Early in the summer I was in Iceland running a couple of workshops. The first was around Iceland’s famous ring-road but the second saw us switch to a modified Land Rover Defender and head into the depths of the Highlands.
Back in June and July I ran a two eight day workshops in Iceland, home to some of the most dramatic and photogenic landscapes on the planet. It's always a pleasure to return to Iceland, and showing it to people on a workshop for the first time, seeing people just go "wow, what an amazing place" is one of the best parts of my job.
Last month I spent around 3 weeks in Iceland running a couple of landscape photography workshops there. Between the two workshops we had a day off and along with a couple of the participants, I decided to take the opportunity to do a photography flight above the river deltas and highlands. It's something I've wanted to do for a couple of years and it really didn't disappoint.
After months of work we've finally launched the new Light Explorers Workshop website. Light Explorers is a landscape photography workshop company I run with my two fellow landscape photographers Konstantinos Vasilakis and Kostas Petrakis, and this year we've been putting together four workshops to some truly locations in Italy and Iceland which we'll be running in 2018.
In a country of truly beautiful landscapes, the interior highlands of Iceland offers perhaps the most stunning scenery in the country. Surrounded by glaciers penned in between mountains, it’s a constantly changing alien landscape of black deserts, colourful rhyolite hills, snow-capped mountains, moss covered peaks, crater lakes and plunging waterfalls. After my first trip there 5 years ago whet my appetite I’ve always wanted to go back and explore it more.
Iceland is one of those countries that must be near the top of most Photographer’s bucket list, it has such a diverse range of incredible landscapes that it’s just a pleasure to go there to shoot. On my first visit about 5 years ago I tried to get around as much of the country as possible, spending a couple of days in the highlands, in the southeast, in the north and in the westfjords. It was a great trip, but Iceland has incredible changeable weather and for large parts of the trip I never saw the sun or had any decent light.
The final leg of our trip around Iceland was to the Westfjords. When you look at a road map, you can see why it's a part of the country that a lot of people miss out. The road hits the coast, going around each and every fjord, making driving to the main towns there a long and torturous journey.
It's a journey worth making though as the landscape there is stunning. Despite the fact that for the whole of the journey, the weather was absolutely dreadful, just driving rain and grey clouds hanging so low over the fjords that it was impossible to see the other side, the fjords have an ethereal peace and grandeur that takes your breath away.
The drive from the south east to the north was epic. From the east fjords across the dark volcanic Jokuldalsheidi plains. The weather and light was constantly changing, from overcast clouds, to heavy rain, then snow followed by sunshine, and then rain again.
The landscape was stunning, and like eastern Iceland, I wished we'd planned time to be able to stay here and shoot it. As it was, the photos taken in the middle of the day will have to suffice from this trip, but it's certainly an incredibly beautiful area that I'd love to return to one day.
After leaving the highlands, we headed west across the southern coast of Iceland. The landscape continued to be amazing as we reached the beginning of the Skeidararjokull glacier, the 20km sweep of ice from the vast Vatnajokul glacier that descends almost to the road.
It's a breathtaking view, which continues to the left of the car for pretty much the entire time that you drive east across the south south eastern part of Iceland. The plains of the Skeidararsandur are a vast flat expanse of grey sand that stretches from a steely grey sea to the south up to the foot of the glacier, broken only by the glacial rivers that run across it carrying water from the Vatnajokul icecap to the ocean.
Iceland has been on the list of places to visit for a very long time...almost as long as I've been interested in landscape photography.
I guess it first started with seeing Art Wolfe's photographs of icebergs floating in the lagoon at Jokulsarlon, and the cumulative effect of seeing the work of photographers I admire photographing places like Landmannalauger and the waterfalls at Dettifoss. Then, various BBC Natural History documentaries, and it reached a point when it became inevitable that I'd have to visit someday.