Oct. 24 2012 12:00 AM

Lansing photographer captures breathtaking images near the top of the world


Last month, Lansing-based photographer Brett King traveled to Iceland for a weeklong photo shoot. Fjords, glaciers, geysers and a mind-bending aurora borealis display — just a regular shooting schedule near the Arctic Circle. 

“Iceland was like being on a different planet,” King said. “The camera picks up more than the human eye captures, so it was always a mystery what we were going to show up.”    

Here, King shares some of his favorite shots from the trip. For more of his work, go to exploringpotential.org or thescenemagic.com. 

1) “This is from the second day of the trip in a remote valley of the Western Fjords. It was the middle of the night and the aurora borealis was in full force, dancing from behind the mountains. We came upon an old airplane museum, and outside the hangar sat a U.S. Air Force plane used in WWII. With a 30-second exposure set, Tim Vollmer and I ran around the plane “painting” it with flashlights, quick enough to not be seen in our own shots and thorough enough to cover the entire aircraft.” 

2) “Beautiful and majestic Icelandic horses can be found along the side of the roads throughout the rural parts of Iceland. One of the tactics that we used to get the horses to come close for intimate portraits was approaching them slowly with a limp hand extended and head turned away.  This lets the horses know that there is no danger and that you will simply be joining them.”

3) “This is Godafoss, the “Waterfall of the Gods.” Cold rain was pouring down and the winds were extremely high. I stepped over a safety rope and climbed my way down a slippery rocky drop to put myself eye level with the falls. I was on a small, grassy landing that dropped sharply into the water. Equipped with a shower cap over my camera, I would compose roughly by eye, then uncover the camera for a second to lock in the composition and settings, wipe the lens and snap the shot.”

4) “Approaching Geysir (the first geyser known to Europeans), we walked through geothermal puddles and ground that was spewing smoke. As I got closer, I could hear a deep gurgle, and then suddenly water shot straight up out of the earth, billowing out into steam at its apex. Gaps between bursts varied about eight to 12 minutes, so the challenge was to estimate framing and have the physical and mental strength to hold that position for the duration. This particular shoot took a great deal of patience and posture.”  

5) “By far, the most incredible experience of exploring Iceland was capturing the aurora borealis. That night we stayed at a remote farm right at the base of Hekla — one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes — and the lights were more vibrant than I could have imagined. Set up in a clearing in the pitch-black middle of the night, we shot for hours as the glowing lights jumped in front of and above us. It was a powerful thing to witness, let alone to store forever as a photograph.” 

6) “We woke up at 4 a.m. to get a sunrise shot of the glacial lagoon. To get this shot, I set my tripod up at the edge of the black sand beach where it met with frigid water. The sun began its ascent over a mountain to the back of us and provided a beautiful array of purples, oranges and reds as it crept higher into the sky.”