Iceland Journal – “The Golden Valley” – Northern Iceland

“The Golden Valley” - Northern Iceland

“When you don’t cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life that was lost a long time ago when humanity, instead of using thought, became possessed by thought.” 
― Eckhart Tolle

As I continue to review my photos from Iceland, inevitably I come across a collection of photos I have dubbed “The Golden Valley”. I posted one of them a few weeks ago. That particular image was a closer view of the mountain in the distance, Heiðarfall, and as I said then, we thought we had seen the highlight of our day at Goðafoss, earlier in the day. This image is a bit of a wider shot, showing more of the valley that contained the wonder that had us transfixed for a few brief moments on day five of our ten-day Iceland trip.

We continued on our journey, stopping for lunch in Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city and headed westward through a long valley, not expecting to see much more, other than the high mountains which dominate the region surrounding Akureyri. This valley follows a moderate river known as Heiðará, which can be seen at the centre of my photo.

This drive was more beautiful than expected and we travelled deeper into the highlands, following the river valley between steep hillsides and mountains. Along the way, we stopped and made some photos of the various mountains, but our attention was fixed on this single peak in the distance, framed by the surrounding slopes, the sun hanging just to the left of it, casting soft shadows and lighting up the snow blowing from its peak.

As we got closer, I was hoping that the road would continue to take us nearer and not turn off to some adjacent valley. We were not disappointed and as we approached, we noticed the slight shifting slightly to a warm glow, which made the valley seem to glow in soft sunlight. We stopped the car along the road and watched this effect take hold, making several images each of this stunning spectacle of light. The whole valley seemed to shine in tones of gold, patches of sunlight catching the grasses and seeming to shimmer through the fine mist caused by blowing snow. The whole world around us was alight in a surreal brilliance. It was like a scene you imaging in a fantasy novel, we were just missing dragons and unicorns. And then just as it had begun, it ended, still lovely but lacking the stunning effect we had just witnessed, for a few glorious moments.

Every photographer’s dream is to capture a moment like this, accurately, so that others can experience it as well. I’m happy that my many years, out on the trails, making photos, and many times failing, had prepared me for this moment and enabled me to create an image that fully and accurately communicates what I witnessed. As I sat at my computer, reviewing and editing this photo, I found myself filled with the same raw emotion I felt when I made the photo. I hope that you, my reader, enjoy it too.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70mm
1/250 sec, f/9.0 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)


17 Comments on “Iceland Journal – “The Golden Valley” – Northern Iceland

  1. Excellent composition. Leading lines of road and fence perfect. I’ve been in similar situations many times in the wilderness of Alaska and have felt the same awesome power of nature’s beauty you did.

  2. Pingback: Iceland Journal – “Wild Abandon?” – North Iceland | Ed Lehming Photography

  3. It is truly remarkable: more like a fantasy than something real. I’m grateful your experience allowed you to capture this moment so well too.

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