April 21st, 2010 by Rebekka in Uncategorized

When the first volcanic eruption started in March, I adamantly refused to be one of the herd flocking to the site to take pictures of it. Literally thousands of people did so, and the thought of the crowds and the traffic to and fro was seriously offputting, so I figured “someone with a plane and better lenses is going to get better pictures of the lava flow anyway” and left it at that.  (i’ll leave it unsaid if all parts of me agreed with this reasoning)

Then ANOTHER eruption.. Come ON..  This one getting itself all in the news and annoying the hell out of Europe as a whole, keeping everyone from catching their flights, and whatnot.  This time people were being politely asked to stay away from the area, unless they had a good reason.  Since there was no longer a steady stream of people going, I figured now was the time to finally drive out there and at least get a look at it, even if I wouldn’t be able to get any spectacular photos out of it.  Set out yesterday morning (4 am on april 20th) and actually had the road to myself. Awesome.  Got a few worthwhile photos too- nothing mindbogglingly awesome like the long-exposure lightning shots some guy took at night, but I’m pretty sure I’m not able to get to where-ever it was he took those from, so I won’t beat myself up about it.

Edit:  My sister has written a more detailed and accurate account of the eruption, by all means check that out.

I’ll let my photos do most of the talking:

Taken along the Fljótshlíð road. The summer cabins give a sense of scale.

farmhouses nearly obscured by the ominous fog of fine ash

farmhouses nearly obscured by the ominous fog of fine ash

Geese paddling around in an ash-coated pond by the road..The air was uncomfortable to breath at this point, and i was still far from the worst of it.

Geese paddling around in an ash-coated pond by the road..The air was uncomfortable to breath at this point, and i was still far from the worst of it.

Shortly before turning around on the main road, and heading back to take the Fljótshlíð road instead..

Shortly before turning around on the main road, and heading back to take the Fljótshlíð road instead..

These horses are lucky for now.  Farmers caught in the worst of the cloud have been forced to slaughter their animals due to their land being devastated by the ash.

These horses are lucky for now. Farmers caught in the worst of the cloud have been forced to slaughter their animals (at least cows, not sure about horses) due to their land being devastated by the ash.

sheep resting in the morning sun, oblivious to the troublemaker behind them..

sheep resting in the morning sun, oblivious to the troublemaker behind them..

Took this when i was still pretty far away.  From this distance the eruption looks like a very innocent cloud clinging to the mountaintop.

Took this when i was still pretty far away. From this distance the eruption looks like a very innocent cloud clinging to the mountaintop.

Closer up it's a little less innocent looking..

Closer up it's slightly less innocent looking

Read 48 comments

48 comments for this post

Awesome, just awesome.
I am happy you finally decided to go near there and take some pictures.

Gurmokh wrote on April 21st, 2010

I was wondering when you would head out and get some shots. Glad you did, they’re fantastic.

I am glad you made the trek to see it and photograph it. Did the dust affect any of your equipment or vehicle?

What spectacular photos! It was definitely worth the effort to catch those moments in time. First visit to your blog which was recommended on Twitter. Look forward to future posts!

hleewell wrote on April 21st, 2010

Beautifully eerie shots. There’s been tons of coverage in the news that your distaste for crowds is pretty understandable. The shot of the lone horse against the eruption is my favorite, it seems helpless in the face of nature in ultimate chaos

I too really enjoy the horse shots.
Did you have any problems breathing or anything? I would think breathing that stuff would not be good for your health. Then again, you did not have a prolonged exposure like the animals, and I assume humans at the farm.

Awesome shots. It was well worth the wait.
I totally dig the first two photos, they are simply spectacular. Not only because of the volcano. I love it how you put things into perspective with including the barns / houses in the front.

Nicely done.

Rescuers aside, I never understood the urge some people have to run TOWARD a potentially deadly event like this. You did well to wait a bit and capture the volcano in relation to its environment.

Thank you for sharing these pictures and your personal account. In the news we only hear about flights being cancelled etc but nothing about how people are coping in Iceland. I can’t imagine what it must be like living in a place where volcanoes are erupting all the time . Take care x

I hope you were wearing a facemask when breathing that nasty air!

caffeine wrote on April 21st, 2010

Wow, thank you for sharing these. Amazing.

Characteristically good shots from you Rebekka, especially those with the animals in the foreground. Thanks for this bit of priceless photojournalism, and for capturing the Awesomeness of Nature.

sylwia wrote on April 21st, 2010

I’ve been visiting your blog every day to check when will you write about volcano. Pictures are great (as usually).

jestem wrote on April 21st, 2010

These are wonderful. When the volcano erupted here, it was too inaccessible to go take pictures, unfortunately.

I was starting to wonder if you would post about this! I am coming to Iceland next Saturday for a 10 day photo trip.

We did not plan to visit the volcano area (we will go to Snaefellsnes peninsula + Myvatn) but I guess we should. It is not like I am going to see one anytime soon!

Amazing pictures! You shouldn’t sell yourself short!

A great set of shots – I’ve been wondering when you would post something on the eruption!

Siggi (some insist) Strange wrote on April 21st, 2010

But for the ponies, and save for the locale itself, I wouldn’t necessarily think this set bore your personal stamp. That said, I like it! (So what?) And if there are three words, in any descriptive or critique, that would rate an automatic reject slip from me, “amazing”, “awesome” and (god help us) “surreal” would certainly make that list. (With that, Kate Bush’s “Wow” comes to mind. I say “wow” often enough — and adore Kate. And I swear, a bolt of lightening just flashed outside my window…wow! And now again…)

i am totally in awe of this… the scale is something to behold here for sure. and to think that it is however many days in and still just so … overwhelmingly prevalent there. i can not imagine. been thinking of you and the boys a lot.

AND… these are epic photos!!!

Awesome series….
Especially the ones with the little horses….
Anyway, take care

Awesome photos…especially photo #2…the horse photos as well.

Take care!

I’ve seen so many volcano photos I want to puke, most of them up close and they are great, but the photos you have here are by far my fav. At least you put some perspective and scale in these, and of course style. They are really fantastic. Excellent, excellent work.

nycdesigner wrote on April 21st, 2010

Finally! Ever since the world has been polarized by your ash hole (ha ha!) I’ve been waiting for these very pics..

Thank you.

A good trip in your lands! thanks

Wow absolutely beautiful, was thinking of you and wondering if you were going to capture photos when this happened :)

For the same reasons that you avoided the masses, I have been avoiding seeking out images of the Volcano – besides the ones on the news and so, yours are the first real images I’ve seen and I’m so happy for this. Wow, you’ve taken some beautifully serene photographs. Thank you so much for sharing them!

Wow! Wonderful pictures! Thank you!

Ironic how you live on a volcano for years and never think much about it until one day it decides to cry out for attention. When I visited Iceland many years ago I knew someday this would happen. I really feel for everyone there having to destroy their livestock and lively hood like you don’t have enough hardship in our lives. On another note, I really love the beauty of Iceland and your wonderful perspectives for capturing it away from all the obvious..thanks so much for sharing your wonderful views R & please stay safe.

These images are absolutely gorgeous.
To think that this stunning display of
ash floating upon the wind has totally
reeked havoc on the air travel system.

Congratulation for this photos. They are fantastic, with a lot of beauty.

The volcano makes caos for some people, but for other make beauty.

I love all

Just beautifully executed.
You captured it all so well, made me want to go and explore Iceland:)

I didn’t make any effort to look for photos of the eruption in the mass media or flickr (although I chanced upon a couple taken from a plane circling the crater) because I know what a mountain with smoke coming out of it looks like; grey and boring, basically. I was confident you’d get over there at some point to do something more artistic. You couldn’t really miss it, could you? How many memory cards did you fill?

For me, it’s the photos with the tiny huts (especially the first one) that work best. I simply can’t comprehend something that huge rising out of an otherwise flat landscape, since the tallest thing near me is a multi-storey car park. The volcano is just ridiculously big in comparison. One of the things that works in your favour here is that everyone’s seen photos of things like the Grand Canyon and Niagra Falls before, but Iceland hasn’t been exploited as widely by photographers. I imagine you’ll be making several sales of your work as a result of the new “infamy” of the place. It’s also quite amusing that while the smoke shut down Europe’s airspace for a while, and people blamed Iceland, it could ultimately make the country more popular as a tourist destination, since I’m sure there are plenty of people who’ve never seen what the landscape looks like up there before, and now want to visit it for themselves.

Oh I just read Rannveig’s blog. It certainly paints a different picture to your “romantic” imagery. Lines like “It’s unlikely there will be any hay harvested in the area this summer” seem like a understatement to say the least. “Eyjafjallajökull has erupted three times in historic times and every single time Katla has followed” is quite chilling to read too. I have no idea how your sister manages to do any sort of gardening in such a cold climate. Did she perhaps inspire your “Exercise in Futility”?

amazing and unique imagery. thanks for getting up early and sharing your beautiful country with us.

Hello, very nice pictures ! You’re lucky you live near the event !
Bojan, Serbia

L’eruzione dei vulcani..ed in particolare quello del Nord Europa di questi ultimi giorni…che ha interdetto il traffico aereo per alcuni giorni con ripercussioni economico-sociali molto pesanti, nonchè quello dell’Etna in Italia pongono all’attenzione del mondo scientifico e dei governanti di provvedere con urgenza all’impiego di nuovi aeromobili con tecnologie tali da resistere all’aggressività dei fumi corrosivi che invadono l’atmosfera e poi a nuovi sistemi protettivi che salvaguardi la salute degli uomini che potrebbero respirare l’aria inquinata dei fumi vulcanici.

Lino da Roma

I didn`t see other pictures with it, yet. Great photos, congrats.
I hope everything will be OK with the farmers there, as at the time I`m writing, everything is pretty fine in the rest of Europe (air traffic, agriculture, etc).

Thank you, Rebekka, for showing us the most beautiful photos I have seen so far of this dreadful event!

Beautifully captured! Great use of foreground in contrast with the volcano! Adds a nice sense of scale too.

My five year quest, and a dream nearly realized, I’m finally on the short-list for my very own Icelandic Pony. And to think, all it took were a couple of volcanic eruptions and a pressing need for animal fodder. As for hay, we’ve too much of it — especially near-to a really famous farm in White Lake, NY. (LOL) And we’re feeling the desire to be generous, provided we can leverage a tax deduction just to cover expenses. Now, anyone have space on a freighter — destination Iceland — they care to donate for the cause? (Preferably embarking from Philadelphia — but New York, Boston, New Bedford, Providence etc would be fine.) To think, the world laughed when we took-in all those dogs from Iraq last month.

Amazing! Love your interplay of foreground and background, the sharpness of the images and the contrast and scale you created. I hope life goes back to normal for you guys/gals soon.

This is the norm, for Iceland. Just as are mosquitoes in a swamp.

i beg to differ.

Siggi immer zu wrote on April 27th, 2010

Charlie Brown: “Don’t you know sarcasm when you hear it?”

Flottar myndir hjá þér Rebekka, myndir þínar minna mig á Pál Stefánsson, þið eruð í sama flokki. Gæðaflokki. Það er eitthvað þarna.

Andy wrote on May 24th, 2010

Wow Rebekka, the art of photography is alive and well! Awesome, in the true sense of the word. If you ever publish a book shoot me an email and tell me where to pick one up.

Andy wrote on May 24th, 2010

And I just saw a link to your store /facepalm :)

Steve Graham wrote on September 24th, 2010

Fabulous shots – this was quite a newsmaker for a while and to see it from up close (as opposed to long aerial shots) as well as see the effects upon people and animals, puts everything on a much more personal level.

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