Lost in Iceland, Part 2: Images and challenges

Finally I've been able to work through many of the images from our Iceland trip.  This new gallery contains a baker's dozen of my favorites, with more to follow as I process them.  This first set represents the "low-hanging fruit" -- images that were relatively straightforward to process and for which I had a clear vision of the final product.  The ones I'm still working on need more thought, more effort, or both to achieve the end result I'm looking for.  The image below is a bonus -- I could have included it in the gallery, but I needed something pretty for the blog!

Midnught sun over Myrdalsjokull

Putting together this gallery caused me to reflect again on the workshop experience and the various challenges I faced trying to make these images.  Here are the four most significant challenges:

Challenge #1:  Everything is new!  This is, of course, a challenge whenever faced with photographing a new location, but Iceland is such an unusual place that the sense of novelty was enhanced.  This is why making a first visit with knowledgeable local guides makes such a difference.  Without Einar, Raggi and Tony to put us in good shooting locations we would have seen and done much less and missed some very cool things.

Challenge #2:  So much daylight!  I knew we'd have very long days so close to the Arctic Circle and just after Midsummer, but the experience was quite disorienting.

 The weather for June 26 in Reykjavik.  (Photo:  Carol Soderlund)

The weather for June 26 in Reykjavik.  (Photo:  Carol Soderlund)

As you can see from the Weather Channel on my iPhone, we had 21 hours of daylight.  During the first part of the workshop in particular we took advantage of the long days -- on one day we shot at 7 different locations over a period of 15 hours, ending up at two successive iconic waterfalls after midnight. This was one of those times when I wished I could get along with a lot less sleep.

Challenge #3:  Staying on task.  This challenge was the product of the novelty of Iceland and the length of some of our days in the field.  To jump out of the bus, grab the tripod, and take advantage of the photographic opportunities in front of me at location after location required a degree of concentration and focus (pun intended) that I had not anticipated.  It was exhausting but also very rewarding.

Challenge #4:  Photographing extraordinary locations in ordinary (or even mediocre) light.  It can't always be sunrise or sunset (even at Midsummer in Iceland!).  How do you make the most of mid-day light or the gray and featureless skies that we encountered during the stormy second half of our workshop?  For me, the answer was to think about shooting with a black-and-white image in mind.  Almost half of the first 13 images in the gallery wound up being more satisfactory to me in black-and white.  For example, I like the image below well enough, but I think the monochrome version in the gallery is much stronger. 

 Abandoned farm, color version.

Abandoned farm, color version.

Working through the "raw material" that I shot on this trip to get the first set of finished images has given me a chance to savor the whole experience again.  Definitely, I'm going back to Iceland!