After visiting the Icelandic Highlands briefly on an earlier trip, I went on a ten day tour to more fully explore this region. The highlands of Iceland have a variety of landscapes from snow covered peaks in Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar to the utterly barren high desert of Sprengisandur. After visiting Möðrudalur, reportedly the highest elevation farm in Iceland and worth a stop for its lovely church and sod covered cottages, we drove an hour or so further along the Möðrudalsleið, where we took a spur road up to a scenic overlook. The vista here conjured up a lunar or Martian landscape, almost completely devoid of vegetation. The weather was typical of the Highlands during the summer, long stretches of overcast days with strong winds and sudden bursts of rain.
As such, I wasn’t expecting much as I clambered out of the truck and set up my tripod. The first images confirmed my preconception. So I wandered further down the hill we just drove up, and an intriguing scene unfolded before me. From here the hills were aligned in layers that eventually dissolved in the mist, a classic compressed landscape, perhaps the nicest I have personally witnessed.
In Lightroom, I applied a bit of dehaze and a gradient filter to reveal the most distant peaks. In my experience, low contrast scenes like this produce flat, unpromising RAW files and benefit from careful adjustment of the black and white points, saturation and contrast to reveal their full potential.
While there is plenty of potential throughout the Highlands, I found the area between F26 to the west, the Highland Center to the north and Landmannalaugar to the south to be the most photogenic and easily explored.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor