Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland

One of the very first pictures that ever made me want to visit Iceland was of Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland’s most famous falls due to the fact that you can walk behind the falls. And it’s very easily situated right off of the ring road. In fact, look at how easily accessible it is. That’s Seljalandsfoss from quite a bit away.DSC_4625 (Small)

In fact, as we were driving up to it, I didn’t even realize that was the falls we were headed to. I just kept saying “WOW! Look at that waterfall how big it is. We have to stop and get a photo.” But as we got closer, it dawned on me that we were gawking over the majestic Seljalandsfoss.I just didn’t know it because most of the pictures we see are shot from behind the falls.DSC_4628 (Small)

One of the only things I had told the girls before we embarked on our road trip was that I was going to stop and take a LOT of pictures. And I was going to take my time doing them. Pretty much the only condition of our impromptu road trip together was that they had to be okay with that. Lucky for me, they were down. DSC_4657 (Small)

Like most of the waterfalls in Iceland, I really can’t ever describe or capture in a photo all of its glory. This falls is humongous in real life. Just look at the size of the tiny guy in the white shirt standing just behind the falls. DSC_4692 (Small)

I wanted to post this picture to demonstrate the difficulty photographers will have in attempting quality shots. Particularly if your’e doing some long exposure work. The spray off of these falls is something fierce, and it’s relentless. Within seconds your equipment is going to get drenched, so I always applaud photographers who can put in the work to get a good shot at a heavy waterfall.

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I was shooting primarily with my Nikon D7000 and sigma 10-20 wide angle with a variable neutral density filter. I also shot a bunch of video and stills with my GoPro, but you know how that story ends.  This is my “breezy” pose.DSC_4783 (Small)

See the people climbing up the trail just to the left of the waterfall? Dwarfed by the falls.DSC_4787 (Small)

Here’s one pic that I shot with my GoPro that I was able to pull before the dreaded glacier dive.DCIM101GOPRO

I really like this pic because of the contrast and saturation, but I also like that the water spots seem to have created an unintentional tilt-shift effect. I also like that you can get a feel for the volume of this falls by looking at the size of the tiny people behind it.DSC_4856 (Small)

The girls left me to do my thing for a very long while, but eventually I found them (or perhaps they found me in my coral raincoat) and had them join me for a not-so-quick photo. We tried to get one without water spots, but this was the best we could do.DSC_4898 (Small)

This place is just magical.DSC_4917 (Small)

One of the great things about almost all of the spots in Iceland is that people just chill. I don’t have a picture of it cuz I did all my wides with my GoPro, but in front of the falls is a BIG lawn where a lot of people just sit or lie down and cruise. It was the most tranquil, relaxing experience. And there was a guy down there playing the most melodic music from an instrument I had never seen or heard before. I filmed him for a few minutes on my GoPro, and that video is one of the files I most regret losing. Because I want to look back and see if that moment was as spiritual as I thought it was, or if it was just me being in the moment. Either way, I win. DSC_4922 (Small)

I don’t think you can see in any of these pics, but some people climbed to the top. There’s a couple of trails that look like they could get ya up there, but we didn’t have enough time to squeeze that in unforch.DSC_4939 (Small)

The sheep have no problem making their own trails up the sides of the mountains.

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And of course it wouldn’t be Iceland if there was just one waterfall to look at.DSC_4950 (Small)

After Seljalandsfoss, we made our way over to Skogafoss. Correction: The Mighty SkogafossDSC_5094 (Small)


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Made a pit stop along the way to do some jumping pics across from this cute little house.DSC_5099 (Small)

The double shaka jump from Hawaii.DSC_5124 (Small)

The ??? jump from Malta.DSC_5134 (Small)

Baaaaaah.DSC_5141 (Small)

As if Skogafoss wasn’t majestic enough, it sits in the foreground of a glacier amongst rolling green foothills. Duh.DSC_5154 (Small)

Unlike Seljalandsfoss, you can’t go behind Skogafoss. But you can go on top of it!DSC_5163 (Small)

Edwina was a little weary of the trek up the mountain, but it didn’t take much to coax her into it.

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There’s a little peak before you hit the top where I ran up ahead for a photo.DSC_5200 (Small)

Again, tons and tons and tons of water spray off the falls here. You really gotta work fast if you wanna get any good shots.DSC_5217 (Small)

My wide angle makes feet look humongous. I swear my feet aren’t that big in real life!DSC_5230 (Small)

Such an epic moment to share.DSC_5247 (Small)

I wanted to score some cool Iceland selfies. Mission accomplished.DSC_5285 (Small)

Check out this quick video I shot from this spot.

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This is what you see when you climb to the top of the falls. DSC_5311 (Small)

Oh and this. DSC_5342 (Small)

Yup, you get two for the price of one at Skogafoss. And not that many people climb up to the top, so I had these falls all to myself for a bit.DSC_5358 (Small)

I took the opportunity to selfie it up.IMG_8074 (Small)

This is the view looking back down and the river created by Skogafoss.DSC_5366 (Small)

More Iceland selfies. This is one of my new fave self portraits.DSC_5398 (Small)

I snuck one last pic in with the girls before I ran into the waterfall with my GoPro. I had been doing video diaries on my GoPro the whole trip and I wanted to do one under the waterfall at Skogafoss. It turns out I couldn’t quite go “under” because as soon as you get right about where that person is in this photo,  you start getting straight blasted with water. I really wish I could see that video. I must look ridiculous.DSC_5402 (Small)

Speaking of the GoPro loss, on the day that I lost it, when I returned back to the glacier guides office, I was pretty damn bummed. I was mourning the loss of 4,000 photos and videos and I was kind of broken hearted. I had planned to go see Svartifoss, which was the main waterfall I wanted to see in Iceland, with Aneka and Edwina. But they had already seen it as part of their 4 hour hike that day while I was ice climbing. I was so bummed about losing the GoPro that I thought about not going to the falls. But then I had a change of heart and I knew – if anything at all was going to cheer me up, it was a trail run. The way Aneka described the trail, it sounded just like a trail that I run back home. And so I took off. The trail runs uphill along this stream.

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It was a little tricky running with my backpack full of camera equipment, but once I got going, it was hard to stop. I love the feeling of the trail moving beneath your feet, and every step erased a little bit of the anger over losing those photos.

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I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at the top of this waterfall. Not Svartifoss.DSC_7711 (Small)

I got back on the trail and continued on my run. DSC_7717 (Small)

Of course, I stopped to shoot photos. And again – polarized filters.DSC_7721 (Small)

And then I saw her. THE waterfall I had come to Iceland for. Svartifoss.DSC_7729 (Small)

She’s a beaut, ain’t she.DSC_7734 (Small)

I passed a couple of people on the way in, but otherwise, I had her all to myself, and I was loving it.DSC_7741 (Small)

There was a part of me that didn’t want to take any pictures after having just dropped my GoPro down a glacier cavern a couple hours before. But I did my best to push those feelings aside, knowing that I’d kick myself if I didn’t at least try to get a couple of decent shots of Svartifoss.DSC_7746 (Small)

She was oh-so-photogenic, after all. If you’d like to see a video I shot of Svartifoss in action, bang the linkDSC_7757 (Small)

Nature trumps man-made every single time.DSC_7808 (Small)

I hung around for a little bit then started on the trail back because the sun was starting to set. I took one quick look behind as I neared the top just to say goodbye. And thanks for making me feel better, Svartifoss.DSC_7827 (Small)

On the way back out I caught a side view of the waterfall that I had accidentally landed on top of on the way up. It was pretty in its own right.DSC_7836 (Small)

And then I popped back out down at the bottom of the Skaftafell camping area. If you’re going to camp in the cold, there’s probably no better place. And if you’re going to lose your GoPro to a glacier, there’s still probably no better place. I love you, Iceland.DSC_7846 (Small)


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