I visited an old friend today. The Red Barn, as I have come to name this place, is a location that I have photographed on many occasions and in all kinds of light. The morning light in the Spring and early part of the Summer is the most dramatic as the rising sun illuminates the south-east face of the barn, arguably and fortuitously, one of the more interesting sides to photograph. At this time of the year the owners allow the fields around the barn to go to seed and the clover and grasses grown to around waist height. The resulting textures create a very strong foreground element and I love how the barn seems to nestle into its footers as the grasses embrace it.
It is only a month away from my 2019 West Virginia Photography Workshop, details HERE, and I managed to get away for a short one-day trip up to Canaan Valley for a meeting and the chance to scout a few locations. Spring rains often bring heavy flows to the waterfalls but not on this morning which is not the end of the world and actually allowed me to work on some different compositions. When you have photographed a place extensively it can be easy to get lazy with the compositions instead of stopping to really look at the possibilities - specifically new possibilities.
As I write this post I am emerging from a self imposed break from photography. It is necessary I have found to help recharge the creative batteries. My grandmother once told me that too much of a good thing was, well it’s too much. I certainly did not understand that as a child as I just wanted all that fun to keep going. This is not to say that I don’t like a lot of good things as an adult, but when all of the adult pressures mount up it is hard to retain the necessary focus.
For me photography is a lot more than just taking the image. It is more than just the camera, the equipment, and the lenses. What I have come to realize in the last few months, and in fact through all of the past few years of experimentation, is that I love the craft of not only taking the image but bringing it to life through an artful process. To that extent I have rekindled my love for the digital darkroom, much in the way I loved the analog days of film processing and making the print.
This mornings dawn brought with it a lingering fog and the fresh air that only comes from an overnight rain. It has been some time since I have ventured out to perceive the world through the lenses of my camera. Too long really, and while work and other commitments are the culprit, I can confess that the imposed break has been good.
Goðafoss waterfall is located on the river Skjálfandafljót in north Iceland, the fourth largest river in Iceland. Although the main waterfall is the most visited and photogenic I actually found the lower falls more interesting. Just downriver from the main falls, the river narrows and is forced into a slot between volcanic rock formations. The small drop is slightly stair-stepped and creates several channels as the glacial blue water shoots through the slot. The sound is deafening and the sheer power of water hydraulics is on display.
Iceland is a country of immense beauty. In my mind it is one of the most diverse landscapes in the world despite being and island country. It is volcanic and glaciated and it is these singular natural forces that have largely shaped the landscape. From windswept volcanic planes, to the mountainous highlands, fjords, coastlines, glaciers, and myriad rivers and waterfalls, it is a place that presents one with so many photographic opportunities. The islands location in the Northern hemisphere also brings almost continuous light, with an extended twilight in the summer, and much shorter days in the winter, which affords one the opportunity to see the dancing Northern Lights. It is also a place of extremes, especially regarding the weather, which can change hour by hour. And in fact that is the old adage in Iceland that if you don’t like the weather, just give it an hour. The countries population of around 360,000 is out numbered by the sheep, and the number of visitors and tourists who flock there. The sheep of course are permanent residents. It is one of my favorite places on this planet.