Iceland – Abandoned Blue Berg

Unfortunately, I am at home with a nasty case of the flu at the moment. I have managed to dodge the ‘flu-bullet’ for the last several weeks whilst everyone around me has been sequentially struck down with it (everyone has been falling like dominos around here). Alas, its snuck up on me and I am currently laid up with all the usual symptoms. The weekend was a write off and I have had no energy for even a short editing and processing session in front of the computer until now – hence the lack of posts over the last few days.

During one of my last few days in Iceland I drove back to the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon and the nearby black sand beaches to see if any fresh icebergs had washed ashore – as indeed they had. This iridescent blue iceberg, polished by the waves was beautifully back lit and was glowing from within when I set up my tripod and took this photograph. For scale, the iceberg is about the size of a small car. A higher resolution version of this photograph is on my main Portfolio website under Iceland. Prints are available upon request.

Iceland – Lone Pebble

On my last evening in Iceland I decided to drive back to the small town of Vik and the nearby coastal area of Kirkjufjara where there are a number of sea stacks, black sand beaches and other interesting basalt rock formations. I had first visited this location on one of my first days in Iceland with the group I was travelling with; but we had been there during the middle of the day when the light was less than ideal. As Vik was on the way back to Reykjavik and the airport it provided a good opportunity for one last evenings shoot before leaving Iceland.

As it turned out and much like the first visit the wind was blowing a gale as I drove along the rocky track into Kirkjufjara. I had the entire location to myself bar a couple of cyclists struggling against the ferocious headwind on the way back to the main road. I am not sure what it is with cyclists in Iceland – but they seem hell bent on riding no matter what the prevailing weather conditions.

With the strong on-shore winds there was a huge amount of sea spray in the air; which made keeping the front element of the lens and filter clean rather difficult. However, it was worth persevering and as the sun began to set the combination of sea spray and golden light provided a good opportunity for some photography on my last night in Iceland. A higher resolution version is on my Portfolio website under Iceland. Prints are available upon request.

Iceland – Pot of Gold at Landmannalaugar

There is something truly magical about the light in Iceland during the summer solstice. It’s more than the fact that it never really gets truly dark and that the waking hours are so long. There is a transparent ethereal quality to the light that seems to be a combination of extremely clean pollution free air and the oblique angle of the sun as it rises and falls at 66 degrees north. Its one thing to have gorgeous light as a landscape photographer; but its quite another to have gorgeous light that lasts so long.

As I have already blogged about my time at Landmannalaugar was extremely special to me – and not just because this was a location I had read so much about and had researched extensively. It was special and dear to me because my patience and that of my shooting companion Dmitry was so richly rewarded with wonderful Icleandic light after spending several hours freezing at the top of one of Landmannalaugar’s highest peaks.

The story goes that five of us had arrived at the summit of one of Landmannalaugar’s highest peaks to be greeted by overcast conditions, howling winds and a rapidly falling temperature a full three hours before sunset. We had been photographing extensively on the trek up to the summit, but had still arrived earlier than anticipated. Everyone except Dmitry and I quickly decided to bail out and head back to the 4 wheel drive for supper – and I admit the thought of a hot cup of coffee and a tub of that Icelandic berry yoghurt almost had me joining them.

Dmitry and I decided to tough it out and hunkered down as best we could on the lee side of the mountain in the hopes we would get some good light as the sun set. As the hours passed we got colder and colder until finally as the sun began to set the gods flicked the ‘magic’ switch and the clouds broke up, the wind completely died and we were rewarded with some truly stunning light. This photograph was taken from the summit toward the distant rain showers and rainbow as the sun threw beautiful golden cross light across the volcanic mountains. Even now, I get a real visceral thrill looking at the photographs from this shoot. For me, this photograph captures the essence of the magical translucent light Iceland is capable of. A higher resolution version of this photograph is on my Portfolio website under Iceland. Prints available upon request.

Iceland – The Well of Life

There are certain photographs that are immediately ‘other worldly’ emotive and I think this one may qualify. Located at a remote location called Hveravellir, deep in the interior of Iceland this geothermal pool is well off the beaten track of bitumen roads and civilisation. The seventy mile rocky track into Hveravellir from Gullfoss is about as rough and bone jarring as any in Iceland. Liberally sprinkled with blind corners, rocks the size of soccer balls and deep ruts its a challenge for even the hardiest of 4-wheel drives. I passed two broken down cars on the way into Hveravellir and I dont think my rental Jeep’s suspension will ever be the same; there is also a serious question mark over the ‘check engine’ light.

I first saw a photograph of this deep blue geothermal pool several years ago and since that moment have wanted to visit this amazing location. I took this photograph just after sunset – you can see there is still a faint glow in the distant sky over the glacier. The sulphurous steam rising off the pool and silica growth around the pool give an appearance not of this world – indeed the whole landscape is quite alien. Hveravellir was a must-visit location for my trip to Iceland and I am thrilled with this photograph from my time there. A higher resolution version of this photograph is on my Portfolio website in the Iceland section. Prints of this photograph are available on request.

Iceland – Selfoss

Just a short ten minute walk upstream from Europe’s largest waterfall ‘Dettifoss’ is the spectacular waterfall(s) ‘Selfoss’. Unlike the sheer might and power of Dettifoss, Selfoss consists of a large number of smaller waterfalls all cascading over a long rocky ledge on both sides of the ravine. It is as spectacular and awe inspiring as Detifoss and can be photographed from both sides of the river. This photograph was taken shortly after sunrise as the rising sun just kissed the lip of the rocky backdrop. This was probably the most challenging photograph I made in Iceland. I was standing in the middle of a huge plume of spray that had soaked both me and my camera gear. Everything, including my lens, camera and ND filter were wet. This was one of only a few frames that I managed to get where the LEE filter was not covered in water droplets. A higher resolution copy of this photograph is on my portfolio website at http://www.jholko.com in the Iceland section. Prints available on request.