Iceland (part 1)

Diamonds Beach

Islanda, La Spiaggia dei Diamanti (Artevitae) – Italian version

The Slap

Telling about Iceland is a real feat, because of risk to get lost among its natural treasures. Due to the combination between its territory largeness and the low road speed limits, Iceland requires to be visited more times. This way you also can admire its opposite night faces: the summer midnight sun and the winter aurora borealis.

You will discover stepwise the reason why I’ve choosen the Diamonds Beach as starting stage of this virtual journey.

Those chunks of ice had been wandering in my mind for a long time. Either for their extravagant shapes or for the singular situation for me, having never reached those latitudes until that moment. They were fascinating images, steeped in mystery, set in an intriguing scenography, which I have never been able to realize.

Ice Rose

The wait had been very long. The six and more hours drive from Reykjavik toward the south, then along the Ring Road: the main road running around the perimeter of the island (80 kilometers per hour only speed limit), have been added to the years passed since the purchase of the tourist guide. The beach is not visible from the road, despite being coastal, but you realize you have arrived from the crowding of the parking lot. It is very deep and has a slight slope. The show is still far away, even if you start to glimpse the ice gems beyond the wall of tourists close to the shore.


Each step is a conquest, between fatigue and desire to arrive. The thunder of the boots sinking into the round grit of the lava sand blends with the strong hiss of the wind coming from the ocean and the soundtrack of the inevitable chirping of the seagulls. The gusts of wind lift my waterproof cape, uncovering my photographic equipment. Its weight certainly does not help me.
The reach of the shore is really a feat. The emotion of the scenery loosens the bites of lactic acid, unleashes curiosity and a frenzy to observe so as not to miss neither a single image of this masterpiece of nature. Under the pouring rain, the beach turns into an expanse of shining black pearls, even without the sun rays.

Diamonds Beach

The ice blocks lie on the black sand, creating a very strong chromatic contrast, which forms the background for the white intense and the blue, sometimes deep.
They arrive carried by the ocean’s waves, after leaving the Jökursárlón Ice Lagoon, a few kilometers inland, along a narrow channel. It’s a long journey from their detachment from the floating icebergs originated by the Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Iceland.

Due to the slight slope, a slow procession of mini icebergs, continuously parades towards the ocean.
Time after time the ice blocks disintegrate transforming themselves in a thousand ways, changing size, shape and color. Some take on the appearance of authentic jewels.
My eyes go crazy in the constant selective search for subjects and scenes to photograph. The plenty of photographic subjects on this surreal theater is enormous for a foreigner, although informed, like me. Spoiled for choice, added to the crowding and the rain-carrying headwind, makes even the performing of simple operations extremely complicated.

I turn around, look, change position, with my boots sinking into the sand. All of this actions so quickly for countless times. I approach the shore with extreme caution, to avoid the flow of the waves that suddenly come driven by the force of the wind. Finally I find a free space, safe from waves.
I don’t hesitate to place the tripod very quickly. My hands are almost burning when touching its freezing metal. I mount the camera and frame. And here’s a gust of wind mixed with rain wetting my camera lens just when shooting! I dry it and shoot again. That scene repeated for many times.
The water rises on the shoreline surrounding the ice diamonds and withdraws immediately after the embrace, in the thunder of the flow in the grit. The ebb trails are invisible to the naked eye, but can be immortalized with long exposures. The best magical representation of the emotion that leaves its mark.
While I wait for the diaphragm closing, I feel sinking into the sand and the icy water entering my feet, transforming my boots into a walking aquarium. Fortunately the water temperature, mitigated by the influence of the Gulf Stream, is not so cold as to risk freezing.


There is so much more to photograph. I cannot stop! The ice blocks are lied on a black carpet like statues in an open-air museum. An exhibition of works by Swarovski, motionless, whipped by the wind that blows without respite. The bravest ones, piled up on the shore to challenge the slaps of the ocean that hits them vigorously without being able to move them by a single millimetre, since they are clinging to each other.
The sun doesn’t want to come out of the compact wall of clouds. The image of an unforgettable sunset thus remains in my dreams and becomes an excellent excuse for coming back. The slightly livid greyness that surrounds me makes this environment of extra-planetary appearance even more surreal.

While fatigue frees my flesh, emotions engrave their indelible grooves in my memory, leaving myself in perfect balance between dream and reality, with the still latent doubt of having ever really lived it.

—– o —– o —– o —–

Donations accepted via PayPal

© Stefano Degli Esposti – All rights reserved