Photo Adventure Tours focuses on island's landscape

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ATLANTIC BEACH, N.Y. -- Clients looking to take aim at the Icelandic landscape this summer can travel in the company of other shutterbugs with a specialty tour operator based here.

Photo Adventure Tours has been taking groups to photograph Iceland for 14 years.

"We started going there for the same reasons that the Apollo space-training missions went there -- the raw power of nature," said Richard Libbey, a photographer and Photo Adventure Tours' managing partner.

He also said that visitors can see a lot of diversity in a short period of time because the country is not that big.

Quaint villages with old thatched-roof houses provide photo opportunities for Photo Adventure Tours' clients. "Within [a country] the size of Kentucky, you can see Europe's largest glacier, moss-covered highlands and dramatic waterfalls."

A local guide accompanies the tours to explain the culture and landscape.

As for the country's photographic potential, Libbey said even amateurs can take publishing-quality photographs there.

"The light is friendly for photographs because the sun is lower on the horizon, creating less shadows," he said.

During the tours, technical questions are addressed and basic advice is given for setting perspective and lighting, but Libbey said that for the most part, clients are encouraged to explore their own creativity.

"We used to run trips like workshops, but we found people each have their own approach," he said. "Now we focus on getting people to the right locations at the right times of day and encouraging them to slow down and really plan shots.

"There is one waterfall where there is always a rainbow at a certain time of the day. That's the type of thing we base our schedule on," Libbey added.

The itineraries are designed with a maximum of 12 clients so people don't get in each others' shots or hold each other up.

This year's 10-night itineraries are scheduled to depart July 17 and Aug. 14.

The first day brings photographers northwest of the capital of Reykjavik along the shores of Hvalfjordur (Whale Fjord). Visits are made to the Borgarfjordur district and the lowlands of Myrar before stopping for the night on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

An entire day is devoted to the glacier-covered volcanic peninsula Vatnajokull which served as the starting point for Jules Verne's story "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

A drive to Stykkisholmur, the peninsula's largest village, starts off the third day. A ferry takes the group to the Westfjords through Breidha Fjord, a stretch of abundant little islands teeming with seals and birds.

A two-hour stop is made on the isle of Flatey -- the largest island in the Breidha Fjord area. Most of the buildings on Flatey date from the 19th century. The island also boasts one of Iceland's richest populations of birds. The ferry then brings guests to the Bardastrond region of the Westfjords for the night.

The fourth day is spent exploring Latrabjarg, the most westerly point of Iceland. Farmlands and fjords are sites en route while traveling the fifth day to the Skaga Fjord region.

Two days will be spent in the area, briefly visiting the northern city of Akureyri and moving on to the north's main attraction, Lake Myvatn. Volcanic geography, birch trees and waterfowl set the scene for the visit.

Day eight brings visitors to Namaskard Pass with its volcanic fumaroles and boiling mud holes; Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, and the cliffs and canyons of Asbyrgi.

The trip continues around the Thornes peninsula to the fishing town of Husavik. A whale-watching tour is in the plans, if weather permits, before continuing to Godafoss waterfall.

The 10th day brings travelers across the central highlands to guesthouses in Landmannalaugar.

Photographers spend an entire day exploring the hot springs and red, yellow, blue and black mountains of Landmannalaugar.

The trip winds up with a tour of the Gullfoss waterfall; the Geysir shooting springs area and Thingvellir, where the Mid-Atlantic Divide appears on land in the form of lava cliffs.

The air/land package costs $3,775, double and includes all meals. A tour of Ireland and one of Norway also will be offered by the operator this year.

Photo Adventure Tours
Phone: (516) 371-0067
Fax: (516) 371-1352

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