Looking for the Northern Lights

18 Mar Looking for the Northern Lights

During the past four years I have travelled to Iceland many times, even 5 times during one season, in addition to the nearly two years I spent on the island between 2009 and 2011. One might think that it has become almost a routine for me. Quite the contrary – every time I travel to Iceland it feels like the first time. Experiencing the excitement around discovering new places, the anxiety in face of the unknown, and — of course – the nervousness of doing a good job as a leader.

On this trip to the North of Iceland organized with my colleague Juan Carlos Muñoz, I had the chance to experience the full harshness and beauty of the Icelandic winter landscape, very different from the most popular summer season. Although the main purpose of the trip was to photograph the Northern Lights, the whole group realized that every corner of this island is worth photographing. The first stop on our way was Hvítserkur, a wonderful rock formation anchored near the shore, a petrified dragon according to some, a double stone arch according to others, for everyone, a fantastic location for landscape photography.

Before arriving at our main destination, Lake Myvatn, there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy the spectacular Arctic landscape, shaped by the snow and wind, with its whimsical and original shapes, reliefs and shadows. A great spot to practice composition.
At our final destination, the famous and colossal Lake Myvatn, it was time to explore its many natural wonders. One of those and perhaps the least known, is the thermal water cave called Grjótagjá. A great geological formation containing water that’s over 50 º c which offers numerous photographic opportunities.

At night it was time to look for our main objective, the Northern Lights. This natural phenomenon that occurs only near the poles happens due to collision of the Earth’s atmosphere with particles entrained by the solar wind. And as it happened during the last year, we could have not chosen a better time to make our trip. During the days we were in Iceland there were numerous explosions and solar storms, which resulted in Northern Lights of great beauty and intensity.

But this wasn’t just pure luck. Years 2012 and 2013 are predicted to have the greatest Northern Lights of the last 10 years. Iceland is one of the best places to photograph the Northern Lights, because the temperature there is not as low as in other Arctic countries because of the Gulf Stream. And, more importantly, its landscape is just remarkable.

After several nights of watching the Northern Lights and several days of discovering the amazing landscape, we wanted to visit Lake Myvatn for the last time before heading back. The eerie rock formations of this place make you think about how were they formed. How did they get there? The water, wind and fire have sculpted the landscape making it into a giant outdoor museum, where the Earth is the artist, and we are mere visitors