As we neared the final days of 2020, Kaspars and I lamented at the fact that not much snow had fallen here in Iceland. Despite some meteorologists predicting that this would be a cold winter season for Europe, it’s actually been quite warm here due to several storms drifting through.
So when Kaspars looked at the veðurspá (weather forecast) and noted that there would be a somewhat clear day on Wednesday 30th December, we decided to hike out to one of our favourite geothermal areas. It was also the perfect chance to make the most of the snow, which would likely melt away with temperatures forecast to be above 8°C in the new year.
As we began ascending the mountain, it became apparent that although there had been some snow, it was not as much as we’d anticipated. At times, it was knee-deep and quite powdery, though we were able to reach our destination without the need for snowshoes.
During summer, this hike took us around 4-5 hours return, with time spent taking photographs once we’d reached the geothermal features. As expected, it was a lot more difficult in the snow, taking around 6-7 hours return. When the sun set around 3:30pm in the afternoon, the temperature plunged down to -13°C. There were moments when shooting became a struggle, with minimal dexterity and a viewfinder clouded with condensation from my own breath. Darkness made it hard to retrace our steps though the final full moon of 2020 bathed the surroundings in an enchanting glow.
These photographs were captured around a third of the way into our journey, during the height of the golden hour light. I used a telephoto lens to compress the scene, while the shadows provided some semblance of depth to the many layers between the foreground, Þingvallavatn (Lake Thingvellir) and the snowy peaks of Kjöl, Botnssúlur and Ármannsfell mountains in the background.
Equipment: Canon 5DS R, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM.
Settings: Shot handheld, Delphís (200mm), Delphís II (102mm), 1/320 sec, f/10, ISO 400.