So I shot what I saw and what I felt. I gave little time to the ‘hot spots’, because I was much more interested in the extraordinary feeling generated by the ordinary. The country is sparsely inhabited, wild and filled with foreboding. It may not have the largest mountains, but many of its people live amongst boulders and ubiquitous evidence of volcanic activity. If ever you have wondered why Iceland produces so many top-level power athletes, you will wonder no more after visiting the place where they live. Its a hard land and one can easily see how, before the days of machinery, this island would have been an intolerable place for all but the most robust individuals. In a restaurant, I saw a young lady the likes of which I have never seen before. At 17 or so, she must have been at least 6’3″ and possessed both the litheness of youth and and an incredibly powerful frame, with a long, broad back and shoulders. I would not want to upset her father. Or her, actually.
In terms of where I spent my time, it was as follows:
6th – Arrival, collect car and drive to Hvolsvollur for the night.
7th – Drive to Dyrholaey and overnight
8th – Another night in Vik
9th – Drive to Hofn, via Jokulsarlon
10th – Hofn. Slow the pace down after a manic few days
11th – Hofn to Hali, via Jokulsarlon and Swartifoss
12th – Hali to Dyrholaey/Vik, via Skogafoss
13th – Dyrholaey/Vik to Reykholt
14th – Geysir, Gullfoss, Pingvellir and just enjoy sunlight for the first time since arrival… night spent in Keflavik.
15th – Fly home
I won’t bore you with logistical details, but if anyone has any questions about specifics or needs help with their own trip, I will do my best to help – just drop me a line or post a comment. All I will say is this: I used a 4×4 throughout and should mention that I picked up two separate stranded couples (one French and the other Swiss), whose vehicles became bogged down in the snow in the middle of nowhere. Its important to take basic survival gear, in case something goes wrong, and to bring the right clothing. Iceland is popular with Japanese tourists and I saw a few ladies wearing plastic faux leather trousers at Vik, during hailstorms and gales! I recommend bringing a thick parka with fur rimmed hood (to reduce cross winds affecting the face). Such coats provide far better weather protection than more technical jackets that one might wear for mountain activities. Photography involves a lot of standing around and I was very grateful for mine, but the greatest joy was my one litre thermos flask, that allowed me to relax and warm up in the sanctuary of the 4×4. I was able to keep all manner of food in my car and used it like a larder because it would get close to zero inside at night. Few activities are much fun if you are cold or hungry, so I made sure that occupying the drivers seat in my car felt like sitting in a chair positioned in a favourite grocery store aisle. With my limited filter uncorked, I also found myselves to be excellent company.
In the next post I am going to talk about the ‘equipment experience’: what worked and what didn’t, problems encountered and what I would do differently next time. I am sure some of you are interested in how I got on with the Sony gear (A7, A7R, 35mm, 55mm, 70-200f4 etc) in particular. Now, I will leave you with links to the two portfolios and I’ll be back soon!
Please note that I will probably be editing these down in the near future to tighten them up, but I figured you’d probably want to see more not less.