Joe Is a Jesus-lovin, picture takin fool from banks, oregon. His other hobbies include climbing, hiking, fixing his vanagon, and pretty much anything slightly dangerous or far from the ground.

With an enormous love for life and people, joe brings a smile to everything he does. this blog is a small glimpse of his view on the world and the things created in it.

Iceland - SvoooGott!

Iceland - SvoooGott!

“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
— Psalms 37:4

I'm sure all of you know this by now, but I just went on a trip to Iceland!!

I didn't talk about it at all leading up to the trip because I wasn't sure if it was going to work out, but everything came together and I went!

In total seven of us made the trip, though Alex and I left two days early so we could catch a little bit of San Francisco sun. Leading up to the trip there was a LOT of problems with Airbnb, but a week before we left Alex managed to nail one down - in the heart of the city and near to Marshalls Beach!

Now Marshalls Beach sits just next the Golden Gate Bridge, and is full of awesome rocks, massive boulders, and disgustingly tan buttcheeks. I think there's a nude beach nearby and they must like to wander...

In any case! With perfect weather and INCREDIBLE colors, Alex and I shot photos of the Golden Gate Bridge at Sunset, and life began to feel unreal in the best way possible. We were in San Francisco!!! Shooting stuff I'd dreamed of!!!

So we walked around a while longer, exploring the city at night, soaking up the views. Thankfully, bringing the 200mm along ended up being worth it! It was a lot of extra weight in my bag but this shot definitely came through.

Funny story, as we were walking through the city we decided to grab some snacks, right? We go into Walgreens, get some snacks, and while we were in there we noticed all the employees acting strange. They weren't really paying attention to any of us, they kept looking down the aisles, and it was pretty obvious something was up.

As we walked out two cops walked in from across the street. We turned and looked to see a man open the door to the Walgreens roof, step onto the fire escape, and jump to the ground!! It was about a 12 foot fall, so he laid there for about two seconds, got up, and was GONE. Just took off sprinting!

I couldn't believe what we just saw, so I turned to Alex and we started laughing. Like, WHAT? So shortly after the cops come out that same door, and I pointed them in the direction of the dude. And that was that!

Took a Lyft back, slept for like four hours, and took a lyft out again.

This next spot I had seen done once before, but it is tricky to get to so I honestly wasn't sure if we'd find it ok. But! We made it. And it was a very tough scramble to be doing at 6am.

I don't think I'm happy with this shot just yet, but here it is nonetheless:

So, being pretty tired from travel and all the walking, we made it back to our Airbnb to chill and edit away. 

We did have one spot in mind for sunset, though there really wasn't anything awesome about the sky, so I chose to just hang out and enjoy the super cool spot we found. I did snag a portrait of Alex though and I think it's a pretty cool one.

Unfortunately our Lyft driver took a wrong turn on the way back to San Francisco, and we ended up in Oakland before having to turn around. But after a long drive we made it back safe.

As Alex and I met up with the rest of our group, we were sad to discover that Liz could not travel with us. Her passport was too close to expiring for her to go.

With somber moods we all waited for our plane to arrive, and decided that once we landed we would have an awesome trip to make Liz proud.

Before the trip I had an idea to take pictures of the stars while we flew! This was more difficult than I thought, but thankfully I flew prepared with tape and black t-shirts to block out all the light.

It also REALLY helped that the couple I was sitting next to were the coolest people ever! After talking to them about my idea, the girl in the middle seat shared half her boyfriends seat for an hour so that I could put my tripod  on hers! SOO awesome of them. I wouldn't have gotten this shot had I sat next to anyone else.

Also just a note, that light in the foreground is actually a boat under the clouds, not a reflection in the window! I didn't think about it until someone pointed that out to me, but I just want to clarify. Boat. Under the clouds. Not a reflection.

After landing in Reykjavik, I had my favorite interaction of the trip!

So we all went to this bakery (which was PHENOMENAL), but I wanted to walk around the block by myself for a minute. I stepped outside, rounded the corner, and there was guy coming towards me from down the street.

I wasn't sure how people were around here, but I was planning on smiling at the very least. As he got closer though, I could hear him singing! We walked closer and closer, and then he shouts excitedly to me: "Hey there! What is your name!?" 

He said it in his Icelandic accent and so excitedly that I was really caught off guard! I told him my name, he told me his (which sadly I can't remember), and we exchanged this awesome handshake/highfive before departing. I laughed after this, and we both turned around to walk backwards for a second and yell goodbyes!

So we left Reykjavik to drive all the way North to Kirkjufell. Sadly, this turned out to be a bust. Terrible weather with predicted road closures, 40mph winds, rain and snow. We saw it and we left! 

Back in Reykjavik we got a super awesome Airbnb In the penthouse of this small place in the city. You could even see the church from there!

Anyway after staying in this wonderful city we headed out early to go to Skogafoss! It's this huge waterfall in the middle of nowhere. Pretty cool. Sadly I've been spoiled by the waterfalls we have here in Oregon, so as magnificent as this place was, it didn't really sweep me off my feet or anything.

Also I decided to go black and white just cause I wasn't liking the colors that were there.

At this point in the trip I was already noticing that I can't go anywhere without getting in the water! It calls me! All the best pictures happen when you get soaked. So, here's a picture of me in my happy place :)

After this we headed over to Reynisfjara, an incredible black sand beach! 

Not only was it cool that the sand was black, and the rocks were basalt columns, but it was snowing!! This was insane because when you walked, the snow and black sand literally looked like crushed oreos!

Note: These shots aren't in black and white. There was literally no color in this place! Just black rocks, black sand, white seafoam, and white snow! SO COOL!!!

After this we stayed in a SUPER cool Airbnb that was literally at the base of a mountain!! I guess they all put houses along the base of the mountains to stay out of the wind. Unfortunately I don't have pictures, but picture this one lonely farmhouse with a mountain as the backdrop, and everything is covered in a foot of snow!


Our last full day was without a doubt the best day of my life so far.

Started the morning at Diamond beach, dinked around a super cool fishing town for a while, and ended it at Vestrahorn! Nicknamed 'Batman mountain', Vestrahorn is an INSANE black sand beach with grassy sand dunes spread throughout, this magnificent mountain as the backdrop, and on this day covered in a layer of snow and hail!

Diamond beach was absolutely incredible, though I have to admit: this was by far the most challenging place I have ever shot at! Compositionally, nothing wants to line up good. Your subject is not good enough without the water, but with the water it moves! Not to mention the waves are really unpredictable and will knock you over if you aren't paying attention.

Also, somehow I just assumed the ice came from the ocean? I don't know what I was thinking. They actually come from a glacier right nearby, and as they break off they float down the river, under this bridge, and out into the ocean. Then they end up on the beach. Stupid stupid Joe.

Nonetheless! Still the one of the most magical sunsets I've ever witnessed. Oh! I forgot to mention. Because Iceland is so far North, the sunrises last for EVER!!!! I was joking with everyone about these 'eternal sunrises', but seriously they last so long it's obscene! This definitely helped me get the shots I did, because I had SO MUCH TIME to reposition and scout new spots!

I don't have any pictures of the town we stopped in. I had a lot of fun taking videos to post in my Instagram story, but nothing I actually got my camera out for. The only thing you missed was a fantastic meal, lots of running-and-sliding on the icy roads, and an abandoned ship that you could climb around in and explore!

It was a VERY fun break before our next adventure.

And next we were off to Vestrahorn!! The drive out there was incredible. Beautiful mountain peaks around every corner, golden hour all day long, and the ocean to our right the whole time! Along the way we encountered some friendly Icelandic horses too! 

And now, the moment I had been waiting for my entire life.

It was kinda funny because as we all waited in the car for hours, I sat there thinking I may have made a mistake. We're all going to be exhausted, cramped, cold, and for what? There was only a 2% chance the Aurora would actually show tonight, so everyone waited around for hours for nothing. 

At least, that's what I thought. I decided to brave the cold and go shoot stars for a bit, just to get something, you know? However as I looked at my shots I noticed the glow starting to appear... Was that city glow? There's no way that was the lights. But, was that more glow than the last picture I took? It was!

Slowly but surely, the Aurora Borealis revealed itself until you could see it with your own eyes. As I watched it dance, I couldn't help but cry. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen and to be in such an incredible country, on this unbelievably cool beach, with the Aurora perfectly framing the mountain? I couldn't contain myself.

I couldn't pass up the opportunity for the Most Incredible Selfie either.

The last leg of our trip was going to be the Blue Lagoon. We drove through the night so we could make it and be in the hot springs for sunrise, though the farther we drove the worse the weather got!

So bad in fact, that the extremely high winds were blowing mini snowbanks onto the road, creating snow speed bumps literally everywhere! Our car bounced all around, but these two semis passed us going twice our speed, and they were able to plow through all the snow and create tracks, so we just followed them.

Several minutes later we found them stopped in the road. Turns out, this lady got too scared to cross this bridge that had snow on it, so she stopped and her car got stuck. At least that's my understanding. I ended up going out into the snowstorm in my Janoski's to help a few other guys dig her car some clean tracks, and after about ten minutes we got her free.

Sadly though we still couldn't make it to the lagoon because a while later there was some REALLY heavy snowdump and the roads were three feet deep! After crashing in a hotel lobby for a few hours the rain melted the snow enough that we could drive to the airport.

All in all, this was the best week of my life so far, and this trip was just the cherry on top of what is turning out to be the best year yet. I'm so thankful I could go on this trip with these awesome, AWESOME people!! SVOOOGOTT!

Oh, I just typed that and then remembered I haven't explained it yet. We got gas next to a KFC that had that on it's sign. It sounded funny but I didn't know what it meant till I got back home.

A quick Google search revealed that svo gott, means so good!!


ALSO! I forgot to add this when I published the post, but I now have a store! You can find it here. 

Too Much Life

Too Much Life

Celestial Waterfall

Celestial Waterfall