Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Focus on Nature Rocks

This past July I spent a week in Iceland with Tony Sweet and Focus on Nature. I had known for a couple years that Tony was planning on doing a workshop in Iceland and I was interested, but at the same time unsure because Iceland is not an inexpensive place to visit. Late last summer Tony announced the workshop was scheduled and with the encouragement of my wife I decided to take the plunge. I figured you only live once and I would consider this a “once in a lifetime trip”, but no longer, I fully plan to go back!

Focus on Nature is a personal project of Einar Erlendsson. The company is small but the service and attention to detail is world class. Einar has a saying, “there are no problems, only solutions”. I can attest that this is a true statement. During the workshop there were a number of requests and Einar made every one of them happen.

The general premise of the workshop is you get to shoot and learn from a world class photographer and the locals handle all of the details. That includes getting you to the right place at the right time.

The workshop started with a meeting on Sunday afternoon. We got to know each other and present examples of our work so Tony could understand our abilities. After introductions we had a presentation from a local meteorologist who provided a very accurate estimate of the weather we could expect. Until that meeting the route the workshop would take was not planned. Einar wants you to have the best possible experience and this is just one of the steps he takes to ensure a successful workshop. During the week Einar checked in with the meteorologist to keep us heading in the best possible direction. We met our guide for the week, Gudmundur Ingolfsson. We called him “GuMay”. In addition to telling us the history of the many places we were visiting, he also had a great sense of humor. We traveled in a large 4 wheel drive bus that easily took us everywhere we wanted to go including crossing several rivers. GuMay traveled with us in the bus. Einar either traveled with us or in advance to pave the way.

After our first meeting in the afternoon Einar took us out to dinner in Reykjavik, and we could not have had a better group of people. I have never laughed so hard in my life. After dinner the entire group was fast friends and it only got better as the week progressed.

Siggi was our driver for the week. Einar says he is the best driver and I have no reason to doubt it. He seemed to know every back road in the country.

With one exception, I was always the first one off the bus and one of the last to return. One afternoon I returned to the bus to discover that lunch had been finished and Siggi was putting everything away. I figured that was ok, after all missing one meal was not going to kill me. Next thing I know Gumay was pulling everything back out so I could eat.

I could go on and on. I had high expectations, after all this was an expensive trip. The experience easily exceeded my expectations!

By the end of the workshop you are part of Einar’s family. If you have any desire to photograph Iceland I recommend Einar and his company!! Tony is scheduled to lead a workshop again next year. Drop Einar an e-mail and get signed up!!

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