Tom Gardiner

Iceland on Kodak Gold

I recently went on holiday to Iceland with a friend, and took my trusty Rolleimat F along for the ride. Upon arrival at the airport, I completely forgot to remove the film from my bag, and it went through the x-ray scanners. I was terrified that the pictures would turn out strange or different in some way (even though, realistically, that adds "character" to the photos due to it being analogue in the first place). Oh, how pleasantly surprised I was when the scans came back from the lab!

A photograph of a waterfall on a cliff A photograph of a barren landscape with a glacier river running into a lake A photograph of a dormant volcanic crater covered in a layer of ice The most photographed church in Iceland A photograph of an icy waterfall with a sharp hill in the background A photograph of the bottom of an icy waterfall hitting the ground

Normally when we've gone on holiday before, we'll either stay in or around the capital city, or rent a car and drive across the country ourselves, as we're pretty independent about what and where we choose to do. This time, we decided to book a bunch of tours and get driven around in coaches and mini-buses, and honestly I'm very glad we did — good lunch spots, and more importantly we didn't have to worry about driving ourselves around in negative celcius temperatures all week (and on one day in particular we had ~50mph winds).

All our guides were full of character, very humourous (in many cases this just meant blunt and dry humour, which works well for me!), and knowledgeable about the country and our destinations.

A photograph of seaweed covered rocks by the sea A photograph of two rocks (known as trolls) on a cliff by the shore A landscape photograph of the sea, with a road in the foreground and some mountains in the background A landscape photograph cover of lava fields overgrown with moss, with mountains in the background

On the first night we were there, we'd booked a small-group northern lights tour on a mini-bus. The guide referred to himself as a Captain, and he was sailing us around on a fishing boat. He'd worked many jobs before this one, including on a fishing boat, as well as a truck driver, so he loved watching trucks driving by in the dark. Despite being very tired and cold that evening, I was warmed by his passion. Unfortunately, we never did see the northern lights, mainly due to cloud cover, although the service we booked did allow a free re-booking that same week.

We went again a couple of days later, with a clear night sky and a different guide, and ended up seeing a fantastic view within 20 minutes of leaving the city centre. I found this quite surprising as a full moon was out, lighting up the sky, and considering we were still so close to the city I expected light pollution to hinder the effect more than it actually did. Our guide this time didn't share as much about himself, although his delivery (of mostly the same information as last time) was bouncy and enthusiastic, and we found it hilarious in the most endearing way.

A photograph of some black rocks off the side of a cliff by the sea A photograph of an empty main road in Reykjavik looking out towards the sea A photograph of Gullfoss waterfall, part of the Golden Circle Another photograph of Gullfoss, from a different angle

All-in-all, it was a massively successful trip. Despite everything in Iceland generally being more expensive, the fish is delicious, the temperatures are perfect for my liking, and the population is sparse — I highly recommend you plan a visit before the planet gets too warm and all the glaciers melt.

A photograph of a glacier, with an ice sheet in the foreground A photograph of the Icelandic flag, shaking in the wind A photograph of a fault line carved out of the ground, with a path running down the middle A photograph of the black sand beach, including several people taking pictures of themselves