Updated: May 31
it's time for a new story from the "Photographic Stories" column. For the month of May I have chosen Julia Redl, an south German author that I follow and appreciate very much, the author of elegant images with soft and delicate, ethereal colors. I am happy to observe talented photographers, who even in noble locations and iconic landscapes, effortlessly use their own interpretative key to tell their emotions and at the same time the soul of the landscape, clearly detaching themselves from the usual images and compositions already seen. Julia today will tell us about her beautiful interpretation of a glimpse of the Icelandic landscape.
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It is early morning, with my rickety, small, green jeep I rattle over a dead straight, damp and therefore fortunately dust-free gravel road from Godafoss in the north of Iceland towards the south. The clouds hang low and wrap the barren mountains to the right and left of the elongated valley in dark gray, sometimes almost black veils. The steady clacking, of the somewhat wobbly hood, puts me in an almost trance-like state. The brown-yellow bizarre lunar landscape with its isolated green sprinkles and lonely homesteads as well as the rushing river, along which the track runs, begin to cast a spell on me more and more.
Colors, shapes and sounds have always fascinated and accompanied the creative part of my life, be it in the handling of textiles and the design of garments during my training as a tailor, as well as when making music with my violin and for several years now in landscape photography, which I have discovered and learned to love during my travels for me. Accordingly, I can hardly get enough of seeing and hearing the scenery.
I am immensely fascinated by the coloring of the landscape and its special structures. Why does one find this rather barren landscape beautiful? Does this beauty have a purpose? Is it only a subjective feeling that we humans perceive certain landscapes as beautiful? Questions upon questions occupy me, and I come to the conclusion that colors and shapes form an inseparable unity with the landscape, indeed that color and forms give landscapes their final shape in the first place. Perhaps it is precisely this symbiosis of colour and form that ensures that we are fascinated by landscapes and thus strive to preserve them rather than destroy them.
At the end of the track, the slope becomes rough, steep and uneven and I have to focus all my attention on driving again. Arriving at the destination of the ride, a rough path leads downhill and behind a bend, a view of Aldeyarfoss opens up – suddenly and surprisingly. I stop and take a deep breath: This is one of those incredible moments of wonder that keep popping up in Iceland in so many places. I usually set off without a plan, let myself be guided by chance, follow beautiful places and light moods and see what happens. Here, however, a veritable rush of images explodes before my eyes. I stop, calm down and just enjoy the overwhelming feeling at the sight of the natural power and beauty of the waterfall.
After my initial excitement has subsided, I become aware of the scenery that gives Aldeyarfoss its imposing appearance in the first place. There are bizarre basalt columns framing the plunging water, and these in turn merge into a wild plain that loses itself into the nearby highlands. One motif after another imposes itself. Without realising it, I am in the flow, a lightness comes over me and I feel at one with the surroundings. For me, these are moments in which I forget time and space: I can start taking photographs.
First, I try to find an order in the chaos of the basalt chunks. I love minimalism, so there are usually only a few main characters in my pictures. Here, it is the forces of nature themselves that have created the scene and which I want to capture and express: the destructive but also creative power of the water – the chaos of the stones – the millennia-old structures of the pillars shaped by wind and weather – the transition to the vastness of the highlands – the surrounding landscape that has been and still is being modelled by the river. Everything is interrelated in this picture.
I captured motifs upon motifs today. Once again, I forgot about time and everyday life while photographing, enjoyed the inner excitement of taking pictures. To this day, when I look at this photo, I feel the intensity of the experience on this special day.