The Land of Fire & Ice

I have been told, every photographer should visit Iceland at least once in their lifetime. I travelled with my family. No epic yomps into the interior, I did have my young children with me and it was mid February! Iceland was having a spate of extreme Atlantic storms, there were two storms the week we were there, one with wind speeds reaching 100mph plus (45meters per second). The week before, we were reliably informed by our guide, wind speeds reached 145mph!!

I photographed all the usual tourist traps (for the family photo album) but what I really wanted to capture was something else, how the weather has a dramatic effect on the Island. Some images were taken the usual way, tripod and closed apertures, but other images were shot literally from a moving car. We travelled the length of South Island. Perhaps to a veteran landscape photographer (I’m definitely not a landscape photographer) the thought of capturing a landscape from a speeding car window would seem bizarre but the weather had such a huge bearing on the photographs I took. If I had slowed down to stop and stare, set up my equipment, most of the images would have blown away, the light changes that fast, frozen rain, snow, hail, and hurricane force winds contributed to all the images. The family and I set out from Keflavík to Reykjavik. An afternoon walk round the world’s northernmost capital taking in the city sites. Eager to hit the road, we set out on a our five day road trip. Driving in Iceland in winter is not for the faint hearted. As described above, the weather can change almost instantly, the majority of the time to the extreme. Roads can shut anywhere in Iceland at a drop of a hat. I spoke to a few locals and plans are very rarely made, at least not too far in advance. It has been known for you to start out on a journey in winter and end up stopping to bed down in one of Iceland’s many guest houses, checking in for the night, as your destination cannot be reached due to high winds, snow or whatever the Gulf Stream can throw at you. On two occasions, we were thwarted by the weather and bunkered down, luckily at a place called Midgard Base Camp in Hvolsvöllur.

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