Iceland waterscape photography in Kirkjufell, showing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), by landscape photographer José Ramos

Iceland Trip: The experience

José Ramos Nature & Landscape Photography Leave a Comment

I’M BACK! Unexpectedly, we managed to survive and came back to tell you the story! I don’t even know where to start, but it was unavoidable to start my Icelandic photo posting session with an image of the crazy Land of Fire and Ice team, on the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Please forgive the extreme sensuality of our clothing, but to be able to withstand knee deep frozen water while photographing chunks of ice, one needs some neoprene equipment or rubber boots and snow pants, fishermen style!

Iceland is one of those mythical lands which universally triggers feelings of enchantment and passion, fulfilling dreamer’s imaginary just by looking at images and stories about the country. Considering this, the question kept repeating in my head: “How does it feel to be there…?”.

As an eternal nature addict, I assumed from the beginning I would love Iceland, make tons of photos, watch a thousand landscapes, but nothing had prepared me for the rest. I’m still profoundly stunned with everything I witnessed, trying to find a meaning for the deep sensation of attachment I felt while there (and still here…).

Seven days of intense travelling, with about 2000km of accumulated driving, mostly at night, to be able to spend as much time as possible seeing and trying to understand how a piece of land amidst the ocean can carry so many beauty, loneliness, introspection, power and inspiration.

Contrary to what was planned, I ended up not resisting to visit points of interest scattered around the island, which would mean extra physical effort. Starting with a visit to the unique Kirkujfell mountain, I was offered an absolutely incredible Northern Lights spectacle, leaving me inebriated to the point of deciding to do an extra 1000km to be able to visit the Northern area, and feel the power of Godafoss and Detifoss (with a stop at Hvitserkur). Following this, three attempts to capture the Vesturhorn mountains, usually covered in dense clouds, two visits to the incredible Jokulsarlon beach and glaciar lagoon, and the unforgettable Skogadoss and Seljalandfoss waterfalls.

Between each spot, countless kilometers of an endless, yet beautiful, Ring Circle road, showing an unimaginable diversity of landscapes, from paradisiac black sand beaches, to volcanic desolate terrain, reminding of alien planets. Even though the weather was extremely unpredictable and rainy, Iceland’s main road kept showing us breathtaking images, further deepening the constant sensation of eternal expansion and discovery.

The option of sleeping inside the car was tough yet logical, as having to book an hotel/guesthouse would truly harm the natural flux of the trip, as well as undermine the unique sensation of sleeping in beautiful isolated places. In Iceland it’s not enough to “see”, you also need to “be” for things to make sense.

Reading about this country’s history, understanding it’s genesis and struggles, acknowledging the global revolt during the financial crisis, and learning about it’s incredibly high levels of equality, happiness, health, civility and environmental consciousness quickly became a lesson on humility, when looking at the pervasive hopelessness feeling my country is currently sunken in. As if the lessons of the landscape weren’t enough…

Photographically speaking, I made hundreds of photos, on some of the most difficult technical conditions ever (and shooting portuguese savage beaches is not easy at all…), with lots of rain, waterfall waterspray, soaked camera, very cold temperatures, slippery terrains, wet filters, insufficient batteries, dangerous cliffs. Most of all a challenge, not a torture. All the neurotic trip planning ended up being a necessity, as the lack of power outlets (except for the 12 volt car connection), turned battery management into a complex affair, and the gelid temperatures demanded a study about materials and clothing layers!

The moral of the story: close your eyes, and try to imagine the most beautiful and incredible Iceland… Then you just need to think that Iceland looks like that, multiplied by “infinite”. This way, you will acquire a solid cognitive concept of its beauty, which will have to be obviously completed in the future with the emotional component of really being there!

Thank you to everyone who sent me good vibes. It was you who made my checked in bags arrive as one piece and who avoided any major problem during the trip. Thank you to all who saw and commented on the few posts I put on facebook during the trip. Thank you to everyone who felt the healthy envy of the dreamer, who wishes no harm and is just anxious for similar experiences, recognizing that for me these trips also imply “giving” something in return.