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David Yarrow on an Icelandic moonscape

An Icelandic moonscape

David Yarrow on how he shot its surreal beauty

David Yarrow on how he shot its surreal beauty

June/July 2017

There is something ethereal about this shot, as if it were of a different world. This is apt, as it was here – near Lake Mývatn in the north-east of Iceland – that Neil Armstrong practised his lunar landing. It is certainly the place I’ve been to that most resembles the Moon. It’s also where much of “Game of Thrones” was filmed.

I’ve been to Iceland many times. This picture was taken three years ago, in winter, at around 9.15 in the morning; the light was lovely but it was very cold. Visually, Iceland is far better in winter. The landscape is a gift for photographers and film-makers. But images usually involve waterfalls. I wanted to do something different, to make people do a double take.

The pony is important to this. While the scene is of the other side of Iceland – about as far from Reykjavik and as wild and strange as you can get – it’s still there for anyone who travels to photograph it. The pony turns the landscape into a canvas on which to do something a bit different. It’s the right size to be at the epicentre of the picture – and the flumes behind it add that bit of magic.

I don’t want to be disingenuous about how natural the picture is. We used a horse wrangler, who put up some barriers to ensure that the pony couldn’t roam out of shot. Then I waited for the composition to be just right.

I try to find names for the pictures I take. There’s something rather fantastical about this one, about the medley of whites. I called it “Lord of the Rings”.

It’s a spectacular part of the world, richly volcanic. However, the whole area smells of bad eggs – one thing that you can’t tell from the picture!

“Wild Encounters” by David Yarrow, with a foreword by HRH Prince William is published by Rizzoli. All author royalties go to Tusk Trust.
When visiting Lake Mývatn, stay at Hotel Laxá

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