Iceland: Visiting a Plane Wreck on the Beach

Plane Wreck : Becoming one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, especially among photographers and selfie snappers is the wreck of a DC-3 airplane on a remote black sand lava beach in Southern Iceland.

DC 3 Plane Crash in Iceland
DC 3 Plane Crash in Iceland by Edward M. Fielding –

On Saturday Nov 24, 1973, a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach due to running out of fuel (others say it was after experiencing some severe icing).  Luckily all survived the rough landing on the south coast of Iceland.


Today, 44 years later only the main fuselage and part of the wings remain on the beach.  Other parts were hauled away years ago but the skeleton of the plane was left to slowly rot on the volcanic beach.

Years ago you could drive to the wreckage site via a “farm” road through the black ash but increased usage ticked off the land owner because of people constantly getting stuck, lead to the closure of the road.  For a while the land owner was charging people to park in a small parking lot and walk to the wreck.

After researching the location, I was prepared to have to skip this place thinking we would not be able to park our motor home.  But I visited in 2017 and am happy to report that the is a new spacious parking lot complete with room for large vehicles and campers as well as a bike rental place for faster travel to the site.

We visited in July.  The site itself is a long, dull walk down the relatively flat, straight road of crushed lava gravel.  It takes about 40 minutes to an hour of walking to get to the site so be prepared to spend some time.  Forty minutes to, 30 minutes waiting for your change at a shot and 40 minutes back, so bring some water, good shoes and an extra layer in case the weather turns.  The distance is approximately 4 km to the crash site.

Turnoff GPS Coordinates


Airplane GPS Coordinates


Be prepared for lots of people at the site depending on the time of day and time of year.  If you are patient, people come in waves.  If you are lucky to get there when there are only a few people, work fast and play with angles to get shots without people.  If there are a ton of people, relax and wait them out.  While we were there a ATV tour group showed up with orange jumpsuits.  They climbed all over the wreck and even stomped on it.  Makes me wonder if the days of the crashed plane are numbered with this abuse.

Many will say that the site is not worth the walk and one should spend time looking at natural sites.  As a photographer I can tell you it was certainly worthwhile visiting this unique site, I could careless about the effort need to get there.  If anything my eyes were numb with the natural beauty of the country, a bit of mysterious, man-made structure was a breath of fresh air.

Photography Prints

See more Iceland fine art photographs by Edward M. Fielding here –

Extra Credit:

Did you know Justin Bieber skateboarded on top of this plane carcass?

Justin Bieber skateboarding a plane in Iceland.
Justin Bieber skateboarding a plane in Iceland.

Bieber’s music video for his surprise track “I’ll Show You” features Iceland and Bieber doing all kinds of dangerous stuff like swimming with icebergs, rolling around in moss, sitting on cliffs and jumping around wet and slippery waterfalls.

Iceland Trip Log – 11 Days on the Ring Road

NOTE: The gallery of fine art photography from Iceland is ready! Click here to view

Pack the bags, drop off the dog, hop on the Dartmouth Coach to Boston.  “BFG” is movie.  Not bad.  Through security, camera bag loaded with so many batteries and extra stuff gets the extra, extra look over by security.

Grab an airport dinner and a beer.  Board Icelandicair and settle into a coach seat for a five hour trip with beverage service.  Nice entertainment unit in the back of the seat but try to catch some sleep.  Maybe twenty minutes of sold sleep on the entire trip.  Ugh.  So hard to get comfortable.

Arrive.  Take the shuttle over to the car rental office – Geysir.  Wait a 10 minutes for another shuttle to their motorhome rental processing center.  5 minute ride to the industrial area.  Get a quick overview of the workings.  Ever driven a motorhome before?  No. Be sure to get the insurance.

Fiat Ducato 4
Fiat Ducato 4 – motorhome rented for Iceland trip

Check the weather every day at  If the wind is above 15, you can’t drive.  The RV will be blown over!

First stop is the Bonus supermarket and a “breakfast” at Subway.  “American Cheese” says the polish server.  “We call that Icelandic Cheese, we say”.  She smiles, and says she calls it “Polish Cheese”.  Same bland cheese the world over.

Wife knows shift so she drive the manual rig.  Bigger than we expected but the cab is basically a Fiat van front with good viability so its good.  Grind a few gears of the brand new vehicle but finally get it and proceed through the highways of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital and biggest city.   Roundabouts, traffic, big rigs oh my!

Iceland Day One: Pingvellir National Park

Whew finally out of the city and heading along the Golden Circle.  First stop Pingvellir National Park and the amazing tectonic plate smashing riff valley.  Upheaving plates, sheep and waterfalls.  The teenager navigator passes out for the night at about 2.  The heartier adults take in the sites and hike around.

Camp for the night at a the rustic Pingvellir campground.  Just pull in anywhere.

Iceland Day Two:  Geysir and Gullifoss

Bed by 6, wake up at 9:30!  Coffee and Kellogg’s crunchy mus-lix.  Off to the grand iconic and bus tour must see spots of Geysir (unreliable since 2000 earthquake), every five minutes Stokur and epic Gullfoss.  Parking was tough.

Somehow I missed the eruption with the GoPro. The facilities around the geysers are set up to handle bus loads of tourists. The most extensive gift shop “mall” we saw on the entire trip was here at Geysir. Bowl of soup $15. There is even a hotel across three street from the park. But if you’ve been to Yellowstone National Park you might want to skip this attraction as its not as impressive as the extensive geysir areas in Yellowstone.

Made our way around the Golden Circle checking out some other pull outs and the Kerio crater on our way to a nice campground right in the town of Selfoss.  Electric hook ups and nice showers.  Tried to walk to town to use the pool but they were closing in 10 minutes.  Darn!  Walked back and used the free showers.  Bonus tortellini and tomatoes for dinner.  Amazing Wifi.



Iceland Day Three: Skogafoss, Cape Dyrholaey, Vik

Skogafoss was one of my favorite stops on this trip.  You get a fantastic waterfall right in the parking lot but then if you keep following the trails back past Skogafoss you can see even more waterfalls.  You can walk by 25 magnificient waterfalls if you keep going, all the way back to the glacier.  The head of Skogafoss is a volcano that last erupted in 2010.  We only made it to three or four waterfalls, but if you like, you can keep walking until you run out of energy.

One of the sights I really wanted to see on this trip that wasn’t 100% natural in nature was the sight of the crashed US Navy plane from the 1970s.  I’ve seen so many cool, moody pictures of the plane on the black sand.  Very surreal.

From reading some blog posts on the wreck site I wasn’t sure if there would be good motor-home parking and I had heard reports about having to pay for parking complete with an angry farmer holding people hostage for the parking fee.

Something must have changed because the parking lot turned out to be spacious with plenty of room for parking cars, buses and campers.  In the olden times, people could drive to the plane site but now there is about a 40 minute walk each way.   It’s a long and boring walk so don’t bother unless you have to see the plane.

Once there the plane is covered with people taking selfies so its hard to get a good shot unless you can quick or clever with your composition.  Or wait for the crowds to thin out.  But don’t wait too long or before you know it a tour of people on ATVs will show up and climb all over the plane.

Iceland Day Four: Skaftafell

Day four we left Vik and headed for our camping destination of Skaftafell, stopping at various sites (waterfalls, basalt columns, lupine fields) and pull outs along the way.

Skaftafell has a great camping ground and lots of great trails to explore including the impressive Svartifoss with its basalt columns and a cool old turf farm that you can visit and look inside the buildings.

Iceland Day Five: Jokulsarlon, Hofn, Huffelpots

Icebergs flowing in a lagoon and hot spring fed hot tubs at the edge of a farmers field.  We spent hours watching and photographing the icebergs in the lagoon and on the black sand beach.  Finding the Huffelpots, five fiberglass shallow pools of varying temperature water with a hose of cold water if you needed to cool down the hot spring fed pools down.  A primitive changing shed and outdoor shower are also there all for a 5 Kr donation.

Camping in Hofn was a fantastic facility on the water and a sort walk to town including a great discount grocery store and a neat little harbor with fishing boats and even a cool old fishing boat that you can climb up on and about.  Plus walking trails around the beach.  Wish we had more time to explore the town.

Iceland Day Six: The long driving day from Hofn to Myvatn

Wet and raining.  Very windy over night although no travel warnings for East Fjord area we traveled through on this day of the trip.  Must be beautiful if you could see through the fog and clouds.  At least today was a long driving day and the weather is suppose to improve.

Stops in include lighthouses, overlooks and rocky formations along the way including “Batman Mountain” (covered in clouds and fog) and Eystrahorn.

Four hours of actual drive time but it stretches to more than double with all of the stops for lunch, waterfalls and “short cuts” which net an amazing waterfall but too scary of a road for the RV.

So they say the Ring Road is completely drive-able and paved all the way around the island.  They lie!  The main highway after Breiodalsvik or when it takes a sharp turn away from the coast, becomes a gravel road and then proceeds to climb over a mountain complete with hairpin turns!

Wet gravel roads, fog, rain and driving a motor-home into a cloud on a top of a mountain is one nerve racking experience.  I thought we were going to die.

I have to wonder if we had continued farther along the coast perhaps to Reyoarfjordur and then turned on to 92 and joined the Ring Road it would have been better.

There was a short cut earlier that we mistakenly took and could not find a spot to turn around until we climbed a scary hill but at least our efforts were rewarded with an amazing waterfall.

The area between Egilsstadir and Myvatn shows up on my map and in guides as being non-photogenic and dull, but there were actually at least three good sized waterfalls in the beginning of this leg worth pulling the rig over.  Then the last hour or so was a bit tedious with mostly tundra like landscape an steady climb over the mountains.  Nothing like the gravel road over the top of the other mountain.

Iceland Day Seven: Myvatn Natural Baths, Dettifoss and Selfoss

On day seven we wake up in Myvatn and the Vatnajokull Nationa Park area.  Land of the most powerful waterfall in Europe – Dettifoss and the smaller but beautiful Selfoss and also the smaller version of the Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Natural Baths, a man-made but natural looking and heated mineral pools.

The water supplies for the lagoon run straight from the National Power Company´s bore hole in Bjarnarflag. The water has a temperature of about 130°C when it arrives to the huge basin beside the lagoon itself forming an impressive, man-made hot spring. Altogether, the lagoon and the basin contain around 3.5 million litres of water with a temperature of 36 – 40°C.
Nature Baths – The Green Lagoon

The lagoon itself is a man-made construction, its bottom is covered by sand and gravel. The characteristics of the water are unique in many ways. It contains a large amount of minerals, is alkaline and well suited for bathing. Due to its chemical composition, undesired bacteria and vegetation do not thrive in the lagoon making chloride or any other disinfectant redundant.

We also walked around the strangest landscape you’ll ever see at the world at Krafla.

Iceland Day Eight: Godafoss, Herring Museum, Hofsos Swimming Pool

The day started with the beautiful Godafoss waterfall.  We didn’t stay long enough to explore every trail as we needed to make mileage.  Went through a scary one way tunnel and then a series of very long two lane tunnels to get to the excellent Herring Museum in the fishing town of Siglufjorour.

Back in the car, though another short one way tunnel, over some mountain passes with a few stop for a swim in the naturally warmed pool at Hofsos which has an award winning “infinity pool” like pool and hot tubs.  9kr per for a great shower and swim and then another shower.

On and up over the mountain passes with stops for views and Icelandic horses on the way to our final stop for the night at Blonduos.

Iceland Day Nine: Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Headed out of our campsite in Blonduos to our destination of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula which was a bit of a drive but we made good time staying on the Ring Road or Rt 1 and not being tricked into taking any “short cuts” that turn out to be gravel roads that take forever.  Always consult the best maps for road descriptions.

With only a quick stop at an N1 for pit stops, drink and washing the bugs off the windshield (the front of the camper is splattered with blood spots by now) we drove all morning and arrived at the adorable town of Stykkisholmur with its interesting modern church and adorable harbor with an adorable lighthouse.

After lunch in the parking lot, we took a swim at the town pool facilities which are known for their mineral rich water that compares to the Blue Lagoon and Baden Baden in Germany.  They also have one of the tallest water slides in Iceland.  It was long but not the fastest.  You froze walking up the steps to the top but it was fun.

Refreshed, we drove on to Kirkjurfell which is the icon ionic pyramid shaped mountain that is almost synonymous with Iceland.  It was windy, crowded and touch to park the motorhome.  The parking lot was tiny for the crowd.

But I set up for the iconic shot of the waterfall in the foreground and the mountain in the distance.  We’ll see if I got it.

Then on to the campground for an early grab of a great spot with electricity and a view of the ocean.  The campground is in Hellissandur at the tip of the Snaefellsjokull National Park on the Snaefellsnes  Peninsula. Small but new and very scenic.  You can walk the lava field that is all around the campground, walk to the Maritime Museum next door, the N! station or the little town and the bird cliffs.  Just bring your umbrella for the dive bombing birds.

See “Attack of the Angry Birds”

Iceland Day Ten: Snaefellsnes Peninsula Part II

There is  so much to see on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.  We took some hikes to Dritvik beach which is in a lava field.   The beach itself is littered with rusty metal bits from a ship wreck from 1948.  Other than this ship wreckage, the beaches are very clean.  Unlike say Maine where even the most remote islands are covered with plastic rope, floats and metal lobster traps.

We also visited Helliar which has some sea arches, more volcanic cliffs, birds and the cutest little cafe right down by the rugged coast.

Next stop was the Black Church.

Photography is a good excuse to be in nature

Being in nature is relaxing but in our goal driven modern mindset, few can truly just simply relax.  We typically need a goal, a purpose, a job.  This is where hobbies come in.

I see fishing, photography, extreme fitness, skiing and in some ways golf as excuses to get outside and just be in the natural world.

Golf is kind of a baby step towards being out in “nature” if you idea of nature is a man made, highly manicured lawn.

Did you know? The quote “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” is generally attributed to mark Twain although it first appeared in 1903 in a book by H S Scrivener

Extreme fitness like running marathons or free climbing up a rock face seems regard nature simply as an gym outside.   Skiing gets you outdoors in the winter but typically the attraction is snow conditions, slope and village nightlife.

Art Prints

Fishing is probably the closest thing to experiencing the outdoors like a photographer.  You head out with a lot of specialized equipment and don’t ever really know what you will come back with.

Photography for many is a good excuse for getting outside and planning exotic vacations in the natural world.

Sell Art Online

I was at a dinner recently for a retiring hospital president and sat next to a nice lady whose passion was going exotic photo workshop trips.  She had been on safari in Africa, shot penguins in Antarctica and bears in Alaska.  These are serious trips and expensive trips.  She was telling me about the trip to Alaska where the group of 12 or so photographers were shooting grizzles bears in a meadow as they ate berries.

Her next trip is to Churchill, Canada where she board a portable hotel on the turdra to photograph polar bears.

Of course, I’m jealous as hell during this discussion. As a small business person concerned with expenses and payback period on every piece of equipment, I’m thinking, how many prints would I have to sell in order to make back the investment of $10K on such a trip. Are there that many people in the market for a polar bear photo? And of course there is no guarantee that you will even bring back a great photo, my still life photos which are carefully planned out certainly have a better chance of success.

So I ask her, what do you do with these photos? “Nothing” she says, “I just do it to relax”
See the camera might as well be a fishing pole. It’s an excuse for this stressed out hospital executive to take a trip and be in nature.

Surely the camera manufacturer’s understand this market. No doubt for every professional level camera sold to an actual professional photographer, there are 10 sold to doctors, dentists and attorneys who use them once or twice a year on vacation.

It’s like this retired dentist I know. He has the most amazing collection of gear. High end printers, top of the line computer, every red banded lens Canon makes and he travels the world. Photography is his expensive hobby but he can afford it. And its his excuse to get out in nature.

Photography Prints

The Benefits of Nature

Whatever your excuse, there are plenty of great reasons to get out in nature. And it typically costs nothing to go for a walk or a hike. Spending time in the great outdoors has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, help you find clarity, and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Nubble Lighthouse York Maine, photography mecca

Nubble Light Cape Neddick Lighthouse

Nubble Lighhouse, York Maine – an iconic New England Landmark

Officially named the Cape Neddick Light,  Nubble Light is no doubt one of the most photographed American iconic locations in all of New England. Picture perfect Cape Neddick in York Maine hosts one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the country and includes a convenient parking lot and adjacent Lobster Shack for handy lobster rolls while you gaze across the inlet at the classic Maine lighthouse and its many out buildings, white picket fence and jagged granite cliffs.

Photography Prints

More lighthouse photographs and artwork here

 How to get there:

Accessibility: Follow Nubble Road east from Route 1A (Long Beach Ave.) in York, near Long Sands Beach, for about 1 mile to Sohier Park. Click here for more detailed directions. There is free parking at Sohier Park with an excellent view of the lighthouse. The lighthouse and grounds are not open to the public.


Compact park offering scenic views of historic lighthouse plus scuba diving, fishing & gift shop.
Sohier Park Rd, York, ME 03909
Hours:  Open today · Open 24 hours


  • Station established: 1879
  • Present lighthouse built: 1879
  • Automated: 1987
  • Construction materials: Cast iron lined with brick
  • Height of tower: 41 feet
  • Height of focal plane: 88 feet
  • Original optic: Fourth-order Fresnel lens (1879)
  • Present optic: Fourth-order Fresnel lens (1928)

Art Prints

Brief History From Wikipedia:

The Cape Neddick Light is a lighthouse in Cape Neddick, York, Maine. In 1874 Congress appropriated $15,000 to build a light station at the “Nubble” and in 1879 construction began. Cape Neddick Light Station was dedicated by the U.S. Lighthouse Service and put into use in 1879. It is still in use today.

Plans had been in the works to build a lighthouse on the site since 1837. The tower is lined with brick and sheathed with cast iron. It stands 41 feet (12 m) tall but the light is 88 feet (27 m) above sea level because of the additional height of the steep rocky islet on which it sits. Unusually, the stanchions of the walkway railing around the lantern room are decorated with 4-inch (100 mm) brass replicas of the lighthouse itself.

Nubble Light is a famous American icon and a classic example of a lighthouse. The Voyager spacecraft, which carries photographs of Earth’s most prominent man-made structures and natural features, should it fall into the hands of intelligent extraterrestrials, includes a photo of Nubble Light with images of the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

Cape Neddick Light is one of the last eight lights in Maine to still have its Fresnel lens. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Cape Neddick Light Station on April 16, 1985, reference number 85000844.

The lighthouse and island were featured in the movie “Lost Boundaries” (1949) starring Mel Ferrer.

More lighthouse photographs and artwork here

10 Reasons to Tour Iceland Via Camper Van

RV rental in Iceland

Nothing beats the flexibility of camping when it comes to exploring Iceland. Why choose a camper van in Iceland?  Here are some great reasons:

  1. Save money.  Campsites are cheaper than hotels and you don’t have to rent a car.
  2. Flexibility. Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts on Iceland are few and far between.
  3. Unpredictable weather.  By camping you can change your schedule with the changes in weather.
  4. In a camper van you can go anywhere and do anything you want to do.
    There are 3 persons per square kilometer in Iceland. This allows you to basically disappear into the nature in a motor-home, caravan or camper van.
  5. No reservations needed. In Iceland you won’t need to reserve a spot at a camp site . You need simply to show up and enjoy it. Camp sites are very modern and have good facilities.
  6. Easy to get around. All of Iceland’s ring road (road no.1) is asphalt which allows you to drive safely around Iceland in any type of camper van.
  7. No planning needed.  You just follow the good weather and enjoy where it takes you.
  8. Great views from any parking spot. In Iceland there are hardly any trees. Therefore you always have an amazing 360° view from a camper at all times.
  9. Bring your kitchen with you. With a Camper van you have a kitchen wher-ever you go. This will save you lot´s of cash. Fast food in Iceland is expensive.
  10. Unpack once.  Instead of having to pack and unpack every day, with a camper you can unpack once.
Small camper vans are perfect for couples. Certainly beats setting up a tent every night. Compact but weather proof!
Camper rentals in Iceland can be tiny i.e. cooking outside to full sized RVs. Smaller campers are easier to drive and are cheaper but have some drawbacks regarding space.
Larger RV type campers are available with luxuries such as bathrooms and more space for larger families. Just be sure to read the rental agreement! Most don’t allow you to go on unpaved roads!

10 Tips for Camping and Driving in Iceland

We’re off to Iceland in a few weeks. Renting an RV and taking to the Ring Road for 10 days. Should be an adventure of a lifetime! Here are some tips I’ve collected.

RV rental in Iceland
RV rental in Iceland
  1. Hold on to the car or camper door!  The number one car insurance claim in Iceland is car doors being ripped off the hinges due to heavy winds.
  2. Bring disposable gloves for handling the “output” pipes.  If you haven’t used an RV before, you are in for a treat in handling the waste at dump stations.  Be ready to handle the pipes with ziplock bag full of gloves.
  3. Hot Dogs at the gas stations around Iceland are world famous for being great.  Fill up the tank and grab a snack.  Most have great WiFi too.  A home away from home.
  4. Be prepared for cold and rain.  Rain resistant ain’t going to cut it.  Pack some cheap rain proof gear.  The kind that makes you sweat but are truly rain proof.
  5. Bring a lot of power adapters and USB chargers.  Camera batteries will be pushed to the max, be sure to have a few extras.
  6. Sleep will be difficult – in the summer there is barely any night time and the howling wind will keep you awake.  Bring eye shades and ear plugs.
  7. Learn the rules of the road.  You’ll be confronted with all sorts of road obstacles including gravel roads, sheep in the road, one way bridges and one way tunnels.  Read up on the rules of the road, stay alert and watch your speed!
  8. Camp only in real campgrounds.  Despite what you might have heard, you can’t just pull over anywhere and camp.
  9. Visit the local pools and hot springs for showers.  Scrub to Icelantic standards of cleanliness, enjoy a soak in the hot spring pools and then shower again.  Just keep your hair out of the mineral rich water if you don’t want it to crack off later.
  10. Keep you eyes on the road.  If you can’t, find a safe spot to pull over.  Don’t block the road and be wary of ditches and soft shoulders.
Good grief! Who does this? Public hairdryers are not “pubic” hair dryers. Sign appear warning people not to dry their privates with the public hair dryers.
The six zones to wash well before entering a squeaky clean Icelandic pool. If you haven’t learned to clean yourself, this is a good lesson!

Some suggested products to pack:

Full Steam Ahead – Riding the Steam Train in Essex

Full Steam Through the Valley

Sometimes when you’ve been taking photographs as long as I have, you look back at an image and say, did I really take that? And the details come flooding back. The scouting for a great location, studying the schedule, pouring over the maps, the dropping of your lens in a parking lot in your haste to get to the right spot in time, the weather with its perfect mix of clouds, the walking through tick infested meadows, the strange looks from workers are you skirt behind their warehouse etc.

All this in the service of a photograph that may or may not turn out to be a keeper. But when all of the planning and execution come to together for that perfect shot, all the world seems to be in-sync with your mission.

Sell Art Online

The Essex Steam Train of the Valley Railroad chugs through the area known as the Meadow. Fine art photography by Edward M. Fielding –

I spent a good part of my summer in the Connecticut River Valley and often photographed the Essex Steam Train. The train leaves daily for tourist excursions from Essex Connecticut up along the Connecticut river through Deep River and ends across the swing bridge from the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam.

The Valley Railroad is a heritage railroad based in Connecticut on tracks of the Connecticut Valley Railroad which was founded in 1868. It operates the Essex Steam Train and the Essex Clipper Dinner Train. The Valley Railroad Company operates the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat. This excursion starts with a 12-mile ride aboard the historic Essex Steam Train from the Essex Station with scenic views of the Connecticut River up to Chester. The train reverses direction back to the Deep River Station/Landing. Passengers who have purchased the riverboat tickets can board the Becky Thatcher at this station. The riverboat brings people on a 1-hour, 15-minute trip up the Connecticut River to the East Haddam Swing Bridge and then back to Deep River Landing. The train then picks up passengers to bring them back to Essex Depot. The whole trip takes about 2 hours 30 minutes.

Photography Prints

Some of the old equipment collected by the Essex Railroad for possible future restoration.

Sell Art Online

Beautiful old steam engines kept in top shape by the crew at the Essex railroad.

Photography Prints

Nothing beats the sights, sounds and smells of a working steam locomotive.

Photography Journey to the Arctic Circle

Planning for a trip to Iceland

We’re planning for a summer trip to the land of Fire and Ice.  Also the land of trolls, volcanoes, glaciers, best hot dogs in the world and fermented shark’s head.

What we know

  • Flights to Iceland are very inexpensive.  Many people take advantage of the no up charge, up to seven day, stop over on the way to Europe via Icelandic Air.
  • Food is very expensive just like Alaska or Hawaii or other remote areas.  Eating out is pricey so plan to make your own meals to save some dough.
  • Its cold!  Pack warmly as Iceland is cold, windy and rainy most of the time.
  • The majority of Iceland is not populated. Mostly the coastline is habitable.  You won’t have any trouble finding some peace and quiet.
  • Renting a camper van is a great way to see Iceland – this is what we will be doing.
  • Reykjavik is the capital and the largest city.  Lots of the natural wonders of Iceland can be seen within an 1 hour and a half drive or bus from the capital including the famous Blue Lagoon natural hot spring.
  • The Blue Lagoon requires reservations and tickets.
  • The country is 95% native Icelanders  and they speak Icelandic but most people also speak English at least in the more touristy areas.
  • The Ring Road or RT1 circumnavigates the entire island, its paved all the way but you will come across one way bridges.

Iceland from Ugmonk on Vimeo.

Tips from a friend who often goes camper vanning in Iceland:

  • You won’t get lost on the ring road.
  • Do your research beforehand so you have names and locations of campsites along the way. Many people speak English but not all.
  • Larger towns have grocery stores where you can pick up what you’ll need to cook at the campsite, otherwise, you go to the individual bakery and fruit market for your supplies. If you have dry snacks you like and want to bring, pack those. But pay attention to the weight of your bag.
  • We each had a large roller duffel and we packed sleeping bags as well.
  • When we rented our camper, we also rented the linen package that came with towels, blankets and pillows. Do that! Bring a few extra small (dark – just in case you want to use them to cover windows) towels in case your towels don’t dry.
  • Everything is expensive. Plan on it and forget about it.
  • We used credit cards everywhere though have CC cards with a chip and set up a pin because some places have that double security requirement.
  • The campsites we stayed at had hot showers and toilets. One had laundry but everything takes a long time to dry so I wouldn’t count on it. If you choose to do laundry at some point, find a laundromat in a larger town and use the hours to plan on bouncing around or doing something touristy. We didn’t do any laundry while camping.
  • Pack for all sorts of weather. The highest temps will be low 60s probably. Nights can get down to the low 40s.
  • Weather – You could have sun or rain or sleet or snow.
  • It’s wet – I had two pairs of sneakers in case one got wet and flip flops for showers and a nicer pair of flats to go out.
  • Gear – I basically packed all my athletic wear. Capris, leggings, skorts, tank tops, long sleeve wicking tops and heavier tops to layer. All manner of socks. Hats and mittens and four different weight jackets. The only thing I didn’t wear was the true fall weight jacket but we had spectacular weather and had it been any different I might have pulled that one out of the bag.
  • Bring bathing suits. There is a pool in every town, you can shower there and there are often hot springs.
  • Public pools have strict personal hygiene rules. Put away worries about dignity.  Rules of hygiene are taken very seriously with regard to the pools and all visitors are required to shower thoroughly without a swimsuit before entering the water.
  • Liquor – When you land in Reykjavik, there is a duty free shop at the baggage claim. Buy some stuff there (aka liquor).  Hard liquor is not sold outside of bars.  There are a lot of weird alcohol laws –  Basically if you are a heavy drinker, Iceland is probably not the place for you.
  • Icelandic candy is lovely!

Photography Answers – How to take better vacation photos

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For most amateur photographers, vacations are the best weeks of the year. Its time to put the work pressures and daily grind on the back burner and perhaps travel some place new to capture some great photographs. Of course the downside is the places we go are typically the same places everyone else goes on vacation to the problem is how to come back with something unique and different.

Tip One: Don’t over pack

Sometimes we try to follow the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared” and pack for every conceivable contingency. The problem on vacation is this pile of equipment is just another thing that is going to slow you down. A heavy bag or backpack of equipment is going to get tiresome after a long day of touring around and its just more stuff to worry about. Theft on vacation is a real concern and if you are traveling with a huge bag stuffed with expensive camera equipment, the thieves will spot you from a mile away.

Better to take a serious look at your equipment and decide which lens you will really be using. Maybe a good zoom lens that covers your typical range is better than bringing your whole kit. Bring a tripod if you want to capture long exposure waterfalls or dimly lit night scenes, otherwise if you have a camera capable of low light photography, leave it behind.

Will you be disappointed that you didn’t have a certain lens for a certain situation? Most likely but you’ll end up seeing more and learn to adapt with the equipment you have on hand.

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On my last vacation to Italy we were on a tour so I knew that about half the time I’d be with a group, so I only brought a small camera with a fixed 35 mm equivalent lens. Not only did it free me from heavy equipment but it was less of a target for thieves. I didn’t have to worry about pickpockets going through my backpack when I wasn’t looking. Everything I needed fit in my hand.

For a trip to Florida, staying with my parents, I packed my full frame Canon 6D a few lens as I knew I had a safe spot to store them. On this trip, I had been to the area many times and had a good idea of the types of images I wanted to capture so I pre-planned which lenses to pack.

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Tip Two: Get Up Early, Eat Late

Photography is the art of capturing light on film or digital sensor. The number one reason most people’s vacation photos suck is because they act like they are on vacation. They sleep in and are concerned about dinner reservation more then about capturing the best light of the day. Most tourists are out and about taking photographs during the hours of 10 and 2 – the worst time of the day. All they get is harsh, blaring sunlight.

If you want to get better photographs the key is to get out early and stay out late. Capture the beautiful low light of early morning and the warm low light late in the day. Not only will the light be better but there will be less crowds too. Less people in the shots, less people asking your to take their picture and less gadget hounds coming up to your to talk about the latest camera they bought before vacation.

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Tip Three: Know Your Equipment

Now speaking of new equipment, no doubt camera manufacturers have data on how many people buy new cameras before a major vacation. It must be the number one selling point of camera sales, well that and the birth of a child. Avoid taking a new camera on vacation until you know all about its quirks.

When once in a lifetime shots appear in front of your eyes you want to capture it with reliable equipment that you know backwards and forwards.

Tip Four: Look Behind You

Our brains are wired to look where other people are looking. I mean how many times have you set up a shot only to find someone breathing down your neck wanting to get the same shot? When everyone is looking in the same direction, turn around and look the opposite way. Sometimes the best shot is somewhere else or at least a more interesting shot.

“If the light is great in front of you, you should turn around and see what it is doing behind you.” – Jay Maisel

Tip Five: Move Your Ass

Just don’t stand there in the crowd of tourist under the “Kodak Moment Spot” sign – move your ass! Physically move yourself into a good position to capture YOUR shot. Not what everyone else is shooting. This is where a prime or fixed focal length lens like a 35mm is a great teaching tool. It forces you to move your body into a good position instead of being lazy with a zoom lens and simply zooming around the environment.

“You find that you have to do many things, more than just lift up the camera and shoot, and so you get involved in it in a very physical way. You may find that the picture you want to do can only be made from a certain place, and you’re not there, so you have to physically go there. And that participation may spur you on to work harder on the thing, . . . because in the physical change of position you start seeing a whole different relationship.” – Jay Maisel

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Tip Six: Finding Things to Shoot

There are a couple ways to approach shooting a tourist area. One would be “collecting” all of the familiar spots that everyone has seen and knows well. Some of these of course are almost a requirement – the Eiffel Tower or whatever. Finding some standard shots is as easy as browsing the postcard rack. But challenge yourself to attempt a fresh approach to well worn subjects like theses.

The other approach is to focus on capturing the feeling of a place in the details. Photographing the people and customs that make these places unique. While looking to capture the big and “wow” producing highlights of the trip, don’t forget the little details along the way.

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All for only $6.5 Million

I was thinking about the recent Peter Lik sale to the undisclosed buyer and thought how could I provide a buyer with that amount of disposable income a better value. After all, all they got from the deal was a piece of artwork.

In case you haven’t seen the press release – Peter Lik,  he of large, bright, saturated landscape photography sold in his 14 galleries located in vacation spots around the globe and star of the TV show “From the Edge With Peter Lik”  on the Weather Channel not to be confused by Art Wolfes show “Travels to the Edge” on PBS, supposedly sold a black and white version of his popular shot of Antelope Canyon for $6.5 million dollars to a secretive collector.  The photograph “Ghost” I mean “Phantom” features some black and white HDR effects and a nice bunch of sand floating in the air in the shaft of light coming into the popular (as evident by the abundant foot prints in the sand) canyon, thus the title “Phantom”.

Antelope Canyon has been photographed thousands of times, long since draining all sense of originality or creative thought.

Some have questioned the “accuracy” of the sale.


Especially those trying to unload their own versions (950 photographs per “limited edition”) on, eBay and Craigslist after their wives berated their husbands for blowing so much money on a pretty picture during a drunken sales meeting in Las Vegas.  Much as been written about the strong arm sales tactics in the Peter Lik galleries.


So getting beyond whether or not the artwork in question is a fine piece of artwork worth of a $6.5 million dollar price tag or even has any resale value to warrant such a price, lets consider VALUE.

Antelope Canyon is a mature subject on the bucket list of thousands of photographers.

This slot canyon is on land managed by the Navajo Parks and Recreation.  With over 17 million acres, the Navajo Nation encompasses the entire northeast quarter of the state of Arizona, and spills over into New Mexico and Utah.  Vast areas of pristine wilderness, majestic canyons, high mountain meadows, dry deserts, flatlands and blue skies characterize the land of the Navajo people.  The road to Antelope Canyon is gated by the Navajo Nation and entry is restricted to guided tours led by authorized tour guides. Tours can be purchased in nearby Page, and range from $35 to $82 per person, depending on the time of the day and length of the tour.

Ok so now, we have a well photographed and popular tourist attraction.  Postcards of Antelope Canyon in the Navajo gift shop are less than $1 so what did the undisclosed buyer of “Phantom” get?

All they got for $6.5 million was a black and white framed print.


What a rip off!  For 6.5 millon clams my package deal is a much better deal.  My package includes the buyer actually taking the photograph!  Talked about the ultimate photo safari.  With my deal the patron actually comes back with bragging rights. My deal includes the total experience of capturing the image yourself. Here is what is included in my package exclusive “Antelope Canyon” for the 6.5 smackers….

  • Airfare and overnight accommodations.
  • All transfers and transportation
  • All park passes and real Navajo Indian guide
  • Pocket full of new $100 bills to hand out to other photographers so they will step outside of the photo for 10 minutes.
  • A rake to rake up the foot prints out of the sand.
  • An assistant to throw sand in the air on command.
  • Training on equipment so you look like you know what you are doing when we yell “push the button now!”
  • Post processing and acrylic face mounting process for that super saturated, back light, pop your eyeballs out look.
  • One camera bag featuring the following products (just like Peter’s!)

You also get a camera bag full of all of the same gear used by the real Peter Lik at not extra charge.  The bag and all of the equipment are yours to keep after the $6.5 million dollar photo experience.

What’s in the bag? Everything you need to get the $6.5 million dollar shot!


We’ll even include a round of drinks at the bar after you bag your very own Antelope Canyon shot!