Midnight Horses, Iceland


Only by chance did I come across these horses. The dead SUV battery on the first day of my Iceland trip almost made it so I would never arrive at the scene. After getting a charge from a taxi driver in town, it was late afternoon local time, but for me, only morning EST. My last stop was the supermarket for food and ice and from there, I decided to push the driving hard and get a lot further east into open space. I had not settled on a distance target because my priority was to take sunset, night, and sunrise shots, at which point it would be early morning the next day, and my internal clock would tell me it was now night, and to pitch a tent and go to sleep.

As I drove, the lush Icelandic farmland turned sparser and windy plains formed below mountains to the north. Then, it was time for a break and an evening walk up a side road off of Rt.1, the base of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano whose eruption paralyzed air travel in Europe in 2010. It was more to me that just sight-seeing because I actually was stranded in Europe that week; it was personal.

Satellite images show a massive, ash-covered lunar landscape in complete contrast to the flowered fields and present moment in which I came across these horses. It was midnight local time but with just enough light to try to get some shots. The tripod would have alerted them, so I left it behind and moved quietly towards the horses with a spectacular sky above and a breeze light enough to cover my footsteps.

Ultimately, my camouflage fooled no one and my new friend decided to get up and inspect the human making a racket. That's when the session started. I eventually got a few images with the mountains in the back as well, but this particular photo really highlighted the horse with sky behind. You never know how it's going to work out; timing is everything.