In the cold high desert of Northern Iceland, the water that has fallen from the sky holds it to the last of the light.
You feel it flowing through your veins and lose all weight.
In November, when sunrise and sunset colours continue in unbroken unfolding light from dawn, near 10 a.m., and dusk near 2 or 3 p.m., it comes so quickly that you can see it open and close through the spectrum, as if you are inside a film, a really, really wide-angle 4-D film.
Here is a fraction of a second of its wonder over the volcano in early November, as I walked through flaming heather and pink snow at þingvellir. I shot the image with two much sky to illustrate how unsettling it can be. One feels at times that one can fall right off the Earth and drown in air.
Bad Light Helps One See Clearly Here
Autumn Rain Really Brings Out the Light of This Land
In either case, it’s not the cliff that is named but the water.
It seems that when blackness falls it is visible. Of course, that means it’s not black at all…
… or that whiteness is also a blindness, beyond human life. We marvel. Life, it comes from nowhere, flashes with life, and then returns to mystery.
Svartifoss in Its Pool of Birch Blood
Svartifoss, Skaftafell National Park, South Iceland
There is beautiful light in Iceland…
… or an Agfa shot from the 1960s.
This retro thing, this notion of quoting the landscape in the very moment one observes it, is something the Icelanders learned in graduate school in New York, London and Berlin. It’s charming, but remember …
Hólar in the Spring
Ice contains wisdom, of the year behind and the opening wisdom of the year to come. You can see it in the perennial sunrise and sunset colours of winter, but. April brings brighter tones, while snow storms still take the rest of the world away. It’s breathtaking. Bring your camera. Go East in April.
Leave the crowded south and its tourbusses. The great secret of Iceland is that it’s everywhere on the whole island. You don’t have to go to the crowded places. You will find there a sense of honouring and ritual. Out in the simple places, where no one else goes, you will find your self.
It was all forest once, in the whole country, at least by the water. Even here in Hvalfjörður, it was trees. But the trees were cleared to make pastures and to keep the Icelanders warm, and then there were no trees, and so it remains in most of the country. Because of this history…,
… horses are now trees. Stick a pale of hay in the middle of a forest clearcut 1000 years ago, and there you have it, a grove. As I’ve said. before, in this country everyone is an artist.
We call that moss. Those little silver plants there? That’s a forest. Please, stay on the trail. Beauty becomes photography, taken from awkward angles, with weird blurring things going on, if you don’t.