This summer, a brave group of fearless student photographers trekked across the 1120 mile circumference of Iceland, working endlessly for the perfect shot in a world of extreme conditions and landscapes. Led by Assistant Professor Knut LSG Hybinette and Assistant Professor Megan Ehrhart, the Tarleton Study Abroad Landscape Photography class (June 17 – July 3, 2016) climbed precipices and narrow pathways, lugging along heavy SRL cameras, lenses, and tripods with determination as they battled cold, windy, wet weather — conditions never experienced before in the hometowns of Texas. Ready and equipped with all-weather gear, students Matt Vanderpool, Maria Beasley, Cliff Beasley, Amanda Conners, Angelica Carlisle, Ellen Marie Daugherty, Case Galbraith, and Brittany Inman worked at all hours in the eternal northern summer sunlight, determined to capture some of the innumerable magical moments throughout Iceland’s multifarious and often Jurassic fantasy worlds. The route was pre-planned by the professors, but there were no cookie-cutter guided tourist trips for this group.
We set out on our own customized, often off-road, adventure to experience as much diversity of land as possible. Up narrow and loose gravel pathways, we drove and climbed up mountains, volcanoes, hiked across acres of mossy lava beds, and great rift valleys such as the continental divide. We explored both flowing and frozen bodies of water, magnificently grand watery fjords, deep and swift waterfalls, rivers, blue and milky-white lagoons, oceans, and massive glaciers. Each student shot approximately 4500 photos for the course of at least 50 major Icelandic landscapes. Some specific notable landmarks captured on film included Dettifoss waterfall, Reynisfjara beach, Jokulsalron glacial lagoon, Kirkufell, Blue Lagoon, Geysir, Seljalandsfoss, Namafjall, Vatnajokull Glacier and many more. We took nature on by storm (often, literally), but one of our greatest challenges was to find food — especially on the east coast of Iceland, where population is scarce. Iceland’s national food is the hotdog. They are available everywhere, even gas stations, and we ate more then we ever imagined was humanly possible.
Iceland is also quite expensive. Hot dogs cost about four US Dollars; Coke, three dollars; pizza and hamburgers, ten. Occasionally, students bought groceries in local food stores when they were available. Some students were brave enough to eat some of the regional fare, such as whale and reindeer burgers, puffin meat, and “Skyr” (a sour-tasting
Icelandic yogurt). No one was brave enough to eat the famous rotten shark meat, but a few really adventurous students did brave the KFC. Needless to say, the Tarleton Iceland Landscape Photography Study Abroad course
of 2016 was a huge success. Students learned hands-on techniques in all lighting and weather conditions – environmental challenges to even the most adept professional photographer. We plan on offering this course in a regular rotation for Tarleton’s summer study abroad program in the future, with the addition of possible aerial photography to landscape opportunities.