on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

My Favourite Image

Veidivotn, Iceland

Adam Pierzchala

Now retired, I have more time to enjoy being out with my camera looking for scenes and subjects that pique my interest, especially coastal, woodland and close-ups. Although I still have several rolls of 35mm and MF film in my freezer, I shoot almost exclusively digital now


Every photographer has an image that means a lot to them, even if it's not the most successful on social media or one that friends and family don't 'get'. Images that stretch the edges of compositional norms, that show well-known places in different ways or that reflect a moment that means so much personally in your progress as a photographer or just in life.

If you have a personal favourite photograph of yours and a story behind it and why it means so much, then why not share that with our community. Submit your favourite image here.

It's interesting that this series is all about my favourite photo, rather than my best photo. To some extent, the two are interchangeable but by no means always. I'm sure that we all have pictures that we really like, even though secretly we admit that there are technical flaws such as the picture is less than tack sharp, or the composition is a bit imbalanced etc. Some time ago I read in a response to "What do you consider to be your best photo" the photographer replied "it's the one I have yet to take" or words to that effect. Fair enough, we all strive to do better...

For this piece, I have chosen an image that I made in September 2015 and it remains both my favourite photo as a successful outcome from what was a difficult location for me, but also as probably my best in technical terms. It is sharp, well exposed, has a decent composition (well, to my eye at least!) and I think it shows what I felt that morning.

The location is Veidivotn, arguably the "Lake District" of Iceland and a truly stunning alien landscape, far removed from what I would expect to see on this planet. We arrived just as it was getting light and as I got out of our vehicle, an eerie silence enveloped us: although we were a sizeable group of nine we were all very quiet. I felt overwhelmed by the magical, mystical and incredibly rich scene in front of me. In fact, to be honest, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't see a single subject to take, there was so much choice that I suppose I just froze, I literally didn't know where to turn. The group dispersed in different directions and I too wandered off along a ridge, but with little idea what I might shoot.

A good 45 mins or so later, having shot two mediocre frames, I started wandering back to the minibus. I noticed that the sun was soon going to pop-up over a ridge and I saw 3 or 4 of my companions lined up ready for their shot. I felt somewhat despondent at my lack of success, especially as I knew that there were subjects all around me - if only I could see them amongst all this beauty! Having no better ideas, I decided to join the group.

Lovely curves leading deep into the scene, great contrasting light and dark shapes, wonderful colours against the black lava ash and, to cap it all, intense pre-sunrise colours in the sky.
As I walked up, the shapes in the landscape changed relative to each other and began to come together; the light was beginning to intensify and I hurried further on to find a spot of my own, looking for a slightly different view. Suddenly the hills of lava and ash, the lakes and the distant valleys all snapped into place. At last I felt that I might get a half-decent shot!

Lovely curves leading deep into the scene, great contrasting light and dark shapes, wonderful colours against the black lava ash and, to cap it all, intense pre-sunrise colours in the sky. I had to work fast to expose my shot before harsh sunlight flooded the scene; to add to the pressure, I could already feel tiny drops of drizzle floating around as a rain storm approached. I lined up and adjusted my composition, set the focus and attached the grad filter. First click, check the histogram, make a small adjustment to the exposure and re-set the focus. Click again, the histogram looked OK. Check the filter - just a few small drops of drizzle, quickly wipe and shoot again. And then it rained, hard. I had shot three frames in the space of about 2 minutes; I wanted one more to capture the light filtering through the rain, but the filter was covered with raindrops. Game over.

When I got home and processed the files, that third image had just two tiny drops which were easily dealt with. A few weeks later I had the photo printed in a lab at 24" across and it is on my wall to this day. I have several other pictures taken subsequently that I really like, but none have usurped its place. For over 3½ years it has remained my favourite - and I still think it’s my best.

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