Inspired by Iceland | A photographic journey into beauty

Photographic Heaven

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

~Henry David Thoreau

 

What can you say about the most beautiful place on earth? A lot actually. Photos do a good job on their own and especially when given the opportunity to be in photographic heaven for two whole weeks. This is why I’m titling this post: Inspired by Iceland | A photographic journey into beauty.

While the trip began on a sour note, it was far more full of uplifting and inspiring moments than pitfalls. I loved Iceland and I think you will too.

Waterfalls near Kirkjufell mountain at Grundarfjordur

Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfalls near Kirkjufell mountain at Grundarfjordur

This was the very first time that I embarked on a shoot of this nature with other photographers and I was really excited at the prospect of spending some time with a couple of friends whose photography I really love. We had been planning this trip for months along with our masterful trip planner Susanna from Iceland is Hot. Susanna made sure that we had all the info we needed and she helped us plot our destinations with maps, hotels, camper van, outdoor gear rentals, and a whole series of information sheets.

 

So here we were, the three amigos… In Iceland! All of us eager to get started upon arrival and as we were waiting for our bags the grins on our faces were getting bigger. Waiting, waiting, waiting…. Hmmm. Colby got his bags, then Patrick got his. It would only be a few moments till mine appeared, right?

 

Wrong!

 

Thanks to Air Canada’s awesome — and when I say awesome I mean truly abysmal — service, my bag had ended up…. Well, somewhere other than Iceland. Well done Air Canada, bravo! My bag was now seeing more of the world than I was — but hey — I did get a free t-shirt out of the deal and a toothbrush that disintegrated after a half dozen strokes. Even when I got home and had to deal with Air Canada personnel in Toronto, they were rude and full of attitude. Given the choice I’d fly just about any other airline at this point and I’d recommend that you do the same. My sister came up with a great slogan for our national airline some time ago:

 

“Air Canada: We’re not happy till you’re not happy”

 

Perfect :D

 

Jokulsarlon Ice at sunrise in Iceland

Jokulsarlon Ice at sunrise in Iceland

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

~Tennessee Williams

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While the trip was not off to a perfect start, I kept my fingers crossed that we’d get my bag delivered in the next few days. Meanwhile, I was without a tripod, all my clothes and toiletries, computer and camera gear, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The tripod was what concerned me the most since I need it for pretty much all my shots. What to do, what to do?

 

Social media to the rescue

 

Thanks to Google+ and the fact that both Colby and Patrick have over a million followers on G+ (which has a thriving photo community) we were able to send out word of my plight. A local Icelandic good samaritan Bergþór Jónsson got in touch with us and was kind enough to lend me his tripod for the entire two weeks! You just have to love how wonderfully giving some people can be. A HUGE thank you toyou Bergþór for turning this minor disaster into a great beginning of my trip.

 

The Hvita river

The Hvita river

We were all exhausted after the red eye flight to Reykjavik from Toronto and the weather was not looking too promising on the first day. Luckily we had no shooting planned as the plan was to meet up with Susanna to talk about the itinerary and head on over to Happy Campers to pick up our camper van that we’d have for the rest of the journey.

 

The only way to see the majesty of the landscapes in Iceland is to drive, and there is no better way to drive than by camper van. One of the coolest things for us as photographers, was to be able to park the camper van just about anywhere safe with no extra need for permits. That way we could sleep exactly where we wanted to start shooting the next morning. For a photographer, that is brilliant! Don’t try this in Canada or the US! Our camper was comfortable, efficient, and in pristine condition. We were able to cook in it with great ease and for three people the size was ideal. I’d highly recommend Happy Campers to anyone who was visiting Iceland. When you go see them, tell Sverrir that Ken, Pat, and Colby sent you!

 

“All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk.”

~Ayn Rand

 

On day two we hit the road and headed towards Vik. The winds were literally gale force and prevented us from going very far that day but we were in for a visual treat at almost every stop we made afterward. As we paused to fuel up the camper and grab a bite (mmm gas station burgers), a police officer stopped us and told us to stop there for the night since the winds were literally sandblasting the vehicles and we could feel ours swerving with each violent gust. At one point we saw some poor guy’s car that was completely matte on one side where the paint had been stripped from the blowing sand. I had never seen such crazy winds this far inland and would later find out that Iceland is the windiest country in the world.

 

Hope you enjoyed this preview of some of the amazing Icelandic sites that I saw, there’s a lot more on the way. If you’re looking to plan your own trip to this dream destination, there is no one more qualified to help you than Susanna at Iceland is Hot. Our journey was the success that it was thanks to Susanna’s commitment to us and her professionalism. Thanks Susanna :)

Me at Hvitsegur in my favourite Arc'teryx jacket

Yours truly at Hvitserkur in my favourite Arc’teryx jacket

“An artist’s duty is rather to stay open-minded and in a state where he can receive information and inspiration. You always have to be ready for that little artistic Epiphany.”

~Nick Cave

 

Still not convinced about visiting Iceland? Watch this wonderful video and I’m sure that you’ll be booking your tickets. The Inspired by Iceland series of tourism videos have won numerous awards, and rightfully so. They present the country and its people in a fun, friendly, and quirky way… Exactly as it should be! I’m looking forward to being back in Iceland soon… Hope to see you there!

Comments (50)

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  1. art lover says

    You, Ken, are making me realize (through your incredible photographic skills) what a BIG BEAUTIFUL WORLD we live in. Everywhere you go, you turn the landscapes into fairy tale settings. Thank you for being willing to share the results of your extraordinary talent.

  2. Perry says

    It was on my list, and it’s now moved up a few notch. I’ll just make sure not to fly Air Canada. I too can’t stand them.

  3. says

    I got married 17 days ago and Iceland is the destination of our honeymoon. We are visiting Iceland March 2013 – I have read that March is the best time when to see Nordic Lights. Also I have friends that said – If you have visited Iceland you have seen almost every country, because it contains everything – Volcanoes, Mountains, Waterfalls, etc.

  4. says

    Gorgeous photos Ken. And this video is absolutely brilliant. I’ve wanted to go to Iceland for ages and this might just be the push I needed to actually book some tickets!

  5. says

    Angela, October should be awesome for Auroras!

    Thanks Gaby, so did your comment!

    Sue, thank you so much… Now you have to escape to iceland :)

    Art, it sure is a big beautiful world!

    Ava, I hear ya… my office is a sauna. Wishing i was back in Iceland!

    Abby, Put it at the top of the list… trust me!

    Perry, Yeah… stay away from Air Canada if possible. I have no idea how companies allow such horribly rude people to work for them.

    Carlos, Amigo! Thanks so much as always for your continued kind words. Looks like I’ll be in Chicago in Oct :)

    Armands, You will be in absolute awe. Have a great time!

    Freyer, Much appreciated!

    Monica, if you can, please book another one for me! I looooove Iceland!

  6. says

    Hey, you’ve got some very nice images there! Heard your name thru P-shelter and since I just got set up with them recently… Keep up the good work, it’s an inspiration to me.

  7. says

    Re your comment: “One of the coolest things for us as photographers, was to be able to park the camper van just about anywhere safe with no extra need for permits. That way we could sleep exactly where we wanted to start shooting the next morning. For a photographer, that is brilliant! Don’t try this in Canada or the US!”

    Come to the Yukon, Northwest Territories and even northern British Columbia, where you can still do that. Alaska was like that until the past decade or so, but no longer except in rare spots.

  8. says

    Michael, Glad to hear you signed up with Photoshelter… Love that company!

    David, Be aware that in December you’ll have mostly darkness in Iceland. Should make for some incredible Aurorae photos though!

    Murray, Thanks for letting me know. Sadly, it is much less expensive to travel to Iceland than to the North of Canada for me. Plus I was doing some work for the Iceland tourism board and to this day I have never had one offer of work from any Canadian tourism board. Too bad, I’d love to visit the Yukon.
    -

  9. says

    Oh yes, Iceland is like a photographers’ Mecca. Year after year I keep telling myself I will re-visit this awesome place but sadly every time I end up going someplace else. Btw, I love your shots Ken, especially the Waterfalls near Kirkjufell.

  10. Cynthia says

    “Still not convinced about visiting Iceland?” Man! You make me miss Iceland ever more, I want to go back! Great photos!

  11. boris says

    yes Iceland seems very unique, the ice (or iceberg on the shore) shot is one in a million… did I say I like it? stay well and keep shooting.

  12. says

    Beautiful photos. I simply loved my time in Iceland, it’s geographically an amazing country. I found it so diverse. One minute I’d be driving through volcanic boulder and scoria strewn land and the next it would be lush green meadows and cascading waterfalls. Amazing!

  13. Gina says

    Ken, I’ve traveled many places in the world however, never had the pleasure of visiting Iceland…Wow!! If eyes are the mirror of the heart/soul, then yours are Absolutely Stunning! Continued Success..Many Blessings in your travels..

  14. says

    Tomek, Those waterfalls were quite something but yet a lot smaller that they appear in this shot.

    Cynthia, take me with you when you go back ;)

    Merci Sandra… J’espère un jour de visiter la Martinique.

    TGWBB, go… Go… GO!!! You’ll never regret it :)

    Boris, you should go to Iceland too. In fact, I’ll be announcing a workshop there that will take place in the summer of 2013.

    Sam, you said it… beautiful and diverse. I love it.

    Richard, I know the feeling and i hope to return often.

    Gina, I would highly recommend adding Iceland to your list. It’s a dream come true in so many ways.

  15. says

    Absolutely amazing photos of Iceland here – and with borrowed/limited gear! I went to Iceland for 38 hours once and it rained almost the whole time. Need to go back and see the realy beauty of the country!

  16. says

    Well, what to say, first I was impressed by the Icelandic pictures, then I realize that all your pictures have the same HDR process, this fx is of course very characteristic and to me it is not something interesting or exceptional, I understand that this is your touch and it is fine, at least you have a style which is not my case and it’s better like that, I wouldn’t like to fall in this trap.

  17. HK India says

    Awesomest and most amazing photographs Ken!
    Awesome video of “Inspired by Iceland”…Feel like more and more of living life to the fullest…Cheers for amazing work..Godspeed

  18. says

    nice pictures! i’m guessing you used the multi exposure technique with photoshop in many of them yea?

    i went to iceland a few years back and would love to go back again soon. the landscape is as amazing as in your pics

  19. says

    How I wish I can visit Iceland soon. I’m not even sure if that would be possible in this lifetime but if not then I hope reincarnation is true so I can come back to this world. When I come back, I’ll make sure to be born in a place near Iceland, so the probability of me getting to Iceland would be much higher. For now, I’ll keep myself satisfied by looking at the pictures you posted. They are so awesome to the point that they seem dreamlike. I also keep coming back to another very informative travel and imagery blog, http://www.imagerykc.com.

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