Iceland is that mysterious island up north. A lot of us know it only from the board game RISK. In that case it can be a strategic bridge between the continents of North America and Europe. But, it turns out Iceland is far more than just a place to build up your virtual army in a quest to take over the world.
For starters, there’s the people; friendly, eager to share stories about their country, and with an ever ready smile.
The landscape is, as you might expect, majestic; and a reminder of our humble human place in this world.
A ring road — Highway 1 — encircles the entire country. During winter, drive with caution. Blizzards, ice storms, and white-outs can make for a white knuckle affair. You may consider doing what we did, and hire a tour group to explore the Southern part of Iceland. Reykjavik, the capital, serves as a perfect home base. From there, you can kick off most tours from the bus station.
Other interesting facts we’ve learned here in Iceland while shooting video for Stark Insider:
What We Learned About Iceland (So Far)
- There are more sheep here than people (population ~ 300,000)
- Crime rate is near non-existent: Iceland averages about 1 homicide every two years
- There are less than 100 people in the one and only prison — and a “life sentence” tops out at 16 years
- Police do not carry guns
- All energy generated here is based on renewable resources
- If you don’t like the weather at any given moment: as the locals suggest (1) check your backyard instead; or (2) wait five minutes
- Key industries in Iceland: tourism, fishing, aluminum
- Internet is prevalent
- If you come to Iceland you absolutely must bring your best camera… stunning vistas and sights abound in all directions
Speaking of cameras, as I wrote recently on Stark Insider, I opted for a Sony mirrorless camera for this trip: the Sony Alpha a6500. For video, I am using the Sony 18-105mm f/4 telephoto. I find it performs similarly to the Canon 18-135mm and 24-105mm on my Canon EOS 80D DSLR.
MORE PHOTOS FROM ICELAND: Stark Insider Facebook Gallery 3 DAYS IN ICELAND
As for the Sony a6500 mirrorless camera: I’m not yet entirely convinced.
No doubt, the a6500 footage looks pretty — dynamic range, in particular, impresses.
But there are several downsides: rolling shutter (resulting in a “jello” effect when panning the camera), mediocre battery life, and quirky ergonomics. While I do appreciate its compact size relative to a traditional DSLR body such as the 80D and that it shoots 4K video (100 Mbps), at the end of the day I’d likely rather have the ergonomics and ease-of-use of the 80D.
Also, my experience so far suggests that, despite all of the whiz-bang tech and IBIS (in-body image stabilization) on the Sony a6500, the Canon 80D ultimately still produces a more stable shot. Perhaps some of that has to do with its heftier body, which results in a camera easier to hold for long periods of time. Sometimes, especially with video, a larger body can actually be beneficial to the end product!
3 Days In Iceland with Loni Stark is coming soon, and features some of the best of Iceland and Reykjavik including:
Highlights from 3 Days in Iceland Video
- A walking tour of the capital, Reykjavik, thanks to the folks at I HEART REYKJAVIK
- Tour of the incredible Art Museum, featuring an intriguing installation by none other than Yoko Ono
- Majestic waterfalls / an epic 2-day tour of Southern Iceland thanks to the incredible guide and local Dave and the Aurora Hunters
- A “diamond beach”
- An Airbnb somewhere in the wilderness
- A stunning and very blue ice cave
- Inside a tomato greenhouse — given Iceland’s climate these are critical to the farming industry
- Blue Lagoon spa
- Plus: a few surprises… because, after all, this is Stark Insider…
Meantime, here’s a quick look at the ice cave experience here in Iceland. See video below.
Look for the full 3 Days in Iceland video, coming soon to Stark Insider.
Until then, happy wanderlust!
Oh, it’s hailing now… no, wait, the sun is out… nope, hang on… what’s that?… where’s my camera?!…