Photography Workshops & Photo Tours: ICELAND Aug. 14-29 2010

Wildernesscapes Photography Iceland Adventure Photography Tour & Workshop
with Johnathan A Esper
August 14-29, 2010 -- $3200 USD

This incredible 2+ week photography tour around Iceland, the legendary land of fire and ice, is meant for passionate outdoor photographers who desire to see and photograph Iceland in depth. The intensive itinerary is designed to help you photograph all of Iceland’s diverse geographic areas and major natural wonders in a complete circumnavigation of the island. We’ll enjoy Iceland’s long summer daylight hours as we photograph erupting geysers and geothermal areas, nuzzle with Icelandic horses in idyllic green pastures, peer over sea cliffs alive with hundreds of thousands of birds including puffins, swim in warm volcanic crater lakes, feel Europe’s most powerful waterfall, hike up mountains for panoramic vistas of Iceland’s unforgettable fjords, four-wheel drive through Iceland’s stark highland region, and photograph and walk on (or perhaps inside!) Iceland’s glaciers and immense ice fields. A maximum group size of 5 photographers ensures you will receive ample personal photographic coaching in the field, maximize the group’s flexibility and ability to shoot more places, more spontaneously based on light and weather, and provide an intimate small group adventure experience. This photo tour is all about field photography and situational instruction working alongside your leader, and there will be no classroom workshops or presentations. We will also be going on some day hikes to truly experience Iceland, which was listed as one of the top 10 travel destinations in 2010 by Lonely Planet guide books. Pro photographer Johnathan Esper will be leading it, who has an intimate knowledge of the land from living out of a car, exploring and photographing Iceland for 5 months intensively. Johnathan specializes in panoramic landscape and adventure photography, and photographic topics that will covered while shooting include HDR (High Dynamic Range) imagery, panoramic photography, adventure and travel photography, and of course classic landscape photography techniques.

Locations we’ll photograph will cover every major geographic area of Iceland and all the popular natural attractions that are considered must-sees, as well as hidden treasures most Icelanders have never even visited, by driving in a large counter-clockwise loop, beginning and ending at Reykjavik. We’ll first photograph the popular Golden Circle sights of Geysir (after which all other geysers are named), Gullfoss (Iceland’s most famous waterfall), and Þingvellir National Park (the world’s oldest parliament’s meeting place and rift zone between the North American and European tectonic plates). Then we’ll hike the colorful ryolite hills of Landmannalauger geothermal area and soak in a natural hot spring in the Icelandic Highlands (many Icelanders’ favorite place in their country), and from there photograph Langisjór (a long glacial lake at the edge of the Vatnajökull Icecap, the largest in Europe) and Eldgjá (Fire Canyon) off the Fjallabak (Northern Mountain) route. Next we’ll stay in the small town of Vík y Mýrdal (which has a beautiful country church surrounded by fields of lupine wildflowers), and photograph the Dyrhólaey sea arches, sea stacks, and puffin colony. Then it’s Skógafoss (one of the most beautiful waterfalls) and if weather permits we’ll drive up a steep four wheel drive road to photograph more undiscovered waterfalls of the Skóga River. We’ll take a walk right behind Seljalandsfoss (hope you brought along a weather-sealed camera body!), and visit Þorsmork glacier valley, accessible to 4x4 only, to photograph wildflowers under the majestic Mýrdalsjökull ice cap. Then we drive past the smallest grass-roofed church in Iceland at Núpsstaður on our way to Skaftafell National Park, where we’ll walk on a glacier and photograph more glaciers, Hvannadshnúkur (the highest mountain in Iceland) and the smooth Svartifoss waterfall among unique basalt columns. After camping there, we’ll take a boat tour on the iceberg filled glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón, a classic postcard scene. The picturesque east fjords are calling us, and we’ll stop in ample locations to photograph the winding roads and cascading streams down the steep terraced mountains, before staying for a night in Seyðisfjörður which is located in a spectacular location. If weather permits, there’s many hiking opportunities here that will give marvelous views of the fjords. The spectacularly bleak and remote Highlands are next on our trip, and we’ll be appreciative of our 4x4 SUV as we drive hundreds of kilometers over rough tracks and fording rivers and perhaps we’ll see one other vehicle all day. But the reward is the giant Askja caldera and Öskjuvatn crater lake, were we’ll take a dip the Icelandic way (au natural) (or photograph those doing so) in a warm-water-filled explosion crater. If time permits, we’ll then four-wheel to Kverkfjöll and walk inside a giant ice cave with a warm water stream flowing though it, and photograph the amazing blue color of the glacial ice from within. After a couple days here in the Highlands, we’ll photograph Herðubreið (the national mountain of Iceland and considered by some the most pretty) on our way to showers and a good meal at Möðrudalur, Iceland’s remotest farm. Now in the north of Iceland, we’ll feel the plummeting power of Europes’s largest waterfall by volume, Dettifoss, from it’s better yet less-visited side, and hike to the lip of the horseshoe–shaped Asbyrgi Canyon in Jökulsárgljufur National Park to get views above the rest of the tourists. In Mývatn we’ll photograph geothermal steam vents, bizarre volcanic formations, and fields of craters that will make you feel like you are on the moon, then swim in the warm, silica-rich water with an amazing blue-colour, from a nearby geothermal power plant. From there, we’ll drive west, photographing Goðafoss waterfall, then eating at the best bakery in Iceland, in Akureyri. Friendly Icelandic horses will come up to us and nuzzle, and pose for our cameras in the Svínavatn horse breeding area, on our way to photograph the troll-turned-to-stone Hvítserkur rock and nearby seal colonies on the Vatnsnes Peninsula, staying at the friendly and earthy Ósar hostel. We’ll then explore the rugged and remote West Fjords of Iceland, taking a local fishing boat out to Grímsey Island off the coast from the tiny village of Drangsnes, to photograph hundreds of thousands of nesting puffins. We’ll drive over the desolate Þorskafjarðarheiði highlands, then continue to stop at ample locations to photograph the fjords and farmhouses of the West Fjords, on our way to Dynjandi, a beautiful fan waterfall. A ferry will take us across the island-studded Breðafjörður bay, stopping at the historic and scenic Flatey Island, and land us at Stykkishólmur, a picturesque little fishing village on the Snæfellsness Peninsula. Kirkjufell (an idyllic stratified cone mountain rising from the ocean) and nearby waterfalls will be our next photographic subjects, and we’ll stay for a night in Grundarförður. Then it’s on to photograph the sea arches and basalt columnar formations and idyllic harbour of Arnastapi, and the bird cliffs of Lóndrangar, with the famous Snæfellsjökull behind us. Finally, as our adventure in Iceland draws to a close, we stop to say goodbye to more friendly Icelandic horses, and photograph Hraunfossar springs and Barnafoss waterfall. We’ll stay in Reykjavik the last night, allowing you to do any last minute shopping, Saturday night partying, or city sightseeing, and in the morning you will be shuttled to Keflavik International Airport to catch your flight. Please note this itinerary is somewhat flexible, and we may have to make adjustments on what we see based on weather patterns and our time limits.

This Wildernesscapes Photography photo tour was originally conceived when Johnathan was photographing Iceland himself, and realized other Icelandic photo tours were only covering a small portion of Iceland, at a cost that was astounding even at Iceland’s very high prices. So with a long 2+ week (16 day) itinerary that completely circumnavigates Iceland, you have more time and will photograph 2-3 times as much, with professional in-the-field instruction, for almost half the cost of [non]comparable tours. However, we’ll be visiting some very remote wilderness locations, and the only way to properly experience these areas, optimize your shooting time, and be in certain locations for sunrise and sunset, is to camp. So, about half the time we’ll be staying in shared-room hostels, popular with world travelers, and the other nights we’ll be camping in tents next to our 4x4 vehicle. We’ll eat in restaurants whenever possible when on the main roads, while all meals while camping, and camping equipment (except sleeping bags and pads) will be provided as part of the tour. We’ll gladly temporarily sacrifice some luxury in this manner in order to come away with truly outstanding and unique images of Iceland’s wilderness.

The cost of this tour is $3200 USD and includes all photographic shooting and instruction, all ground, 4x4, and water taxi transportation, accommodation, entry fees, and non-restaurant meals. A $600 deposit is due within two weeks of registration, and the remaining balance of $2600 is due by May 15th. This tour is open to photographers of all film and digital formats, although your leader shoots exclusively digitally. There is a maximum group size of 5, and a minimum of 2. There will be an inverter onboard the 4x4 truck to recharge your batteries in the remote areas. If you have additional questions, Johnathan Esper will be happy to answer them over the phone or email. He can be reached at +00 1 518 624 6675 or johnathanesper@gmail.com.