Living By The Sea, Iceland

A tiny hamlet, set against stunning mountain scenery, by the coast in Northern Iceland.

Surely one of the worlds most photogenic locations, Iceland offers the photographer dramatic scenery, much of it within easy reach of the coast. Highway One circumnavigates the island and provides the visitor with an easy way to see much of the country's beauty. Short excursions up and into the interior open up more challenging and, potentially, more intense experiences.

The above image was made while I was undertaking a photography expedition to Iceland and Greenland. It was a very overcast day and, after a late start, I headed off to photograph puffins.

It was fun, but not a highlight compared to Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs where I'd photographed a huge colony of puffins, at either side of sunset, a few days earlier. That was a truly great experience.

 
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I remember thinking how tough life must have been for the early Viking settlers. While arable land in Iceland can be fertile, much of the country's interior (the Highlands) is volcanic, where water infiltrates too quickly into the ground for plant life to grow, or covered in moss.

 
Spray at Skógafoss Waterfall, Iceland

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While plentiful rainfall has produced a large array of rivers and waterfalls throughout the country, much of that flows down to the fertile regions close to the coast.

But there's not enough of that fertile land to support a large population which, I suspect explains why, despite over 1,000 years of continued human settlement, Iceland's population is under 320,000 people.

A rough, stony road marks my path through the Highlands region of Iceland.

It was July 2011 when I first visited Iceland. I returned again during 2016 to run a photography tour and expect to travel there again within the next year or two.

  A  tranquil scene , in a secluded valley, in  northern Iceland .

A tranquil scene, in a secluded valley, in northern Iceland.

There something very special and quite illusive amount Iceland. The landscape is, indeed, breathtakingly beautiful. But it's the lack of people (though major tourist locations are now packed with visitors), the remoteness of this island nation and the peculiar quality of the light that I most remember. 

I wouldn't see moving to Iceland as representing any kind of frontier living in the way I think it would be if I was to move to Greenland. Nonetheless, Iceland is a very special place for the enthusiastic landscape photography that, somehow, seems to exist on the edge of our perception.

No wonder around half the population are said to believe in elves and trolls. Iceland has a landscape that lends itself to myth. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru