Driving Iceland Again by Julien Balmer


On my return to Iceland I made sure to arrive a few weeks deeper into autumn than the year before, hoping for a different colour palette and more importantly first snow.

I first drove to Iceland’s western region where I explored the area around Snæfellsjökull National Park. From there I headed east and inland, taking some of the last open F-roads and getting a first impression of the more barren highlands. I enjoyed the driving experience (4x4 Toyota), and loved being immersed in monochromatic landscapes.

I then made my way back to the main roads and began following Route 1, eventually covering the entire southern and eastern stretch of the ring road till Egilsstaðir. Exception made of my highland images all photographs below were taken next to or very close the popular ring road, highlighting the fact that great pictures can be taken even without venturing off the beaten track.

Shot on a DSLR and iPhone.

Early morning sun hitting a beautiful stretch of road near Hellnar in Iceland’s western region.

Early morning sun hitting a beautiful stretch of road near Hellnar in Iceland’s western region.

First light on a mountain near Hellnar in Iceland’s western region.

First light on a mountain near Hellnar in Iceland’s western region.

An abandoned house on the coast of Iceland’s western region.

An abandoned house on the coast of Iceland’s western region.

Driving through Iceland’s western region, not far from Snæfellsjökull National Park. Fall colours galore.

Driving through Iceland’s western region, not far from Snæfellsjökull National Park. Fall colours galore.

Highlands monochrome, somewhere along F388.

Highlands monochrome, somewhere along F388.

Afternoon sun illuminating the coastal landscape near Hof.

Afternoon sun illuminating the coastal landscape near Hof.

Mysterious volcanic landscape near Hof.

Mysterious volcanic landscape near Hof.

Fantastic mountain detail between Hof and Höfn.

Fantastic mountain detail between Hof and Höfn.

Awe-inspiring mountain scenery between Hof and Höfn. Note the white Jeep in the lower left corner for size reference.

Awe-inspiring mountain scenery between Hof and Höfn. Note the white Jeep in the lower left corner for size reference.

Blue mood in Iceland’s eastern region.

Blue mood in Iceland’s eastern region.

Closeup shot of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Iceland’s eastern region.

Closeup shot of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Iceland’s eastern region.

Massive glacier closeup in Iceland’s eastern region.

Massive glacier closeup in Iceland’s eastern region.

Dramatic rocky landscape somewhere along Route 1 east of Höfn.

Dramatic rocky landscape somewhere along Route 1 east of Höfn.

Rock towers kissed by first snow of the year, somewhere along Route 1 east of Höfn.

Rock towers kissed by first snow of the year, somewhere along Route 1 east of Höfn.

Hiking The Alpstein by Julien Balmer

Sticking out of the eastern region of the Appenzellerland, the multifaceted Alpstein massif is a most photogenic range of folded limestone mountains. Starting point of our 3-day hike was Hoher Kasten. We followed the ridge past Saxer Lücke all the way to Berggasthaus Rotsteinpass on day one. It's a gorgeous but also long day, and there is no water anywhere along the way, so come prepared! The next morning we hiked to the peak of Mount Säntis and then slowly descended to Berggasthaus Schäfler, a historic and picturesque mountain inn. Again, stunning views all day long, at times clear sky and impeccable visibility, at other times atmospheric fog and clouds moving across our fields of vision. On the 3rd day we continued downhill and made our way all the way down to Seealpsee for a cooling and well-deserved skinny-dip.

In short: great trails, stunning views, cozy mountain inns - and if you go during the week not too many humans either.

Shot on 35mm film and iPhone. 
 

View on the entire Alpstein massif from Hoher Kasten.

View on the entire Alpstein massif from Hoher Kasten.

Lisengrat. View towards Rotsteinpass and Altmann.

Lisengrat. View towards Rotsteinpass and Altmann.

Alpstein Massif as seen from Hoher Kasten.

Alpstein Massif as seen from Hoher Kasten.

Freiheittürm and Widderalpstöck with Seealpsee in background.

Freiheittürm and Widderalpstöck with Seealpsee in background.

Saxer Lücke and Chrüzberg

Saxer Lücke and Chrüzberg

View towards Girespitz and Moor from Nädliger near Mount Altmann, on the way to Rotsteinpass.

View towards Girespitz and Moor from Nädliger near Mount Altmann, on the way to Rotsteinpass.

Chreialpfirst, descent towards Zwinglipass

Chreialpfirst, descent towards Zwinglipass

Chreialpfirst

Chreialpfirst

Saxer Lücke and Chrüzberg

Saxer Lücke and Chrüzberg

Altenalpsattel

Altenalpsattel

Hüenerberg

Hüenerberg

Chreialpfirst

Chreialpfirst

Lisengrat and Mount Säntis in background. View from Nädliger near Mount Altmann.

Lisengrat and Mount Säntis in background. View from Nädliger near Mount Altmann.

Berggasthaus Rotsteinpass (2124 MASL)

Berggasthaus Rotsteinpass (2124 MASL)

Lisengrat. View towards Nadlenspitz and Hundstein.

Lisengrat. View towards Nadlenspitz and Hundstein.

Hüenerberg

Hüenerberg

Berggasthaus Schäfler (1924 MASL)

Berggasthaus Schäfler (1924 MASL)


Altenalpsattel

 


Nädliger near Mount Altmann, on the way to Rotsteinpass. Mount Säntis is covered in thick clouds.
Music: Between Worlds by Roger Subirana

Driving Iceland by Julien Balmer


Iceland – remote Nordic island of majestic beauty, dramatic volcanic landscapes, and vast open skies. Iceland – home of resilient people, home of hidden people. Iceland – Shangri-La for nature lovers, landscape photographers, and most definitely the contemporary Instagrammer. 

What follows is a visual account of my short 5-day photographic road trip through Iceland in early September 2017. I was short on time, had an ambitious itinerary, and therefore ended up driving some 1'800 km, from the coastal Westfjords all the way to eastern Iceland and back. I love driving, it’s meditative and such a good way for me to develop a feeling for a place I haven’t been to before. Exploring, experiencing, and shooting like this is somehow aligned with the essence of who I am as a photographer, a traveller, and a free spirit. 

I loved capturing the different moods, from gloomy, dark and stormy weather in the West to a very sunny morning near Vatnajökull National Park in the Northeast. A symphony of unusual shapes and beautiful hues. Touched by the vastness, the silence, and the sublime beauty I felt elated and privileged to be there. 

Shot on 35mm film, a DSLR, and iPhone. 
 

Geothermal activity in the area around Mývatn, a volcanic lake in northern Iceland.

Geothermal activity in the area around Mývatn, a volcanic lake in northern Iceland.

Road through volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.

Road through volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.

Volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.

Volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.

Geothermal activity in the area around lake Mývatn.

Geothermal activity in the area around lake Mývatn.

Volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.

Volcanic landscape near lake Mývatn.

Somewhere along route 60 in the Westfjords.

Somewhere along route 60 in the Westfjords.

Somewhere further along route 60 in the Westfjords.

Somewhere further along route 60 in the Westfjords.

Moody Coast, route 427 not far from Grindavik.

Moody Coast, route 427 not far from Grindavik.

Lava formation in Reykjanesfólkvangur, southwest Iceland.

Lava formation in Reykjanesfólkvangur, southwest Iceland.

Route 427 near Reykjanesfólkvangur, southwest Iceland.

Route 427 near Reykjanesfólkvangur, southwest Iceland.

Solo driving in northeast Iceland (north of Vatnajökull National Park).

Solo driving in northeast Iceland (north of Vatnajökull National Park).

Solo driving in northeast Iceland (north of Vatnajökull National Park).

Solo driving in northeast Iceland (north of Vatnajökull National Park).

Volcanic hills a little north of Vatnajökull National Park.

Volcanic hills a little north of Vatnajökull National Park.

Otherworldly volcanic landscape just north of Vatnajökull National Park.

Otherworldly volcanic landscape just north of Vatnajökull National Park.