Why a Wonder: This Iceland volcano first erupted in March 2021, instantly generating international headlines. With relatively easy access and periods of intense activity, you can get a front-row seat to one of the most amazing spectacles on Planet Earth!
Where: The volcano is located on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula a few miles west of the town of Grindavik, and is about a 30-45 minute drive from Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik. You'll have to hike in to see the volcano, and depending on where it is erupting, the hike might be shorter or longer. In any event, you'll need to climb up some steep hills to reach a spot with a view. Parking and trail information changes as the volcano changes.
When: You'll want to time your visit for when the volcano is actively erupting. In 2021, the volcano erupted for several months and then went quiet. As of the time of this writing (August 5, 2022), the volcano is erupting again, and it remains to be seen how long the current eruption will last. Scientists expect that the Fagradalsfjall Volcano will likely be active for years or even decades to come, with alternating periods of activity and dormancy. For up-to-date information on the volcano, visit https://www.visitreykjanes.is/en/volcano-eruption/eruption-information. This site has information about current volcano activity, parking, trail conditions, and even links to live web cams showing the volcano in real time!
Photography: Sunrise, sunset, twilight, and night are the best times to see and photograph the volcano, although depending on conditions, you can still get great shots anytime of day. Twilight is a great time for photography, as you can mix the red color of the lava with the blue hour light on the landscape and in the sky. Please be aware that this part of Iceland can be cold and windy, even in summer, so plan to bring lots of warm layers, especially if you expect to sit in one place for hours photographing the volcano. Also, please obey all safety warnings and closures from posted signs and on-site safety personnel.
Depending on current access conditions, you can use a variety of lenses to photograph the volcano. Telephoto zooms (such as a 100-400mm) are likely to be the most useful. Sometimes, however, conditions are safe enough to get closer to the volcano, close enough that wider angle photography might be an option.
For dramatic perspectives and compelling photos, however, nothing beats using a drone for photography. Your drone can go places you cannot, allowing you to get great shots without risk of injuring yourself or worse (but the same can't be said for your drone). Be extra careful when flying, as you will have to account for potentially high winds, thermal heat rising from the volcano, other drone flyers, and helicopter and plane sightseeing flights in the area. And, of course, erupting magma!
Learn more: Check out my amazing video adventure, filmed when I went to photograph the Fagradalsfjall Volcano in 2021!
© Ian Plant
This post sponsored by Tamron.