In February of 2015, my friend Sonja, Bruce and I spent some time photographing around Mývatn in the North of Iceland. We were pinned down here for a few days due to a massive storm.
This storm tore the roofs off houses and stranded scores of people in their cars on the ring road. However, we were still able to get out to shoot here and there between the worst parts of the weather.
One particular evening, we were driving over a small pass above Hverir thermal area, the wind was absolutely ripping. Bruce yells, ‘wait!, stop!, pull over!’. I thought there was an animal in the road or something was blown in front of the car. When we stopped, he jumps out of the car, grabs my tripod on accident and runs off into the hills to shoot. The surrounding snow covered hills had been turned brown due to all the dirt the storm had blown everywhere. I completely wrote the area off photographically because it was ‘ugly’.
I did not see what Bruce was seeing but I thought id get out and investigate a bit (luckily our tripods and heads were very similar, so I grabbed his). After exploring for a while and getting blown all over the place in 60 mph winds, I discovered that this area in all its strange glory was an absolute goldmine.
I did not realize this, but I had always looked for ‘beautiful’ things when I was out shooting. In doing so, I had been blind to a myriad of other photographic opportunities, just like this one. Wonderful ‘ugly’ brown swirls and strange textures covered the snow creating fantastic foreground elements. It was by no means ‘pretty’, but it was incredibly interesting. We shot until well into the evening and the sky opened up a bit with some fantastic color. During my 3 weeks of shooting on this trip, this evening in these dirty brown hills was my most memorable.