Reynisdrangar at Vík í Mýrdal
Winter sunset at Reynisdrangar
Just like last year we spent again the Christmas holidays in Iceland. It seems like we can't get enough of dark winter days and nights. Yes, it might be true but blame it on the northern lights. ;-)
We had some nice "fireworks" again, the first one as soon as we arrived, just a couple of hours after leaving Keflavik International Airport. And we had the most psychedelic pulsating aurora as an early Christmas gift at 5 AM on Dezember 24 while in Höfn. It looked like the whole sky was flickering and bouncing down on us. Hard to describe with words, absolutely crazy!
But unfortunately the weather was also pretty crazy - and not in a positive sense... The ring road east of Vik í Myrdal was closed to all traffic on 6 out of the 10 days we spent on the island. A lot of luck was involved when heading towards the Glacier Lagoon and the southeast and getting back in time to catch our flight home. The amount of snow east of Vik was tremendous. It felt like driving through a white slot canyon. So no wonder that each time there was just a slight "breeze", they had to close the ring roads for several consecutive days. And there were storms - quite a few in fact...
And the piles of snow were also huge west of Vik. That's where we had a blizzard on December 29, for about 40 kilometers we could not see any road markings at all most of the time (neither the line in the middle of the road nor the one on the side, nor the reflector posts). A total whiteout and a true nightmare! We are so glad that we were not involved in any accident. And we were lucky to catch up with some other cars after a while. It was more "stop" than "go" most of the time, but we definitely felt more secure seeing at least the blinking warning lights in front of us (instead of seeing nothing at all). Unfortunately, the weather and wind forecasts were inaccurate that day, otherwise we would have left Vik way earlier. So beware - winter conditions can be really hazardous in Iceland!
What we were doing in Vik? One of the shots taken that day is shown here as image of the month. These off-shore basalt sea stacks - called Reynisdrangar - are the most recognizable landmark south of this small town, standing out in the ocean just below the steep cliffs of Reynisfall. Legend has it that Reynisdrangar were two trolls who were surprised by the daylight and turned to stone while attempting to tow a three-masted ship. Rather hard to tell the trolls and ship apart, but nevertheless we found this location pretty scenic during wintertime when the sun sets right behind Reynisdrangar.
That's one of those things we enjoy most during our winter trips to Iceland - besides the "everlasting" 6 hours of golden light with the sun rising as late as 11 AM and setting as soon as 3.30 PM in Vik. The sun shows up from a different angle. While sunrise/sunset happens almost straight north in late spring and early summer, you'll be shooting pretty much towards the south in winter. So this time of the year offers a whole bunch of new photo ops and compositions as you can see in this month's image.
Image data: 1/125 s at f/13, ISO 800, RF100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM at 145 mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Related Links: Our images from Iceland