Iceland: Part Three [Iowa City, Iowa Travel Photographer]

Ok guys, last installment of my travels to Iceland (I still have some shoots I did there that I will blog, but as far as sightseeing type stuff this is it!). If you missed my first two posts, check them out here and here!

Day 4: That morning we did a shoot at a lighthouse outside of Reykjavik focusing on natural movement and less posing, more directing which I enjoyed since I love documentary style photography. I'll be posting some of those images in a different post soon! We took photos on the beach and then went to a little island where the lighthouse stood. On the island the grass felt as soft as it looked, and I definitely laid down in it for a little while - how could I resist?

That afternoon we went to the Blue Lagoon, which was amazing!! I didn't take my camera, so I don't have any photos of it to share other than cell phone pics. It was just as beautiful as it looks in photos, and I highly recommend going if you get the chance. The lagoon itself is little more mint green than blue, but really who cares? There are steam caves, a swim up bar, waterfalls, bridges, and you can do different facial masks for a full spa experience. It was busy but not overly crowded, and there are a lot of little alcoves so you can relax with less people around if you choose. Gosh, it was beautiful and so relaxing, I wish I could go back right now!

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Day 5: We had a free day, so some of the other girls and I went on a 6 hour horseback ride through the fields, rivers, and mountains of Iceland. I was worried I would be super sore for days afterward, and I almost didn't go, but I'm SO glad that I did. It was incredible!! I haven't ridden a horse since I was a kid, but our guide was awesome and I ended up with a beautiful white horse named Gabon. Our guide called her a "Barbie pony", and I was happy because I really wanted a white horse to ride!

My favorite part of the entire day was when we rode through this big open field along the river with all of these ponies just roaming around and grazing. They would come up to us, and a bunch of them followed for quite awhile! There was one point when we rode through a few streams and stopped for lunch, and I looked back and about 10-15 ponies were running through the water towards us. It was just like a movie - so beautiful!! I would highly recommend the company we went through if you are ever in Iceland and want to ride horses, definitely check out Eldhestar,

Day 6 : We did a shoot at the Black Sand Beach in Vík on day 6 which was a lot of fun, and so cool to see. We again had beautiful weather, and the beach was quite busy but we found a little cave area to take photos. The landscape there is very interesting, pebbles, black sand, and basalt columns. I loved all the different formations throughout the rock! We were told to stay away from the water by locals, as the current is very strong and the tide comes in quickly, so we admired it from a distance!

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After we finished our shoot at the beach we headed to town where we ate at this cute little restaurant, followed by a visit to Skógafoss which is a huge waterfall. Man, that place was gorgeous (I feel like there aren't enough adjectives to describe all of the spectacular sights in Iceland!) and we were there in the evening so it had pretty much emptied out as far as tourists. There were just a handful of people there with us, which made it feel so magical! The photos I took at this waterfall, with the water droplets all over my lens, are some of my favorite from the entire trip.

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Day 7: We spent the day finishing up workshop stuff with classes, one on one time, and dinner at Rekjavik Fish. Then, we packed up and got ready to head home the next day! I was so sad to leave, but I'm so grateful for such a cool experience. I can't wait to tell you where I'm headed for next year's adventure!

Iceland: Part Two [Iowa City, Iowa Travel Photographer]

If you missed it and want to view part one, click here

The third day in Iceland we did the Golden Circle. For those who don't know, it's a circular route in which you can see several top tourist destinations in Iceland. We visited the Kerið crater lake, the Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss waterfall, and Þingvellir National Park. For lunch we ate at the amazing greenhouses at Friðheimar, which was such a cool experience. Everything they make has tomatoes in it, which is the only thing they grow in the greenhouses there. Truly, the best tomatoes come from Iceland guys - definitely check it out if you ever go even if you don't love tomatoes because the bread they make is like something sent down from heaven. It was so soft and delicious, with a perfectly chewy crust and worked as a wonderful spoon for my tomato soup. ;) I even smuggled some out as a snack for later, so I basically ate an entire loaf of bread that day and don't regret it for a minute!

My favorite part of the day was the last stop in Þingvellir National Park where we had a beautiful waterfall all to ourselves. It wasn't as impressive as Gullfoss, but was more peaceful and more magical because it wasn't as crowded as some of the other locations. If you travel to Iceland, one thing we noticed is that in the evening time around 6 or after, the tourist spots are far less busy and it's still light out for several more hours so you don't feel rushed!

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The photos of me here were taken by Tabor Talley
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The photos of me here were taken by Jessie Watts
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Iceland: Part One [Iowa City, IA Travel Photographer]

One January evening, I was lying in bed browsing through Instagram when I saw a photo on Kristin Sweeting's feed talking about a study abroad workshop in Iceland. To be honest, I have no idea how I even started following her, and I had just recently talked to a friend about wanting to travel abroad since I'd never been to Europe! This was perfect!! Hearing about all of my friends travels and worldly adventures, the travel bug had started wiggling it's way into my brain and I was itching to go somewhere, anywhere. I clicked on the link to her site, intrigued. Iceland really wasn't on my list of "must see" places (I've always considered myself more of a "city" vacationer vs. "outdoorsy" nature based vacations), but it sounded cool and I had heard it was beautiful.

That night I contacted Kristin and inquired about the trip, having a lot of questions and wanting some clarification on things. The next day I talked to everyone I could about the trip... "Should I go?, Is it too much of an investment?, What if I don't like anyone on the trip?, What if no one on the trip likes me?, What if I'm not a good enough photographer?" Seriously, the voice in my head was going CRAZY. Thanks to the encouragement from several co-workers and my boyfriend who basically said I was completely nuts if I didn't go, I took the leap, paid my deposit, and marked it on my calendar.

Six months is a long time to both build up excitement, and battle the nervous voice in my head that was still telling me I was nuts, and asking myself "did I really need to spend so much on a photography workshop when I could certainly find one closer?". Finally, the day came where I told the voice in my head to find a new hobby, and I jumped on the plane to Iceland for a new adventure. Needless to say, the trip with Study Abroad Workshops was worth every penny I paid. I made a bunch of new friends, and I learned so much about myself along the way. It was a great place to restart my brain, to re-energize my creativity, and I am so glad that I listened to the voices of encouragement over the voices of doubt and fear inside my head.

If you read all that, I'm impressed! I tend to ramble, but I wanted to share one piece of advice with you if you've gotten this far. Take the trip. Say yes. It will be worth it.

So now, what you really want to see... the photos of some of the stuff we did while in Iceland along with short rundowns of what we did each day if you're interested (if not, just scroll past, but there may be a quiz later soooo....)! I decided to break this into a couple different posts because I had so many that I wanted to share from the horse farm.

  • The first full day we did whale watching, which I almost didn't do because I was exhausted after flying through the night and not sleeping much on the plane. We did see dolphins, puffins (they are a lot smaller than I thought), and a fin whale! I am really glad I did this, and it was a way to ease into the week and chat with some of the girls who I would be traveling with all week! I did not take my camera on the boat, so you'll just have to imagine me in a really cool red jumpsuit.
  • Day two was a visit to Hallgrímskirkja (the beautiful church you always see on Instagram), followed by a scavenger hunt so we could get to know the city (and each other) better. That evening we visited a horse farm, which was magical. Iceland ponies are so friendly and sweet, and I just love their hair - those manes billowing in the wind, gets me every time! So beautiful to photograph, and so much fun! We were even able to go out into the fields where we saw two foals (one of the babies came right up to one of the girls in our group, which was incredible), and a tiny group of sheep! That evening, one of the other girls and I decided to explore Reykjavík since even though we returned at about 8 pm it was still as light as it is here around 6 pm! Note: if you travel to Iceland in the summer, bring an eye mask to help you sleep! In July they only have about 3-4 hours of actual "night" there and it stays relatively light out until 11:30 pm or so. We ended up checking out the Lebowski Bar to get a white Russian (really the only drink you should get there, which is probably why the menu has a page and a half of them) which was a lot of fun!


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