The wind was howling like I had never before hear, the walls of my tent were flexing inwards threatening to snap the poles at any instant and collapse the rain sodden tent down on me.
I sat up and braced the poles with my hands and body, sure that disaster was imminent, and that if I had to stay up until dawn to keep my tent in one piece, that was a small price to pay. After ten minutes of this however my rational brain was finally awake enough to convince me that the poles would be fine, and that I still had 75km to ride in the morning – through this gale no less.
I laid back down and hoped against hope that the weather would improve by the morning.
This was last fall in Iceland, a country known for its extreme, and unpredictable weather. All four seasons are regularly experienced in a single day – although summer strangely less so than the other three. I was cycle touring through the country for two weeks with my friend Hamilton before continuing our tour in mainland Europe, starting in Norway. We had about four days until our flight to Oslo, and didn't have time to waste a day - especially here, in the middle of nowhere – to avoid some inclement weather.
It's possible that the weather had improved by morning, but if so it was marginally. Maybe everything just looked better in daylight, albeit daylight heavily diffused by the thick layer of rapidly shifting cloud.
And so through the sporadic rain showers and the not so sporadic wind that was surely blowing 60-75km/h - in our faces – we rode off down the road.
It was a gruelling ride to be sure, but by mid morning the rain at least had stopped. The shifting cloud was even beginning to show some patches of clear blue sky, a rare and beautiful sight in Iceland. By mid afternoon the sky had cleared even more and the sun was shining on our backs as we rode down the nearly empty highway. It was even enjoyable at this point, although the still-howling wind kept our euphoria in check.
At least until we stopped here.
As a landscape photographer I had seen a lot of images of Iceland before ever setting foot on the island. Filled with seemingly endless natural delights for photographers, adventurers, and outdoors enthusiasts (and no doubt meteorologists), I had done a lot of research on Iceland prior to the trip.
As we neared the mountains here I knew that this was an iconic (at least to me) shot of the country. One that summed up my experience there in one photo. I was immediately drawn to the fenceposts as a foreground subject, as the weathered wood and rusted wire was both texturally interesting, and indicative of the agrarian aspect that heavily influences Icelandic culture.
To me this photo contains almost everything that my experience of Iceland did. Mountains, plains, sheep farms, empty highways, clear lakes, and shifting weather. Although, if anything, the blue sky may not be entirely indicative of my experience.
While I don't think that this is necessarily the most interesting photo I've ever taken, the way it captured MY impression and experience of the place ensure that it will forever hold it's place as one of my very favorite photos.
I'd love to hear about any shots you have taken that mean so much more to you than they ever could to others who didn't experience the place or moment. Do you have any photos that aren't technically “great” images but you love immensely for other abstract reasons?