In the Fall of 2018 I traveled to Iceland to pre-scout the route(s) for a potential photography workshop and tour in Iceland. Along with my friend and workshop assistant, Adam Holston, we made a 10-day foray into the Central Highlands and then a clockwise circumnavigation of the island, from the north and around to the southern coast. Armed with maps, potential shot lists, and measuring distances and times between locations, we began to put together the basic components of what would become our 2019 Fall in Iceland Photography Workshop and Tour.
In the Fall of 2018, while on a scouting trip in preparation for my 2019 Fall in Iceland Photography Workshop, I had the opportunity to attend and photograph a réttir near Arnes, Iceland. The réttir (sheep round-up) is an annual event during the month of September that occurs all over Iceland. I wrote a very detailed blog post about the réttir I photographer in 2018, which you can find here I would encourage you to read that post as I wrote a great deal about the sheep, the culture, and the process. However, for those who want to jump right into these images I will give you the Cliff Notes version on the event.
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.