Journal

Photos from Iceland

Earlier this month I traveled to Iceland for nearly two weeks. My family was with me for the first few days to explore southwestern Iceland, including waterfalls, geysirs, geothermal pools and beaches along the Golden Circle, as well as the small city of Reykjavik. They then moved on to Europe while I stayed behind to meet-up with a crew of six photographers from around the world for a photography expedition in the Highlands -- Iceland's central region of volcanic deserts, glaciers and mountains.

Iceland may be small (it's roughly the size of Kentucky with a population of ~350k) but it's overflowing with enough natural wonders to fill an entire continent. Even more remarkable, three-quarters of Iceland is raw, uninhabitable and inhospitable to life -- humans especially. You can drive all the way around the country using Route 1 (which takes roughly two days), but getting into Iceland's mountainous center requires 4x4s or monster trucks outfitted with massive, car-crushing tires.

For our adventure we explored the southern Highlands using a classic Land Rover Defender. We'd sleep during the day in simple, rustic hotels, then venture out at night to capture the landscape at its most ethereal and beautiful. I lived the life of a vampire, sleeping for a few hours each afternoon, then staying up all night exploring and photographing while the rest of the world slept.

Standing out here in the middle of this remote landscape in the middle of the night was unlike anything I'd seen or felt before. It was dark, cold, wet, and unnervingly quiet. Outside of the crunch of my boots and the occasional blast of arctic wind, the environment was literally silent. We very rarely saw another human being. I felt at times like an astronaut in a sci-fi film, exploring a newfound world in search of resources. That, or I had been banished to a form of purgatory where time and life - including my own - had ceased to exist. That may sound harrowing and a bit strange, but it wasn't hard to let your imagination run wild. Holding a camera and tripod, I found, to be a grounding effect to keep me focused on the task at hand -- capturing photos.

View of Stórasúla mountain in the Suðurland region of Iceland's Highlands

It was ridiculously hard whittling down the hundreds of photos I brought home, but in addition to the image above I've picked a few of my favorites and posted them here. These include the full range of landscapes we experienced, from moody deserts of black sand to the wondrous color kaleidoscope of Landmannalaugar.

Aerial view of the southern highlands. Note the gigantic glacier at upper-left.

In addition to seeing the Highlands on the ground, I also shot the region from above. Not with a drone, but from a low-flying Cessna aircraft. This required cranking up the shutter speed (~1/2000), a wide-open aperture and a healthy amount of ISO to help stabilize my camera as it bounced around in the strong wind. I'm normally terrified of heights and flying in general, but the adrenaline rush of capturing these photos kept me focused and distracted. The diversity of texture, color, shape, and line were mindboggling. I'm thrilled with how these turned out.

Overall, I experienced a lot in Iceland, but I've barely scratched the surface. Future trips will include going beyond the south-western side of the country, not to mention experiencing the entirely different season of winter. I can't wait.

PS - To see more photos, follow me on Instagram. I'll be sharing more images from the trip which didn't make the portfolio cut.

Todd Dominey