Topic: Rock (2 posts)

Iceland: Rock 2

(Disclaimer: I know, I haven't held up my end of the bargain. I've promised a few posts but not delivered. I owe you an artist profile on the Baer resident Scott Johnson and, if you read Finnur's Trip 1, at the end of that one I promised a second post about my two day trip off road  with Finnur in Iceland. I haven't forgotten and  will get there.)

I returned home from Iceland about 48 hours ago and have started to work on pictures made while there. This part isn't hard, to slide along frame shot after frame shot, in Aperture (or Lightroom) just seeing what I've done. It is one of my favorite parts, to see on a big display my efforts for the first time. This also can be when I realize that a disaster has happened. Like when I did an expensive aerial shoot one late afternoon in October, where I was forced into lower shutter speeds because of decreasing light, only to find that I had nothing sharp from the whole shoot. I click off  "three star" frames either worked on or deemed worthy, try to put my head back to what I was thinking as I made the pictures, take a look at the camera settings, what lens I had on the camera, the shutter speed to tell me tripod or not. Metadata are the supplier of the mechanics of photographing now and hugely important.

About a week ago we went on a boat trip to see our part of the Iceland coast from the water, look for whales and dolphins, both of which we saw, and maybe make a few pictures. It was gray and cold, but not raining and not windy. We left Hofsos in the morning, and cruised up the coast, past Baer and along the natural rock causeway to the Cape, the large island (which is not really an island as it is  joined to the mainland by two rocky causeways) seen from my studio window:

or, even better , from the air:

As we got closer, the captain of our little fishing boat slowed us down to a crawl and set us about 150 feet off shore:

Little did I know. Take a few pictures? 496 frames later I hoped I had gotten what was there.

I just sat there in the boat, going click click click, not even moving the camera much, as though all this was somehow choreographed for photography, for capturing(?)


We can go  with one of two scenarios: High octane hyperbole or nothing, just the pictures. Your call. If you don't want all the words skip this section and just scroll down to the pictures:

Hyperbole: What was in front of us was an ancient large scale geological event and volcanic eruption, a huge upheaval of magma thrust from the crust eons ago and  then eroded by waves and wind over centuries upon centuries, something so primal and so elemental as to be formative to this earth and its making. Some kind of glimpse backwards, peering over the edge at something seldom revealed and too important not to notice. Those of us in the group in the boat chugging by this rock wall, all of us taking pictures, so many pictures, this mass, imposible to "get", to comprehend, to grapple with something so natural and so planned and somehow so ordered as though made as a tour de force, to be seen, or revealed, or shown off maybe, I don't know, but just to be in the presence of all of this is too much, never before dreamed of or imagined that this could exist. What does this place justice?  Perhaps, to not make pictures of it, to not contain as much of it as possible "in the can" , to not want to bring it home to own it and maybe preserve it. Again, I don't know. What I do know is that to be in the presence of this cathedral of rock, this monument to violent upheaval and extreme forces was a real honor and left me speechless and humbled, reduced in self importance or indeed so small when compared to something so big and powerful.

Or here, with no superlatives, just the pictures:

If you're looking at these on a good display, click on an image and it will get larger so you can see it better.

and finally, this is a look back at where all the above came from:

Iceland, man. Intense.

A caveat: As I look at this post on my display the pictures contained are a little less than 6 inches across. This is a really poor representation of what is going on here and supports my contention that prints are king. The best way to see original art is to be in front of it, not some electronic facsimile.  To have the prints before you, at 21 x 14 inches, viewed in good light, in a pleasant environment with perhaps others who are interested in looking along with you. 

One way to do that is to go to a gallery to look at work. Another is to visit the artist in his/her studio, by invitation. Both are easy: the former by calling 555 Gallery in Boston and saying you'd like to see Neal Rantoul's Iceland Rock pictures an the latter by contacting me directly: Neal's Email

Topics: Iceland,Rock

Permalink | Posted August 6, 2013

Iceland Rock

If you've been following the posts on my time so far in Iceland you know that we are no longer at the beginning part of being here. Things have settled down a little after the first couple of days of "shock and awe" at the beauty of the place. We've had some cold and rainy weather and then, after going into town in the morning for a swim in the local pool yesterday, we came back to enough of a break in the weather for me to go out and work a little.

I took a walk down this farm road:

Staggering enough on its own but little did I know what was going to happen as I got to the water. Everything was wet, it was gray with the sky packed with clouds and fog shrouding the Cape off to the right. I was headed off to the small bump you see in the above picture to the left in the frame.

I know what you're thinking, particularly if you've been reading these for a while: "Am I going to be looking at a Rantoul series here?" Maybe, but not yet, as I will need to work here some more.

Anyway, this was a real discovery as I hadn't been down here yet. Let me give you a reference of where we are now. The Baer Art Center is, turning 180 degrees from the above picture, here:


As I begin to climb that "bump" I find that Scott Johnson, one of the four other residents, is already in place. Scott is a professor of art at Colorado College in Colorado Springs and is an installation artist/sculptor/photographer on a post tenure sabbatical leave. Here is a brief biography of Scott: Bio.

As I come up to the top of the cliff I begin to see that this will not just be a rocky beach but will have some real substance.  Iceland will not disappoint:

By now I am on top of the cliff and I can get a sense of the coast and how the geology is exceptional. This is like nothing in my experience:

At the very edge of the cliff, if I turn left, I have this:

And to the right there is this:with Scott still perched up there on the top of his cliff shooting a time lapse video. A little later, I can't resist this with a long lens:

Back to work. At 66 years old I am definitely not scampering up and down this terrain the way I used to but I manage to get at a few places that are wonderful:

Then, beginning to head back, I come across this, where a small stream exits out into the ocean:This is the natural causeway that leads out to the Cape. More rocks in one place than it is possible to comprehend.

Finally, looking to the right and heading back to the studio before dinner there is this:

I will stop here. I did go back after dinner and worked until about 10. It is very strange but it doesn't really get dark here, ever. I will write a post about that in the future as it messes with your mind and body in odd ways.

At any rate, that's what I've been up to. I know I promised a profile of one of the other artists, Mahala. It is coming but she wanted more time to work.

Please, drop me an email with comments or questions about this place, the pictures or anything else.  Neal's email

Topics: Iceland,Rock

Permalink | Posted July 12, 2013