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Beauty Born Of Ash

It doesn’t take long to appreciate that Iceland’s creation is not yet complete. A few miles from the International Airport at Keflavik, the earth boils and gurgles in a cauldron of thick grey-ooze. The landscape, a palette of pastel hues, where great plumes of steam rise from earth’s unstable crust and the air saturated with the pungent odour of rotten-eggs. Raw energy of such immense magnitude to cause the ground to tremble beneath your feet. All evidence, if any was needed, that not far below more wonderous beauty is waiting to be unleashed; new mountains, lava fields, ash deserts and perhaps a new island to be formed.

In geological terms Iceland is quite young, the earliest rocks less than 14 million years old; the realm of the dinosaur had long passed before Iceland emerged from the depths of the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Volcanoes like Hekla, Katla, and the infamous Eyjafjallajökull; that caused havoc with air-flight throughout Europe in 2010, are still very much active, occasionally spewing mouton lava extending the land southwards. To the north, Landmannalaugar’s landscape is a manifestation of violent eruptions; an unbelievable range of colourful Rhyolite mountains. Water courses, heavily charged with fluvial-glacial silt, cut deep paths between the Highlands and the sea; impressive canyons that reveal multiple layers of geological history.

In the south-eastern region of Iceland geology renders you speechless. Mountains with teeth, lush fertile pastures and fine black sandy beaches. Rivers cascade from the clouds at Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Waterfalls are hidden in huge caves and vast expanses of sand deserts 80km wide. Beyond, the inspirational beauty of the Oræfi where landscape contrasts are sharply defined, it is impossible to appreciate the full extent of the Vatnajokull National Park, an area the size of Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales combined. Glaciers hang from the sky and discharge millions of tons of crumbling ice that created the spectacular Jökulsárlon lagoon. Mirror-calm images of cathedral enormity, blue icebergs slowly drifting to their eternal destiny; ebony beaches strewn with ice-diamonds, all that remains of those once impressive ice-sculptures.

To the east, long fjords penetrate far inland, overlooked by magnificent mountain ranges like Estrahorn and Vestrahorn. And when the nights grow longer and the days shorten, the aurora dances amongst the stars, but that is another story. Iceland’s beauty is not just skin-deep, it extends to the centre of the earth. The dynamic force of 'Wildlife in Pixels’ and ‘NatureFramed’ have combined to bring all these experiences together on a Landscape Photography journey of a life-time. Should you like to participate there is one last place available.

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