The story behind the photo: Skáli

Stone shelter in Steingrímsfjarðarheiði, Western Fjords, Iceland (click image to view larger)
Stone shelter in Steingrímsfjarðarheiði, Western Fjords, Iceland (click image to view larger)

Skáli (pr: ‘scowly’) is Icelandic for ‘hut’. This stone, wood and turf hut can be found on route 61 that takes you from the main ring road around Iceland (route 1) to the Western Fjords in north west Iceland.  The road climbs steeply from Steingrímsfjörður fjord until you reach a weather monitoring station at the highest point of the pass, before descending back to Ísafjörður fjord and continuing on to Ísafjörður, the town, which (confusingly) lies on the banks of Skutulsfjörður fjord. On the opposite side of the road from the monitoring station, this hut stands defiantly, through wind, snow, and rain, providing shelter for anyone who may find themselves caught in this desolate place.

This photo was taken in late May of 2009, near the height of the Icelandic summer and the peak of the Icelandic day length (the sun was setting after midnight and rising again about three hours later). Yet the latitude (65° North) combined with the altitude (around 450 metres  or 1500 ft) meant that the landscape was still covered in snow. The overcast weather ensured I could expose for the wall of the shelter and completely blow out the sky and the snow, creating an almost abstract shape where the hut and its surrounding moss and rocks cut a shallow diagonal across the picture.

The hut’s door is slightly ajar, inviting you inside, and the window looks to me like a single Cyclopean eye, glaring to the south, daring the weather to do its worst as the small, squat building protects anyone who wishes to take refuge inside.

This image is part of a collection taken during that summer 2009 visit to Iceland called Svart/Hvít (black and white), which you can see in full here. All the images are for sale as prints at that link. There is also a book for sale at Blurb, in hardback and e-book format.