About William Yu

William is San Francisco based travel photographer, photography instructor. Travel and photography are his passions, every year, he leads small group of photographers to journey through some of the most unique and beautiful places in the world...

 

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Around Iceland in Autumn Photo Tour

Sep 10 – 23, 2020

 

Photo Tour Summary:

Join us on a two week photography adventure through the the best of Iceland’s majestic landscapes. Look skywards to capture the northern lights, photograph glaciers from a stone’s throw away, gaze through ethereal waterfalls, and marvel at some of the finest coastlines you’ll ever come across. This is a workshop like no other, set in autumn in arguably the world’s most photogenic country, with two expert guides well versed in both the local culture and the art of photography.

'Around Iceland in September’ is as comprehensive a photo tour of Iceland as you could wish for. The group will cover almost all epic locations around the island, travel aboard a comfortable and spacious bus and our modified jeep, learning new techniques as together we take your photography skills to the next level.

The highlights of this photography tour

Northern Lights Photography

Iceland is one of the best places to capture the amazing coloured patterns of lights dancing across the dark Arctic sky. Aurora, often called northern lights, is driven by the energy coming from the sun as it often produces mass ejections of charged particles that get trapped by the Earth's magnetic field. Guided by the magnetic field, the particles then flow toward the Earth's poles where they collide with nitrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere producing the green, blue and red lights on the sky. However, witnessing this magical phenomenon is not guaranteed because there are other factors which can have an impact on the visibility of Aurora such as dark, clear skies and pleasant weather conditions. And since the weather can be varied from different locations, we will keep a keen eye out for chasing the Northern Lights during our tour as we offer you the chance to photograph this wonderful phenomenon.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the famous Ice Beach

As we will be staying close to the magnificent Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the large glacial lake on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park, we will have a great deal of chances to photograph the massive icebergs on the lagoon and the chunks of ice that break away and drift towards the ice beach. The reflection of the icebergs on the water makes this a wonderful opportunity for stunning photography. And with luck, this scene will be more intensified by a brilliant display of the Northern Lights. Meanwhile, the scene from the famous ice beach includes the interplay of light, dark sands, glistening ice and movements of the waves which make this location a photographer’s playground, making every shot magical and monumental.

Snæfellsnes peninsula

Snæfellsnes peninsula is one of the best places in Iceland to view and photograph the Northern Lights. This area is a wonderland, stretching as a vast mountain ridge with active volcanoes. The mountains themselves are furthermore incredibly diverse. At the end of the peninsula is the legendary Snaefellsjokull glacier, around which is a national park. There are beautiful beaches in the area, incredible lava and rock formations, multiple caves of various kinds, as well as craters and stunning lava fields. The area also features prominently in the sagas. All this, coupled with the Northern Lights, is a photographer‘s dream. Visiting the towns and villages, and farmsteads of the peninsula, such as Bjarnarhofn, Stykkisholmur, Rif, Hellissandur, Olafsvik and Grundarfjordur is pleasant in itself. Above Grundarfjordur rises my favorite mountain to shoot in Iceland, the beautiful Kirkjufell. From the right angle it resembles a nature-made pyramid and always always seems to offer something new and interesting.

When: Sep 10 – 23, 2020
Where: Iceland
Cost: US$6,700 (Former williamyuphotoworkshop attendee discount available, email william@williamyuphotography.com to inquire)
Group size: 10 maximum
Category: Photography Tour
Tour Leader: William Yu
Workshop URL: www.williamyuphotoworkshops.com/iceland2020
Contact: william@williamyuphotography.com

The cost of this Workshop is US$6,700, it includes:

  • 13 nights of accommodation in guesthouses or hotels with private bathroom with double occupancy. (Single occupany USD1,000 extra). 

  • We provide custom-built 4x4 super trucks to safely transport you to amazing locations and we provide 2 seats per photographer, offering ample room for you and your photography gear.

  • Breakfast only during the tour, from day 2 to day 14.

  • 2 Professional photo guides, providing on location photography tips and recommendations.

The cost does NOT include:

  • International Airfare.

  • Lunch and Dinner.

  • Gratuities for driver and local guide.

Physical demand: Easy 

The entire trip is relatively easy physically, no long or tedious hikes/climbs. Most shooting spots are quite accessible from the road or parking lot.

Food in Iceland:

The hidden jewels of this tour are the delicious Icelandic meals, you will taste variety of best food Iceland offers: mushroom soup, lambs, arctic char, beef meatball, fresh vegetables, pizzas, reindeer hamburger, fantastic desserts, Icelandic skyr, local Kaffi... It's a wonderful culinary experience.​

Icelandic Horses:

Any trip to Iceland is not complete without photographing the famous Icelandic horses, which is a unique breed of smallish horses that came to Iceland with the first settlers from Norway 1100 years ago. Archeological digs in Europe have revealed that it is descendent from an ancient breed of horses that is now extinct outside of Iceland, where it has been preserved in isolation. We will have ample opportunities to photograph them at farm setting during our journey through the island, guaranteed!​

Tour Map:

These are the beautiful places/sites we will visit and photograph during the 14 day journey! Starting and ending in Reykjavik, traveling around the island clockwise.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Sep 10 - Arrival

After arriving at Keflavik airport, you will take a short bus trip into the capital city, Reykjavik. Once you’ve checked into your hotel, we will get together as a group for dinner and discuss the adventures to come. 
Accommodation: Reykjavik

Day 2: Sep 11 - Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We will collect you from your hotel at 8 in the morning, before beginning the journey north to the start of the tour in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, west Iceland. We will spend two nights there in total, taking our time capturing the jagged rock formations along the coast near Arnarstapi in the autumn light. Arnarstapi is a quaint fishing village, where the rolling waves of the Atlantic produce a lovely interplay between the ocean haze and the light. Further along the coast, the famous black church of Budir will provide another picture-perfect scene, helped by its stunning backdrop: the icy Snæfellsjokull Glacier. 

To top of the day, we will take in the otherworldly sight of Mt. Kirkjufell, easily one of Iceland´s most beautiful mountains. It’s well known for its almost perfect cone-shaped form, and the surrounding waterfall, rivers and hills make the area a photographer’s paradise. The mountain also provides the perfect foreground for Aurora Borealis, so we’ll cross our fingers that the lights come out to play while we’re there. The result will take pride of place in your portfolio.

Accommodation: Snæfellsnes

Day 3: Sep 12 - Snæfellsnes Peninsula

On the third day we will continue our exploration of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, known affectionately as the "miniature Iceland", purely because of the incredible variety to be found in its natural landscapes. The entire coastline is dotted with photogenic, charming little small villages, and the colours of the fall will be all around for the group to enjoy. Mighty mountains and fjords will surround us throughout our time in the area, so prepare to capture plenty of iconic images, including the huge basalt stones of Londrangar. Your night will then again be spent at Snæfellsnes.

Day 4: Sep 13 - Hvitserkur

On the fourth day we will leave Snæfellsnes and head north to another peninsula, Vatnsnes. The area is known for having a wild side, and offers a great chance to see, among other things, some magical Icelandic horses in their natural habitat. Some more of Iceland’s fantastic nature, the local seals, might also come into focus as we venture to the eastern side of the peninsula, along the coastal region of Strandir in the Westfjords. 

For photography, our main focus will be on Hvitserkur, a 15m high basalt carving that emerges from the sea in the most spectacular way imaginable. It’s said that the stone resembles a dragon taking a drink, or in another viewpoint, one of the local trolls. According to legend around these parts, the stone is a troll who couldn’t escape the rising sun in time, and was turned to stone! Whatever your thoughts on the origination of Hvitserkur, the mysterious rock is tremendously photogenic, and we will make sure to spend plenty of time in the area to capture it from several angles and in different lights.

Accommodation: Vatnsnes Peninsula

Day 5: Sep 14 - Lake Myvatn

After an early breakfast in Akureyri, the group will set out for Godafoss, the ‘fall of the gods’, for a sunrise shoot. As the name suggests, this is one of Iceland’s most epic waterfalls, and during the autumn there will be plenty of subtle colours around to balance out the sheer power of the falls. Godafoss is perfect for a sunrise shoot, and its semicircular shape means there are plenty of angles to play with in the emerging light. 

With the sun up, we will head east toward lake Myvatn, one of Iceland’s breathtaking bodies of water, formed by a volcanic eruption which has certainly left its mark. Eerie rock formations and craters remain scattered through the area, and the lava pillars are a photographer’s dream. If we have time, we will also explore the unique sculptures and rock formations of Dimmuborgir, to the east of the great lake. The area looks a lot like another planet, which probably explains why several scenes from the epic TV series Game of Thrones were shot there.

Overnight at Myvatn.

Day 6: Sep 15 - Lake Myvatn

On day six we will take our super jeep out into the Icelandic highlands to see two more beautiful waterfalls on the Skjálfandafljót river, Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss. At the first falls we will capture the contrast between the dark basalt columns of Aldeyjarfoss and the clear water of the autumn plunging below. Next up is Hrafnabjargafoss, again embedded into volcanic rock, but with a pristine blue pool at its feet that will provide every photo with a hint of magic.

Accommodation: Myvatn

Day 7: Sep 16 - Lake Myvatn

On day seven of our photography adventure, we will carry on our exploration of the area around lake Myvatn. To the east is the colorful geothermal area of Namaskard, where the mixture of orange sands, bubbling vents and geothermal activity provides plenty of opportunities to capture Iceland’s wild side. 

As well as the active geothermal area, we’ll visit a place that owes its existence to Iceland’s volcanic history, Hverfell. Hverfell is one of the world‘s largest explosion craters, with a diameter of around 1km. After all of that, the group will take a collective sigh of comfort in the Myvatn Nature Baths, in many ways the Blue Lagoon of the north.

We will once again stay overnight in Myvatn.

Day 8: Sep 17 - East Iceland-Djúpivogur

The journey through the Autumnal Icelandic landscape continues as the group heads east on day eight. The destination: Jokulsargljufur National Park. On the way there, we will take some time to capture the mighty Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, in all its glory. 100 meters wide and 45 meters high; this is one waterfall you’re not going to forget in a hurry. Armed with your camera and plenty of new photography skills, there will be the opportunity to collect some epic memories during this particular stop. 

Afterward we’ve had the proverbial cobwebs blown away by the power of Dettifoss, the group will traverse a highland desert and a mountain pass to reach the timeless Eastfjords. We will also be entering the vicinity of the Vatnajokull Glacier, Europe’s largest glacier and a national park. Photography-wise, the area is packed with textures, from mountainous fjords to barren volcanic desert and ice-capped glacier. We will spend the night in the quaint fishing village of Djupivogur, and appreciate the harbour’s spectacular, mountainous backdrop.

Whilst in the area we will also have the chance to photograph the Rjukandi Falls - a layered waterfall that makes its way down a nearby mountainside with both grace and formidable force. It’ll make for a superb photography session, surrounded by the reds and yellows of the Icelandic fall.

Accommodation: Djúpivogur

Day 9: Sep 18 - Vatnajokull National Park

Day nine sees the photography tour begin to understand what makes Iceland such a magnificent place to visit. We will head to the famous Vatnajokull National Park, home to a number of natural spectacles that, simply put, can only be witnessed here in Iceland. We will spend three days near the world famous Jokulsarlon lagoon - the prime location for photographers seeking to capture nature in action, as huge blocks of ice break of the glacier and float effortlessly on the lagoon and out to sea. Huge blocks of ice sounds almost clumsy, but these are some of the most serene, artistic scenes to be found in the natural world. So picture that, but with the added embellishment of an Icelandic sunset or sunrise. If we’re lucky, we may even witness some of the local seals swimming in the lagoon.

Accommodation: Jökulsárlón

Day 10: Sep 19 - Vatnajokull National Park

On the tenth day of the tour we will continue exploring the icy serenity of Jokulsarlon. As a group we will take our time photographing the glistening icebergs, and also capture some great shots of ice crystals washed up and scattered across the black sand beaches. We’ll start early with a sunrise shoot from the beach, and aim to capture the sun’s first rays illuminating the lagoon. Later on we will explore some of the area’s other breathtaking glacial sights.

Accommodation: Jökulsárlón

Day 11: Sep 20 - Vatnajokull National Park

On the eleventh day of this incredible Icelandic photography workshop, we will drive to the east of Vatnajokull National Park. There the group will enjoy the views from the black sand beach of Stokksnes, across to the imperious peaks of the 454 meter-high Vestrahorn mountain. The epic Vestrahorn is a photographer’s dream, is made up of several steep peaks, all stretching endlessly, impossibly out to sea. Against a backdrop of the sun’s morning or dying light, these peaks offer as enticing an image as you can imagine. Add that to the rolling tide below and the possibility of northern lights, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for plenty of photographic fun. We will spend plenty of time chasing the perfect light as we shoot this mountain and its surroundings.

Accommodation: Jökulsárlón

Day 12: Sep 21 - Vik

On the 12th day of our tour, we will reluctantly leave behind the majestic Vatnajokull National Park. The group will head south to explore some of Iceland’s finest sights across the southern coast. In autumn, the region boasts spectacular natural attractions, from volcanoes to lava fields, lakes, black beaches, waterfalls and glaciers - all accompanied by the subtle colours of the fall. On day twelve, our focus will be on the coastal village of Vik, and its enchanting black sand beach, complete with an impressive basalt sea stack that juts out of the sea, named Reynisdrangar. 

Another of Iceland’s famous black beaches, Reynisfjara, is nearby. There we will enjoy what is considered to be the most beautiful non-tropical beach in the world. An alternative view of the towering sea stacks, alongside the eerie black sand and thunderous waves, all add up to create an epic photography session.

Accommodation: Vik

Day 13: Sep 22 - Vik - Reykjavik

It’s the last full day of the tour, and we’re going out with a bang. After a hearty breakfast the group will stop at several scenic highlights on the way back to the capital. The first will be the Dyrholaey peninsula. As well as getting yet another perspective of Reynisdrangar, we will also observe the enormous stone archway standing in the sea nearby. 

Then, we will pass two active volcanoes. The first is Hekla, a 1490m high snow-topped mountain, infamous throughout Iceland’s history and known as, a little disturbingly, the “gateway to hell”. The second you might have heard of, even if you can’t pronounce it: Eyjafjallajokull. This is the volcano famous for shutting down European airspace back in 2010. 

If we have time, we can stop near to the Solheimajokull Glacier, or at least its icy tongue that protrudes from the mouth of huge, rugged cliffs either side. Next up, we will shoot the two most famous waterfalls in the south of Iceland. The first is Skogafoss, which promises epic shots, no matter what the light. And even more so with the colours of autumn all around. It’s one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, cascading down from almost 60 meters. If we’re lucky with the weather and there’s some sun, the spray from the falls will, fingers crossed, reward us with a magical rainbow to end the trip with. After that we’ll head to Seljalandsfoss, which offers views from behind the falls for an alternative and altogether unforgettable perspective.

Accommodation: Reykjavik

Day 14: Sep 23 - Departure

This is the day of your departure, after another hearty Icelandic breakfast we will bid you a warm goodbye as you depart back on the FlyBus to Keflavik Airport, bringing with you photos, videos and memories of an extraordinary journey.

Disclaimer

The tour is always dependent on weather, as the Icelandic weather can indeed be highly unpredictable. When it comes to the Northern Lights, while they are most likely to be seen between late August and April, there is no guarantee that they will appear on a given day. There is however always plenty to see and do if conditions do not favor any part of our original plan. Bear in mind that the itinerary of tour is always kept flexible, due to possible changes in weather.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

What to bring for this trip?

  • Your camera, tripod, lenses covering the range of wide angle through telephoto(15mm through 300mm), filters including polarizer, graduated neutral density, neutral density.

  • Winter clothing for the chilly morning and night, sometimes windy weather. We will be shooting at early morning and late evening, even at night. 

How do I sign up and pay for this tour?

A deposit of $300 is required for this tour to hold your spot, you can pay by Visa, Mastercard or PayPal via PayPal.com or send a check (U.S. residents only). The balance is due May 1, 2020.  Former williamyuphotoworkshop attendee discount and group discount available, email info@williamyuphotoworkshops.com to inquire. All participants must sign William Yu Photography Workshops/Tours Liability Waiver Form upon signup. 

How many participants do you allow?

Workshop size is limited to 10 attendees, which ensures that every attendee will get full attention. We need minimum of 8 attendees to make the trip. 

What photographic skill level is required to benefit from this tour? 

Any people who has a basic understanding of exposure all the way to the advanced amateur and professional who is in search of a fresh perspective! 

What is your refund or cancellation policy? 

No refunds will be given for delays or cancellations due to inclement weather, (which interestingly, can result in some of the most some amazing shots!), either before or during the tour. If the tour is cancelled by the organizer, we will notify you immediately and you will be issued full refund. We are not responsible for any additional costs you may incur due to any delays or cancellations. Here is the policy of refund due to cancellation:

  • No refund of deposit.

  • May 1 - June 1, 2020: 50% of full amount will be refunded.

  • June 1 - July 1, 2020: 25% of full amount will be refunded.

  • After July 1, 2020: No Refund.

I have some questions, how do I learn more? 

Please send email to info@williamyuphotoworkshops.com.