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  • Writer's pictureSteve Silk

Moving Mountains Makes Magic



Every now and then, the stars align and I make a great leap forward. It might be mastering a new camera technique, a processing breakthrough, or even a magic moment of serendipity. The best is when it's all three, but the net is a picture that pushes my image-making capabilities further along in an image that sums up what I hope to be accomplishing photographically. I love when that happens!


One of those magic moments took place a few months ago during a September visit to Iceland, One of my favorite areas there is the tiny peninsula on which the town of Hofn is located. There is so much in that area, most majestically the nearby peaks of Vestrahorn and Eystrahorn, incredible mountains that I could happily photograph for days. Which I do, when given the chance.


But on one of those afternoons it all came together. I was in position near the lighthouse on the peninsula at the foot of Eystrahorn. Skies were stormy and it looked as if I was going to get skunked, but then the sun peeked through a rift in the clouds and cast light of almost tactile beauty across the peaks and their slopes of scree. It was intensely windy, so I set my tripod a foot or two off the ground and started shooting, trying all kinds of different foregrounds. Big stones, little stones, a bit of this or that plant, anything that might potentially work. Nothing really seem to do the job.


But when I returned home, downloaded everything and started processing, I realized I had a good foreground and good moment of the mountains, but that the two were not in the same frame, nor were they taken from the exact same perspective. I rarely make composites, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So I combined the images in Photoshop, which allowed me to take the leading lines created by the rocky foreground and align them on a visual path to the mountains. Although there is a bit of trickery in the composition, it remains to me an essentially truthful image-everything is from the same time span, and nearly the same perspective.


Processing was a bear-matching the white balances was a real challenge, and it took numerous attempts. But in the end I had an image that was instantly one of my all-time favorites. It hits all the hallmarks that I hope exemplify my best imagery -a fantastical dreamy view of a wild, dramatic and expansive scene without a hint of humans. Oh, and a tightly controlled color palette, can't forget that.

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