With all of my travel, it’s common to run into other landscape photographers of various specialties and experience levels. There is plenty written about how to technically improve your photography. Although, I tend to analyze the qualities that I find in all successful photographers. The answer does vary; however, my most recent trip to Iceland helped solidify one answer. Successful landscape photographers are content despite the elements they encounter and will just keep coming back for more (within reason of course).
During an Iceland summer, the weather is broken. That’s right, it’s broken. The morning sunrise is beautiful with a light and refreshing breeze. Twenty minutes later, there is rain, hail, and gale-force winds. You close your eyes and cover your head as you get hit with the hail pellets. Suddenly, the sun comes out as if you were in a cartoon and the weather cloud moved down the road in search of Eeyore.
During one of Iceland’s typical downpours, our entire group of photographers stood shoulder to shoulder. We huddled on this small rock platform directly under the bridge at Bruarfoss attempting to keep our gear dry. We stood there for 30 minutes, making weather jokes, taking a few selfies, and debating whether we should stay and wait out the conditions or come back hoping for better light and sky conditions the next day.
When you talk to photographers, waiting in crappy conditions is just part of the game. If you want your photos to have amazing colors in the sky and dynamic clouds, more than likely, you and Mother Nature hold a staring competition. Then you wait and see who blinks first. Sometimes Mother Nature wins and you end up with grey, cloudless skies and leave deciding it isn’t your day.
During our first visit to Bruarfoss, that was the case. We even had a camera fall off the bridge and tumble down the side of the hill. Yes, a full-body camera and lens take a fall and tumble down a hill. Don’t worry, ultimately, the camera was fine. Bonus points to the Canon team under the ruggedness category. Even with so much rain that we weren’t able to shoot and the small amount of gear damage, no one seemed to be down or irritable. It’s the moments of being in nature, hearing the water, seeing that insane blue, feeling the coolness of the current rush past you, oh, and knowing your friend’s camera survived the fall which keeps you motivated. It is being present in your travel that makes every minute of poor conditions worth it.
Despite cramming 5 soaking wet landscape photographers back into the car, we were happy as we attempted to see whose jacket won the waterproofing award. Travel and nature have a funny way of doing that – of keeping your content despite all the discomforts. For me, I am more than content sitting under a bridge in the pouring rain watching Bruarfoss any day. I might leave my camera gear in the car, and that would be just fine. I take photos to share with others how I see the world – to share my satisfaction of sitting on a rock, dangling my muddy boots off the ledge with a constant smile that just won’t break as I take in my surroundings. No matter what, I’ll keep coming back for more.