Words & Images Norbert von Niman-
It is those days when you’re walking on a glacier, everything around you in full black and white except your friends yellow raincoat, wearing three layers and still getting cold. You are still waiting for the heat waves, beach days and tropical showers when you realise it’s already August and this is as good as summer will get in Iceland. This is a fully different climate, fully different experience and an astonishing landscape to back it all up.
Getting used to a landscape like this is something that will never happen. Every time you revisit a place it’s a different light, different colours of the grass, different clouds, weather and season. In summer there are signs of lush, green life while in winter those four hours of sunlight bounces off the snow colouring everything with an orange hue, or pink, purple blue and then black. It’s like a massive colouring book, sometimes filled out but sometimes just left empty.
The desolation is sometimes imminent which makes the small details, that one perceivable object or the only feature, ever so much more important to show that this is actually reality. It’s difficult to comprehend the scale and the distance, and an anchor point for that sense of reality is important.
Same thing applies to life living in such a hostile environment. With cold around every corner and a darkness that takes everything there needs to be something to bring back some hope. Hot springs can provide warmth for body, good friends and all the open hearted locals provide warmth for the soul, and northern lights shine up the darkness. This makes even the coldest winter days survivable.
It’s not supposed to be easy to live on an extreme piece of volcano surrounded by the wild sea. You can hide in Reykjavik and pretend to live a normal life with normal problems but as soon as you get out in the wilderness the weather can be the greatest of challenges. Pictures are best taken when there is a good story to follow behind it, or a struggle to get it. That is most certainly the case when facing gale force winds, freezing temperatures and isolation from civilisation. The weather suits the landscape though.
© all images Norbert von Niman
Many times there can be hours of howling wind tearing through even the most windproof layers of clothing, until you come to the sudden realisation that everything has gone perfectly quiet. All noise is gone, water flat, nothing is moving. The wind has stopped and so does the world with it. It is these moments of clarity when the feeling of truly being alone in the middle of nowhere creeps up. The shutter makes a quick sound that echoes in the vast emptiness. The wind is back.
Norbert is a photographer and guide based in Iceland. Follow his journey here. Take care, Melanie Kettner