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The North Atlantic and Gold

Photographing Iceland

I live in California and have traveled and photographed the American West for over 25 years.

It is easy for me to travel and photograph the glacial carved Yosemite region or the parched deserts of Death Valley and Southern California. The California, Oregon and Washington Coastlines along with the the geysers of Yellowstone, the peaks of the Grand Tetons or the vast Grand Canyon are equally available. So why do I find myself returning at every opportunity to Iceland?

Light and water.

Summer near the Arctic Circle is too brief, the weather changeable and

Water is central to this portfolio as it is to Iceland. Ìsland, as it is properly called, is a rock surrounded by the Atlantic. The coastline of the Westfjords alone is seemingly endless. Inland, water, super-heated by the earth, emerges as both momentary geysirs and in continuous caldrons. Water, frozen into land sculpting glaciers melts into flowing rivers and streams. Water - salt and fresh has shaped the freshly made, volcanic land.

Iceland is small, remote and sparsely populated. Too much of the rest of the world is not. The clear air, constantly changing weather and sub-arctic location result in summer light that seems designed for photography. However, with the constantly changing conditions sometimes finding a photograph can seem like a winning lottery ticket.

The portfolio is entirely shot with digital SLRs. The transition from 4x5 film to digital has been one of using new tools to preform familiar tasks. I bring the deliberate approach of large format photography to these images. Not all the images are formal, taken with the "camera nailed to tripod." However, they are all carefully framed. The color pallet is that of film. The subject matter is illustrative of Iceland. The light is Icelandic.

William Smithey Jr - September 2008

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on photographing iceland
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