Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Updated: Jun 4, 2022
Why a Wonder: A relatively small (11.2 square miles) and easily accessed lagoon filled with breathtakingly beautiful icebergs. These blue-and-white icebergs have broken off from the Jökulsárlón glacier and gently flow into the sea. Seals and sea birds are common sightings, too.
Where: About a five-hour drive east from Reykjavik, Iceland.
When: Throughout the year, but if you go in the winter, you may see the Northern Lights. Any time of day is good, but if it’s sunny, you may get some nice backlit photographs at sunrise and sunset.
Photography: You can make beautiful photographs from shore (wear waterproof boots so you can walk into the lagoon). However, a Zodiac (small inflatable boat) tour will offer a wider variety of creative photo opportunities. That being said, do both.
If possible, plan on spending two days (at a local hotel) photographing this amazing site, as the weather is always changing and unpredictable.
Here's a saying about the weather in Iceland: If you think the weather is bad, wait 10 minutes; it will get worse. If the sky is cloudy or overcast, embrace the situation, and remember that in photography mood matters most.
Bring a lens like the Canon 24-105mm lens or 15-35mm lens for scenic shots, and a telephoto zoom, like the Canon 100-500mm lens, for seal and bird shots. Pack your cameras and lenses in a waterproof camera bag and have a plastic camera cover at the ready, as your gear may get splashed as the Zodiac navigates around the icebergs and through the lagoon. Another tip: keep your lens clean with a lens cleaning cloth.
While in the Zodiac, you will be wearing a survival suit – so you may feel like Gumby while photographing.
Don’t be shy about asking the Zodiac driver to get you into a creative camera position. However, know that icebergs can flip over rather quickly and can cause waves large enough to flip a Zodiac – so don’t ask the driver to get too close.
Bring a polarizing filter to reduce glare on the water and ice, but also work with reflections when composing your photographs.
When spotting a seal on a piece of ice, be ready with a telephoto zoom and be ready to shoot fast. These guys are rather camera shy, and dart into lagoon in the blink of an eye.
Learn More: Check out this complete guide to the Glacier Lagoon.
© Rick Sammon