Photographing Stora-Viti Crater Iceland

Overview of the Stora-Viti crater near the town of Myvatn in Iceland.

Stora-Viti is a crater in the Krafla volcanic region of northern Iceland. Formed during an eruption in 1724, it's possible to walk around the entire rim of the Stora-Viti crater making great photos along the way.

Looking down into Stora-Viti, also known as Viti crater, you'll see a lake with beautiful turquoise waters at the bottom of the crater.

Viti is a part of a large geothermal area near the town of Myvatn. Surrounded by lava fields and a very colorful landscape it’s a great place to hike and photograph, and there’s a carpark conveniently situated on the lower edge of the crater walk.

When to Visit Viti Crater

I visited Viti crater on a relative bright and warm day in July, right in the middle of the Icelandic summer. Apparently the surface of the lake can freeze over during the winter months which, in itself, would provide interesting photo opportunities.

As with most landscape locations arriving very early in the morning or late afternoon would likely provide the best and, possibly, most dramatic lighting conditions. Unfortunately, with so much to see in the region, I arrived mid morning.

I’d be up most of the night driving and photographing so I was a little unsure about undertaking the hike around Viti crater. But it was an easy, though windy walk and the views were spectacular.

From memory it’s about a one hour walk around the rim, though as I stopped to make photos, it might have taken me a little longer.

One word of warning. You’re quite exposed to the elements, particularly at the higher elevations, while hiking around the rim of Viti crater so it’s advisable to carry a fleece and/or windproof jacket with you.

I also wore good quality hiking boots. While the ground is hard in summer, it’s important to have shoes with good tread on the narrow and steep pathway.

A detailed view of ice at the edge of the water at the centre of the Stora-Viti crater near Myvatn in Iceland.

Safety First For Photographers at Viti Crater

Just be careful to stay on the marked paths as the sides of Viti crater are steep and the surrounding area is still active.

What's more, as the path around the crater is narrow, you might want to avoid making the trek on a very windy day.

Windy days produce the kind of conditions when you’ll want to avoid changing lenses outdoors. To do so would be to risk dust landing on your camera's sensor.

Hundreds of tiny particles of dust are no easy to clean off, particularly if you’ve never done it before and your part way through a major photography journey.

Photographer hiking around the edge of the Stora-Viti crater near the town of Myvatn in Iceland.

People in the Landscape at Viti Crater

Notice the human figure on the far side of the Viti crater. Including a human figure in a landscape is a great way to bring a sense of scale to your photograph.

Despite the fact that this photo features only one side of the crater our human figure gives us a pretty good indication of the size of this significant geographic feature.

In addition to scale, the texture on the side of the Stora-Viti crater and the color contrast between the warm earth and the cool blue color of the sky were my main considerations in making a pleasing composition.

I also waited until the figure moved to a point where he seemed to be standing, as it were, between earth and sky. I Hope you like it.

The Value Of A Super Wide Lens

I made the photo of the photographer hiking around the edge of the Stora-Viti crater with a Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105 mm f/4 IS lens zoomed in to its maximum focal length of 105 mm.

As the foreground was quite a long way from the camera I easily achieved a large depth of field at the relatively moderate aperture of f/8 which, incidentally, is (or is very close to) the aperture at which most lenses with a maximum aperture of f/4 produce optimal sharpness.

I did manage to squeeze in quite a bit of the Stora-Viti crater in the photo at the very top of this post. It took every bit of the 24 mm focal length on my (then) full frame Canon camera to do so.

Nowadays I use a Sony a7RII camera and several lenses, including a Sony/Zeiss 16-35 mm f/4 lens.

As well as being sharper the significantly wider angle of view offered by this Sony lens would have made it far easier to compose that particular image and also allow me to include much more of the crater and the surrounding landscape into the image.

I really love that lens and it's great fun to use.

A small green pool of water and mineral rich soil near the Stora-Viti crater in the Krafla volcanic region of northern Iceland.

How to Photograph Viti Crater

As you can see the colors in the mineral-rich landscape around the Viti crater are highly saturated.

The landscape should photograph well under overcast conditions, though you might want to experiment with different natural light white balance settings (i.e., Sunny/Daylight, Cloudy or Shade) to achieve optimal color.

On a bright, sunny day you might want to employ a polarizing filter to reduce the likelihood of color and texture being reflected off the surfaces of earth, snow and water.

You’ll find the Stora-Viti crater located a short drive out of the tourist town of Mÿvatn in northern Iceland. It’s well worth a visit and the hike around the crater is a lot of fun.

The views offered along the route are really quite spectacular and there’s lots of opportunities for great photos on the hike and also while you explore the landscape near the carpark.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru