Iceland in 16 Days: Day 1, South Region, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Welcome to Mish Moments!

Please visit my About Page for my background, guest submissions, and information about the focus of this website.

I kick off Mish Moments with a series of articles on Iceland. In the summer of 2015 my wife Liz and I had a glorious trip. We spent 15 nights (16 days) on the island.

We will take you around Iceland, and the amazing trip we had with scenes of waterfalls, ice beaches, puffins, whales, geysers, rainbows, glaciers, and colorful fishing boats in small harbor villages.

My free Iceland Guide is packed with information about what to bring, where to go, what to do, where to stay, what to expect in each location, and what literature to read before your trip.

Feature Image Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 22MM, F/14, ISO 100 for 1/13 second. This is my favorite general purpose lens. Check out my Equipment List page for additional ideas and discussion.

Iceland Day One

We arrived in Reykjavik at 6:00AM. It was cold and rainy. We could not get our Garmin to work. I feared the entire trip might be the same.  Such fears were soon dashed. Once outside of Reykjavik, the weather turned, the sun came out, and we were on our way.

I had a bad case of jet lag, not getting any sleep on the Icelandair flight from Boston.  Seriously tired, we pulled into the Hotel Ranga for breakfast, between Reykjavik and Vik, with Vik being our first night’s stop.

The operators were extremely generous. They saw me half-asleep on one of their benches and said we could lie down for a while in their beautiful upstairs sitting room.

After a few hours nap and an excellent buffet breakfast, we were on our way to Vik.

We passed two major waterfalls along the way. Seljalandsfoss, shown here, was the second. Skógafoss was first, but I will comment on Skógafoss in a collection of images between Reykjavik and Vik.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall


Best Angles

There are two very nice vantage points for photographing Seljalandsfoss. The first behind the waterfall. The second is high up the hillside parallel or slightly above the waterfall. Down below, where most people were, is an inferior location.

Depending on wind direction, it may not be possible to photograph from behind the waterfall. As it was, I was wiping off the front of my lens after every shot. Spray is a huge problem even if the wind is not blowing at you. Most of those behind the waterfall gave up.

Get a box of lens-cleaning wipes. I nearly used an entire box when photographing waterfalls in Iceland.


There is a huge variation in light in the sky and light on the cliff behind the waterfall. There are several ways of dealing with contrast.

  1. Expose for the highlights and let the shadow areas go black
  2. Take multiple exposures and blend them with an HDR (High Dynamic Range) program
  3. Take multiple exposures and manually blend them yourself in Photoshop
  4. Take a single exposure pushing the exposure as high as you can without blowing out the highlights, and working as best you can with a single image

The feature image at the top uses method 3. The image above uses method 4.

I tried using Lightroom’s HDR merge program but the results were not acceptable. Part of the problem was my own doing. I did not capture the shadow exposures correct. The result was purple-green in shadow areas. I did better blending multiple exposures of the scene myself, using Photoshop.

Words of Thanks

  • To my beautiful wife and best friend Liz, with whom we have shared many special moments traveling the United States, Europe, and Iceland.
  • To all our friends and the many people we met on our many travels
  • To the folks at WordPress for spending countless hours tweaking this layout until I was finally convinced I had it correct.

Please Share!

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

Much more coming: Click to Subscribe by Email.

Up Next: In and around Vik

Mike “Mish” Shedlock