on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers


Robin Hudson

There is a prevailing sense that Iceland has been 'over-exposed' in recent months and I may well have been guilty of jumping on that particular bandwagon when I booked a workshop there at the end of February (led by David Ward and local Icelandic photographer, Daniel Bergmann). But I'm not going to apologise!

It was my first visit to Iceland and after the first three days of depressingly incessant drizzle and grey mist (at around 6 degrees it was unseasonably warm), it turned out to be an excellent trip. Inevitably, given it's heightened popularity at the moment, some of the locations we visited were rather too busy for comfort but I wasn't going to let this stop me taking photographs and the now famous ice beach (Brei∂amerkursandur) proved to be one of my favourite locations despite the crowds. I was enthralled by the variety of sizes, shapes, textures, colours and light to be found at the 'ice graveyard', for effectively, that's what it is. Chunks of ice, broken away from a the 'terminal' end of a glacier and washed out from the Jokulsarlon lagoon after a journey lasting perhaps hundreds of years, only to be left stranded by winds and tide on the black 'volcanic' sand beaches that are characteristic of most of the Icelandic coast. Slowly they melt, transform and disappear.

We visited the beach four times over a three day period, at times in very challenging conditions; strong gusty winds and drizzle combined to blow rain, salt-spray and sand into every orifice. However, we were lucky enough to find the beach full of this wonderful ice debris (sometimes the winds and tides blow it out to sea leaving the beaches are bare), and to experience a variety of weather conditions and light. Rogue waves would regularly have us beating a hasty retreat back up the beach with tripod and gear in hand and the 'perfect' shot washed away (or a new one created). At first I was daunted by the confusion of shapes and lack of 'structure' but after walking around for a while just looking, I started to get a sense of what I wanted. It's easy as an inexperienced photographer (landscape or other), to be drawn to the obvious. But, as beautiful as they can be, I didn't want to just take ice 'portraits'. I wanted to try and make use of the 'transmitted light', the shadows, the movement of the water, reflections, the ice shapes and shapes between the ice. I hope that's what I achieved.

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