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Icelandic Highlands, 2018

Iceland’s mercurial weather is the stuff of legend, but it’s still surprising to see just how intense the changes can be. One of the nine days that we spent in the Highlands last year ended with  sideways rain so intense that we felt as if someone had taken direct aim at us with a firehose, making photography an exercise in futility. The next day was no better, so I made the decision to present an indoor program in the warm, snug confines of our remote Highlands hut.  Each of the three co-leaders gave a presentation for the group on the topic of creativity. It was a brilliant series of talks, and everyone was very engaged in the ensuing discussions. Despite the great success of that program, we were quite ready to get back outdoors with our cameras afterwards. The only problem was that the rain still hadn’t let up, and the world outside was shrouded in dense, dark, grey atmosphere all the way to the ground. Despite the challenging conditions, we piled into our “monster trucks” and decided that we would try our luck.

Upon reaching this lake, we got our gear ready for wet conditions, pulled the hoods of our raincoats tight, and ventured out onto the black sand beach like the intrepid troopers that we were. The rain was much lighter than it had been the day before, but it was still plenty wet outside, and we couldn’t see anything further than about 100 feet in any direction because of the low mist. At first we came across some interesting small scenes on the ground, and everyone had a great time working with those while I ventured out much further down the lakeshore to investigate a shoreline protrusion visible in the distance. I wondered if it might be an interesting jetty like one that I had found for the group a few days earlier. When I got close, I could tell that it was not just an interesting jetty; it was one of the most elegant and mesmerizing natural features that one can hope to find. Just as I ran back to the group to report about my discovery, the mist began to lift, giving a glimpse of a volcano on the other side of the lake. That sliver of a view under the mist was the perfect, mysterious complement to the wonderful whorl of black sand along the opposite shore.

The group enjoyed this scene so much that we returned again the next day to photograph it under clearer skies. During the second visit we had completely different conditions to work with, and the volcano across the lake was fully revealed. Gone were the rain and the mist, and gone with them were the mystery and the magic. Although I photographed the scene again on that second visit, it was this first outing with the moody weather that most captured my imagination.

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