Photographing Iceland in Winter
For once I might have gone somewhere warm and tropical this winter.
I had my eye on Lake Toba in Indonesia, which for some reason has fallen out of the travelers’ eye in recent years. It’d have been perfect for me, I think. I am continually in search of off the beaten path type places, the ones that feel new and unique while still offering some infrastructure so that visitors might at once maintain some semblance of comfort while also being fully immersed in the exotic.
Instead, and probably for the last time in a very long while, I picked the cold. I went to Iceland for one reason: the pictures.
Iceland is tough in winter
I had a hard time taking pictures there. Winds on some days were gusting in excess of 50mph. This made it difficult to stand, let alone take pictures. Clouds were always present; usually it was overcast but on a few days I was lucky enough to see the sun. It was quite frustrating to have traveled all the way to Iceland, only to be met with nonstop clouds for the 2 weeks that I was there, missing most of the active but hidden aurora and what might have been gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Still, the worst day traveling is better than the best day working (or so I am told) and I enjoyed being there regardless.
The crappy weather and missing sunlight necessitated improvising. When it was windy, I took pictures anyway. When it was cloudy, I was out shooting in the hopes of a break in the sky. Sometimes this strategy paid off, but mostly it didn’t. Eternally hopeful, I went out shooting regardless.
Shooting in Black and White
When the weather sucks and the light is poor I often resort to black and white photography. I love to include color when the light is good, but unfortunately, Iceland in winter was often devoid of both color and light. I was left shooting in black and white whether I wanted to or not.
I usually edit my black and white pictures in my camera. This means I don’t use Photoshop or Lightroom or any other nonsense. My black and white pictures are as true to what I saw as any color shot, perhaps truer because it hasn’t really been edited.
If not enjoyable, certainly an experience to remember
While it was hard to enjoy every second of my time in Iceland this February, it most definitely was an experience to remember. Like a long run or a difficult workout, even though the event itself isn’t particularly enjoyable you still get something out of it. In the case of this Iceland trip, with 50mph winds and hardly a glimpse of sunlight for two weeks straight, it was definitely one for the books.
Lake Toba here I come.