Having visited Iceland in January 2015 with Iurie Belegurschi and Iceland Photo Tours, my goal was to return back to this country during the summertime to discover its greener side. So when Iurie set up and proposed his “Extreme Iceland Highlands” photo workshop to me, it was clear that it would be the perfect complement to my first Icelandic winter experience.

The adventure started on the 9th of August 2017! I was shocked to discover how green Iceland was without its winter snow coat. The green cliff alone in the south appeared to me like a mixture of Scotland and Hawaii.



Icelandic Highlands - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardIcelandic Highlands. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

One of the main highlights of this trip was the diversity of the waterfalls we encountered, from the little cascades hidden in narrow gorges to “water walls” like Skógafoss. Some of these small cascade shots required some commitment – the proof is in the picture of me “at work”, taken by my photography buddy Andro, where I found the “sweet tripod spot” for my composition!



Batman's cave - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardBatman’s cave (Þakgil). Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

Behind the scenes - Photo by Andro LoriaBehind the scene and inside the water. Photo by: 'Andro Loria'.

After a quick detour to spend time in some of the iconic Icelandic photographic spots such as Jökulsárlón Ice Beach, we started along the road in the direction of the famous Highlands. On the way, we went through some less seen but very photogenic and wild places, such Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon and Eldgjá waterfall/valley. Some of these places were so green that I had to desaturate some of the shots during the final post processing.



Diamond Ice Beach - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardDiamond Ice Beach. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.



Fjadrargljufur Canyon - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardFjaðrárgljúfur canyon: try to spot the person included in the shot. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.



Eldgja waterfall - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardEldgjá waterfall. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

Going further into the Highlands, we stopped at a special place I was looking forward to visiting: the mountains of Landmannalaugar. This place is so unique. It’s a real photographic challenge to try to translate the size of the mountains and valleys to a 2D print! One common photographic trick we used was to include people or animals (sheep in that case) to render the scale. The colour palette offered by this place is also unique with a mix of greens in the grass, white from the snow patches, and orange from rock oxidation (rhyolite minerals).



Landmannalaugar - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardRhyolite Mountains of Landmannalaugar. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

Landmannalaugar - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardLandmannalaugar. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

Pretty close to this area, we took a step further into the Icelandic roughness with the volcanic landscape around Lake Bláhylur. A pretty steep thirty-minute ascent (I was thankful to have my asthma spray with me) lead us to a unique view on the lake with the surrounding mountain. I took a pretty wide shot (21mm) including in the frame of our “truck” (the small red “dot” on the right). My friend Andro took a shot of me when I was shooting the opposite side of the lake.



Blahylur - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardBláhylur. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

Photography in the Highlands - Photo by Andro LoriaPhotography in the Highlands. Photo by: 'Andro Loria'.



A step further into the land and we arrived at the Valley of Tears (Sigöldugljufur). This place is a magical blend of a river, dozens of waterfalls, volcanic cliffs and green moss. Our early wake-up was rewarded by a fantastic sunrise and morning light.

Sigoldugljufur - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardSunrise at Sigöldugljufur. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

Within the vicinity is another river gorge which hosts the second highest fall of Iceland, Háifoss waterfall. I was quite keen not only on the virgin wilderness of this place, but the paradise of moss. As such, I made an obvious use of this moss to frame the waterfall and the gorge.

Haifoss - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardHáifoss Waterfall. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.



Another highlight during this trip was discovering the area of Kerlingarfjöll. This mountain area is unique due to its geothermal activity, which gives you a strange feeling, almost like you are witnessing a lunar landscape. At Kerlingarfjöll, it was time to make good use of our “bazooka” lenses. We used our telephoto lenses extensively to isolate subjects walking along paths.

Kerlingarfjoll - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardGeothermal Area of Kerlingarfjöll. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

Kerlingarfjoll - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardKerlingarfjöll. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.



Kerlingarfjoll - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardHikers on Kerlingarfjöll. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

In the end, thirteen days might initially seem like a long time for a photography workshop but considering the diversity of the Icelandic scenery combined with the seamless logistics, I would have liked to have stayed longer!

To conclude, I would like to give you one recommendation: do remember to always keep your camera close-by, even during a simple “pee-stop”. The following picture was shot from the bus stop with at 400mm lens.

Icelandic Highlands - Photo by Jean Francois ChaubardIcelandic Highlands. Photo by: 'Jean-Francois Chaubard'.

So, if you have the time, I can only recommend you to embark on a photography expedition with Iceland Photo Tours, especially to the Icelandic Highlands! You will come back with your head and your memory cards full of amazing memories, just like I did.


About the Author:  Jean-Francois Chaubard is a scientific/management director in the biotechnology field and photography is his way of keeping his right brain alive! You can find more of his work on 500px or Instagram.

Take a walk on the wild side with our Highlands Camping Photo Workshop in Iceland!