Various trips were all necessary to fulfil my chance of a smooth journey in Iceland. Planning for this trip started six months prior to the flying over and there were many factors I had to consider.

Initially, I had planned to go during the study break in December as there was the cheapest window period. I looked for photography students who would be interested in coming on board with me. I needed two more people so as to share costs and also I could carry more camera equipment out, such as the Pentax medium format. There had been interested parties but on and off. Due to the delay, I had to push it back to February with another cheap window period. Unfortunately, everyone dropped out as it was still too expensive for them. This impeded my original plans as it would be extremely challenging for me to do everything by myself.

In this post, I share my research and thoughts as I plan for the biggest trip of my life for my photography project.

Research

When I plan a photography trip, experience has taught me that the best order of consideration should be as follows:

Flight (Window Period) > Locations > Weather > Distance > Transportation > Schedule > Accommodation > Food

The first factor is always budget: how can I get the most out and yet in the most budget way? This became the anchor in deciding pretty much everything. The second factor is contingency plans. Given the unpredictability of the weather changes in Iceland, it is important to have a contingency plan in case of road closures due to bad weather.

A large part of my planning for all my trips has been based on the places I wanted to visit and depending on the feasibility of the road of advancement. Understanding sunrise, sunset and moonrise timing and positions were also crucial for my planning as I need to allocate sufficient time to reach the location and getting to places where I should be at. I plan out a schedule, rearranging locations based on the distance from one location to another. From there I will consider the mode of transportation; is public transportation or car rental more economical?

Last but not least, I will look at accommodations and food. I would be out most of the day and return back only for sleep, so backpacking hostels with bed & breakfast are usually sufficient for me. I tend to read up a lot of articles and guides, such as travel tips from LonelyPlanet and 5 ways to travel Iceland on a budget from Singapore for relevant information so as to get those best advice out.

Locations

Planning locations in Iceland took the longest time out for me. There are so many places to visit, but it is not possible to see everything as I am constraint by the limited time period I have. So I will have to be careful with my selection.

As I research for articles, I looked at various travel guides, around the ring road guides, off the beaten path guides, and even photography workshops that promote certain locations such as ice caves tours. Some articles talk about visiting Iceland during winter time.

At some point, I was contemplating to splurge the money on helicopter rides. Eventually, I decided to explore just the southern region of the Ring road without much of those tour packages. I opted for a winter tour, partially because it was the low season and I wanted to see the Northern Lights for the first time of my life.

Uridafoss before strong winter wind by Philip K on 500px.com
Uridafoss before strong winter wind by Philip K
Lava Light flow by Josselin Cornou on 500px.com
Seljanlandsfoss – Lava Light flow by Josselin Cornou
Gljúfrabúi by Malte Reinhardsson on 500px.com
Gljúfrabúi by Malte Reinhardsson
Man and Nature by Jesús M. García on 500px.com
Kvernufoss – Man and Nature by Jesús M. García
... just landed by Kenneth Schoth on 500px.com
Sólheimasandur – just landed by Kenneth Schoth
Fairy Tale Canyon by W&AC Visual Arts on 500px.com
Fjaðrárgljúfur – Fairy Tale Canyon by W&AC Visual Arts
Burning Icebergs by Hans-Peter Deutsch on 500px.com
Jökulsárlón – Burning Icebergs by Hans-Peter Deutsch
Iceland by Fredi Lienhardt on 500px.com
Vestrahorn – Iceland by Fredi Lienhardt

Weather

For weather, I looked at multiple websites explaining the conditions around the time of my visit (ie, February climate). This article guide about the climate weather in Iceland was particularly useful. For weather forecast, I cross-referenced BBC weather with Icelandic Met office and AccuWeather.

A week before my flight, Iceland was also affected by Storm Doris, with record-breaking snowfall in Reykjavík. This posed a huge concern for me, as flights were grounded and roads closed due to heavy snow. I monitored the situation carefully. Fortunately, the snow around the golden circle had been cleared a week later, just in time for my travels.

Transportation & Driving in Iceland

Driving in Iceland was yet another big area of information for me to digest. This was because I am not familiar with the road conditions in Iceland: I have never driven a left-hand orientation drive before and in such long distance & rugged terrain.bI looked and many articles on tips in driving in Iceland and the many car rental companies that offer cheap rentals.

Vetta Media talks offer tips about driving and car rental, iheartreykjavik shares their experience driving around the ring road with a really useful google map with pins. in one guide, Tripcreator gave tips on the driving conditions in Iceland and on gas stations. of all the advice I have gathered, Vegagerðin gave the most up to date road conditions in Iceland, and most drivers rely on its app.

I chose the regular 2WD car over 4WD because I figured technically there isn’t really any advantage of 4WD over a 2WD in terms of accessibility since F roads require a 4WD, and F roads are closed during winter. I could also drive 2WD cars on gravel roads.

Other than driving, I had to figure my way from Norwich to London Luton Airport (As there aren’t any direct buses), from Iceland International Airport to Reykjavik and back home to Norwich.

Accommodation

I went with Hosteling International, planning out different locations around Iceland and hoping that I wouldn’t be too exhausted from the long distance drive. The car rental includes the full premium insurance. normally I wouldn’t go for this in my other travels, but for this trip, it is extremely important.

Equipment & Insurance

One of the reasons I saved up my money and invested myself with good camera equipment was to prepare myself for the trip to Iceland. It was a dream trip for me which stems before making plans studying in the UK. Some equipment I could not afford before my Iceland trip were telephoto lenses, another camera body, GoPro camera, and perhaps a drone camera. some of which fortunately, I was able to borrow from the school facility centre.

As I was travelling alone, my baggage weight becomes a considerable factor. Although initially I wanted to bring a Pentax medium format, but I was unable to due limited manpower. I got insurance for two pieces of camera equipment that were not mine. To be honest, the insurance cost more than me (my travel insurance). Hence, my gears for this trip are as follows:

Canon 5D Mk III | Canon 16-35mm F2.8 | Canon 24-105mm F4.0 | Canon 50mm F1.4 | Canon 5Ds | Canon 70-200mm F4.0 | Dual camera strap | mini torch light | Lee GND filter kit | Mirror Panes

Schedule

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 00.59.44 After many months of planning, this was the schedule I went with, which includes time, location, cars, and hostels in a particular area. Eventually, I went with HI hostels for the accommodation plus car rental package. Anything else in between, I had to figure out what the transition from the airport to my hostel, and back, etc.

After many months of planning, this was the schedule I went with, which includes time, location, cars, and hostels in a particular area. Eventually, I went with HI hostels for the accommodation plus car rental package. Anything else in between, I had to figure out what the transition from the airport to my hostel, and back, etc.

 

References https://iceland-photo-tours.com/north-iceland-photography-workshop/ https://breathewithus.com/iceland-road-trip-ultimate-guide/ http://unlockingkiki.com/beaten-path/ https://www.dreamingandwandering.com/2014/12/30/blue-ice-caves-in-iceland-explore-the-wonder-of-nature/ http://www.tripzilla.com/iceland-budget-travel-guide-story/53376 https://guidetoiceland.is/travel-info/climate-weather-and-northern-lights-in-iceland http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/areas/http://www.accuweather.com/en/is/reykjavik/190390/weather-forecast/190390 http://www.vettasmedia.com/vm/iceland-driving-car-rental/ http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2014/12/drive-it-yourself-the-golden-circle/ https://blog.tripcreator.com/your-ultimate-guide-to-driving-in-iceland/ http://www.road.is/about/news/nr/15361 https://blog.tripcreator.com/gas-stations-in-iceland/#gas-prices-currency-unit-converter http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39104230/iceland-gets-record-breaking-snowfall-and-the-pictures-are-amazing http://icelandreview.com/news/2017/02/27/record-snow-reykjavik

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