This is the first part of a six part series on Photographing Iceland -- The next part will be published next week.
If you’re a lover of landscape photography, or just enjoy travel to far-flung, unique places, Iceland is quite possibly one of those destinations that reside somewhere within your bucket list. Perhaps you lust for golden hours that last for three, or are addicted to waterfalls. Possibly you’re consumed by bird photography and would love to be able to see puffins breeding “in the flesh,” so to speak. Or maybe, like me, you have had a long time goal of seeing the aurora borealis. Iceland of course, is famous for offering all of this and more, making it a highly sought-after destination for photographers of all persuasions.
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Most of us visualize Iceland as a land of expansive, spectacular vistas, fiery volcanic eruptions, enormous glaciers and dramatic geothermal activity. This is all true, and more, but even more dramatic change is underway with the increased popularity of the island among tourists from all over the world.
Iceland is a volcanic island in the North Atlantic Ocean, of about 100 000 km2 (40,000 sq. miles) in size. It was formed about 16-18 million years ago over the plume of a hot spot in the earth’s crust. It is diagonally bisected by the Mid-Atlantic ridge from southwest to northeast. There are over 200 volcanoes. The central highlands are heavily glaciated - about 10% of the total land mass is covered by ice. The largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull, is on Iceland. The island lies about 4 200km (2,600 miles) northeast of New York City and 1 800km (1,100 miles) northwest of London. At 64 degrees north latitude, the capital of Reykjavik is one of the northernmost major cities in the world. Its latitude is only slightly south of Fairbanks, AK and Murmansk, Russia.
With a total population of approximately 330,000, almost 2/3rds live in the Reykjavik metro area, half of those within the city limits proper. The obvious implication is that the remainder of the island is sparsely populated. In fact, the second-largest city of Akureyri claims only about 20,000 inhabitants. In US-centric terms, it can be thought of this way: first, depopulate the entire state of Kentucky. Next, move everyone from St. Paul, MN there, putting two out of three people in one town. That’s Iceland.
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