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A Return to Iceland

Great Expectations

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Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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I think it’s fair to say that Iceland has become a bit of a cliche for photographers. No matter where you look online there seems to be someone returning with pictures of clear ice on black sand, moss covered boulders and, in winter at least, swathes of “green shit in the sky”. Even two years ago when I visited with Joe Cornish to shoot the promotional videos for Phase One (one, two and three) I felt like I already knew the place. However as soon as we got out of Reykjavik and headed North I realised that the huge collection of photographs of Iceland online had only documented a small fraction of the island (although some parts had probably had more than enough coverage).

On that first trip we stayed in Snaefellsnes for a day and then spent two days in Myvatn where we had stunning blanket snow conditions with beautiful arctic clouds. I must admit I was instantly hooked and so the following year when I was offered the opportunity to accompany Joe Cornish, David Ward and Daniel Bergmann on a workshop in Iceland in winter I jumped at the chance.


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  • David Higgs

    I’m going on Sunday :-)
    but to see friends rather than make pictures – still exciting though not been for 15 years

  • Chris Raymond

    What an amazing place, such surreal environments. I have too many commitments now, by the time I get a chance to go (in 3-4 years) it will probably be new again…….

  • tobers

    Fantastic write up and some wonderful pictures. The ice cave ones in particular, but the eyebrows and the mountain take top billing for me. Looks like your creative juices were in full flow.

    If you’re going back it might be worth reading up on this place – Kerlingarfjoll. If you can stay in the houses there in winter it would be a cracking base for a few days. http://www.kerlingarfjoll.is/

  • hammermad

    I must admit your opening paragraph did strike a similar view I had regarding the huge amount of images you can view on-line, but after reading your article and the excitement of the wonderful images you took and the locations you visited in Iceland if I ever get some money saved it will be a destination aim for.

  • Simon Miles

    Looks like an amazing trip. I can’t imagine ever travelling with so much gear, but you came back with some fantastic images!

  • A lovely set of images Tim – somewhere I really do hope to visit one day though, like you, I’m not sure I could do much photography in a crowd of 50+ ;(( You’ve certainly come back with some beauties though – my favourites would have to be the first ice cave abstract (and I love the little crop from within it) and also the last of your Stoknes mountain shots – so graphic and very much reminded me of the later work of Lauren S Harris (one of the Canadian Seven I mentioned on here somewhere else…)

    • Thanks Lizzie – and a big thanks for the reference to the Canadian Seven. I haven’t seen Lawren’s work before and I really like it!

  • Adam Pierzchala

    Thanks for this reminder of the wonderful trip we had. And whereas I sort of agree with those who say that Iceland has been photographed to death, you have definitely created your own images: that unnamed icy gulley and the Djúpalónssandur being particularly good I feel. We were extraordinarily lucky with the conditions we had at Stoksness and there, together with the sheer other-worldly magic of the ice cave, were my personal highlights. Entering the ice cave “through a small black whole” as you write really captures the feeling I had as I went down, jaw dropping as we left mother Earth :)

  • Richard Earney

    The Iceberg Beach *is* wondrous but as you say, a mecca for the touring parties. The first time I went there I queued for 20 mins behind another photographer as he explored every angle. At least it proves I am patient!

    There were also some selfish photographers there who just plonk their tripod in front of your during the middle of an exposure.

    The next time I went was quieter but was closer to midday (rather than midnight). There were fewer people, but my inspiration came from looking closely at the ice lumps themselves. They are extraordinary structures – you can see air holes and bubbles which contain air which that might be thousands of years old. So I focused on the ice and ignored the people and it worked well. A good way to lose yourself in a crowd :)

  • david mantripp @ snowhenge.net

    Well, I’ve seen lots of photos of Stokksnes – I’ve even taken a few myself – but these are some of the nicest I’ve seen.

    By the way, when did Sweden annex Tromsø ? :-)

    • Ha! Well spotted .. :-) and thanks for the support!

  • Tim

    A really enjoyable article. Thank you. Michael

  • katebarclay

    Enjoyed reading your article Tim – Thank you. The Stokksnes images are great – some of the best I have seen of that area.
    Iceland is on my to do list at some point.

  • Giles Stokoe

    Hahaa! Well, I think you know what I feel about Iceland from my soapbox article a while ago, and so I commend you for trying to move the story forward. I used to make my living from finding ‘ undiscovered ‘ places and photographing them so that other people would be encouraged to go there ( and possibly ruin them ), so I am familiar with the dilemma. I don’t know whether I want to be shown the unexplored places, or whether I want them to be left to my imagination :-/

  • David Ashcroft

    Hi Tim my comment is a bit late, but I am fairly new to The magazine and am trying to catch up. I really enjoyed the article, could you tell me what time of the year you visited. I am planning to go in early September this year.



    • Hi David,

      We visited in February (late) although this year I’ll be visiting in late Jan/early Feb and I’ll be writing a diary of this in the next but one issue.

      September should be good for autumn colour around Myvatn/Asbyrgi (see Simon Harrison’s article


      And also should be good for Landmannalaugar I think – David Ward knows more about this than I do though. .


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