Stokksnes, Iceland

(Click on the image for a larger view)

Pigment ink print on archival paper

_ 87 x 58 cm, limited edition of 15 - signed, numbered, with certificate
200 euro
_ 58 x 38,7 cm, limited edition of 25 - signed, numbered, with certificate
125 euro
_ 25,5 x 17 cm, open edition
25 euro
* all prints come with a white border of about 2 cm, which allows proper handling and greatly facilitates matting and framing; the sizes mentioned above are net sizes that do not include this border
** prices do not include posting and packaging
*** prints are not sold matted or framed; the pictures below are meant to illustrate the matting and framing of an actual print (and yes, I definitely should have used non-reflective glass !)
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The story
Travelling through Iceland in June plays tricks on the mind. Although the island lies completely south of the arctic circle, except for the tiny and barely inhabited Grímsey, when the summer solstice approaches, midnight is as bright as a heavily clouded day. In my case, this meant sleeping with an eye mask and staying up late even longer than usual. You’d think that more hours of daylight would result in a more slow-paced shooting schedule, with at least copious time to have lunch or dinner. Not so.
I arrived at the Stokksnes peninsula at about 5 pm, after a full day of shooting and a decent breakfast. As a nod to my rumbling stomach, I devoured an obligatory chocolate muffin at the Viking café and washed it down with the equally obligatory cappuccino. Re-energised by the sugar boost, I picked up my camera and started walking. About 5 hours and 380 images later ('Reaching' was actually shot that same day), I was exhausted and longed for food and rest. Having had to trudge through the boggy grassland between the Viking film set and my car after a frantic day of shooting will have had something to do with it. Lack of sleep and food were no doubt to blame too. When I got to the car, I cleaned my gear, stacked everything away, and set out for Höfn to fix myself a meal and get a good night’s sleep.
However, the tale’s not over yet. I noticed how the winds had picked up, filling the air with a yellow-brown dust that started to catch the fire of the waning sun. What’s a photographer to do but park the car, get all the gear out again, and continue shooting? The real magic happened however, when a couple of cars left and headed northwest, back to the ring road. High temperatures and lack of rain had turned the dirt road to Stokksness into a bone-dry sand box, and as they drove off, they kicked up even more particles, bathing the sky in what felt like a ‘thick’ (for lack of a better word) and saturated golden light. The tonal separation between the various mountain flanks was icing on the cake.
I took this image at 11.17 pm. Four minutes and a few shots later, I called it a day, and jumped in the car with a smile on my face.

Paper choice for this print was less straightforward than I’d originally imagined. I felt certain the lesser contrast of a matt cotton paper (Canson Rag Photographique) would be closer to reality, and in fact, I was right: the brightly coloured dust in the air did have the effect of brightening the shadows while removing detail, bleaching the scene, and somewhat resembling a watercolour painting. The pictures above of the print illustrating the framing process all show the matt paper.
Out of curiosity – or maybe because I was less sure than I thought I was, I later made a new print on the Platine Fibre Rag, and frankly, the result was striking, even more so when framed: less akin to what I saw at the time, yes, but with a tonal richness that didn’t stem from the ubiquitous and overzealous use of contrast and saturation sliders. The exceptional tonal quality was provided by the paper, in a way that easily surpasses viewing the picture onscreen (as such, showing pictures of the new print is kind of pointless) – which I did not expect at all when I started my printing journey. To my surprise, the clouds of dust remained equally visible, as well as the tonal separation between the mountain flanks, albeit in a different form. What’d come through with the Platine, and what I’d missed printing on the Rag Photographique, was the feeling that’d made me stop the car, unpack my gear and be hungry and tired a little bit longer: the almost suffocating feeling of atmospheric density, of air heavy with dust and light. The Platine it is for this print. Yet another smile on my face.

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