As I mentioned here, I shot towards two separate bodies of landscape photography in Iceland (this time with the Pentax 645Z and in May), without really having to think about the separation between them. The colour work will come much later – it’s the beginning of something new – but the Black and White images will nestle within the same body of photographs I shot in January 2015. That said, there is a difference in what and how I shot. I regard it as an extension, or evolution, rather than a divergence; the exploration of new facets of what moves me about this incredible country.
During this trip, amongst other things, I was drawn to space and pattern. The Icelandic landscape is punctuated by details, often arrayed in a chaotic manner. But within that chaos are patterns. They seem to be incidental, but it takes only a small leap of reasoning to understand that they are the product of the elements that reign supreme in Iceland: wind, earth, water, fire. The shapes and patterns we see are the result of how these elements interact and every now and again these details align in such a way as to suggest design. Such convergence is found amidst a blizzard (no pun intended) of fragments, each seemingly unrelated to the next. Then comes space. These patterns all reside within a space and the latter very much determines the resonance of the former. Iceland has few truly epic natural features (say, in the way the USA does) and this confers upon the photographer some real challenges, but also considerable freedom. Above all, it is a landscape characterised by simplicity and one’s connection to ‘resonance’, rather the ‘bold and the obvious’. It is about beauty perceived… beauty found, because you have to feel it to see it.
I found that elements would align and diverge, but I often had a sense that there was a moment where it would all come together in a way that spoke deeply (to me) about what it all meant. I know there is no ‘meaning’ and this is very difficult to describe, but I can perhaps liken it to the Cartier-Bresson ‘decisive moment’, only with inanimate elements, rather than people and human factors. I enjoyed the deluge of information (the landscape is vast and largely empty). I revelled in the lack of primacy; the fact that no single element particularly mattered more than any other, but that a harmony could be found between them that attained significance somehow. Landscape photography can be overly controlled, however, and I am increasingly finding such images less satisfying than those where the chaos is embraced above order and where there is a pattern or control perceived, where none in fact exists. It becomes a perceptual game that cannot be resolved and lack of resolution is of course a recipe for compulsion!
In a more general sense, this is a landscape that I feel a desire to describe, visually. Rather than just presenting ‘signature’ images, there is a need for images that bind the more solitary images together. These are the context and the details that connect everything to reality.
I have included three images that convey something of what this trip was about, but there is another simpler driving force: discovery. I tried, wherever possible, to explore things that had resonance but no obvious ‘feature’. I stopped frequently when I saw something that intrigued me. I tried to cover every facet of a cliff, or outcrop, not because that itself would yield a photograph directly, but because it was a path to the unexpected. In fact, I explored areas where I saw nothing special at all – this being the antithesis of being bussed to the ‘key viewpoints’ and ‘bagging shots’. So, after no small amount of talking, you can see the portfolio here. I am showing a fairly full set of images, because in time I will be bringing all the Iceland photos together and reorganising the portfolios. With 127 images in the combined portfolios, something has to give!