Contacting the photographer Runólfur Hauksson (aka Ronni) was one of the greatest ideas I could possibly have when I planned my itinerary, activities and accommodation in Iceland.
I stumbled upon his Facebook page, and sent him a private message. After a chat or two, I had already changed my plan: I was not heading north anymore, but east, to Höfn, to meet him and let him guide me around the beautiful glaciers, waterfalls and lagoons of the area.
Ronni specializes in Northern Lights photography, and of course my wish was to get to see them with him. With the lagoons of that area, their ice and reflections, the place looked like the perfect photogenic spot for auroras. Just look at these photos by him!
I spent 2 nights in Höfn. Ronni and his wife have a spare room in their house and they rent it out to tourists, probably at the lowest rate of all Iceland! It has a beautiful view over the glacier too.
It was great to spend those days exploring the area first, and then going home and spend time learning about how the Northern Lights work, and keeping an eye on all the different software Ronni uses to keep track of the Aurora activity and subsequently go hunting them. All those numbers and diagrams meant something in the Northern Lights’ language, and Ronni explained me what the values meant, what to expect from them, etc.
I asked him what settings I should use to better shoot the Northern Lights once they appeared, and he patiently replied with different examples according to intensity, available light, etc.
Some people asked me why I would hire a photographer, if I am a photographer myself. Well there are many answers to this question:
- You can never stop learning (which is also the rule #1 of everything on Earth, by the way).
- I never took photos of an Aurora before… the idea of messing up with the settings at the wrong time made me really nervous!
- Ronni is also an experienced guide, owns a 4×4 Jeep and could take me pretty much everywhere, and show me the local attractions, and tell me interesting anecdotes about those places. Moreover, he knows all the best spots for shooting auroras.
- Living with an Icelandic familywas an interesting experience per se. I got to eat yummy meals with them, help cooking, listen to the people’s stories and meat more family members. I felt comfortable and pampered.
- Last but not least, as a solo traveler, most of the times I don’t have any photo of me and when I do (because I ask someone to take me one) they are often very bad: out of focus, not showing the background I asked for, etc.
With Ronni, I didn’t even have to ask for photos: he was always taking great shots of me even when I didn’t notice, so not only I now find myself with great memories, but with great photos of me too! For me this is priceless.
Unfortunately, the weather was not good on those two days, but what can you do about that? Anyway, we got to visit and take photos of many natural beauties in the area:
…and this is not even all! You can see the full photo album of my trip to Iceland here.
And if all these experiences weren’t enough, I even forded a river with Ronni’s 4×4… very Icelandic! Of course, Ronni was there to take a photo of me while I did that. Sorry people, I kick ass… and I have proof!
No, I didn’t get to see the Northern Lights with Ronni, but I did have a unique experience and had a lot of fun.
I would recommend every person interested in photography at any level to do the same. Here are Ronni’s contacts in case you are interested. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed!