Jökulsárlón—Picturesque Glacial Lagoon In Iceland

Icebergs and ice formations perfectly reflected at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland.

One of the most beautiful sights in Iceland is Jökulsárlón, a glacial lake in southern Iceland on the edge of the Vatnajökull National Park. The lagoon has been featured in movies such as Die Another Day, A View to a Kill, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Batman Begins. It also made the news when a new music video by Justin Bieber featured him swimming in it.

Due to melting glaciers, the lake has been increasing in size over the years, covering an area of about 18km², and a depth of 248m. This makes it the deepest lake in Iceland.

After a long drive from Mývatn, where we had a spectacular night of aurora viewing, and through all kinds of the erratic Icelandic weather, we finally arrived at the Gerdi Guesthouse where we stayed for two nights. We woke up to moderate rain, literally a dampener on our mood. It subsided a little after breakfast and we proceeded to black sand beach at Jökulsárlón, just 10 minutes drive away.


I started shooting long exposures to smooth out the water and got a few shots of the spectacular icebergs floating on the water. These had calved from the Vatnajökull and deposited into the sea and beach.

More icebergs

The drizzle started soon again, so I had to keep wiping the raindrops from the ND filter in order to keep shooting. It’s a good thing that my Fujifilm X-T1 body is weather sealed, though the XF 18-55mm kit lens isn’t. But I figured a bit of rain wouldn’t kill it (and it didn’t.)

Fujifilm X-T1 covered in raindrops.
Fujifilm X-T1 covered in raindrops.

The icebergs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including this one which looked like an igloo.

Igloo-shaped iceberg

By now, the rain has gotten heavier so we break for lunch. And this is where experienced yet another example of the cranky Icelandic weather. This is what it looks like when we arrived at Hali Country Hotel.

Dark skies
Dark skies

Just TWO minutes later, the skies opened up to a beautiful view. Slightly different angle, though.

Same scene, two minutes later.
Almost the same scene, two minutes later.

Of course, that itself didn’t last either. Another couple of minutes later, it’s gloomy again. The Icelandic weather is best summed up on this souvenir T-Shirt I saw, which read “If you don’t like the Icelandic weather, wait 5 minutes.”

We were supposed to go for a ice cave tour, but due to the many days of rain prior to our arrival, it has flooded as thus we were unable to visit. What a bummer. The rain continued in the afternoon, so we just rested in our rooms.

In the evening, we went to the lake, just across the beach where we were in the morning. In the fast fading evening light, I only managed a few shots of drifting icebergs.

Drifting ice

The next day, we woke up after a night of strong winds which had thankfully stopped by breakfast. Weather was much better, so we went back to the beach to hopefully catch the sunrise. One advantage of late autumn / winter is that you no longer have to wake up very early to catch the sunrise. On this day, the sun rose at 9:46am.

With different lighting and weather conditions, the beach looked quite different from the day before. Icebergs drift, so the same ones are no longer in the same location, giving us a different look of the location. I scouted around, and came across this interesting piece of ice, which makes a nice frame for Vatnajökull in the distance. In order to get enough depth of field, I made two exposures, one focussed on the ice formation, another on Vatnajökull, then stacked them in Photoshop. I call this “The Kiss”.

An ice formation frames icebergs at the Jökulsárlón Beach in Iceland, with Vatnojokull in the background.

I looked for more Icebergs to shoot.

Icebergs at dawn
More icebergs

Finally, the sunrise. Can’t really see the sun itself due to the thick clouds, but it’s still nice.

Waves crashing on a iceberg at Jökulsárlón at sunrise

Many of the icebergs washed up on the shore, forming an icy landscape.

Icebergs washed ashore at Jökulsárlón Beach, Iceland

There’s this interesting piece of black ice too.

Black ice
Icebergs and Vatnajökull at dawn

We revisit the lake next. By now, we are getting beautiful light and couldn’t be happier. The warm morning light gives Vatnajökull a nice warm glow, in contrast to the bluish, cold icebergs.

Icebergs at Jökulsárlón lagoon
A photographer shoots the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon from the top of a small hill.

The perfectly still lake makes for perfect reflections. It’s absolutely gorgeous in person.


It was a great start to our day, and I am glad that I am able to get great shots. This has become one of my favourite locations from the trip. In the afternoon, we left for the Svartifoss waterfall, but I’ll leave that for another post.

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