In January, many of you will know I flew out to Reykjavik to document a gig that Alan Fletcher (AKA Karl Kennedy from Neighbours) was playing at Spot with his band. I could have created two blogs. Our time in the city with the show at Spot AND our time out east but they really all merge together. So, in this blog, I show you some of the images and video footage I took when the two of us explored the city of Reykjavik and the gig but also the road trip we made the days following. Instead of writing everything up here, I am going to narrate as you scroll down. So for the gig, meeting fans, falling in frozen rivers, seeing the Aurora Borealis, talking Neighbours and much more, scroll down. Thanks for dropping by. M x
My first view of this magical land. I flew in whilst listening to Icelandic musical heaven in the form of Ásgeir.
(above) After meeting up at our apartment in the centre of Reykjavik, we set out to grab something to eat and to explore the city and it's hotspots. I can fully recommend the burgers at Cafe Paris (seen above)! We went down to the docks where the HARPA concert hall is and also got up to see the Hallgrímskirkja Church at the top of the main street in town. Alan had a radio interview late afternoon by which time it was getting dark (4pm) and we found ourselves a cool little underground bar serving local beer, good wine and free wifi!
The following day, Fletch had an early start with more radio and news press interviews promoting the show at Spot so we bundled into a car sent to pick us up and headed down to the first studios. Iceland has a big TV and movie pull. Game of Thrones, Fortitude and James Bond movies to name a few, have all been shot on location in Iceland. Half the population of Iceland watch Neighbours. That's a lot of people!
If you ever go to Reykjavik, I recommend you check out Iceland's oldest restaurant, Prikid (above). It's a real treasure and serves great food and drink.
That night was the concert at local venue, SPOT. Back home in Australia, Alan plays with his band, Waiting Room but here, he flew over from England Johnny Lucas and The X-Rays to play with him. The X-Rays played an opening set before Alan took the stage. Due to the following of Neighbours and the immense fan base Alan has in Iceland, there was a meet and greet prior to doors opening for fans to meet him and have their picture taken. We'd allowed 1.30hrs for this but it actually lasted 2.30hrs due to the amount of people that came to meet Alan pushing the show back further into the night. The atmosphere was great and the whole night had a real party atmosphere. Fletch has been playing in rock and roll bands for a long time and he knows how to work a crowd for sure. He played a mixture of his own material amongst some popular covers and medleys that went down a storm.
Well, after the fun and games of the show at Spot and our time in Reykjavik, it was time to get up early (roughly an hour after we'd got to bed) and head south east for what was to turn into quite a road trip. Note: Before Christmas, Alan & I met up in London whilst he was performing in panto there to talk about this trip. We'd come to the conclusion if we were unsure of the driving conditions in January that it'd be good to get hold of a tour guide but we were fairly unsatisfied with our findings in Iceland itself. Two weeks before we flew out I was browsing the photo website, 500px, for pictures of our destinations and I stumbled across some beautiful images of Iceland from a guy called Andreas Jones. I contacted him for advice and it turned out he was a tour guide in Iceland (but from Hampshire, England) running trips out there several times a year. Well, long story short, Mark (Andreas Jones) flew out to meet up with Fletch and I to be our tour guide for the following 5 days. It was a decision that the two of us were very glad we made. As you'll see from the images to follow, the driving conditions were treacherous to say the least. Mark knew of the places to hit up and when to hit them according to weather conditions. He was willing to stay up as late and get up as early as we needed and over the 5 days, the three of us formed a great friendship and had a lot of fun. Here are the photos from the road trip.
First stop - Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón his one of the world's most beautiful places. It's somewhere I'd always seen in photographs under the northern lights or playing host to images of ice bergs floating still. When we arrived, it was quite breathtaking. The images we shot are not actually consistent with many taken there due to the vast amount of snow storms and high winds that had been battering the coastline since well before the new year. So there were more ice bergs than may usually be seen and they were all covered in snow! Fletch was shooting with his Canon 5D MKii using zoom lenses and I had with me my D700 & D600 with prime lenses. However, we were both keen to take pictures on our iPhones as we'd had so much fun experimenting with them back in Reykjavik and wanted to keep a personal collection of pictures on our phones. Also, of course, we were tweeting, instagramming, and snapchatting along the way and with my Icelandic sim card, I had 4G wherever I was. Awesome. One useful thing I learnt whilst I was out there thanks to Mark, was how to read the Aurora forecast. One thing we quickly found out was that it can't always be relied on but it was a good place to start. After an evening meal and some drinks, we headed out at midnight in search of the phenomena that are the northern lights and we were in for a treat...
Time to see the Aurora Borealis!
We were stood in what seemed like pitch black at around 1am and we headed back to the car. On reviewing some of my images had set up for a startrail, I noticed some colour coming through behind the mountains near to where the volcano shone red. The aurora was definitely doing something so we jumped back out and then across the night sky, the northern lights started to sparkle and glimmer across our view of the landscape. I always heard people say the lights 'danced across the sky' and now I know why they say it. That's just as it was. They must have been out at various points across the sky for near to an hour before it disappeared but after another stint in the car, they came back out. The photos above look very light. I increased the exposure marginally but the light is mostly natural light after the moon poked out of a cloud behind us and lit up the whole scene. We were there until about 3.30 am before heading back to the hotel amazed and so pleased we'd seen the Aurora Borealis.
The next day, we headed out early again back to the beach at Jökulsárlón to catch the black sand and the ice bergs before the sun came up. I shot on my Nikons again but managed to take some photographs in medium format on my Lubitel and also some Instax prints.
Next stop on the list due to the weather conditions was a place that was new to us. Vestrahorn wasn't somewhere Fletch and I had planned to go to but we were advised by Mark that it would make for some great shots in the snow. This really was like stepping out into a scene from some sort of epic movie or TV series. What a site.
Being so close to our hotel meant we could be back late, still eat and still get an editing session going in our rooms. The next day,we were to drive west so we looked for a new hotel and new sites. We knew we wanted to see Skogafoss so headed straight for there. We stopped in a deserted town on the way to refuel and get some food. Taking this road, we were due to drive through Vik which is well known for it's black beach. As was the case in pretty much any place we stopped, be it a cafe, shop, gas station, hotel, Alan was asked to have his picture taken.
The next batch of pictures were shot this game day and the following. Our plan when researching into this trip last year was always to include Skogafoss. It is one of the grandest parts of Iceland and it's a beast of a waterfall. Crossing over to the falls proved trickier than I'd expected. Alan and Mark were already over by the falls by the time I'd got my gear ready and where there had been so much snowfall and ice blanketing the area, I misjudged the crossing over the (large) stream / (small) river and fell straight through the ice. I was quick minded enough to chuck my bag to safety as I was falling through but it was quite a shock. I pulled myself out and scrambled across the snow to where the guys were as they hadn't heard my shouts. Within minutes, the water in my boots started to turn to ice and I had to quickly run back to the car to change all my clothing. What a great time we had there, though. We also got to see the sun set at Selandjafoss that night and the following day we explored the golden circle route. Well, we explored some of it. We made it as far as Gullfoss but we had to turn around due to blizzards and snow blocks after trying to get any further as you'll see some other cars fell a cropper to below. We did get to see some of the beautiful Icelandic ponies though. They are so friendly and look magnificent running through the snow.
This next night, we checked into a new hotel and had some food. The grounds of the lodge we stayed in were picturesque but the weather wasn't great by night fall so imagine Alan and I's surprise when after eating our meal, Mark dashed back to find us to tell us the northern lights were out again. We walked back to the chalet and watched them from our room but due to the light pollution around the grounds, we decided to brave a drive out into the country and watch it from there.
We tried filming a clip from the road watching the aurora but the car lights that we used to light us up kept going out!
Our next day was our last day in Iceland. As we were flying out Keflavik, it seemed only right to go and check out the famous Blue Lagoon. We didn't go for a swim. Neither of us fancied that; but we did explore the area and took pictures, of course.
This video was fun to shoot at the Blue Lagoon.
What an amazing trip this was. I can't thank Alan enough for inviting me to go with him, to document the band and then to plan this road trip with him. I'm glad to be able to call him a good friend (and I didn't see the pun there till I typed it). We had an absolute blast and we got the photographs to prove it. Huge thanks go to Mark Andreas Jones too for flying out to meet us and show us the highlights of the country and to drive us around for those final few days.
A friend has been made there too.
I hope you've enjoyed the pictures and the stories that have gone with them.
Until next time, Iceland...