Iceland and the Northern Lights

I had been to Iceland twice, and on neither occasion did I see the Northern Lights.  While I love Iceland, which has some of the most spectacular and unusual landscapes in the world, I was frustrated that I was unable to return home with that Northern Lights box checked off on my bucket list.  My wife, Niki, and I were determined to try one more time.  Fortunately, our trusted guide and friend, Pall Jokull Petursson, knew all the signs from above and was able to accurately predict whether there would be any activity in the skies on any particular night. 

Although almost throughout our time in Iceland it was cloudy, there was one night when there were limited clouds and our wish became a reality, as we saw the celestial display in all its glory.  The Lights were as beautiful and dazzling as we had wished for.  It is interesting that they often are barely visible to the naked eye, yet the camera’s sensors are able to record the activity more fully. 

We finally witnessed one of nature’s most exquisite displays.  With the green lights dancing in the sky, their dazzling display was so enthralling that we stopped taking pictures in favor of simply observing this amazing phenomenon.  From other photos we have seen, ours wasn’t the grandest display of the aurora borealis, as the conditions were not perfect, but it was good enough for us!

There is more to Iceland than the Northern Lights.  Our third trip there afforded us the opportunity to see many sights in the northern part of the country.  Because we went there in December, we were prepared for what we assumed would be frigid temperatures.  The island nation is somewhat protected, however, by the Gulf Stream waters that keep the temperatures fairly moderate.  It was in the low to mid 30’s while we were there, although we were often caught in fierce winds of 50-75mph. 

In addition to the Lights, we spent a lot of time near water–fjords, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls were the subject of many of our photos, as were volcanic fields and hot springs.  We captured glorious sunsets and sunrises, too, including one with a giant monolith posing as if it were emerging from the sea after a battle with Godzilla!  For those interested in architecture, there were many interesting buildings, whether they were abandoned, reflected in the frigid waters, or churches, both modern and traditional.   Because we were so far north there were only 4 hours of daylight.  While this limited our time hunting for good photo ops, it gave us a glimpse of how the Icelanders cope with the harsh winter conditions.  

If we return to Iceland for a fourth trip, it will be in the summer to explore the highlands.  But parts of Iceland have become very popular, so much so that it has been labeled by some as being over-touristed!  Perhaps it is because it is both exotic and relatively accessible, being only a six-hour flight from the east coast of the US.  By contrast, it takes that much time to fly from the eastern US to the western states.

To go to my website and see more photos of the trip, click here.

Several of these photos are among the 60 currently on display as part of my first solo photography exhibit, “The World Through My Eyes,” which runs through February 28.  Weather permitting, there will be a Meet the Artist reception at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier, Maryland on Sunday, January 20, from 2-5 pm, where they are on display.For more details, click here. Details are below.

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