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Guide to Photography in Ice Caves

Capture Incredible Icy Scenes

|January 3, 2024
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Heading to the ice caves is truly one of the most exciting and beautiful sights to take in. There is no doubt that you'll want to share what you witnessed with your friends, family, and followers, but how do you capture their true beauty?

If you've booked a glacier cave guide, you're likely preparing for an exciting adventure and may be wondering how to capture the perfect picture in Iceland. Inspired by the stunning images shared online, you're eager to create your version to share with the world.

Photographing the unique textures, colors, and immense scale of ice caves requires careful consideration. The ever-changing nature of these caves makes them both an exciting and challenging aspect for every photographer.

We’ve broken down the tips for photographing an Icelandic ice cave into two sections: cameras and phone cameras. These two devices require slightly different techniques to get the best results. Don't forget to use the resource that has taken you into the cave– your passionate tour guide. They’ll have a wealth of experience in ice cave photography and might be able to assist with your camera settings.


Sunrise light in an ice cave

Before you get to the caves themselves, there are a few aspects that you can consider before going to maximize the opportunity to capture the photos of your dreams. That's why we've outlined some top tips below.

You must book a tour if you're hoping to go inside an ice cave. The glacier can be a dangerous place if you don't know what you're doing. Tour guides are fully experienced with the local area and can identify signs of danger.

1. Choose a Tour with Enough Time in the Ice Cave

You'll need time to try different techniques and settings when trying to get the ultimate picture. The last thing you want is to feel rushed. This is why we recommend booking a tour with at least an hour in an ice cave.

2. Opt for a Small Group

When you book a small group tour, you’ll share the glacier with fewer people than the larger tours. It will be easier to create photos you want because it’ll be less crowded. However, even though you might try to avoid having people in the shot, we recommend having one person in; it helps show the scale of the ice cave.


1. Bring a Tripod

For camera photographers, we recommend bringing a sturdy tripod; this is essential for capturing sharp and steady shots, especially in the low-light conditions often found in ice caves. Having a steady base provides stability, allowing you to take shots without the risk of blurriness.

2. Pack Extra Batteries

One of the most overlooked challenges of ice cave photography is the impact cold temperatures have on battery life. This is why we recommend packing backup batteries to ensure you don't miss any breathtaking moments. Cold weather tends to drain batteries faster, so having spares on hand will keep your camera powered up while exploring different angles, exposures, and settings.

Man standing underneath the blue ice roof of an ice cave in Vatnajökull glacier

3. Use Wide-Angle Lenses

When trying to photograph the vast and intricate interiors of ice caves, opt for wide-angle lenses with a fast aperture. The combination captures the entire cave in a single frame without impacting the image quality. Wide angles provide a complete view of the inside of the cave, while a fast aperture lets enough light enter the lens, even in dimly lit environments. This way, you won't need to scale down the focus or spend time assembling the photo afterward.


1. Stand in the Cave Opening

Getting optimal coverage and perspective is key to phone photography. The ideal way to do this in an ice cave is to stand in the opening. This positioning allows you to capture the entire scene and showcase the cave's unique features and intricate details on a phone camera. By standing at the opening, you also make the most of the natural light streaming into the space.

A person kneeling underneath the thick ice in a glacier cave

2. Shine a Light on the Ice

Another tip to capture the colors of the ice cave on a phone is to shine a light on the ice. Ask a fellow traveler to help you with this technique. What you will be left with are accentuated blues, blacks, and crystal-like textures, particularly for attractions like Crystal Blue Ice Cave inside Vatnajökull. Try experimenting with different angles of the light source and the camera to find the most captivating compositions.

3. Try Different Light Settings

Phone cameras often come with different light settings. By experimenting with these settings, you can find the ones that best complement the natural beauty of the ice cave. Have a play around with the exposure, white balance, and other settings; they can make a significant difference.

If these tips have helped capture Iceland’s ice caves, why not find out how to photograph another natural phenomenon, the Northern Lights?


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