening and got a light level 1 Aurora

Aurora the Second Night


We had given up and were returning to the hotel.  Just as we entered the outskirts of the city this spectacular display presented itself.

Aurora in Reykjavick

I will post more over the next few days.


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Photographing the Aurora Borealis

I have added a new tip on my tips page on “Photographing the Aurora Borealis” Click here for a direct link

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Iceland – Aurora Borealis and Winter Landscape Photo Tour & Workshop

Aurora Borealis – Image Copyright Olgeir Andresson

After extensive research and planning the photo tour and workshop to capture the Aurora Borealis and the beautiful Icelandic landscapes is ready.  The tour starts in Reykjavik on January 19 and concludes January 25, 2013.  You do not want to miss this opportunity.

I have teamed up with a world famous photographer Olgeir Andresson who has made photographing the Aurora his hallmark.  He won the highest honor of photographer of the year in the Danish Zoom Magazine and his work has been shown in Times Square in New York sponsored by Kodak.  You will not find a more experienced Northern Lights’ photographer.

Iceland – The Land of Fire and Ice – is an experience for non-photographers and photographers alike. In addition to the Aurora, we will have opportunities to capture mighty glaciers, waterfalls and spouting geysers.  Majestic mountains, magnificent coastlines and smoking volcanoes.

We are now in the period known as ‘Solar Max’. This means that sunspot activity which produces the aurora borealis is heightened, offering more chances to see the northern lights. Solar Max happens every 11 years in accordance with the solar cycle.

More information is in the brochure and links to the registration forms are available from the workshop page

Click here for a PDF Brochure

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