Icelandic Adventures / by Laura Heald


Driving through the countryside of Iceland is a time warp to a land before time. The landscape is rough and barren. Its moss covered lava fields and tall sloping mountains have an almost lunar appearance.

This is 66 degrees north.  The home of seals and poets.

A few years ago, we produced a multimedia piece on Australia for the launch of the Nikon D3s and rolling through the southwest Iceland felt so much like our time in Tasmania.

Bill and I were lucky to be escorted through the Snæfellsnes peninsula of Iceland on Sunday by our new friend Raymond Hoffmann.

He works with Dionys Moser, a Swiss photographer who is famous for his landscape work.

We will be joining them on some tours in the near future -- a diverse selection of locations from the north of Norway for the Northern Lights to the White Desert of Egypt to the Blues country of the Mississippi Delta.  We will have dates and descriptions posted on our blog and their Web sites soon. Raymond was born in Germany, but moved to Iceland after meeting his wife - a native Icelander - on a trip to the island 10 years ago. He took us to spots the guide books never mention. A black rock beach, a cozy ocean front hotel for a gourmet lunch -- lost on Bill, but much appreciated by me -- and small waterfalls overlooking a breathtaking backdrop of Church Mountain.

We started the day with coffee and croissants with his wife and 2-year-old daughter.  Along with spending hours talking with photographers at a lunch graciously arranged by Baldvin Einarsson, this was easily the highlight of our trip.  As much as we love taking pictures, spending time with people and making new friends is the best part of our existence.

Baldvin runs a professional camera store in Reykajavik.  A really professional camera store.  It was a another step back in time for us. Along with our friends at the Camera Store in Calgary, and Light and Byte in Zurich, Becco is a wonderful throwback to when service mattered most.  It’s just a different way to shop, and learn.

We’re lucky because we have Jeff Snyder and Annie Cahill at Adorama in NYC who are long time friends and colleagues. We can’t drop in often and hang out with them -- it’s a bit of a commute --but they give great small town service with huge national resources.

The weather Sunday was perhaps less than desirable for most tourists but, as Raymond pointed out, typically Icelandic. The temperature wavered between 0 and -2 degrees Celsius, and the wind was a blustery 30 meters per second, which translates to just over 60 miles per hour. We spent the day driving along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, unable to see the famous Snæfellsjökull volcanic glacier due to clouds, but enjoying the scenery nonetheless.  We stopped to watch a family of Icelandic ponies graze in a rocky field. We made pictures of a small church in the center of a lava field. Raymond took us to the famous beach at Búðir where we watched snow fall on its one-of-a-kind round, black rocks, a jarring yet phenomenal scene.

We ended the tour in a small fishing town where we warmed up with a bowl of homemade vegetable cream soup before driving back to Reykjavik. As the sun set behind a wall of clouds, rays of light escaped, allowing us to make the last of our Icelandic photos.

Maybe we’ll make it back there someday.  There is still so much more to see and do.

This is one place I’d like to get back to on a sunny day.  It’s called Gullfols, or Golden Falls, and pictures from there are spectacular when the weather is nice.  I shot this using the 8mm app on my iPhone just for fun, trying to make light of a dark day.

But there is a lot of work to be done this weekend at the Preakness Stakes so after a quick stop in Norway, home we go.