Dawn rises over Iceland's Diamond Beach

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Diamond Beach Dawn

Perform any online search for Iceland and you're guaranteed to see images of glacial lakes and glass-like icebergs washed up on black sandy beaches. What you’ll be looking at is Iceland's Diamond Beach, where the huge calved ice blocks float down from the glacial edge through the Jökulsárlón lagoon and out into the North Atlantic Ocean. The tidal cycles then wash the blocks of ice up onto the sands, leaving them to glisten like crystals upon the black volcanic sand before they disintegrate and are taken back to the water.

During my 2017 Iceland tour I spent many hours on the beach near Jökulsárlón. For someone who has spent much of their life in warmer climates, encountering icebergs for the first time and being able to touch and feel their surprisingly rough texture is a truly memorable and humbling experience.

For photographic satisfaction it is worthwhile to spend some time at the location and experience either a sunset or sunrise (or both). The large car park makes it easy to stay over in a camper van, meaning you can sleep with the icebergs literally on your doorstep.

There is a beach either side of the lagoon estuary with the left hand side usually containing more icebergs but that can depend on the tide and wind. During my visit there were so many ice blocks on the beach it made any kind of photographic composition a challenge to find. Due to its fame among photographers you will also be confronted with plenty of competition. It is common to be standing there with 30 or more other photographers all trying to find a place to put their tripod feet.

Probably my biggest tip to anyone planning a trip to Jökulsárlón is to take a good set of waders, or something that allows you to stand in knee deep freezing cold water. This will allow you to get closer to many of the ice blocks, leaving the photographers in trainers far behind you. Watch out for the rogue waves though …they can be brutal and fast.

Gallery: Iceland