April 8, 2014

iceland – 2013

In around 2002, I first heard of this Icelandic band called Sigur Ros. I couldn’t pronounce half of the names of their songs and I definitely didn’t know what they were singing about. But it didn’t matter, their music transcended words, they seemed to reach in and grasp at the core of me – every time I listened to them, I felt something. I obsessively collected everything that they released and went to every show they played in Australia. I fell in love with them, their music and through that, Iceland.

When Mike and Cecila asked me to photograph their wedding in Sweden last June, it seemed that Iceland was literally closer than it had ever been. Kristen and I decided that this was finally our chance to go. And ever since then, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get back.

Iceland is actually like no other country on earth. It’s one of the youngest landmasses in the world having only existed for around 20-30 million years and the closest thing I can compare it to is the south island of New Zealand, except more rugged and more volatile. When you’re traveling through Iceland, you’re probably moments away from death if you make a wrong decision and it doesn’t feel like a country where you can take risks and get away with it. The people are intelligent, educated and progressive, and for a country of that size, they’re impressively high-achieving in music and the arts (plus they have the highest per-capita winners of Nobel Prizes of anywhere in the world!) and I would gladly live there.

We knew that we wanted to experience Iceland in all of this glory so we hired an insanely small and very uncomfortable campervan – also known as Billy Idol (you might be able to see why soon). We traveled the entire ring road around the country and included a foray into the West Fjords nearly dying only twice – I’d say that’s a pretty good road-trip in Icelandic terms (by the way, the Icelandic seem completely non-plussed by any of this, we’re cruising along at 40km/h in our 4WD campervan on a dirt/snow covered road and some kid whizzes past at 90km in a 2 door hatchback). We had one tyre explosion, one near slip off the edge of an icy cliff and many wonderful memories that we will keep for a lifetime. I’d say it’s still very much my favourite place on the planet.

We wanted to document what we saw differently to all of the usual travel photos. We wanted a fresh way to see things, a way to give new perspective to us and to others. We decided that we’d only use a tilt shift lens – sometimes changing the equipment you use to see things is all you need. We planned to have an exhibition of these images at some point last year but with things being the way they have been in the last 9 months (ie. a little bit crazy), we just haven’t been able to find the emotional energy to invest in it. Plus, we’re so excited about what we saw, we just want to share it with you so you can hopefully be inspired in the way that we were.

This 800 pixel wide blog just does’t do justice to the images so you’ll have to click on the below two links, they’ll take you to two slideshows. One is 1200 pixels wide and the other 1600 pixels – choose which one based on how good your internet connection is (it’s about 25MB all up at 1600px) and your screen resolution. If you can get onto a computer to look at this post, I can guarantee it’ll look much better. Just as an aside, neither Kristen nor I can remember who took each photo but I’m pretty confident that Kristen took most of them. But I’m not perturbed, the images of Iceland are firmly implanted in my memory and no camera can represent my heart and memory on the day we left this hauntingly beautiful country.

1200px Slideshow :: 1600px Slideshow



  • Lakshal May 17, 2014

    Hi Serena!
    These are all shot with the 45 TS-E. I’ve only tried the 17 and the 45 and the 17 was just ridiculously unusable for what I was trying to do (or maybe I was an idiot that couldn’t figure out what to do with it!). :)
    Not sure if f2.8 or f3.5 makes much of a difference to be honest!

  • Serena May 12, 2014

    Hi Lucky! I absolutely love your Iceland gallery and have spent quite a long time admiring it :)

    I plan on purchasing a tilt-shift this year to use whilst travelling. Do you use the 24mm f/3.5 or the 45mm f/2.8, and does the maximum aperture of each lens make much of a difference? On a full-frame, my feeling is that the 24mm might be too wide but then the 45mm might not be wide enough. Having said that, I’m not really sure how far I will be standing away from each landscape that I want to take photos of. Your photos from Iceland look like you’re standing from very high vantage points, yet you look really close and I’m not sure whether that’s because you’re actually close to the subjects or whether you have a 45mm as opposed to the 24mm.

  • Phil April 8, 2014

    dude, you nailed it!

    “And ever since then, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get back.”

    Absolutely. Iceland has left a mark on our memories like no other place we’ve ever visited. I’m so glad you managed to get around the whole ring, side dalliances with death included. We only visited the strip along the south side, and stunning as that was I know there’s much more to see. Thanks for giving me a tiny glimpse of what else is over there!

  • Inta April 8, 2014

    I’ve got goosebumps after watching this! Beauty! Beauty! Beauty!

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