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.
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.
Well, it is New Year’s Eve, 2018. This has been a fairly busy year with some personal growth and certainly a few “firsts” for me relative to photography. I co-led my two annual photography workshops this year with my two pals, Martin Radigan and Vern Pattterson. This was the third year for our Spring, and Fall, West Virginia landscape workshops and we had some great clients and photographers join us as we traipsed around the West Virginia Highlands.
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.
Goðafoss literally translates in Icelandic to "waterfall of the gods" and is located in the Northeastern part of Iceland. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters, and along a horseshoe shaped curve over a width of 30 meters. The waterfall can be accessed from both sides and there are several trails to the rivers edge, however these are fairly steep and one should exercise caution while navigating to the bottom.