Friday, June 16, 2017

ICELAND: Visiting Kirkjufell

Kirkjufell (literally translates from Icelandic to "Church Mountain") is a famous photo spot. You may have spotted it in Game of Thrones, or perhaps you've seen a stunning capture of it on Instagram. Regardless, this mountain is a must-see for many photographers visiting the peninsula.  It's unique shape provides an interesting subject, and from the right angle you can also capture a series of waterfalls. If you're lucky, you may also be able to catch a sunset or the aurora borealis in the background. 

We stayed at the Grundarfjordur Hostel, a nice little place within sight of the mountain. When planning a trip to photograph or visit Kirkjufell, you should know a few things. First of all, it looks completely different from another angle. Below, in the photo with the dilapidated building, you can see the other side of Kirkjufell in the distance. Second, if you want a good spot for a photo - get there early! We were there in September (shoulder season) and yet when we arrived an hour before sunrise, there was a lineup of photographers set up for a shot (you can see a photo of this below).  Thirdly, the weather in Iceland is constantly changing, and with it - the water levels. There is a small area of land where you can walk up to the lower waterfalls - if the water level is low enough. Within a little over an hour of us being there, the water level below the falls drastically increased and that location was not reachable by sunset. Finally, if this is a shot that you have your heart set on - plan to spend more than a couple days nearby. Due to the unpredictable weather, you never know when the elements will be on your side for the perfect shot. 

We spent a little over an hour at the location in hopes of a sunset but unfortunately the weather was not on our side. During our time there it rained off and on, but we were able to stay dry and grab some good shots regardless. On our way to the location, we stopped for a small dilapidated building along the road. There are plenty of these along the way in Iceland, but we didn't have time for all of them. 

For photographers, I'd recommend considering the following gear*, based on our experience: 1. the JOBY gorillapod is sturdy and easy to position on the muddy and uneven surface of the land surrounding the falls. A tripod is a must for a good time-lapse shot! 2. a wide angle lens (I use a 14mm) is the easiest way to capture all of the falls, plus the mountain in the background. 

Yes, that mountain in the background is the same mountain as the one in the header!

This is part of a series of posts about our trip to Iceland.

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