Black fall, White fall

Svartifoss, Black Fall, Skaftafell National Park, Iceland.

© 2011 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved

I have something with waterfalls. Whenever I get the change to visit one, I grab the opportunity … and the camera.

When it comes to waterfalls, Iceland is again the place to be. One can find waterfalls all over the country. I’m certain you already heard their mysterious sounding names such as Dettifoss (Europe’s most powerful waterfall), Selfoss, Goðafoss, Gullfoss (Golden Falls) or Skógafoss (Forest Falls). One after the other great places to visit.
But Svartifoss (Black Falls), located in Skaftafell National Park, is by far my most favorite.

The waterfall is beautifully surrounded by dark basalt columns, which gave rise to its name. The hexagonal columns were formed inside a lava flow which cooled extremely slowly, giving rise to crystallization. Similar well-known lava formations are seen at the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, and on the island of Staffa in Scotland.

The base of this waterfall is noteworthy for its sharp rocks. New hexagonal column sections break off faster than the falling water wears down the edges. These basalt columns have provided inspiration for Icelandic architects, most visibly in the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík, and also the National Theatre.

The waterfall can be reached after a short hike, starting from the park’s visitors centre. Try to go there out of the tourist season, or at night during the a long summer night. This way, you can avoid tourists dressed in white or yellow parkas and scattered all over the place. The amount of time they are hanging around seems to be inversely proportional to a photographers patience.

Have you ever felt the desire to sit in front of a beautiful waterfall? On the highest reachable rock? Dressed in white? With your back turned to the fall? No? … Nor did I. But some people do … It took me a few hours of patience before the last parka moved out of the frame and I could finally push the shutter release button.

19 thoughts on “Black fall, White fall

  1. Your photos are absolutley beautiful. I am so glad I found your site. I am looking forward to seeing more of your work:)

  2. What a fabulous photo. I had no idea a place like this even existed. Yes, patience is quite a virtue. Someday I may acquire some…working on it now, anyway.

  3. Whoa what an epic looking photo! 😀

    Absolutely lovely. Its funny that you commented about the “yellow parkas” because I’ve tried to get a parka-less shot of the American side of Niagara Falls. So far that has never happened yet.

  4. Beautiful shot, love the black and white conversion and the water and detail on the rocks looks amazing. There aren’t any waterfalls near where I live unfortunately, I wish there where!

  5. The real challenge, I imagine, is to make the parkas truly blend into the photo some how. But that might take even more patience, and we are but mere humans.

    The picture turned out great anyhow, and I still want to go to Iceland someday.


  6. All of your images are fantastic! My boyfriend is trying to convince me to visit Iceland, but I don’t like the cold. Waterfalls, however…You may have sold me on the place. Bon chance with your future images.

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