Stream of Life

It takes some time to accomodate to the sulfurous air, but the smell only adds to the otherworldly experience of a visit to the Hverir high-temperature area, where smoking steam vents and bubbling mud pots are scattered right next do Iceland's Ring Road.

The different shapes and colours of the area offer sheer endless possibilities for compositions, but unfortunately you are heavily limited by ropes strained around the sensitive soil. Being kept at a distance can be quite frustrating for photographers, but on the other hand the tourist masses are kept away as well. And since we all know that tourists (and photographers alike) are drawn very close to things of their interest it's not hard to imagine what thousands of footprints would do to the beauty of the place.

A muddy stream at sunrise
Stream of Life © Joerg Bonner

I knew I had to deal with circumstances and luckily ropes can be cloned out quite easily. What bothered me more were the wooden walkways and platforms which I, for the sake of simplicity, tried to avoid in my compositions. After a bit of scouting I finally found a small, muddy stream which I could approach quite freely. I liked how it led into the scene where in the background you could see the Krafla volcano (the peak on the left) and one of the fumaroles (steam vents) blowing out steam.
The sun was aldready approaching the horizon and the glow in the clouds soon intensified. Within a minute or so the whole sky was lit in a deep orange - perfect to complement the greyish-blue mud flowing in the tiny stream in front of me. I set up the camera very low and close to the trickle in order to make it more prominent in the frame. The colours went completely out of bounds and although I had used a 2 stop GND I still had to paint in a second, bracketed exposure to recover the clipped reds in the clouds.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ 20mm, Singh-Ray 2 Stop Hard Rev-GND
ISO 100, f/11, 3.2 seconds
Gitzo GT1541T

Two exposures blended for dynamic range; cloned out a few ropes (necessary to keep tourists from getting too close)

Hverir high-temperature area, Mývatn, Iceland

More information & links:
I couldn't find too much valuable info (in english) about the area, so instead I suggest checking out the website of photographer Alister Benn, whom I met that morning and had a great time shooting with: - website of Alister Benn


  1. That's a cracker Joerg... You really made the best of the situation with the available compositions... cheers

    1. thanks alister! despite being full of options, this place wasn't easy to handle at all... and i forgot to mention that some angles were also blocked by other photogs :P
      on that note, i've got a really nice shot of you working around one of the steam vents.

  2. The explanation here clarify my doubts/nits about the sky.
    I can see that despite the not very popular place for photograph, you was in the same time than others, ...this time Alister. Then, the option for being and having different/unknewn frames on this world of photography is definitively scout for have isolated areas or not easy accesible for everybody.
    Your photo on the lava fields for me is really good in composition. Greetings,
    Daniel Álamo.


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