If you go hiking in Iceland with someone from Iceland, odds are good that you will end up talking about the trolls, and being told about warnings such as these:
Genuine male trolls are still a threat as they are likely to steal women and children, and are now more intelligent than their ancestors. If you should come across such a creature do not attempt to communicate in any way, just run as fast as you can!
(Note: aren’t you glad this only applies to GENUINE trolls, and not the fake ones?)
Yup, Iceland can be a very mythological place, and you soon find yourself swept up in it’s mystery. I swear, I started seeing trolls in every mountainside that I came across while on hikes. I became the great white troll hunter. And yes, there is at LEAST one troll in this image as well (and, depending on how much you’ve had to drink, maybe dozens). You’ll also hear about the elves that live in rocks and make themselves visible only to a well-chosen few (I wasn’t lucky enough to be well-chosen). I’ve even heard about a highway that was diverted around a rather large rock in the road, just so as not to disturb the resident Elf. Very interesting indeed.
If you can get past the elves, trolls and other local phenomena (Fairies!), you’ll have an amazing time in Iceland. This image was taken at the Oxararfoss waterfall in Thingvellir National Park, not far from Reykjavik. The day was rather cloudy and wet…not out of the ordinary for Iceland. The moodiness of the day really helped to create this image. I like this photo for the stillness (of the rocks) contrasted with the movement (both in the gushing waterfall and in the way that the water runs off into the horizon, leaving the viewer to wonder what’s around the bend). Standing there watching the falls and feeling the raindrops on my head, I almost felt like I was one of the famous Icelandic elf’s…standing in a secret world that only I could see. I think this photo captures that moody feeling well.
Photo Tip: With the advent of digital film, it’s simply not necessary to shoot images in black and white anymore. You should go ahead and shoot everything in color (and I highly suggest shooting in RAW format!) and convert to black and white later when you digitally develop the image. However, that does not mean that you shouldn’t be thinking about how an image is going to look in black and white while you are taking it. When in the black and white mindset, you are typically looking for strong shapes with interesting shadows and highlights (like the sky reflecting off the pool in the front left of the image, and the “white” waterfall against the dark volcanic rock). Another good thing to look for is interesting textures, like the rocks in this image that have an almost tactile feel to them. Those are some of the things I look for when shooting an image for black and white.
How many trolls do you see in this image? Second question, how much have you had to drink today? =)
Jonathan Irish is a seasoned travel photographer who has traveled to over 65 countries and specializes in photographs of people, landscapes, abstracts, and, above all, cultures abroad. His work has appeared in various National Geographic publications, and he is represented by National Geographic’s Image Collection www.NationalGeographicStock.com/jonathanirish. When he is not traveling the world in search of amazing photos, he gathers inspiration from the other great photographers at National Geographic, where he is the Program Director for National Geographic Adventures Jonathan lives in Washington, D.C.
Check out more of his photography at JonathanIrish.com
Follow his daily photography on Twitter at MagnumJI,
Facebook at Jonathan Irish Travel Photography