Iceland – Fall Colors and Northern Lights Photo Tour

September 16th – 25th 2025

Trip Leaders:  Gareth McCormack & Ron Modra

Start & Finish: Reykjavik / Keflavik

Maximum Group Size: 9

Exertion:  Low to moderate

Cost: US $ 8,200, including 9 nights accommodation

Booking: A booking deposit of $2,000 per person secures your place on the tour. Remaining balance due 90 days prior to departure. Price includes single-occupancy rooms. Discount of $800 per person for clients sharing a room.

Availability: Spaces available – book now

Map

On this photography tour we explore the best wild scenery of south and west Iceland. Highlights include unique coastal formations, mountainous highlands, volcanoes, glaciers, geysers and waterfalls, with quality accommodation and a personal approach throughout.

Iceland Photo Tour Map
Iceland photo tour locations

Accommodation & food

This photography holiday includes nine nights of accommodation. We stay in a range of quality hotels and guesthouses, each carefully selected for its location beside a range of top photo spots.

 

Trip price is based on single occupancy – a discount is available per person sharing.

 

Breakfast is included as part of the tour, but no other meals are provided. We’ll stop as appropriate each day to eat together in local cafés and restaurants, with each participant covering the cost of their own meals.

Grundarfjordur on Iceland photo tour
The coastal village of Grundarfjordur is our base for the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
golden-circle-photo-tour-iceland
Hotel Gulfoss on the Golden Circle
Vik hotel, Iceland photo tour
The Hotel Kria in Vik offers a northern lights wake-up service

Exertion and ability level

This Iceland photography tour has an exertion rating of low to moderate. Photo locations are all easily accessible by vehicle, with short walks along paths or across open ground to reach our initial vantage points. This may involve some steps, steep gradients or uneven ground. If you have any questions about the physical demands of the trip, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss the locations in more detail.

 

Photographers of all proficiency levels are welcome to join this tour. Whatever your ability, Gareth and Ron will help you develop your skills as the trip progresses.

What's not included

      • Lunches & Snacks
      • Evening Meals
      • Drinks
      • Gratuities
      • Insurance
      • Flights

Overview

Iceland is one of the world’s most photogenic countries. Its other-wordly volcanic and glacial landscapes are truly unique, and offer incredible opportunities for landscape photography. This 10-day tour takes in most of Iceland’s finest locations, from the iconic ‘wizard’s hat’ mountain of Kirkjufell to the iceberg lagoon at Jokusarlon; from the black sand beaches of Vik to the moonscapes of the Icelandic Highlands. And of course there are all the amazing waterfalls, glaciers, canyons and ancient lava flows which make the south coast of Iceland so special.

 

This trip is deliberately designed to span the autumn equinox. As well as benefiting from beautiful fall colours in the landscape, this is when aurora activity peaks, thanks to the Russell-McPherron effect. So if the sky is clear and there is an auroral display, we’ll be heading out to shoot them against the backdrop of the stunning Icelandic landscape. If you’ve never seen or photographed the northern lights before, this is an unforgettable experience not to be missed.

Iceland Northern Lights Photo Tour
Northern lights over Kirkjufell mountain and waterfall. We'll take all opportunities to shoot the aurora.

As another possible  – and potentially amazing – bonus, we have scheduled our final day to concentrate on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Since 2021 this corner of Iceland has experienced a series of regular volcanic eruptions, a number of which have been safe to visit and photograph. If our trip happens to coincide with live activity, and the vents are safe and accessible, we’ll be grabbing this once in a lifetime opportunity to see and shoot an erupting volcano. Volcanoes don’t erupt to schedule of course, so if the lava isn’t flowing at that time, we’ll focus on shooting the stunning Reykjanesta sea stacks instead.

Iceland Volcano
If we're lucky we may witness a resurgence of Meradalir Eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Itinerary

On this tour you’ll explore the best photo locations of south and west Iceland. Travelling together in two 9-seater minivans, we will prioritise sunrise and sunset sessions to maximise magic hour light, and include night-time shoots too if the northern lights are active. As we explore each location, we’ll experiment with different camera and composition techniques. Along the way you’ll benefit from tips and advice from two professional mentors. As well as Gareth, the renowned American photographer Ronald Modra will be co-leading this tour. A Sports Illustrated photographer for 25 years, Ron has a host of professional accolades to his name, and is an experienced photo tour guide. Throughout the journey, both Gareth and Ron will share their professional expertise in every way possible to help you increase your camera knowledge and produce more striking images.

Kirkjufell Photo Workshop
Sunset reflection of Kirkjufell mountain, on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

September 16th:  The tour begins in Reykjavik, with accommodation at a four-star city centre hotel. The Harpa concert hall, Hallgrimskirkja, and Reykjavik old town are all within walking distance of the hotel. We’ll assemble as a group at 7pm, and kick off with a welcome dinner on the evening of Tuesday 16th. This is an opportunity to meet your travelling companions and discuss the itinerary ahead.

 

September 17th & 18th:  We begin by heading north along the west coast, to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Our base for these two nights is Grundarfjordur, a small fishing town situated between the mountains and the sea. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a remote region, with a host of unique natural sites. Highlights include Snaefellsjokull National Park, the coastal cliff and arches around Arnarstapi, Burdir Black Church and of course the iconic Kirkjufell Mountain. If we have some luck with clear skies and aurora activity we will be prioritising a classic shot of the northern lights over Kirkjufell.

Iceland Waterfall Photo Tour
Dusk at Oxararfoss waterfall, in Pingvellir National Park.

September 19th: Today we move on and explore the sites of Iceland’s famous Golden Circle. Potential locations include Pingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area at Haukadalur. Haukadalur includes various hot springs, steam vents, and sulfurous mud pots. The most impressive feature is Strokkur geyser, which erupts reliably every 8-10 minutes, shooting a fountain of boiling water up to 30 meters into the air.

 

Our base for this night is Hotel Gulfoss. Located just a few minutes from both the waterfall and geysir, this is the perfect place to maximise dawn and dusk opportunities in the area.

 

September 20th:  Now for something a little bit different. Today we transfer from our minivans to a custom-built 4×4 15-seater bus with a local guide. This allows us to explore off the beaten track, and head along unsealed roads into the spectacular wild scenery of Iceland’s interior highlands, at a time of year when this area is inaccessible to most visitors. The exact itinerary will depend on local road and weather conditions, but our priority will be the still-steaming lava fields, deep canyons and colourful rhyolite mountains around Landmannalaugar.

Icelandic Photography Holiday
Person in the rainbow beneath 60m-high Skogafoss waterfall.

September 21st:  We now reach Iceland’s south west cost, around the village of Vik. We’ll explore Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skogafoss waterfall, and the black-sand beach at Vik. At Seljalandsfoss, a path takes you right in behind the falls, passing through a cave as the water pours off a cliff overhead.

 

Our base for two nights is Hotel Kria, set between a line of dramatic mountains and Reynisfjara beach. This is considered one of Iceland’s most beautiful black sand beaches, backed by a cliff of basalt columns, with the spectacular Reynisdrangar sea stacks stretching out into the Atlantic ocean.

photo tours iceland
Reynisdrangar sea stacks from the black sand beach at Vik.

September 22nd & 23rd:  Today we reach our furthest point from Reykjavik – the fishing community of Hofn, on Iceland’s south east coast. Our hotel is located beside Hofn harbour, in the heart of the town.

 

Just east of Hofn, Vestrahorn and Lomagnupur mountains offer compelling photo opportunities. Other photo spots within easy reach include Jokulsarlon and Fjallsarlon. Often known as iceberg lagoons, these are two glacial lakes that have formed at the tip of icy tongues stretching down from the Vatnajokull glacier, Europe’s second-largest ice cap. Lumps of ice form ever-changing patterns as they calve off the glacier. At nearby Diamond Beach, the icebergs wash up onto black sand, offering an opportunity to get up close and examine the striking colours and forms of these natural ice sculptures.

Detail of iceberg floating in Jokusarlon Lagoon.

September 24th & 25th:  As the end of our tour draws near, we transfer back to Reykjanes Peninsula, staying close to Keflavik International Airport for our final night together. The fun isn’t over yet though, and we’ll take the opportunity for a couple of shoots around the peninsula while we’re here. If Svartsengi volcano is erupting, evening is the best time to shoot the molten landscape. If the lava isn’t flowing, we’ll concentrate of the cliffs and seastacks around Reykjanesta instead.

 

The tour finishes on September 25th, when we leave you at Keflavik International Airport in time for your flight home.

Icelandic Horses Photo Tour
Pair of Icelandic ponies at sunset.

Booking Terms & Conditions

Payment:  The price of this tour is US $8,200 per person, based on single-occupancy rooms. A discount of US $800 per person applies to clients sharing a room. An initial booking deposit of $2,000 per person is required to secure your place on the tour, with the remaining balance due 90 days prior to departure.

 

Cancellation: The $2,000 booking deposit is unfortunately non-refundable. However we understand that sometimes plans can change, and in this case, the following cancellation policy applies:

  • Over 90 days before departure – We keep the booking deposit, but it can be transferred to another photo tour of your choosing
  • 61-90 days before departure – We keep the full fee paid, but it can still be transferred to another tour if this is your preference
  • 60 days or less before departure – We keep the full fee paid, and this will be forfeit unless we can find a replacement. If we do find a replacement, you may transfer the amount to another tour of your choosing.

 

Changes to Itinerary: In the rare situation that the listed itinerary needs to be changed due to unforseen events (eg: weather, park closures) we will endeavor to arrange a suitable alternative. However we do not bear any liability for circumstances beyond our control.

 

Insurance:  Please note that it’s the responsibility of the customer to ensure you have adequate cover in terms of personal, travel and equipment insurance for this trip.

What Should I Bring?

Camera Equipment:  Bring all your camera equipment, including any lenses, tripods and filters. Remember cables for downloading images, and if you use a laptop for processing, bring that too. Some off-road walking may be required to reach photo locations, so we recommend that you pack your equipment in a small rucksack to facilitate moving around. Make sure your camera bag offers enough protection in the event of being caught in rain.

 

Clothing:  Iceland’s climate is notoriously changeable. Bring good, waterproof footwear, and warm, waterproof and windproof clothing to protect yourself in all weather conditions. Bring sunscreen too, because you never know! We discourage the use of plastic wherever possible, so also recommend bringing a resuable water bottle.

What Will I Learn?

We keep our group sizes small so the exact format of each tour can be tailored to the needs of individuals. You may be quite happy with your photography level, and see Gareth simply as your personal guide to Ireland’s best locations. Alternatively you may want to extend your skills, and in this case there’ll be plenty of opportunity to ask technical questions and further your understanding of camera operation. Gareth can help you get out of auto settings for the first time, or provide constructive critique on composition and aesthetic decisions that might expand your creative repertoire. Topics that often come up include:

 

      • Getting out of auto –  Demystifying aperture, shutter speed and ISO
      • Camera setup – Shooting in RAW, and optimising your camera setup for better results
      • Depth of field – What it is, why it’s so important, and how to achieve it. Also how to focus stack for optimum sharpness.
      • Using filters –  Especially polarising filters, ND filters and ND grads
      • Exposure – How to get the optimal exposure, how to use histograms and highlight warnings.  Shooting for highlights and shadows, and exposure blending in post processing.
      • Compositon – Tips and tricks to aid composition, including understanding the rules and knowing when to break them. The aesthetics of photography – the relationship between light and landform. Working your location for more interesting images.
      • Planning – How to take best advantage of weather and location, so you can be in the right place at the right time
      • Post processing – An overview of Gareth’s workflow and approach to processing in Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw. Also a look at more advanced blending and stacking techniques in Photoshop.

FAQs

Q:  I’m a complete beginner – will your workshop be suitable for me?

A:  Yes. Our workshops and tours have small group sizes, so much of the tuition is on a one-to-one basis. We encourage a friendly and collegiate atmosphere, and more experienced photographers generally help by offering their own advice and encouragement. After all, we were all beginners at one point ourselves, and can empathise with how mystifying the technicalities of photography can appear. A key point for beginners is to relax – with a few pointers, taking great images is often much easier than you realise.

 

Q:  I don’t have a tripod / expensive camera / any filters. Is this a problem?

A:  Tripods are essential for good landscape photography and long exposure techniques. Having said that you can come on a weekend workshop without one, as Gareth normally carries a spare tripod you can try out. However this isn’t encouraged for longer tours. If you’re unsure about buying one, we’d encourage you to at least borrow or rent one if you can. Please don’t buy a cheap plastic or lightweight ‘traveller’ tripod. They’re too flimsy for serious work and will cause you enormous frustration. Investing in a good tripod is one of the most overlooked aspects of purchasing photography equipment.

 

Most of our workshop clients use digital DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, but these range from Hasselblads to basic starter cameras. We also have people who still shoot film or black and white only. You could come on a workshop with just your phone and still benefit – in fact we had one weekend where the best images came from somebody doing just that. If you don’t have any filters but are interested in learning to use them, Gareth will have some on hand to try out. You’ll then be a better position to decide what you want to invest in afterwards.

 

Q:  How physically demanding are the locations to reach?

A:  Most of our photo locations are easy to reach, and accessible within a couple of minutes walk from the car. However the ground underfoot may be uneven, slippery or wet. We avoid long or arduous hikes, but to reach more adventurous shooting positions – which are entirely optional – you may need to cross loose rocks or steep slopes. If you have any concerns about your fitness for this trip, please get in touch and Gareth will be happy to discuss the individual locations with you.

 

Q:  Workshop or tour – what’s the difference?

A:  Our workshops are short, typically two or three days long, and based within a defined area. The emphasis is on education and assistance from Gareth, but we also visit plenty of good photo locations, hopefully in good light. We’ll also have at least one formal seminar on post processing during the weekend. Tours are longer trips that visit several geographical areas, with the emphasis on exploring the best locations in the best light. Of course instruction and assistance from Gareth is still part of the package, but the theory and processing sessions are less formal. Instead we use bad weather as an opportunity for image review, with one-to-one or small group sessions on post processing workflow happening in a more organic way.

 

Q:  How long is a typical day?

A:  There’s no schedule set in advance for any of our workshops or tours. In order to match our locations with the best light, we stay as flexible as possible. Typically we’ll shoot at sunrise if conditions allow, returning to the hotel afterwards for breakfast. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of early starts – sunrise shoots are always optional. We’ll certainly shoot during the day, prioritising locations that best suit the weather conditions. Even if it’s a travel day, we’ll stop at one or two interesting places along the way. Evening and sunset shoots are also a staple whenever conditions allow.

 

Poor weather can be useful too. On weekend workshops, we’ll take the opportunity to look at post processing. On longer tours we generally use poor weather to relax and recover, review our images, and perhaps think about post processing if people are keen. When conditions are favorable for several days in a row, regular dawn and dusk shoots can quickly become exhausting, so we do factor in the need for downtime during the day. Nothing kills creativity quicker than fatigue! If at any time you need to slow down and skip a shoot, that’s fine too.

 

Q:  Can I bring my spouse/partner even if they’re not interested in photography?

A:  Yes, absolutely. We visit beautiful and interesting locations, so there’s much to enjoy even if you aren’t interested in taking more than snapshots. We often stay in the same hotel for two or more nights, so non-photographers are free to take time out from the field trips and do their own thing. There’s often plenty to see and do within walking distance of our accommodation, and sometimes leisure facilities at the hotel too. Just ask if you want more details about this particular trip.

Ready to Join Us?

This trip will fill fast, so we recommend you book soon to avoid disappointment. If you have any further queries about joining us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

 

Iceland Photography Tour: US $ 8,200

 

Deposit to secure your place: US $ 2,000

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