I find it rather ironic that most photographs of Iceland which one might come across on tourism websites or in some way touting the beauty of this country feature landmarks bathed in sunlight set against cerulean skies. My photo of the iconic hilltop church in the town of Vik can serve as an example of this type of photography. But Iceland is not a very sunny country. At all. The day on which this shot was taken is an anomaly, as the climate here in the summer tends to be windy, rainy, and above all, cloudy. So cloudy, in fact, that one fellow photographer I talked to claims to have spent three separate weeks there and never seen a fully blue sky.
And the irony is that sunshine and clear skies is most definitely not what a photographer should be looking for in Iceland. If “cloudy” brings to mind the featureless gray skies typical of, say, December in my native Chicago, that would be a mistake. Rather, what Iceland offers is drama: thick, low clouds rolling over mountains; crepuscular rays shooting through clouds to trace across valleys; or the midnight sun filtering through fog and mist to render entire landscapes shades of steel blue.
So I thought it would only be fitting to start this series with such a deceptively cheery shot. My week here was spent looking at the clouds and chasing after the right light. In June at Iceland’s northern latitude, that chase took me often well into the early morning. The shots to come hopefully capture the stark, austere beauty of the country that I’ve fallen in love with, but will feature very little blue skies.