Dyrholaey, Iceland by Michael Thomas

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Picture Story

I have visited Iceland a half dozen times. On my first winter trip, there was no snow on the south coast. The next winter there was plenty of snow when my wife and I spent a week along the south coast!

We spent one night near Dyrholaey. I shot the next morning from the top at sunrise, but was surprised that my favorite shot actually came the previous afternoon under blue sky conditions, generally a time I avoid. I spent an hour or so moving around the lower plateau searching for interesting angles. In the end, my favorite shot was from the main viewpoint (must be a reason why it’s there!). Here you are close to a single sea stack near the west end of Reynisfjara which is a nice focal point for your composition. Reynisdranger can be seen in the distance. It is a nice counterpoint to the foreground basalt column and gives the image depth.

I was attracted to the pure white clouds echoing the complete snow cover on the tabletop mountain. The seafoam has the same impact, I think. Of course, the black beach and sea stack stood out all the more because of it. Except for the small amount of clear blue sky, it is almost a monochrome image and says winter in the best way. I spent some time catching incoming waves to see which was most pleasing.

This image is a single exposure with only minor processing in Lightroom, principally a gradient filter to balance the sky and land.

If you visit in winter, keep a close eye on the weather and road conditions. It is not unusual for the Ring Road to close for hours or even days in blizzard conditions. On our last night we saw that the Ring Road was going to close between where we were staying and Reykjavik at 6:00, so we were up at 3:00 and still had to drive through whiteout conditions at one point. Also be aware that Icelandic roads are steeply graded on the shoulders. What looks like a nice flat pullout in the snow is probably not unless marked by yellow poles. We saw several cars stuck in such places.

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