Nostalgia for the Icelandic sky

Posted on January 28, 2016 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments


Sunrise in Reykjvik


One of my favourite documentaries of all time is Chilean documentary film director Patricio Guzmán's 'Nostalgia for the light'. The poignant, insightful and stunningly beautiful film was set in Chile's Atacama Desert, and it is a meditation on life, history and the universe. The film touched me on many levels, but I was notably struck by the film's cinematography. I was utterly mesmerised by beauty of the Chilean sky and desert.

On my recent visit to Iceland, the sublime and awe-inspiring nature not only reminded me of the film, it also made me appreciate the grandeur of our mother earth and the universe. The Icelandic sky in particular has stayed in my mind since my return, I simply cannot forget the serene and unpolluted sky.


Hallgrímskirkja  Hallgrímskirkja

reykjavik hateigskirkja

Top row: Hallgrímskirkja church; Bottm: Hateigskirkja church


Looking at the photos, it would difficult to guess the time of day (except for the night shots) when these photos were taken. In January, sunrise starts around 9.30 am and the sun sets begins at 4.30 pm. The sun remains low near the horizon throughout the day, hence even photos taken in the mornings and afternoons resemble sunsets in the UK.


iceland   iceland


iceland  iceland


I regret immensely for not bringing my watercolour set, because I was yearning to record the sky colours throughout the day while I was traveling on the road for three days. Pale blue and pink, blue and orange, violet and shades of blue... oh, how I wanted to record these colour combinations! I don't think the camera did it justice, because what I perceived or experienced was far more vivid than what was captured.


iceland  reykjavik



Last 2 rows: Seljalandsfoss waterfall


Although we had sunshine and clear sky during the day, we were slightly unlucky with the weather in the evenings. The clouds blocked our encounters with aurora borealis (i.e. northern lights), and we only saw a glimpse of it when we were returning from the southern coast back to Reykjavik one evening.


iceland  iceland

Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

iceland  iceland

Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Skaftafell Nature Reserve

2nd, 4th & 5th rows: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon; last row: Skaftafell Nature Reserve


Yes, we saw faint green lights behind the clouds, but that was it. It was nothing like the photographs we often see when the entire sky is green. It was slightly disappointing, but it also provided me the incentive to return to Iceland again.


northern lights

A glimpse of the northern lights


I was lucky to have traveled extensively throughout my life, but I have never felt as exhilarated as I did in Iceland. It was the connection with mother nature that had a profound impact on me. Seeing nature as it is, with least human interventions, can be quite startling for city dwellers.


iceland  iceland

full moon

A view of full moon from the plane window


Still enthralled by what I saw and experienced in Iceland, I reluctantly boarded onto the plane back to London. Yet another natural phenomenon appeared right in front of me - an unobstructed and bright full moon in a distance from my window seat. At this point, I was simply grateful to be alive, and to witness the sublime beauty of the universe.

Human beings are so insignificant in compare to mother nature, and we have to do our best to protect it rather than destroy it. However, I fear that it may be too late already, and mother nature has started to retaliate against mankind's perpetual destruction on the environment. The recent erratic weather patterns around the world is a wake-up call, and if we continue to ignore it, the consequences will be irreversible. And this time, I am on nature's side.


This post was posted in Photography, Travel, Nature, Social issues, Iceland, Reykjavijk, Climate change and was tagged with nature, climate change, sunset, Iceland, Reykjavik