In the phrase “landscape photography” the most important part is “landscape”, and those photographers who consistently produce quality landscape images have an affinity, an empathy almost, with the landscape born out of their love for it and all that it offers.
Of course not every photographer is going to enjoy the same kind of landscape, and what may inspire one may do absolutely nothing for another. Then there are those landscapes which are definitely an acquired taste. My first love, Snowdonia, falls into this category, as does Iceland.
I had the opportunity to visit Iceland in 2014 and, not knowing the country, choose to go with Wild Photography Holidays. What tipped the balance in favour of WPH was the fact that the owners, Geraldine and Martin, actually live in Reykjavík and consequently have that local in-depth knowledge of not just the landscape but of the practical things such as road accessibility, hotel owners, the ferry companies etc. That comes in useful when late changes in plan are needed, usually due to the weather.
That trip was so enjoyable that I immediately booked for 2015, during which Gary Beff (The Operations Director) asked if I’d be interested in doing something a little different in 2016. They wanted to offer a tour visiting the western fjords and were asking some clients to join them on a trial run. I didn’t need asking twice.
After meeting up with the group in Reykjavik, the next day found us heading north-west to spend two nights in Budir. Located on the Snæfellsnes peninsular, there are miles of stunning coastline in either direction and Kirkjufell mountain only 40 minutes away. In fact on the first night Geraldine and Martin bundled us into the cars and we headed down to Grundarfjördur to take advantage of the clear conditions, and where the northern lights put on a short but spectacular display over the mountain. An experience shared is an experience doubled and the excited conversation of the group as they fiddled, faffed and fretted over cameras provided a backdrop for the evening.
A few days later, after a stop-over in Grundarfjördur, we boarded the 2 1/2 hour ferry to Brjánslækur, then travelled for two hours to our new base at the hotel Látrabjarg. Not normally open until May, the owners had opened up especially for WPH. The staff were brilliant, the food fantastic, the landscape……………..
It is raw, elemental, almost primordial. A landscape stripped back to its basic elements, it curries no favours but offers unique creative rewards for any photographer willing to accept it on its own terms. For our three days there the wind never let up. If you didn’t like the weather conditions you only needed to wait 10 minutes, but the wind was relentless. It was the soundtrack to the experience.
As often happens those willing to go the extra yard are rewarded with something special, and the landscape and weather combined to offer a unique experience, culminating with another aurora display over the western fjords on the one night when, although it hadn’t been forecast, the skies cleared for a few hours, and offered a glimpse into “………the infinite ocean of the medium which pervades all”. (Nikola Tesla).
With a few tweaks, WPH will be running this tour in 2017, and, provided I can persuade the spending committee, my name will be the first on the list. There are so many opportunities which, although offered, could not be taken this time. I’ll be grabbing them with both hands next year.
Huge thanks to Mark, Jill, Susanne, Malcolm, Lynn, Caroline, Chris, Albert, Dorothy, Geraldine and Martin. The best of travelling companions. Next year?