Workshops: Iceland Autumn Color In Myvatn Region: September 2016

Dates:  September 9-19, 2016 (10.5 days, 10 nights)   

Price:  $3900 USD or € or ISK equivalent

Availability: 3 of 8 spaces available

Iceland Autumn Color in Myvatn and Highland Regions: Photographing the Autumn foliage among lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula and Myvtan geothermal areas, autumn snowfalls of the Highlands region, the fall equinox aurora borealis, and the annual Icelandic sheep roundups.

This exciting photo tour all around Iceland is meant for passionate outdoor photographers who desire to see and photograph Iceland's autumn color, nuances, and cultural mainstays of the fall season. Highlights of the fall season in Iceland include the colorful birch scrub bushes among the starkly contrasting black lava flows of the Myvatn region, autumn color among lush green mossy lava fields, dustings of snow on the peaks in the Highlands region (which is all but deserted at this time of year), and the strong probability of seeing the aurora borealis in the night sky. Low-angle sun at the northern latitudes we'll visit allows us to capture extended magic light periods. We'll also photograph a plethora of other scenic and rural destinations including country churches, waterfalls, farms, and horses.

We will spend two days in the Highlands region of Iceland, experiencing the stark fall climate of this region, and hopefully being witness to an early fall snow dusting on the peaks, which is very impressive. Connecting from the south to the north of Iceland, we take the famous Kjolur Highlands route via 4x4 van. We then transition to northern Iceland -- some say the best region in the country for viewing the aurora borealis during the height of fall solstice, which statistically has the most frequently occuring aurora borealis activity. Nothern Iceland's Myvatn region is undoubtedly most beautiful in the fall. We will photograph the famous geothermal areas of Lake Myvatn Godafoss waterfall, as well as the Tröllskagi Peninsula mountains, based in Iceland's second largest town, Akureyri. The Akureyri region is ideal to view the aurora borealis due to its more northerly latitudes perfectly situated under the Auroral Oval region of greatest auroral activity. We will be based out of fine rural guesthouses and hotels all around Iceland including Akureyri and Myvatn regions, allowing a great itinerary and filling our days and nights with rewarding photography opportunities all around the region.

As a special event, we also will spend up to two full days photographing the autumn sheep roundup in Iceland, giving us up close and personal interaction with Icelanders and their rural way of life. This is all about photojournalistic and candid photography, where the intent changes from capturing beauty shots to telling a story of tradition through your sequence of images. Not only is this a big weekend for doing the actual work in bringing the sheep down from the hillsides for the winter, but it's also a social time for rural Icelandic families to get together -- children and sheepdogs alike look forward all year to the roundup. Photographers will be able to shoot candid portraits of Icelanders and lots of children grabbing sheep (and getting dragged around) in the roundup, the thousands of sheep jostling and leaping in the roundup sort pen. As the stream of 10,000 sheep pour down from the hillsides from summer grazing grounds, opportunities for video and still shots will be plentiful. Additionally, anyone is welcome to jump in the pen to help sort or herd the sheep with everyone else. 

Day 1 - Reykjavik

September 9, 2016

Arrive to Iceland and get settled into your hotel. The trip begins with a delicious group welcome dinner. We'll have an evening shoot session if scheduling allows, with award-winning Icelandic special guest photographer Örvar Þorgeirsson. Accommodation in Reykjavik is included.


Day 2 - Reykjanes Peninsula & Golden Circle

September 10, 2016

We depart from Reykjavik and photograph around the Reykjanes Peninsula and the Golden Circle area, including Thingvellir techtonic plate cracks and waterfalls, Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall, and Bruarfoss River. Accommodations will be in Fludir.


Day 3 - Highlands Kjolur & Kerlingarfjoll Geothermal Area

September 11, 2016

On day 3, we'll visit Gullfoss, and then travel onto the Highlands Kjolur 4x4 route. We'll spend the afternoon at Kerlingarfjoll geothermal area and hills in the Highlands. After driving through the rest of Kjolur, we'll arrive to Vatnsdalur valley by late afternoon to watch thousands of sheep coming out of the Highlands. If we're running late, we'll spend more time at Kerlingarfjoll, then go directly to the guesthouse after dark. (Dinner may be very late.) Accommodations for the night will be in Svinavatn.


Day 4 - Vatnsdalur & Svinavatn Sheep Roundups

September 12, 2016

This will be an exciting day photographing the annual sheep roundups and Icelandic rural way of life in the Vatnsdalur and Svinavatn regions -- filled with plenty of cultural and storytelling photography opportunities. You'll also get the chance to get in on the action and help wrestle down and sort some sheep. Accommodations in Svinavatn.


Day 5 - Vatnsdalur, Svinavatn & Kalfshamarsvik

September 13, 2016

The day will begin with photographing a second annual sheep roundup in a different valley, continuing to experience Icelandic rural way of life in the Vatnsdalur and Svinavatn regions. We'll visit Kalfshamarsvik lighthouse and basalt columns for sunset photography, then enjoy a freshly caught seafood dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, we'll drive another hour over the Skagi peninsula to Saudakrokur, where accommodations will be for the night.


Day 6 - Skagi and Trollaskagi Peninsulas & Akureyri

September 14, 2016

We'll spend the day photographing around the Skagi and Trollaskagi Peninsula regions of medieval turf-roofed stave churches, basalt columns and lighthouses, and fishing villages. At the end of the day will be an early dinner in Akureyri, Iceland's main northern town, and a stop at a quaint rural seaside Icelandic Lutheran Church. At night, we'll have a possible aurora borealis shoot over Dettifoss waterfall. Accommodations will be in Akureyri.


Day 7 - Myvatn, Krafla & Dimmuborgir

September 15, 2016

On day 7, we will explore Myvatn lake, lava formations, and craters, as well as Krafla, Dimmuborgir, and other fall foliage areas amongst the lava. Today is a great day to practice detail photography of the colorful fall shrubbery amongst the black lava. Accommodations will be in Myvatn.


Day 8 - Waterfalls, Canyons & Myvatn Formations

September 16, 2016

We'll spend today at Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls (Europe's biggest), and Jokusargljifur canyon basalt caves and yellow birch foliage, and Asbyrgi canyon. These locations provide for amazing abstract or detail photography, with the yellow foliage set against patterned black rock. This is also a sheltered canyon, so it can be a respite from wind or rain if the weather is poor. We'll have dinner in the fishing town of Husavik, and go out for possible nighttime or aurora photography over Myvatn formations. Accommodations will be in Myvatn.


Day 9 - Myvatn Regions

September 17, 2016

This is an additional day dedicated to fully exploring the Myvatn regions. The schedule is open, and we'll visit or revisit our favorite locations from the past 2 days int eh region, or use this time to catch on our itinerary if we still have more locations to explore. Again, today is spent photographing fall color shrubs and birches in a volcanic setting. Accommodations will be in Myvatn.


Day 10 - Highlands Waterfalls & Trollaskagi Mountains

September 18, 2016

In the morning, we'll visit Godafoss waterfall and Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in the Highlands, followed by a decadent lunch at the best bakery in all of Iceland. As we wind down the trip, we'll start our return journey, but not first before photographing through an alternate route over the Trollaskagi mountains. We have a longer drive ahead of us this evening, making a quick stop for dinner, and continuing on to Reykholt, where accommodations will be.


Day 11 - Hraunfossar & Reykjavik

September 19, 2016

We'll start the final morning with a sunrise shoot at Hraunfossar springs and yellow birches. Then we'll return to Reykjavik by about noon, in time for afternoon flights, with dropoff in Reykjavik or Keflavik airport.

General Trip Information

Group Size:  Maximum size of 8; minimum size of 3.

Start/End:  The tour starts on the evening of September 9th (including potential night aurora shooting this first night), and after a large 2000 km loop around Iceland, concludes back in Reykjavik at midday on September 19th (no accommodation included on the 19th). We'll be so immersed in the Icelandic countryside for our entire time as a group, that we have left no time to enjoy the sights of Reykjavik, so we encourage you to stay in Reykjavik for a couple days on your own, either before or after the tour.


  • All photographic opportunities and professional instruction
  • All ground and 4x4 transportation
  • All entry fees and activity fees listed in this itinerary
  • All meals and food (breakfasts provided by our guesthouses; lunches sourced from local cafes or bagged lunches; and hot dinners at restaurants and/or our places of accommodation)
  • Accommodation for 10 nights in ideally located and charming guesthouses or country hotels. Cost is based on double occupancy.  Most but not all rooms have in-room bathrooms.

Not Included: 

  • Flights
  • Your time in Iceland before and after the trip
  • Trip insurance
  • Souvenirs, gas station snacks and purchases on the go, etc. 
  • All drinks at sit-down meals, alcoholic and non-, where Icelandic water is free
  • Anything else not listed as being included
  • Single room upgrade fee is $75/nt extra if requested. In the event that a solo-traveller cannot be paired up with like-gender person, then automatic upgrade to single room will incur a 50% subsidized single room upgrade fee of $38/night. 

Experience Needed:  This tour is open to digital photographers of all skill levels from beginner to expert. A trip packing list will be provided to help you maximize your photos.  If you have additional questions, the trip leader will be happy to answer them over the phone or by email.

Photography Instruction

This photo workshop is all about in-the-field field photography and situational instruction, working alongside your trip leader, and there will be no formally scheduled classroom workshops or presentations, although on trips we usually do an indoor session or two covering photography concepts and editing skills and image critiquing, weather and time allowing.  We will always being prepared to go out to photograph the Aurora Borealis should it occur. Aurora Borealis viewing depends on 2 main factors: solar activity and clear weather. The chances of us photographing this phenomenon are very high, given that we're out for so many nights, and way away from the city of Reykjavik and the southern coast of Iceland.

Photographic topics that will covered while shooting include nighttime and austral photography, Aurora Borealis photography, classic landscape photography composition and technique, HDR (High Dynamic Range) imagery, panoramic photography, adventure and travel photography, and slow shutter -speed effects. Our full 10.5 days and 10 nights of photography potential, allow us to see a variety of well-known Icelandic natural wonders around Akureyri, Lake Myvatn, and the central Highlands, combined with austral wonderment, enabling each participant to get the most out this once-in-a-lifetime trip. In good daytime weather and clear night skies, September days can long; sometimes our groups are putting in 14+ hour days! A maximum group size of 8 photographers ensures you will receive ample personal photographic coaching in the field from a full time working pro, maximizing the group's flexibility and ability to shoot more places, more spontaneously based on light and weather, and provide an intimate small group adventure experience.

Johnathan Esper of Wildernesscapes Photography LLC, based in the USA, will be leading the trip. Johnathan is a full time photographer and experienced international photo trip leader, and this will be his 50th+ trip he's led to Iceland since beginning trips in the destination in 2011. Every trip so far has been an incredible experience for the participants. Johnathan has a unique background and an intimate knowledge of Iceland from living out of a car, exploring and photographing Iceland intensively for months at a time. He specializes in wide panoramic landscapes and adventure photography in Iceland and the Adirondack region in the USA.

Trip Terms

Deposit:  A $1000 deposit is due at the time of registration, and the remaining balance is due by the trip start.  Until payment is sent, your place is not guaranteed. You may conveniently pay your deposit here (near bottom of page) securely with your credit card, processed by Paypal payment processor.  The deposit portion may also be paid via personal or bank check for USA and Canadian clients. Please contact me if you need any assistance in signing up!

Final Payment: The final payment for the balance due on the trip (after your paid deposit), is due one week prior to the trip start. Payment options include bank transfer to my Icelandic bank account (details on request), cash in person at the trip start (with prior arrangement), personal or bank checks (preferred for USA and Canada clients), and credit cards (a 2% credit card fee will be added for final payments with card).

Cancellation Policy:  In the unfortunate case if you need to cancel, cancellation policy is: Deposit payments are refundable as 100% future scheduled trip credit up to 120 days before trip start, 50% future scheduled trip credit if cancellation is 120-60 days before trip start, and non-refundable less than 60 days before start. Final payments for the full trip balance are 100% refundable as cash until the trip start, and non-refundable after the trip start. If I am able to fill your empty spot on the trip, half of what you'd lose will additionally be returned to you, for all the above situations. If I cancel the trip for some major reason, such as overwhelming volcanic activity, trip leader health crisis, etc, then I fully refund everything in cash or Paypal, or a pro-rated amount if the trip must end early for the same reasons. I am not responsible for reimbursing you for travel or other ancillary expenses you incur in prep for the trip. 

For more information, contact:

Johnathan A. Esper
Wildernesscapes Photography LLC
PO Box 326, Long Lake, NY
United States
phone: 001 518 241 3363 (USA) or +354 626 0292 (Iceland)