Since I moved to Iceland in 2016 I visited countless waterfalls, but since there is around 10 000 of them in Iceland, there is still a lot to explore. As Icelanders often like to say: ,,Iceland is the best country in almost everything per capita.” You could easily say that Iceland has the most waterfalls…per capita. Even this is of course just a joke, you can find waterfalls almost literally everywhere in Iceland. Some of them are hidden or hard to access, in some cases you can park your car straight under the waterfall.
Waterfalls are one of the things that everyone enjoys. People like to look at them, listen to the sound the water makes when it hits the ground, some even like to bath in the cold water under the waterfalls. I as many other do enjoy taking photos of them. Iceland offers all kind of waterfalls in all shapes and forms. Some of them even have unusual colors, like the charming blue color of Bruarfoss. So there is plenty to choose from.
Any waterfall can be usually photographed in an interesting way. You mostly want to use wide angle lens, so you can fit the whole waterfall in the photo. You can easily just use your phone as well if you don’t own camera. This kind of photography doesn’t really require expensive equipment. First choice to make is as with everything that’s moving in photography you can either freeze the movement of the water in time, or bring a tripod with you, use long exposure time and get silky smooth water lines. I’m often using both techniques depending on how the waterfall looks like and what is the scenery around. One thing to keep in mind though is using long exposure during the day time to get the smooth effect on the water requires either using ND filter, it works like sunglasses for your camera (you can buy these filters even for your phone). You can also visit the locations at night, so you don’t end up with overexposed and washed out image. The second and more complex choice to make is to find a good spot from which you want to take the photo. I recommend you looking around, after arriving to the spot, for possible paths or trails around the waterfalls. Be careful when you do this and don’t attempt to climb somewhere it doesn’t look safe or do not walk out from the marked paths.
In some cases you can even get behind the waterfall which can create an interesting point of view. Sometimes you can go up and get a top-down image. Sometimes all you can do is just stand under the waterfall, but even then finding a good and unusual angle can make your photo much better. Using something in the foreground of the photo can be also great idea and it can help you to show the actual size of it even better.
Even though I didn’t get to visit all the waterfalls in Iceland (yet), I visited many of them and decided to make a short list of the ones I like the most. They are nice not just to take photos of, but generally nice places to visit.
I already mentioned this waterfall earlier. It is not its height, width, or volume of the water that comes through this waterfall that makes it stand out, but the color. Brúarfoss has almost unbelievably blue water, because of the glacial flour. Before my first visit I assumed that the blue color in the photos is slightly exaggerated, but the water is in reality as blue as the photos show. This is one of the waterfalls that’s slightly more difficult to get to. It even seems that it was closed completely for some time, due to the people littering and not treating nature with respect, which is sad.
But as of today, I can confirm that getting to this waterfall is possible. You will have to leave the car at the main road and walk for about 3km one way to reach this place, the track can get quite muddy. But it is a beautiful walk around the river with amazing views. Just don’t forget that you are on private land and behave responsibly, because this waterfall might get closed again.
When it comes to photographing this waterfall, there are endless possibilities, you can get almost everywhere around this place. There is a bridge over the river right under Brúarfoss, which gives you great unobstructed view at the waterfall. The most eye catching thing about this waterfall is obviously the color. That was also the most important thing I focused on when I was editing the photos from this place, trying to keep the blue color looking natural.
Next waterfall I would like to mention is Háifoss, it’s one of the Iceland’s highest waterfalls it’s completely different than Brúarfoss. They have basically nothing in common, which just shows how diverse Icelandic waterfalls are. One of my favorite things about this place is the view you get, standing on the cliff on the opposite site of this waterfall provides you an interesting view at it. If you have a 4×4 car you can leave it in the parking lot close to this waterfall, but the rough gravel roads leading there can make this place not accessible during the winter.
When photographing this waterfall you can either walk down into the valley and view and photograph the waterfall from there, but my favorite spot to take photos of this waterfall is from the cliff I mentioned before. Last winter due to the lack of snow I managed to get to this waterfall in the winter and the view was even more stunning. In this photo I used the cliff I was standing on as a natural frame in the photo, to add more depth to it.
As you might notice most of the waterfalls on this list are not the most known waterfalls in Iceland. There is no real reason for that I just find these waterfalls more interesting to photograph, this is of course very subjective. But this is arguably one of the Iceland’s most popular waterfalls. It was also one of the first waterfalls I ever visited in Iceland. Even though it is usually crowded by people, which can make the visit little bit less special, I still feel that this is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, visiting this waterfall at night during the summer months might as well
make more pleasant.
When taking photos of this waterfall you again have almost endless possibilities. There is path that goes above the waterfall giving you an amazing top-down view of this location. You can even continue hiking on the path discovering even more small waterfalls along the way. My favorite photo of this waterfall I took though is this one. Weather that day was just amazing and the rainbow over the waterfall just added to the beauty. Also this photo shows that even from the most common places that everyone comes through you can get unique photos.
Next waterfall on this list is probably the most famous waterfall in the Westfjords. Even though this waterfall is located in one of the most remote parts of Iceland it can get quite crowded, especially during the summer. This is another of the easily accessible waterfalls, (if we forget about the fact that is located in the Westfjords) because there is a parking lot right under the short path going between small waterfalls ending just under Dynjandi. West fjords are one of my favorite parts of Iceland in general, that is also one of the reasons this waterfall made it on this list.
This time around I wasn’t able to find any path leading me up the rocks around the waterfall to get the top-down or side view, but this waterfall looks amazing when photographed from down below, preferably with some of the small waterfalls in the foreground in my opinion.
Also the fact that I didn’t find the path gives me a reason to come back and explore the area even further.
Last waterfall I want to share with you is Þórufoss. This waterfall is hidden in plain sight, even though it is located very close to Þingvellir National park very few people actually visit this waterfall. For some unknown reason it is absolutely overlooked. That’s why you might end up there completely alone even in the middle of the tourist season here in Iceland. The fact that is usually empty just ads to the beauty of this place.
Photographing this place is also an unique experience. It is one of the few waterfalls where you are allowed to fly a drone, which gives you freedom of getting any framing that you could just dream of on any of the other waterfalls, also you don’t have to worry about people being in your way. Another thing about this waterfall is that it usually freezes during the winter, giving you another unique look.
These are just a couple of examples of what you can expect from Icelandic waterfalls, as you can see when it comes to waterfalls, Iceland has it all. Of course there are many more waterfalls in Iceland that I like, but these five stand out for me personally the most from all the waterfalls I visited so far.
An honorable mention would go to Seljalandsfoss which is also great waterfall to photograph, but due to fact is always filled with people photographing it I don’t find it as enjoyable, even though you can take beautiful photos there, mainly because you can get behind this waterfall.
Even though photographing all kinds of waterfalls can be enjoyable and you might always bring a great photo with you home, there is something special about finding small or hidden waterfalls. That’s why when you are in Iceland keep your eyes open and look around, because you can discover hidden gems absolutely anywhere. Sometimes even small waterfalls that you find near the road can look as stunning in photos as their bigger siblings.