Get Local Information – Part 2 – Ragnar Sigurdsson

Focus On Nature’s creator Einar Erlandson enlisted professional photographer Ragnar Sigurdsson to help guide us on location in Iceland. A native of Iceland, Ragnar Sigurdsson, is a highly successful stock photographer (Getty, Corbis, Jupiter ) specializing in arctic images for over 25 years. “If it’s cold I’m there.” Where? Siberia, Greenland, Lapland, Canada, Arctic, Antarctic, and of course Iceland. He just got back fromChucotka¬† Siberia flying in a giant MI8 helicopter.
You should see his ATV. If anyone can get there, Ragnar can. He uses a specially modified military vehicle; 44″ inch tires, heating, stereo, computer holder, GPS, air pump for deflating and inflating his tires, 220W power supply, strobes, and more. Strobes? Yes. One of his signature style is using strobe on in remote locations. (Oh, and his French cognac is excellent.) Life is indeed an adventure made richer by those you share it with.
Find out about Ragnar Sigurdsson’s and Arctic Images here.
Find out more about Focus on Nature here.
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Get Local Information – Part I – Einar Erlandsson

One of the things that makes a workshop in a foreign destination great is local knowledge. Focus On Nature’s Einar Erlandson is an Iceland native – his family history in Iceland goes back over 1000 years. Iceland’s more than geography to him. It’s his personal and family history. He knows all the nooks and crannies to get into, the backroads and the sideways that take you to remarkable places you’d never find without a lifetime’s worth of experience. He’s taught photography for years and knows not only how to make successful images but also how to help others learn to make their own successful images. That kind of insight and guidance is invaluable.
Even though Einar Erlandson is an Icelandic native¬† enlists local photographers who’ve lived their whole lives here to add to his extensive body of knowledge of the terrain and its history. They’ve seen new islands emerge; seen volcanoes wipe out villages; seen Rekjavik grow.
From your trusted information sources, you want to more than experience – you want specific kinds of experience. Focus On Nature enlists the help of many local professional photographers. Professional photographers know what conditions make good photographs. They know not only what’s interesting, but also if a location is interesting photographically. They know when to go; weather and light can dramatically change a location visually. And they know what types of images have been made at those locations – and they’re willing to share it all.
Bottom line, when on location, enlist local knowledge whenever you can. The time spent getting to know locals is worth its weight in gold. And you make new friends!
Find out more about Focus on Nature here.
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Vincent Versace Lectures in Iceland

So what’s the first thing you do when you arrive in Iceland?
Eat Thai food and take in Vincent Versace’s evening lecture at the University of Rekjavik. Of course! Actually, who knew?
Vincent gave a passionate lecture to stunned crowd for nearly two and a half hours. Was this stand up comedy? Confession? Or, philosophy? Yes!
Half the time I thought, “This guy’s crazy. He’s absolutely possessed.” The other half of the time I thought, “I must be crazy. I agree with almost everything he’s saying.” What comes out of his mouth is very different than the words that come out of my mouth. The images that he makes are very different than the images I make. And I find that extremely stimulating. Nevertheless, in spirit, there’s a real felt kinship. Vincent has made something Ernst Haas said his personal mantra, “Don’t take pictures. Be taken by pictures.” It’s truly great advice. And Vincent has a lot of good ideas about how we can all let that happen.
Vincent’s a trained improvisational actor. It shows in his presentations. It shows in his pictures. A woman from the audience asked him about his relationship with the people he photographs. The images seem extremely candid. Did he feel he was intruding? Vincent’s answer came kinetically. He left the room and reentered it in a way that changed the audience’s relationship to him. Then he asked his questioner to do the same. And he continued in that vein. Vincent has a big heart and you see it not only in the way he relates to an audience but in the way he relates to his subjects and how they relate to him. And you see and feel it in his pictures. That’s much more important than craft. And not talked about enough in photography.
It was a thoroughly unique evening and thoroughly enjoyable.
Find out more about Vincent Versace here.
My lecture’s next – Thursday, August 21st at 7 pm at …
So … if you’re in Rekjavik, stop by.
Find out more here.

Iceland – Prelude

(That’s Stephen Johnson on his recent trip to Iceland.)
I’m flying to Iceland today to scout for my upcoming workshop.
During my stay I’ll present a free lecture in Rekjavik hosted by Canon.
August 12 and 13 (Saturday and Sunday) I co-teach a free weekend workshop with Vincent Versace.
August 14 – 18 I lead my workshop Illuminating Creativity. This is a field workshop, a variant of my workshop by the same title, much like my Fall Foliage workshop, with a majority of the time spent on location in the field. Participants and I will engage many exercises to stimulate creativity and encourage versatility when coming up with solutions to visual challenges. I’ll tell you about many of them and show you our solutions here in the days to come.
Stay tuned!