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When people think of the Icelandic Highlands, Landmannalaugar is one of the first places that comes to mind. Kerlingarfjöll, while not as large, is another incredibly photogenic location. It’s just off the Kjalvegur or Kjölur Route (F35).
In 2016, my wife and I drove the F35 from north to south with the primary goal of visiting Hveravellir and its blue pool, Blahver. The middle portion of the 200 km road seemed like the lunar surface to me as we dodged rocks the size of basketballs. By the time we reached the side road to Kerlingarfjöll, the cloud deck had begun to lower ominously. As we watched an RV climb into the clouds, I could tell my wife had had enough so we drove down to Gulfoss through a thick fog.
When I returned in 2019, I was happy to find the F35 had been regraded and was no longer a difficult drive. More importantly, the weather at Kerlingarfjöll was much better. I was fascinated by the juxtaposition of snow and ice with very active geothermal vents and a steaming river. The rust-colored rhyolite mountains were nicely complemented by the blue-grey clouds which had enough definition to be interesting.
I alternated between a 70-200mm lens for abstract compositions and a 24-70mm lens for shots like this one where I wanted to capture a sense of place. I made only minor adjustments of white balance and contrast to the RAW file in Lightroom along with a gradient filter to bring the sky into proper balance with the land.
On the way to Kerlingarfjöll, one passes a waterfall, Gygjarfoss, that is quite attractive and worth a stop. Kerlingarfjöll has both camping sites and a mountain hut, the Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort. There’s a nice restaurant/cafe as well as a fuel station here.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor