Photographer Alex Cornell has been to Iceland three times.
After his most recent visit, he documented his experiences through a comprehensive travel guide.
Cornell says the country is like a “photographer’s heaven,” mainly because it stays light for so long, eliminating the need for rushing to get that perfect shot in a matter of a few short hours.
“In Iceland you have that kind of neurosis of time; the sun just doesn’t go down for two or three more hours,” Cornell said. “Not to mention that you’re also seeing a lot of really incredible stuff; it’s not wasted on the landscape.”
Cornell shared some of the most breathtaking shots he captured on his most recent visit to the country.
The Ring Road -- also known as Route 1 -- is Iceland's main highway. Since Cornell and his girlfriend rented a car during their trip, this road was how they made their way around the island during their 8-day visit.
The highway looks more like a neighbourhood road; it's only two lanes and has no guard rails. But the 828-mile road actually runs around all of Iceland.
The stops they made along the way included landmarks -- both natural and man-made -- and hotels. This is the ION hotel, which is located in the southern town of Selfoss.
According to Cornell, under ideal conditions, the Ring Road takes about 17 hours to drive. He says an 8- to 10-day trip allows for ample exploring time plus enough time to venture into the Westfjords.
It was near the West Fjords that Cornell encountered this old ship, near the side of the road. 'When you come upon it, you are affirmatively by yourself, which definitely makes for some cool pictures,' he said. 'I think were it not for that little sign in front of it, it would look really alien.'
In fact, Cornell felt that most of Iceland seemed otherworldly, which is what drew him to visit the country in the first place. 'Usually when you see a picture of an incredible place, it fits some kind of mental model that you can accept,' he said.'When I saw pictures of Iceland before I went, it looked like another planet. More fittingly, it just didn't look like anything I had ever seen before or any place I had ever seen before.'
One of Cornell's favourite memories from the trip is the dinner he and his girlfriend ate at Geitafell Restaurant in Hvammstangi. They ate fish soup, which was one of only two menu options and had Skyr (a dairy product similar to yogurt) for dessert. Cornell said the food was delicious, but getting there made the experience that much more rewarding. 'Having dinner there, not knowing if we were going to get there, feeling lost, and then finally getting there; that was an experience that we definitely talk about a lot.'
Látrabjarg is the western most point in Iceland and is also located in the Westfjords. The jagged cliffs are home to many puffins who perch peacefully on the edge of the cliff. Cornell says that despite the ruggedness of the cliffs, the birds barely move.
In addition to puffins, there are also arctic foxes in the Westfjords. Cornell photographed this one in August, which is why the fox's coat is grey. Cornell says the colour of the animals' coats change according to the seasons. In winter it's white.
Geothermal power plants are interspersed throughout Iceland's vast wilderness, creating an interesting juxtaposition between a man-made site and the natural sites that surrounded it. This is Krafla power station in the northeast of the country.
This church is in the southern village of Vik, and according to Cornell is one of the country's more photographed landmarks. 'The church is a really good way to convey what Iceland is: you've got this dramatic landscape and then a tiny little building perched on the edge.'
Much like the church, Cornell says this waterfall is reachable simply by jumping out of the car and walking.
This is one of Iceland's more well-known waterfalls: Skógafoss. The falls are located on the Skógá River, in the south of the country.
The Goðafoss waterfall is in the north central region of the country and means waterfall of the gods in Icelandic. Cornell was lucky enough to capture the spectacular falls with a rainbow.
It was in the north central region of the country that Cornell ran into Icelandic horses, which he says are especially beautiful due to the country's intense breeding purity. Horses that aren't Icelandic aren't permitted into the country.
And although he's enjoyed every time he's been, Cornell is hoping to make his next trip in December when there's more snow on the ground and the lighting is different.
Cornell compares Iceland in the summer to San Francisco 'on its most capricious day.' He says it can go from feeling like T-shirt weather to sweater weather at the drop of a hat.
While they were in Reykjavik, Cornell and his girlfriend also visited the famous Blue Lagoon. While Cornell says the colour of the water is mesmerising, he says he wouldn't recommend the Blue Lagoon to visitors since it's overrun with tourists. He says there are other geothermal spas, like the Myvatn Nature Baths, that are less crowded and offer better views.
Iceland is also home to glacial lagoons: pools of water with floating pieces of ice. Cornell says they're unlike anything he's ever seen.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.