Tag Archives: Photography

Spring Fun With Old Friends and New Ones on the Jökullsá

Since the raven and her mate circled around all the time, keeping an eye on things, one day at Skriðuklaustur, when the geese arrived to wait for spring, I sat down on a hill and waited to catch the raven, framed by the geese! What fun! Gunnar’s house is a happening place, out there in East Iceland, I tell ya!

Alas, I failed. While I was waiting, the geese kind of waddled around honking a bit and closed my frame, and the raven was, well, quick! So, not centred. Well, ravens and humans are like that, eh. I’m thinking that the geese are not amused by either of us

What Colour is Iceland?

It’s good to remember that photography is “writing with light.” It is also the capture of light. For example, what colour is Iceland? This?

Or

Or

Only the first is “real.” The other two are manipulated, but I promise, you can find those machine-made colours as well. You just have to wait. There is no real colour. There are only moments.

Just for fun. Winter is best for this game.

What to Do in Iceland When There’s Not Enough Sun to Go Around

As you can see from this view east from Ásbyrgi, the sun in Iceland manages to concentrate itself into little splashes of light here and there, on most days, anyway. That leaves much of it in stunning darkness.

The best thing to do is just to enjoy the darkness. When else are you going to really see it?

Out of the Corner of My Eye

So many photographs are posed in stillness, framed by contemplation, and drenched with light, yet light is not always about vision or seeing clearly, especially in an Icelandic winter, when it becomes a kind of water you swim through, an aether, the ancients would have called it. They meant the liquid eye that sees before the mind does and only lets the mind see a little of what touches it like a finger to a leaf.

This image of Eldborg on Snaefellsnes was made at 80 km/h on a late December dusk, out of the corner of my eye. There was no time to frame it, and before I registered it was there it was gone. What remains is the look it gave me, this drawing of my eye to it, that I had nothing to do with except trust. This watching haunts me.

Hiding in Plain Sight

While getting boots and gloves and hat ready to go over the lip of the hill last December 24 and visit Sheep’s Falls, one of my favourite waterfalls, many tourists stopped as well: the first stop, it seems, two or three hard hours of driving from Reykjavik. Time and again, they took a few pictures over the Berserkerjahraun to the rising sun, and then posed for each others’ cameras and drove on. It was intimate and sweet.

Still, they had Kirkjufoss to get to before the rising sun was no longer behind the mountain, and they didn’t need me telling them it would be worth it to walk for ten minutes down through the drifts, because they might not have come to Iceland to see the pale, pale winter sun and to learn its nature. They had places to be getting along to, with better cameras and the hope for brighter light, and promises had been made to them, and promises, we know, should be kept.

Just imagine how many times a day any and every traveller in Iceland, myself included, encounters people who know where they are and what is worth seeing and say nothing, because that’s the way of the land itself. As Paul Theroux pointed out half a century ago while travelling by train through South America, it’s North Americans (myself included) who point to stuff.

When You Can’t Find the Northern Lights, You Get to Spin Among the Stars

Other intersections of solar radiation and the Earth are equally beautiful. In late November, these colours change so rapidly that the change is physically observable. You are part of the turning of the Earth, and you can see it, way out there, where you are, in Space.

Iceland is a good place to get to know your place in the solar system.

 

 

Kirkjufell is Real

Tourism is an industry. Here are some industrial views of Kirkjufoss, the most-photographed mountain in Iceland.

Tour busses race past Kolgrafafjörður …

Why would you rush past such a dawn?

… to get you to it. If you go on December 24 (not in a tour bus. It will drive past), Kirkjufell might look like this at sundown:

Mind you, if you turn around, you might see other miracles:

Few do. There is no time. The 8 p.m. Aurora bus is waiting in Reykjavik, and it’s many hours and a world away. Besides, industrial images are soooooo seductive:

I don’t think this is quite how people in Grundarfjörður experience the mountain. This is certainly one way, though:

The Eastern Burbs

And this is another.

The forest walk from the campground in November.

Iceland is real.

The November view from town.

It takes time for a mountain to speak. You can’t force it.

Mountains in the Sky

Gunnar said there were ships in the sky, meaning clouds, but if you go to Iceland in the winter, you will find whole mountain ranges in the sky, that appear and disappear, created by the mountains out of the wind off the Atlantic.

They’re not exactly shadows and not exactly mirrors. They are amazingly alive. I suspect that the medium (the wind) does that. The image above is near Arnarstapi, on Snæfellsnes. The glacier is just around the corner: one of these clouds that stayed.