To take pictures of Iceland is an experience that lasts a lifetime for a nature photographer. This land is still in transition. Even if one can not see a volcano coming to life, the lava fields of different ages, the steam evaporating from the Earth's crust; the hot springs and geysers keep reminding us of the gigantic forces in action deep below the ground.
The various forms of basalt that are building up most of the island, the rhyolite mountains, the geothermic fields all have breathtaking hues firing the imagination of the photographer; as do the coastline rock formations and the numerous waterfalls. Furthermore there are no trees to block the fantastic views. Rich bird populations and easy-to-approach animals in great numbers inspire animal photographers.
We first visited Iceland in 2008 and worked the summer season with the Wild Wonders of Europe project; an initiative to present the most beautiful natural heritage sites in Europe. Spending time by Lake Myvatn, we witnessed the mass swarming of non-biting midges and captured images of the ducks that live around the lake. We were also photographing puffins, razorbills, common guillemots and northern gannets on the coast and arctic foxes in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. We were blessed with dry and mostly sunny weather which was most welcome.
In the spring and fall of 2010 we spent four months in Iceland. Our timing was immaculate as the volcano under the Eyjafjallajökull ice cap broke out the day after our arrival, on 14 April. The weather made it challenging to take pictures of the Eyjafjallajökull, as the crater was mostly shrouded in low hanging clouds. The snow and ash patterns covering the volcano, the height of the ash cloud and the sight of glowing lava kept changing. The weather did too, allowing the volcano to show a different face to us every day.
In the autumn, we went on several hiking tours in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. This time, the weather was grey and rainy which bizarrely was a good thing for a photographer allowing us to perfectly catch the real colours of the landscape. Even though in mid August we were photographing in a snowstorm near Hrafntinnusker, we had to wait until the end of September to be able to catch the colours of the autumn in the wonderful birch woods near Hraunfossar.
Returning to Iceland in January 2011, we had expected cold and snowy weather but a grey, mild winter awaited us instead. We had almost lost hope to be able to take snowy pictures of Iceland, when winter finally came for a few brief weeks in March. Better late than never, we thought. On snow covered black lava fields the monochrome tones were perfect for photography; the landscape offering some of the most beautiful sights of all in what we called the land of contrasts.