Gullfoss, the “golden waterfall”
Yes, it has been a while since I posted anything here. That’s because I was away on a trip to Iceland.
You may have noticed that over the past several months I’ve posted photos from my trip to Iceland way back in 1995. That’s because I was thinking of making a return and decided to take a look at the photos that I had made there 18 years ago. Iceland is a fantastic place to photograph, filled as it is with waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, fields of lava, black sand beaches and a host of other spectacular landscape formations.
Things were different on this trip than on the first. Last time, I went in the first week of May; this time it was the first week of July. Last time I went for five days and stayed in the capital city, Reykjavik, with a couple of day trips by bus added in; this time, I went for nine days and rented a car. On both trips I primarily travelled along the south coast, but this time I made it much farther than the last.
The biggest difference, though, was that in May 1995, I had not yet begun to photograph art nudes. This time, my primary goal was to photograph nudes among the spectacular landscape, and so I brought two models with me, Aubrey Zich and Brooke Lynne.
So how did I do in that regard? Well, to be honest, the results were mixed. For one thing, the trip I took followed the basic tourist itinerary of the travel company that I used to book the trip. This meant going to a lot of popular tourist spots that were crowded with people, making art nude photography impossible. Part of the problem was my own, as I actually wanted to go to these places, many of which I saw last time and wanted to see again. However, going to these locations was not a waste, as I certainly made a lot of landscape images, but as far as doing art nude photography goes, it wasn’t very practical.
Fortunately, I had decided to add on a few days to the basic itinerary, and during these final days off the primary beaten path, opportunities for art nude photography did improve. However, I found that even in a sparsely populated country like Iceland, going to out of the way places during the summer tourist season is no guarantee of privacy, as on a number of occasions I thought that we’d be on our own when another car or tour bus would suddenly appear out of the blue.
If that wasn’t enough, there also was that great intangible factor for a place like Iceland: the weather. Iceland, as the name of the country may suggest, is not the easiest place for a model to take everything off and stand there in front of a camera for photos. I took this into account before deciding to plan such a trip. I saw that there’s an American photographer who has organized nude photo workshops in Iceland and planned another one for this year. I also saw nude photos done outdoors by Icelandic photographers, so I decided that it can be done.
Hallgrimskirkja church, Reykjavik
When I went up to Vermont in April, I photographed two models in a temperature that was not much higher than the freezing point, and though the models spent a lot of time wrapped up between shooting, we were able to get the work done.
Well, in Iceland the deck was stacked against us to begin with. The average temperature range in Iceland in the summer is the mid-40’s to the mid-50’s. This is hardly balmy, but warmer than it was when I went up to Vermont. However, a lot of people told me that this summer in Iceland has been the coldest one in memory.
Still, that’s something that can be reckoned with. (Again, Vermont). What really makes things difficult is the wind. Iceland is a place where people don’t usually carry umbrellas when it rains because of the wind, and add wind to cold and the wind chill factor just plummets. So, I can’t thank Aubrey and Brooke enough for getting out there and modeling under those circumstances.
I was also told that this summer in Iceland has seen more rain than usual (and the better part of two days were essentially rained out), so I ended up saying this about photographing in Iceland: if it’s not the cold, it’s the wind. If it’s not the wind, it’s the rain. If it’s not the rain, it’s the bloody tourists. Of course, it’s often a combination of these things, which makes it even worse!
Shadow and Building, Reykjavik
Nonetheless, I think the trip was worthwhile and I am planning to go back. Basically, it’s a matter of staying away from the popular tourist spots and going to out of the way places – though I believe that it is possible to photograph nudes at those popular places if one gets there early enough, before the masses arrive. I now have a better idea of what to expect. In addition, I met a couple of Icelandic photographers who were very helpful and who I may get to work with again, plus some Icelandic models, too. Hopefully, if this summer’s cold was unusual, it will be a bit warmer too next time (and it did get warmer on our last day, naturally).
I’m hoping to get some of my film developed soon, but for now, I’ll be making a few postings with the travel snaps that I made with my pocket digital camera. These here are from the first few days of the trip. I also have lots of photos from last year’s trip to Canada to post, plus more from the aforementioned trip to Vermont. As always, stay tuned.
Hamlet, Reykjavik style
Brooke and the big bottle
Red door, Reykjavik
Yes, the waitress said that the jelly is made with sheep heads
Brooke and Aubrey at dinner in Hveragerði
Strokkur (“The Churn”) spouts at Geysir
Steam rising from geothermal activity
Aubrey at one of the ubiquitous N1 gas station/convenience stores
Another view of Seljalandfoss
Aubrey at Glufrabui, the “hidden” waterfall
Skogafoss, the waterfall at Skogar