Iceland Journal – “Goðafoss” – Northern Iceland
“Nature was pure, and still is.”
On day five of our ten-day Iceland trip, we drove through what felt like a rather long stretch of nothing much, as we departed the plains and low hills of Mývatn and headed towards Akureyri, Iceland’s’ second largest city. On our map we noted the location of Goðafoss and decided this was to be an extended stop on our journey.
As I found typical of Iceland, things are often not what you expect. The map showed Goðafoss close to the highway, but we expected a short side trip to get closer. As we rounded a bend, a large river appeared in front of us and there it was,Goðafoss, right next to the highway, a distant spray of green and white in the distance, some six kilometers ahead of us, yet is was clearly recognizable.
Goðafoss is not as big as I expected, with a vertical drop of about 12 meters and a width of 30 meters. Though not exactly as imagined, it’s a beautiful wide and complex waterfall, especially at this time of year, when the waters run cold and pure, no longer carrying the spring sediments which make the water cloudy and gray. This purity showcases the gorgeous green tones of the water, as it falls and as it pools beneath the falls. Goðafoss is the Skjálfandafljót river which flows north from central Iceland’s highlands.
As with many of the waterfalls we experienced, it was quite easy to gain close access to the waterfalls from well-marked access points. On our arrival, we set up our cameras close to the base of the eastern side of the falls, visible in my image just left of the bottom center. This area is a small shelf of rock, covered in snow, at this time of year.
There were several other people there taking pictures and just enjoying the sight, for the most part, very respectful of others enjoyment of this beautiful place, including photographers, like me, setting up tripods to make long exposures. My son and I spend quite a bit of time shooting from different angles and at different speeds trying to capture the feel of this fall.
I have several decent images, but none really resonate with me, so we headed up to the top, where there is a large viewing platform, with good visibility of the falls. Once more, there were quite a few people taking pictures; some avid photographers with tripods and filters, as well as the casual tourists and the ever-present ‘selfie seekers’, posing in various positions along the railings.
This platform yielded the best photos, though I was unprepared for the brightness of the freshly fallen snow and did not have a good neutral density filter with me to compensate for this. Generally, I can accomplish good light balance through ISO, aperture, and exposure settings, but I maxed them all out trying to get a long exposure. The image above is the best of my attempts, and despite the challenging light, I think it turned out alright, showcasing the bright snow and deep emerald waters. What it can’t show is just how cold this water is. The only evidence being the thin ice-floes accumulating in the foreground, just off my initial vantage point.
TAMRON SP AF 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF A16NII @ 22 mm
1/6 sec, F/29, ISO 125
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