The 66th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 66 degrees north of the Earth’s equatorial plane, about 61 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Asia and North America. At this latitude the sun is visible for 24 hours during the summer solstice and two hours, 47 minutes during the winter solstice.
I call it North Iceland and although not all images in this collection are strictly at 66 degrees, it represents my favorite Island and location on Planet Earth and one that I am proud to call my spiritual home.
My love affair with Iceland started in September 2012. It was my wife’s birthday holiday, although in hindsight, it turned into the “Tim Nevell Show” and she spent most of her time taking photos of me, while I was busy making images of all the bucket list locations we had visited around Iceland (Kirkjufell, Thingvellir, Gullfoss, Skogarfoss, Dettifoss, Myvatn, Hofn) and travel-related photography trips have not really changed since. My wife loves the fresh air and places we visit, but the occasional reminder of “We have been here for hours, can we move on?” are reminders that she is with me.
Back in the early years of my photographic journey, it was all about shooting as wide as possible and filling the frame with foreground and details. In the early years, I was influenced by Marc Adamus’ work and a handful of other emerging US photographers. At the time I was striving to reproduce the foregrounds and explosive color palette they were producing. It took me a few years of learning, reading and watching to understand what was being done and although an art form, it somehow distorted my view of photography. I never had the skills in Photoshop to control what was going on and found myself with a portfolio made up of over-saturated one-dimensional images.
Nowadays my field and digital workflow are far simpler, and I try my best to get as much right in camera, from setting the camera up with the aspect ratio I want the final image to be, along with bracketing for dynamic range, although recent cameras capture the dynamic range in one frame 90% of the time. Then I used ND filters to control the look of the final image, with anything from fast exposures to ones over 10 minutes long.
Iceland has helped me find my style, which has now recently changed to focus on the quiet scenes and a minimal approach. It has allowed me to slow down when making photographs and gone are the days of charging around destinations or my backyard of Sussex taking hundreds of raws, coming home with a handful of keepers.
Iceland offers everything for the adventurous photographer and on a few trips we have managed to circle the island in less than 24 hours chasing the Aurora Borealis, sleeping for just a few hours at a time in search of that perfect light. At other times we slow the pace down and spend days in the snow-covered mountains around Myvatn in the north of the island or walking the cliffs of Lóndrangar in the west.
Such is my passion for photographing Iceland that we have returned at least twice a year ever since, returning to classic icons and little-known places that we stumbled upon during the road trip until November 2019 when we had a car accident in the far northeast. Sliding on black ice into a lava field does a lot of damage! Fortunately we were uninjured, but the damage done resulted in writing off the hire car. The hire car company explained the small print and the subsequent costs that I was expected to pay before being sent a replacement vehicle, so my passion quickly turned to frustration.
A day later after being stuck in our hotel waiting for the replacement car to arrive, the weather turned and we then faced a harrowing 12-hour journey back to Reykjavik airport in -20 degrees Celcius conditions, encountering snow blizzards, freezing fog and everything in between. It was at this point that we decided we needed a break from Iceland. It was a stark reminder to read the small print in everything you sign and showed just how dangerous Iceland can be in bad weather.
The period between 2012 and 2019, however, has produced lifelong memories and my best body of work, images that I have revisited and re-processed into a black and white collection, entitled 66° NORTH.
The journey of this collection is inspired by the minimalist landscapes of the north of Iceland around Myvatn and Möðrudalur. Both areas offer conditions and landscapes of what I believe to be close to the highlands, but without the cost or risk involved in venturing into the river-strewn highland roads, or at least that is what I thought! The highlands are an area I am desperate to visit, but the adventure has so far eluded me. I hope to one day visit on an adventure tour with Bruce Percy, to learn from the master of this landscape.
My collection consists of images shot from both an aerial perspective and land based. My favorite location is in fact northeast Iceland, between Myvatn and Grímsstaðir. I have visited this area on every trip to Iceland and it delivers something different every time – the combination of heavy snow and muted grey skies followed by bursts of arctic light are my favorite conditions, but there is something about the air quality and the calmness and lack of infrastructure that is appealing in any conditions. This year will see me travel back for the first time in three years. It feels like a lifetime since I last breathed that clean air, but I am bursting with compositional ideas for that trip and am still working through files from previous adventures.
The article is courtesy of ELEMENTS Magazine. Elements is the monthly magazine dedicated to the finest landscape photography, insightful editorials and fluid, clean design. Inside you will find exclusive and in-depth articles and imagery by the best landscape photographers in the world such as Paul Wakefield, Christian Fletcher, Bruce Barnbaum, Rachael Talibart, Charles Cramer, Hans Strand, Sandra Bartocha and Christopher Burkett, to name a few. Use the PETAPIXEL10 code for a 10% discount off the annual subscription.
About the author: Tim Nevell is a landscape photographer based in West Sussex, UK. His images “are the result of combining travel style documentary photos with a minimal approach and finding graphic symmetry and space in the landscape for the image to talk to me. It has been a natural progression from my early work of filling the lens with as much as I could fit in, to my more minimalist approach you will find throughout my portfolio today. I look through my lens and wonder what will happen next, and what the viewer sees.”