Category Archives: Iceland
The answer to many questions which I raise on this blog often lie in between the two extremes presented. I feel that Marianne and I can talk to this subject because we have transitioned between the two modes of holiday planning with a gradual drift toward the meticulous side. This is largely due to the presence of Charlotte but also in part due to creating ‘backup’ plans photographically. There are notable advantages and restrictions to both approaches which I thought I might highlight through some past experiences. The short stories are examples of planning gone right or wrong.
Back in 2002, our first trip to Vietnam originated from a plane ticket in , a plane ticket out and the first night’s accommodation. Everything else in between, was completely up for grabs! Fast forward to this year and I’m coming up with spreadsheets of various aspects of the trip. I never thought of myself as OCD but perhaps there are elements….
In 2009, our icelandic trip was hampered photographically with the early loss of the 5dmk2 to waterfall spray. Sharing one camera between two photographers was very trying for our patience. We used ‘open voucher’ tickets with Iceland’s excellent hostel network. This allowed us to spend more time at certain locations and to wander ‘off course’ to places such as Breidavik in the West Fjords where a fortuitous snap has since become one of our most popular images.
Again in 2009, we didn’t account for a May public holiday which meant all accommodation in Seydisfjordur was occupied. As a result, we had to drive an hour further to the remote property ‘Husey’ where we enjoyed some great conditions for photography. This was not without stress as we rang around for quite some time before securing any accommodation whatsoever. This shot would never have occurred if we had adhered to a predetermined itinerary!
In 2010, we prebooked every single night in Iceland over a 5 week trip. Had we known just how incredible the West Fjords would be, we would have altered our schedule somewhat! As it was 2 nights at Korpudalur was enough for us to chance upon this scene.
In 2011 , we visited Tasmania while Marianne was 20+ weeks pregnant. By this stage , most of our trips had accommodation prebooked before leaving. We wanted to travel in relative comfort compared to our previous trips given that this would be our last hurrah without a baby in tow. Hence the actual accommodation took preference over its exact location. We do wish we could have stayed longer and closer to the West Coast than Burnie though! Burnie was our base for the series of shots from Couta Rocks.
In 2012, Charlotte was well and truly part of our lives. Free wheeling accommodation was no longer a realistic possibility and so the level of planning rose further. We found that ‘overnighters’ at any given location was just too much of a hassle. By the time everything was unpacked for ourselves and Charlotte then repacked the following morning, our arms had received a great workout but that’s where the positives ended. It was a struggle to find the motivation to get out and about on these evenings and dawns. We would have loved a couple of nights at Moeraki for instance.
This year, the level of planning went up further! In order to maximise time with photography and family, I tried to plan the direction of our travel so that tides and moon phases would match certain parts of our trip. Instead of heading north to Kaikoura first, we chose to head through Arthur’s Pass to coincide with a new moon and the chance for some milky way shots. Similarly , instead of heading straight to the glaciers, we decided to stop at Greymouth for a couple of days to take advantage of low tide at dawn and dusk. Despite these plans, we would have loved to have spent more time around the west coast due to the bad weather which had us indoors for much of our time at Punakaiki. Conversely we could have spent one less day in Glacier country except for Charlotte’s run in with a nasty chest infection.
So what’s my conclusion then? I feel that an open itinerary gives you so many more opportunities to take advantage of conditions photographically. This may not be the best option for you if you feel the need for security of a guaranteed roof over your head for the next evening. With a trip involving an infant though, this would result in a potentially unsettled child whose behavior could then spoil the trip. We try to overcome both problems by simply staying longer at any given location and hoping that the conditions suit at some stage during our stay. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts both as solo travelers and family travelers with children at different ages.
Korpudalur Iceland: (Gold) – Marianne 89
This evening in Iceland was a special one in terms of lighting. The sun hovered low on the horizon which is typical for an Icelandic summer. Horizontal rays lit only the base of the distant mountains. This image had performed well in a previous competition so we wondered if its track record would speak for itself.
Gunyah Dunes: (Silver) –Dylan 86
When we were photographing Gunyah Dunes at Coffin Bay National Park, the light was beautiful though Charlotte was not enjoying the windy conditions and goggled outlook on the world. This was a personal favourite scene which was fresh on our minds which made it difficult to be objective when comparing to other images we could have entered. I ended up including this one instead of an image of Cradle Mountain boat shed.
Halls Falls: (Silver)- Dylan 86
Some images grow on you with time. After taking this image and processing it, I thought to myself that this tells a story that we’ve visited Halls Falls and little more. During the process of contributing to the book “Tasmania , A Visual Journey” in 2011, it was voted highest of all the images submitted by the contributors and was received into 1x as well. While I like the picture, it seems that our photographic peers like it even more than I do hence I thought it may have a chance to do well in this competition.
Milford Sound: (Silver) –Marianne 84
This is part 1 of an amazing evening in Fiordland National Park. We had split up that night with Marianne staying down at the sound with Charlotte while I was walking the Routeburn Track. When I returned , I was chuffed with my own results and then saw Marianne’s and thought ‘wow’!
Lake Mackenzie: (Silver) –Dylan 84
Part 2 of the amazing evening as seen just after sunset at Lake Mackenzie. This shot was my pride and joy of the recent New Zealand trip. For some reason, I just wanted it to do well in other competitions too. It was beaten in a photograph of the week competition and then knocked back by 1x on the basis of being “overcooked” which disappointed me. A silver in the loupe has breathed some life back into it for me, especially the high end score
Binalong Bay: (Silver) – Marianne 84
Iconic trees seem to be a common theme in competition front runners. Instead of the Wanaka tree, we thought we’d throw in this one from Binalong Bay. It is located ideally with westerly and easterly aspects to it making it great to photograph at either end of the day. Strangely, we don’t have an strong emotional investment in this scene ; rather, we just apply the ‘gut feel’ of liking it.
Godafoss: (Silver) – Marianne 84
We had photographed Godafoss in 2009 with very little success. Despite the scene looking grander, we photographed it early in the Icelandic spring wihen the volume of water submerged the rock visible in this scene. The wind was also blowing directly into us downstream. When we visited again in 2010, the conditions were the exact opposite and we spent a great deal of time appreciating this beautiful albeit small falls (relatively speaking by Icelandic standards). This image had also done well in a previous competition and like the Korpudalur image, we hoped that its history would speak for itself. While each of the crop suggestions has merits, both of us still like the original crop for the reasons that the vignetting adds depth at both ends to the image ending up focussing on the falls themselves.
Murphy’s Haystacks: (Silver) –Dylan 82
After returning home from a night in this paddock, I had no idea if this star panorama would turn out. In the past, I’ve had to do some whacky transformations of U shaped stitches when attempting wide angle vertical stitches but on this occasion, that didn’t occur. The end result was something I was pleased with but I had no idea that it would become our most popular image ever! I had not seen many star images doing very well in this competition so I thought I’d see if this one could buck the trend. I’ll wait for the top 50 announcement to see if it gets in but in the end , it snuck home for a silver. We did raise an eyebrow about the 23 point scoring spread in this image but I suspect that will always be the case with images that generate heated debate.
The Bronze Awards:
Personally, I think all of these images I chose for ‘oddball’ reasons andwill not do so again in the future. Both Kirkjufell images were chosen on the basis that they became very popular despite the fact that I had overlooked processing them for a year after we returned from the trip. Perhaps my gut instinct was right about them? The narrower crop on the waterfall image makes sense to me but the crop of the reflection seems a little too severe for my liking.
The image of the iceberg was yet again an image I chose as the third of 3 in a series of iceblock images on black sand. Somehow it became far more popular than the others. I ignored it for a long time because of the polarising effect in the sky (forgot to turn the effect off at the scene).
Godafoss part 2 really is just weaker version of Marianne’s. So why exactly did I include it? Who knows really ! I just kind of shake my head as to why I thought it was a good idea in the first place.
In summary, we are happy with our results but there are still some lessons to be learned:
- The selection process was largely left to me. As a result I probably chose Marianne’s images better as I had the more objective eye in doing so. Perhaps in the future, Marianne should choose mine!
- Popularity on social media and photosharing sites doesn’t necessarily translate into popularity in photography competitions.
- One should wait until all the results are in and the initial nervousness of the wait is over before jumping to premature conclusions about the judging process.
- I am uncertain about repetition of themes within entries. After all, the open category landscape winners this year did include two very similar images of the same boat shed.
- It seems that our initial selection of images to process shortly after capture were the ones which received the highest scores. Look with a tilted brow at images you’ve rediscovered on an archive archaeological dig!
- Like most aspects of life, the balance between giving yourself credibility without taking yourself too seriously usually allows you to learn from experience and progress for the future.
What do you think and what images of ours do you think we hypothetically should have entered? Until next year’s ILA!