What does it look like when there is no fire or ice in Iceland, the country of fire and ice? It is possible for travel arrangements to be altered at the eleventh hour for a variety of reasons, the weather being a significant one and misplaced luggage being another.
How, therefore, can one adjust and ensure that even a brief vacation will be remembered? Do you push the limits of your creative abilities and experiment with new things, or do you like to take things easy and simply take pleasure in each new experience?
When the second instance of volcanic activity took place in August, we, along with a great number of other photographers, rushed to the internet to see if we could reserve flights to see the formation of new territory.
Nevertheless, because of the cost of flights at the time, we chose to look farther ahead in the calendar with the hope that the new fissure in the Meradalir valley would still be active towards the end of September.
Moving forward in time to the end of September, when there was no volcanic activity and everything was scheduled, we were forced to rapidly reevaluate what it was that we had planned to undertake.
Our original plans had to be altered due to the fact that we had everything scheduled within a short distance of the dormant fissure in Iceland, which may not sound like a tough feat given that we are in Iceland.
If the primary purpose of your vacation is no longer possible due to adverse weather or other issues, I have absolutely no doubt that you will have been forced to engage in the same activity at some time throughout your journey.
Keeping Things Straightforward
We decided that this time we would take things more slowly and not attempt to cram as much as possible into such a short amount of time, so we stripped everything straight back and only carried the very minimum amount of kit with us. Instead, we would merely make plans to visit a handful of sites, and then we would spend the rest of the time soaking in as much as we possibly could.
Taking It Easier
The act of photographing landscapes may be quite therapeutic, as it forces the photographer to slow down and focus on the world around them. Appreciating what is around you and having fun with the experience are both important things to do when the weather is not behaving as expected. Sure, we want to have that breathtaking view with the lovely light, but sometimes you simply have to make do with what you have.
We have had a great deal of good fortune in relation to Iceland and have traveled there on a number of occasions. During this most recent trip, we had the opportunity to really appreciate, as if we hadn’t already, more of what was going on around us, to take it all in, and to spend more time just observing as opposed to rushing around trying to get to as many possible photographic locations as possible. The stunning thing about Iceland is that there are photo opportunities around every corner. It’s like Scotland, except with a lot more people.
Concentrating on the Specifics
This is something that I do quite often, and yet I still take pictures of the wider vista. Because of this, when I went to take pictures of the location this time, I made a concerted effort to get a quick shot of the location, and then I spent the rest of my time looking for more personal facets of the scene.
Our first stop was at Bruarfoss, but if you continue down the trail for another 3.5 kilometers, you will arrive at Midfoss and Hlauptungfoss. The latter of these two waterfalls is the more impressive of the two. The Barbara river, whose vibrant hue is a sight to behold, is supplied by glacial runoff that originates from the Langjokull Glacier, which supplies the water for the waterfalls.
After taking a few pictures of Bruarfoss itself, I put my camera down and just sat there and looked around. This was not because the pictures weren’t any good, although they weren’t, but rather because I had made the decision to concentrate on the things that I typically admire for a while and then automatically revert to shooting the wider scene.
When I am in a location for the first time, I am guilty of doing this because I want to capture the entire surrounding environment. When I am in a location that I am acquainted with, on the other hand, I have a tendency to do the reverse and focus on the particulars that appeal to me.
It was like a symphony for the eyes to see; Bruarfoss gave enough of these with its secluded waterfalls that cascaded over the rocks, the brilliant green moss that covered them, and the blue glacial water that swirled around them.
Despite the fact that I have no delusion whatsoever that these photographs are in any way good, I did walk away from this location with a deeper comprehension of the scenery and the elements that comprise it.
Take Pictures and Make a Record
If you record your journey, you will have the opportunity to think back on the lighting conditions that were there at the time as well as the compositional components that were around your main focus. This will assist you to prepare for future excursions.
Although it’s true that many of the pictures you take when you get back are immediately discarded, some of them might serve as a point of reference for a composition that you might have overlooked, or they can simply serve as a story of your trip.
In fact, I’ve discovered that having this kind of image on hand is helpful when giving presentations or explaining to students what not to do while photography; showing a tangible example is preferable to describe it in words.
During this trip, I made the decision to photograph exclusively with the X-T4 rather than the Nikon Z 7II. I did this for two reasons: the first reason was the 18-135mm lens, which I believe to be one of the greatest all-around lenses I’ve ever used, and the second reason was that I had never spent a whole three days shooting with the Nikon before. Both of these factors influenced my decision to do this.
I made a point to film anything that struck my attention, whether it was people in the countryside, electric scooters waiting for their next hiring, or the colorful houses in Reykjavik.
This is something you should always do, but I do sometimes feel that I pigeonhole myself, so once again, I found this incredibly freeing and rather humorous when I’d catch a peek at my partner’s perplexed expression as I shot something quite obscure. This is something you should always do.
Have fun and take in the Experience
It should go without saying, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you didn’t get the proper light or weather conditions everywhere you go. This is something that should be obvious. There is a possibility that there may be further chances like that in the future.
You should take something away from your journey, whether that is the entire experience, a stronger comprehension of the terrain, or what not to do if the same circumstances present themselves again in the future.
I believe that from our most recent two trips to Iceland, I have two images that I am very fond of. The first is a whiteout in the snow that I took on my phone, and the second is the image that can be found below, despite the fact that the image does not have much to recommend it.
Maybe it was the peace and quiet of being in the countryside and watching the clouds roll in that did it for him. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that there are further possible compositions to be seen if I ever return to this place. It is up to you to tell me what happens.
Wherever you go to conduct your photography, whether it be local to home or further out in another nation, simply enjoy the experience, and don’t let the absence of amazing light make the trip any less enjoyable for you. Prepare yourself for the shifts that are coming your way and remember to appreciate both what the experience brings you and what you may take away from it.
The most important thing I learned from this excursion was that if something doesn’t go according to plan, you should adjust the plan and try not to be dissatisfied. I’m generally a pretty upbeat and optimistic person, and I try to look at life’s challenges as opportunities for growth.
The rift was a major disappointment to me since I had hoped to see the creation of new land as it occurred. The opportunity could present itself once more in the future, but there’s also a risk that it won’t. At the very least, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I gave it my best shot.
Have any of your prearranged vacations turned out differently than you expected? What steps did you take to adjust to the new circumstances? I am quite curious about this.