By the time Road F35 changed from paved to gravel the landscape itself had changed. The thermal zones of Geysir gave way to a landscape that was open and vast, punctuated by table top mountains and grassy volcanic plains. My traveling companion Adam and I were bound for the highland region of Kerlingarfjöll to begin an 11 day workshop scouting trip. The wind was picking up as we drove deeper into the highlands which certainly became an issue for us later that evening, but for now we were content to marvel at the landscape and moderate weather. After cresting a small bluff, the road dropped into a sweeping grass covered valley, and I saw sheep moving off to the right. Ahead of us was the large table top mountain, Bláfell with a wind driven cloud sitting over the summit, giving the appearance of an erupting volcano. I was thinking that there was an image to be made here.
Kerlingarfjöll is located in the central highlands of Iceland, north of Geysir, and nestled between the Langjökull and Hofsjökull glaciers. It is a landscape of incomparable beauty, with mountains painted by the remnants of winter snow, that rise up from a barren volcanic plain.
This quote by the author J.B. Jackson is never too far away in my thoughts when I am in the landscape. The concept of place, and our connections to place are powerful expressions in how we view our world. The Black Church at Búdir is one place, that for me, expresses a powerful sense of place and identity. Sitting on a windswept point in a harsh landscape, the church emotes a sense of hope, civility, and simple community. It is a building that is perfect in its simplicity, unadorned, vernacular, and free of extraneous decorations, it resonates with life.
Of all of the incredible locations we visited in Iceland in 2017, Vestrahorn in Stokksnes, was the one place that literally brought me to tears. I have never seen such a view where mountains, coastline, black sand dunes, and sky all combined to create such wonder. There were compositions everywhere I looked and at times I just framed and shot, reacting to the light and my own visceral feelings. It was truly magic.
My experience in Iceland surfaces frequently in my memory. It is like a constant shadow that tags along on a sunny day. I try not to get to high or low about trips, or to set any expectations for that matter, simply to set aside any possibility of disappointment or preconceptions. I like to plan, but then set that aside in my subconscious, so I can just be open to the experience. The fact is this trip totally blew away my preconceptions as we traversed the island from waterfalls to glacial lagoons, with each bend in the road revealing another stunning location. Rain or shine did not matter. In every cloak it wore Iceland was beautiful.
Jölkusárlón Ice Beach is one of the special locations in Iceland, and was on my "must" see, must photograph list when I traveled to Iceland in June of 2017. Located along the Southeast coast, the Jölkusárlón Ice Lagoon drains off of the main glacier and flows through a narrow channel into the ocean. Ice calving off of glaciers in Vatnajökull National Park enters the lagoon, and slowly over time, moves through the calm waters of the lagoon and then into the small channel that leads out to the ocean.