During the last few weeks, I drove around Iceland, covering 3400km of roads between waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, geysers, fjords, craters, lava formations and plenty of tiny villages. Iceland is a beautiful land with a sparse population sprinkled around wide open spaces. Nature is ever present and even harnessed to produce 99% of Iceland’s energy from completely renewable sources.
Iceland has been called a photographer’s paradise, and it is. There are several reasons for this one of which being almost 5 hours of golden light each day during the summer months, weather permitting of course. The other is that in Iceland, nature is free. Free in every sense of the word, actually. Unlike most countries, including right here in Canada, nature is not treated as property. Of course, technically it is but that is completely transparent to visitors.
This is completely obvious as visitors drive from one natural wonder to the next, visiting countless waterfalls and geysers along hiking trails crisscrossing the land. After visiting more waterfalls than I cared to count, plenty of them on the tourist maps receiving busloads of visitors every day, I paid a total of zero Icelandic Kronas to see these wonders. For those unfamiliar with the exchange rate, zero Kronas is equal to zero Dollars or zero Euros or zero pounds.
In contrast with Iceland, two months ago I took some family to visit waterfalls here and we were charged $8 CAD per person to see the waterfall. This is a despicable capitalist approach which is unfavorable to anyone and particularly to photographers. The key problem is that in order to charge for entrance one has to create an entrance and provide it with a gate keeper to collect the fees. Only the gate keepers are not even willing to be there at all times, leaving many wonders of nature inaccessible at times when the light is best.
Iceland, being close to the pole has very variable light from season to season. Last week in particular, sunset came around 11:30 PM in the south and sunrise around 3:30 AM. Having free access to incredible locations made it easy to be there at those times when crowds are nonexistent and the golden light reaches its peek, warming the landscape with a beautiful glow. So when nature is free, so are photographers! Indeed, at those hours I regularly found other serious photographers armed with their cameras and tripods enjoying the beauty of the land and light.
Well done Iceland!