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Fujifilm X100S
Inspiration

Ljósmyndun In The Land Of Fire And Ice

· 14.May.2016

Off road, black sand, volcanic rock, heavy rain, mighty winds, and a front wheel drive Renault hatchback… This is not a recipe for success.

It is an odd mix of sorts, a juxtaposition between intense solitude and unexpected company. Traversing the southern edge of Iceland along Route 1 is profoundly isolating while at the same time it facilitates a strange bond. There are two types of tourists you see in Iceland: people with cameras and people traveling with people with cameras. Almost everyone fancies themselves a photographer and almost everyone is looking for the perfect shot. Most tourists stick to their self-guided tours and for the most part, I was no different. Although I never said much to those I saw, I eventually realized that I had become part of a fellowship of photographers.

 

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The rain had finally abated after hours of cascading across the landscape. I spotted a mighty waterfall tumbling down a rocky slope, which turned into a stream that emptied into the ocean a few hundred feet away. Stopping my car, I got out, set up my tripod, screwed on my 28mm adaptor, put on my neutral density filter, and set my Fujifilm x100s to a proper configuration of settings. I took a few long exposure shots but none of them were exactly what I was looking for. Finally, I figured out the right composition and maneuvered my camera around to face the stream. Just then, a couple pulled up along side me and started taking pictures. I’d seen them before, earlier at a farm and then again later at a small restaurant. The woman began to walk into my frame while my x100s was shooting a thirty second exposure but just then her husband grabbed her arm and held her back. He smiled at me, camera around his neck, and winked. Once my shutter closed again, I gave them the thumbs up and smiled back. The lighting was just right when I took this photographer and a moment later it all changed as the rain returned.

 

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Along the road, you rarely come across other cars. You are alone, in a world of ominous black sand beaches, menacing volcanic rock, and unpredictably violent weather. However, one way or another, the same faces always seemed to pop up wherever I went. Sometimes it was the British couple with their young son, other times it was two Asian photographers traveling together, and somehow I always seemed to bump into the same crazy guy who wore shorts. I mean honestly dude, come on; this is ICEland. But anyways, it was strangely comforting whenever I noticed them. We never stopped for a chat, but we’d nonchalantly acknowledge each other’s presence and go about photographing whatever amazing site we happened to be at.

 

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There were times when the temptation to venture off the beaten track was too strong; a small sign for a hot pool or the sight of a rundown mine. I’d heard tell of a crashed, 1970s US Air Force plane somewhere on a black sand beach. Against my better judgement, I turned off Route 1 and made my way across a rocky and desolated expanse of land. After fifteen minutes, I could no longer see the road behind me, just a wall of mist. After what felt like a lifetime, I saw it. The destroyed fighter must have lost its nose during the crash. Its tail was gone and the inside had been torn apart by the decades of rain and snow. The clouds parted and illuminated the plane along with the puddles of water around it. Taking this picture affirmed my decision to forsake the map, explore the unknown, and risk getting stranded. Off road, black sand, volcanic rock, heavy rain, mighty winds, and a front wheel drive Renault hatchback… This may not have been a recipe for success, but the risk paid off.

 

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I think I have discerned why Christopher Nolan is so fascinated with Iceland. After all, he did film part of both “Batman Begins” and “Interstellar” there. The landscape is so varied; one minute it can be raining, the next sunny, and the next snowing. There are large expanses of ice covered plains and then after just driving a few more miles, boiling springs of blue water stretch for as far as you can see. Iceland is foreign; it is like nothing I have ever experienced before. The beautiful country is otherworldly and denotes a strange alien presence. As a photographer, I urge anyone who is seeking adventure to find the time to visit Iceland. The ljósmyndun (or photography) opportunities are innumerable. Also, bring a high quality neutral density filter … you’ll need it!

Joey Spadoni

Joey Spadoni is an observational photographer who focuses on capturing the beauty of everyday life. He previously worked as a professional photographer, but ultimately decided to go to law school. Seeking simplicity, Joey sold his Fujifilm gear and purchased an X100V to serve as his go-everywhere, do-everything photographic instrument. Creative expression through photography is, and always will be, a vital part of his life.

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