Posts tagged
with Iceland


Through Gripping Photos, Ryan Newburn Captures the Depths of Iceland’s Ancient Glacial Caves

May 11, 2023

Grace Ebert

An explorer stands in the distance at the center of the opening of an ice cave with vibrant blue all around

All images © Ryan Newburn, shared with permission

“When you look into the walls of an ice cave, you are looking into the past as if you were suddenly inside of a time capsule that had been buried for 500 to 1,000 years,” says Ryan Newburn. “Every air bubble that you see is oxygen from a different time period. Every speckle of ash is from a different volcanic eruption.”

Raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and now based in Reykjavik, Newburn is closely acquainted with the ice caves that surround his adopted home. He first came to Iceland in 2018, training on the enormous Vatnajokull Glacier before working as an expedition guide and eventually launching his own tour company, Ice Pic Journeys, with his fellow American business partner Mike Reid.

Today, Newburn ventures into the frozen caverns with groups, photographing them and the landscape along the way. His images capture the immensity of the arctic masses, their smooth, ribbed surfaces, and the shapely contours of caverns and rivers carving through the ice. Explorers are often seen in the distance, at the end of a rippling, rocky tunnel or precariously posed beneath a cluster of sharp icicles to showcase the scale of the openings.

Occupying such an ancient and always evolving space is an experience that’s difficult to photograph, Newburn shares, because the constant trickle of melting water, the roar of distant rivers, or even the unique interplay of light and glacier are impossible to depict entirely. “Underneath the ice, where the sun cannot penetrate,” he says, “your eyes slowly adjust from the bright sun to the glowing deep blue crystal walls of the ice cave. The more that your eyes adjust, the more saturated the blue gets. It’s a surreal visual experience that you cannot get from any photo of an ice cave.”


An explorer stands in the distance at the center of the opening of an ice cave with icicles hanging above

While shades of blue dominate most of his images, much of the walls are transparent and crystalline, making it appear as if you could “gaze into it for miles.” This clarity, he explains, is because glacial ice has low oxidation, about 10 to 15 percent only, due to the extreme pressure exerted during their formation that forced much of the oxygen from the snow as it compacted.

Although exploring these spaces is dangerous—Newburn emphasizes the necessity of proper gear and a guide who knows the ins and outs of performing crevasse rescues—it’s also an experience that truly only happens once. He elaborates:

What’s even more unreal is realizing that when you discover an ice cave for the very first time, you are the only human that has ever been inside. On a planet where almost every area of land has been explored, the glacier provides you with never-ending caves and structures to discover. This is because the ice is always melting away and forming something new that didn’t exist yesterday and won’t exist next year. This creates an unending sense of wanderlust of what I am going to stumble upon next when exploring.

Newburn shares many of his glacial adventures on Instagram, and you can find more about his company’s expeditions on its site.


An explorer stands in the distance at the center of the opening of an ice cave with vibrant blue all around

An explorer stands in the distance at the center of the opening of an ice cave with vibrant blue all around

An explorer extends on a rope in the distance at the center of the opening of an ice cave with vibrant blue all around

An explorer stands in the distance at the center of the opening of an ice cave with vibrant blue all around

An explorer stands in the distance at the center of the opening of an ice cave with vibrant blue all around

An explorer stands in the distance at the center of the opening of an ice cave with vibrant blue all around

Two explorers stand at the opening of an ice cave





Vivid Photographs by Cari Letelier Follow the Aurora Borealis Across Iceland’s Night Sky

April 4, 2023

Kate Mothes

A photograph of aurora borealis taken at the Arctic Henge in Iceland.

All images © Cari Letelier, shred with permission

During the last couple days in February, a series of impressive solar storms sent the aurora borealis as far as California and Western Australia. The lights were particularly brilliant in northern places like Scotland and Iceland where the long winter nights provide ample darkness as a backdrop to the waving illuminations. Chile-based photographer Cari Letelier took advantage of Iceland’s position just a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle to capture vibrant images of the auroras as they traversed the skies above waterfalls, icy expanses, and the Arctic Henge.

The northern lights result from enormous solar events in which the sun emits energized particles that slam into Earth’s upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 45 million miles per hour. Earth’s protective magnetic field redirects the particles toward the poles in a process that produces spectacular light shows. Letelier had been to Iceland once in 2019, but didn’t have much luck finding the phenomena, sharing that when she reached the Arctic Henge, “it was so cloudy and snowing, I told myself, ‘I have to come back and catch this place with the aurora.'”

This time, when she and a fellow photographer learned that there would be a solar flare that was likely to produce a spectacle, they made the seven-hour journey from the southern part of the island in search of sightings and captured some incredible images. “I had to make a decision whether to take the photo or to enjoy the show making mental captures,” she says. “As I wanted to make both, I set my camera to shoot photos for a timelapse while I was watching at the sky.”

Find more of Letelier’s work on her website and Instagram.


A photograph of aurora borealis taken at the Arctic Henge in Iceland.

A photograph of aurora borealis taken in Iceland.

A photograph of aurora borealis taken over a waterfall in Iceland.

A photograph of aurora borealis taken at the Arctic Henge in Iceland.




An Adventurous Drone Films Spectacular Aerial Footage of Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall Volcano

November 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

Braving the molten lava and fiery ash spewed by Geldingadalur’s Fagradalsfjall volcano, the team at Iceland Aerials sent a GoPro into the midst of the event mid-eruption. The spectacular footage, which captured the 6,000-year occurrence earlier this year, flies closer to the scorching scene than humanly possible, following the gush of magma as it cascades down the landscape and wading through the smoky haze that hovers over the area. Iceland Aerials shares a few videos from the dramatic site on YouTube, and you might enjoy this short film and these photos documenting the eruption, as well. (via Twisted Sifter)





Sweltering Photos Capture the Charred and Molten Rock Rippling Down from an Icelandic Volcano

June 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Jan Erik Waider, shared with permission

Whether shooting in the harsh snowy regions of Greenland or on the basalt-lined waters of Iceland’s Stuðlagil canyon, Jan Erik Waider highlights the textures and fleeting shapes of the earth’s landscapes. His photographs often isolate monumental subject matter like glaciers and deep, rocky canyons in a way that makes the abstracted forms appear like mysterious, otherworldly environments, an approach he continues in his recent LAVA series.

Earlier this year, Waider, who is based in Hamburg but frequently travels throughout remote regions in the Nordic countries, trekked to Iceland’s Nátthagi valley following the Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption. He spent three days getting as close as possible to the magma as it poured across the landscape and using a telephoto lens to document its changing forms in magnified detail, which he describes in a note to Colossal:

I was absolutely blown away by how quickly the lava field changed. Apparently, cooled lava broke open, and thick, fresh lava flowed out and formed new shapes and “sculptures,” which were then destroyed again by new lava a few minutes later. This simultaneously beautiful but also brutal transience was the charm for me. A surreal landscape that in just a few minutes will no longer be visible to anyone.

The resulting images contrast the crispy, charred edges of the cooled rock with its molten underbelly. You can see a portion of the LAVA series is below, but check out Behance for the full collection. All of the shots are also available as prints on his site.





Stranded: Striking Aerial Footage Flies Over Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall Volcano as It Erupts

April 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

A few weeks ago we shared these dramatic photographs of Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano as spews molten rock into the air, and a new short film by French director Stéphane Ridard hovers over the Geldingadalur landform to capture the eruption, which is the first in 6,000 years, in incredible detail. Shot on March 19, “Stranded” reveals spectacular aerial footage of rivers of lava pouring across the landscape, magma shooting upward onto the Reykjanes peninsula, and the smoky haze that blankets the site, which is located about 20 miles from Reykjavík.

Having just moved to Iceland a few weeks ago, Ridard shoots a variety of landscapes around the world, and you can find more of his films and photographs on Vimeo and Instagram.






Spectacular Aerial Photos Capture the Dramatic Scenes Unfolding as Iceland’s Volcano Erupts

March 30, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Thrainn Kolbeinsson, shared with permission

Photographer Thrainn Kolbeinsson has been camping out on the Reykjanes peninsula in recent days documenting the long-awaited eruption of Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano. Following an estimated 50,000 earthquakes and nearly 6,000 years since its last event, the Geldingadalur landform, which is located about 20 miles from Reykjavík, has been transformed into a scorching scene of molten lava, ash, and explosive bursts that spatters across the sky—the setting is so dramatic and ominous that the internet has even started likening it to Mordor.

Kolbeinsson says that after a few days of calm, “the Earth suddenly opened up, and the night sky turned red,” erupting in a blazing mass of lava that roils through the charred landscape. “Even though it might look terrifying, it was actually a beautiful experience watching the violent spits from the volcano quickly turn into smooth streams of glowing lava as new earth was being born. Every day the area has changed, and at this pace, the whole valley will fill up in about 10-20 days,” he writes.

See more images and footage from the site on Kolbeinsson’s Behance and Instagram. You also can find a larger collection of his shots from around Iceland on his site, and check out available prints in his shop. (via WE AND THE COLOR)