Land of Fire and Ice

Land of Fire and Ice

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
— J.R.R. Tolkien

The last couple of weeks were epic. Seriously epic. I mean crossing off something at the top of your bucket list of things to do before you die kind of epic. And if you’re a landscape photographer, this ought to be at the top of your bucket list too.

Yup, Iceland. That little island nation at the top of the North Atlantic, flirting with the Arctic Circle. Land of glaciers and volcanoes, waterfalls and gorges, hot springs and icy seas, of friendly people, unpronounceable names, monster trucks, black sand beaches, and light the likes of which you’ve never seen.

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I guess it’s not often that someone from the Subcontinent visits Iceland, as the only other Indians I know who have visited the country were my fellow companions on this journey. Three of us, one jeep packed to the gills with photography gear, food, sleeping bags and a tent, 10 days and 3600 km… and it wasn’t anywhere near enough. We got there eager to start our road trip around the country, only to find that we had arrived sans my suitcase (thanks, Lufthansa). It took another couple of days for it to arrive, tested my patience and that of my friends, and resulted in our changing our plans.

 

Land of glaciers and volcanoes, waterfalls and gorges, hot springs and icy seas, of friendly people, unpronounceable names, monster trucks, black sand beaches, and light the likes of which you’ve never seen.

 

For the first couple of days, we visited spots around Reykjavik so that we could return to pick up my bag when it arrived. Which it thankfully did a couple of days later. Any longer and the trip would have been a disaster. With my tripod in Lufthansa’s hands, and the fact that we were mostly shooting during the golden and blue hours, long exposures without my tripod would have been out of the question. It was high summer, with barely 3 hours between sunset and sunrise, so we generally started shooting around 9:00 PM, slept a little from about 5:00 AM, then packed up and drove on to our next location.

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We experienced the sort of painted landscapes seen only in representations of other worlds in Hollywood movies like Interstellar. The black volcanic soil, glaciers, snow covered peaks, moss covered rocks, geysers and canyons conjured up images of fantasy lands in books I read growing up – Dune, The Lord of the Rings, Foundation, even The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And yes, I did pack a towel.

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Ten days breezed by, and we wished we had a month. The weather in Iceland can be fickle, and although we had over 20 hours of daylight, bad weather forced us to change or even abandon our plans more than once. Still, we managed to hit most of the spots on our itinerary, and at the end of it all, headed back to Keflavik airport exhausted, but happy. I’ll write more in another post about the various spots I visited, after I’ve had the chance to process all the pictures. For now I’ll leave you with a few I’ve managed to process. I hope you like them.

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There are some places you travel to where you leave a part of yourself behind. Where when you leave you know you’ll be coming back. Iceland is one of those places.

I guess I never actually crossed Iceland OFF my bucket list. It will always stay there. Until next time, þakka þér kærlega fyrir, Ísland, og sjá þig fljótlega.

 
A letter to a photographer

A letter to a photographer

Old-School Classic - The Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI-s

Old-School Classic - The Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI-s