Westfjords, Salt, and Volcanoes in Iceland. A Paradise for Photographers.
Welcome to the second part (Part 1 here) of my blog about our fantastic photo journey to the Westfjords! In this post, I will share our experiences with see salt production in Iceland, more shipwrecks, the black churches, and the volcanic eruption that occurred in 2021 on Iceland.
And birds, many many birds!
Let’s dive into the wild Westfjords, Part 2.
Salt Production in Iceland. Sustainable and Emission-Free.
Iceland is renowned not only for its breathtaking landscapes and untouched nature but also for its unique natural resources. Salt production from seawater has played a significant role in Icelandic history and culture. Due to Iceland’s geographical location and climatic context, where sunlight is limited, geothermal energy is utilized.
Desalination plants extract seawater from selected coastal areas to ensure its high quality and purity. The water is then directed into shallow salt pans. Here comes the unique use of geothermal energy in Iceland. Everything in the desalination facilities are heated using geothermal heat to evaporate the water.
Geothermal heating enables year-round salt production regardless of weather conditions or sunlight. The natural heat from the Earth’s interior, which Iceland possesses due to its volcanic activity, helps evaporate the seawater in the pans and crystallize the salt.
The fine salt crystals gradually accumulate and are manually skimmed off and dried.
The obtained sea salt from Iceland is known for its high quality and pure taste. It is used both in Icelandic kitchens and in the fine gourmet cuisines of the world.
During our journey, we had the opportunity to participate in a salt production excursion.
See Salz Fun Facts
Each season in Iceland has its own unique charm. From September to March, people hope to catch a glimpse of the spectacular Northern Lights and capture them through photography ***. On the other hand, the island in the far north surprises visitors with a colorful variety and seemingly endless summer nights. In the deep fjords, the surrounding mountains are reflected in the calm waters, creating fantastic mirror-like reflections when the water is as shallow and calm as it is right here.
Over time, several ships have stranded in the stormy waters and rough sea. Nature has turned them into impressive peaces of art.
During our photo tour in Iceland, we discovered and captured various shipwrecks along the coast. In the turbulent waters and harsh sea, numerous ships have met their fate.
The weathering effects and the power of nature have left their marks. The combination of the rugged landscape of the Westfjords and the abandoned wrecks creates the perfect ingredients for stunning photographs.
The different lighting conditions cause the mood of the shipwreck pictures. In Part 1 of the photo journey, you saw pictures of ships with rust spots and vibrant colors, creating a cheerful, almost Caribbean atmosphere. Here, a large puddle acted as a perfect mirror, making the wreck appear mystical and mysterious, especially in black and white.
A spectacular masterpiece of nature, Dynjandi is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Westfjords.
Cascading down the mountainside in seven stages, with a total height of approximately 100 meters, it creates a breathtaking sight. The main cascade, also known as ‘Fjallfoss,’ is the largest and most striking part of the waterfall. In the third photo, you can see a person in the top left corner (marked in the red circle), emphasizing the immense scale.
The combination of the glistening water, green moss, and surrounding rocks creates a picturesque backdrop that is perfect for capturing unique shots.
Another reason why Dynjandi is a paradise for photographers is the variety of perspectives from which the waterfall can be captured. From a distance, it offers a majestic view of the entire extent of the waterfall, while up close, the impressive details of the cascading water and the power of nature become evident.
For this reason, we scheduled enough time to create unique images, design interesting compositions, and play with different angles.
Hot springs. Relax yourself in the Westfjords.
The hot springs in the Westfjords are a special gift from the geothermal activity that makes Iceland a unique place. Hot water simmers beneath the Earth’s surface due to volcanic activities, giving rise to hot springs that are either left in their natural state or channeled into pools (potentially mixed with cold spring water).
Imagine yourself soaking in warm water, surrounded by rugged landscapes and majestic mountains.
What a delight!
Látrabjarg in the Westfjords: Hiking through the Bird Paradise.
Látrabjarg is the westernmost point of Iceland and is home to one of the largest bird colonies in Europe. The cliffs stretch for 14 kilometers along the coast, rising up to 440 meters above the roaring sea. It is a place of incredible beauty and wild romance.
The impressive cliff coast not only provides a breathtaking backdrop but is also home to millions of seabirds, including puffins, razorbills, black-legged kittiwakes, and many more.
One will experience the truly beauty of Látrabjarg if you hike along the cliffs. And so we did. The trail is not too difficult, however caution is advised because the trail becomes steep and windy in some areas. However, the view of the endless sea and majestic cliffs more than compensates for any efforts and is simply unforgettable.
Puffins aka Atlantic Puffins. The Stars of Látrabjarg.
Puffins are undoubtedly the stars of Látrabjarg and one of the main attractions for bird photographers. These charming birds are characterized by their colorful beaks, striking appearance, and playful behavior. The cliffs of Látrabjarg provide an ideal environment for puffins to build their nests on the steep slopes. This offers us a unique opportunity to observe puffins in their natural habitat and take close-up photos.
But it’s not just them: Millions of different birds flock to the cliffs of Látrabjarg, including many Northern Gannets, Common Guillemots, Razorbills, White-tailed Eagles, Red-throated Divers, Arctic Terns, Redshanks, Snipes, Auks, Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Northern Fulmars, Snow Buntings, and Common Sandpipers.
Bird photographer’s heart, what more could you ask for!?”
Látrabjarg fun facts
The Ravages of Time. Why do farms in Iceland become lost places?
There are lots of abandoned farms and lost places on Iceland. They not only provide unique photo opportunities but also offer insights into the past and the way of life of the people who once lived there.
But why are they abandoned?
The reasons for the abandonment of farms are diverse. In the past, Iceland was mainly characterized by fishing and sheep farming. During that time, people lived in relative isolation and were heavily dependent on the harsh weather conditions. Economic difficulties were often therein reason to move towards metropolitan areas. The inhabitants moved to Reykjavik or other larger villages because of better educational opportunities and jobs. They simply left their houses behind.
Well anyways, abandoned farms offer great photo opportunities for photographers!
Why are some churches in Iceland black?
Iceland is home to many picturesque churches scattered across the island. They all make great photo subjects, but some stand out due to their dark or even black facades.
The black color of churches in Iceland has several reasons. One of them lies in the traditional construction methods and materials available on the island in earlier times. Many of the old churches were built with wood that was soaked in a mixture of tar and peat to protect it from the harsh weather. This treatment gave the churches their characteristic black color.
While modern buildings are not (entirely) black, they still blend perfectly with the colors of Iceland’s landscapes.
What emerged out of necessity now offers an extraordinary photo motiv for photographers.
Krýsuvík Geothermal Springs – like another planet.
Goodbye Westfjords, hello Reykjanes!
A worthwhile stop on any photography journey is the Krýsuvík geothermal area.
The Krýsuvík geothermal area is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland. This geothermal region is part of the Reykjanesvirkjun area and covers an area of approximately 60 square kilometers. The geothermal area is characterized by its colorful fumaroles, steaming vents, bubbling mud pots, and glowing sulfur fields. Take a walk around and you will feel like visiting an another planet.
What makes the Krýsuvík Geothermal Springs so impressive are their unique geological features. The region is situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates converge. This results in heightened geological activity with numerous fissures from which steam and hot water emerge. The hot springs are surrounded by colorful mineral deposits formed through the heat and chemical reactions.
Well-maintained pathways allow safe exploration of the various areas of the geothermal springs. From elevated viewpoints, visitors can admire the bubbling mud pots and steaming fumaroles while enjoying and photographing the intense colors of the surrounding landscape.
Keilir und Fagradalsfjall, the newest Volcano on Iceland. Earth in the making.
In 2021, the volcanic eruption in Iceland attracted adventurers and photographers from all over the world. Neither we could resist the fascination of this natural spectacle. On the last day of the tour we hiked to the volcano to experience and capture the event with our cameras. However, the weather had its own plans and greeted us with rain and dense fog that completely obscured the view of the volcano.
Well, as it turned out, we saw absolutely nothing.
That’s the way it goes in Iceland! The weather usually changes very quickly but on this day, the exception confirmed the rule.
Despite the weather conditions, we decided to continue the hike and make our way back along the fresh lava fields. The path led us through a landscape characterized by smoking lava fields and volcanic activity. Ironically, the rainy, gray weather perfectly matched the scenery! The smell of sulfur filled the air as we cautiously walked along the still hot lava edges.
The heat of the lava was palpable, and the loud crackling and gurgling of the liquid lava beneath the thin black crust created a truly mystical atmosphere.
Here are a few impressions from our hike on what feels like a “distant planet“.
This hike was undoubtedly one of the absolute highlights in Iceland and showed us in an impressive way how unpredictable and fascinating nature can be. We were lucky to witness a geological activity that had shaped the landscape for thousands of years and is still ongoing.
Even though we couldn’t catch a glimpse of the volcanic crater, this hike taught us that the beauty of nature is often found in unexpected moments. It was precisely this fog that offered us a new perspective on the natural beauty.
What a spectacular final to a fantastic photo tour in Iceland!
Would you like to be part of the next photography tour?
Are you interested in discovering Iceland in a small group of like-minded people and come home with spectacular pictures? Go to menu “Fotoreisen” for current tours and book your adventure.
Whether you are a beginner or a passionate photographer, you are in the right place.
Call us at +49 172/9541890 or send us an email, and we will be happy to answer all your questions.We look forward to seeing you on the next trip!