On the Search for the Perfect Barn Shot in Iceland

 I recently went on my first guided group tour since I was 15. Twenty strangers boarded a coach bus where “where are you from, what do you do” enveloped the morning stillness until we drove to where we would be staying for the next five days. It was a farm, surrounded only by two other farm houses across the one lane highway.

On our last night, before dinner, I took myself for a walk around the property. We were granted a week with cloudless skies, and 65 degree weather. A rarity in Iceland, apparently.

Down the gravel path, I walked with just my camera, listening to the sounds of nature: this annoying bird that just wouldn’t shut up, perched on top of our summer cabin. The bleeting of lambs, a whinny of an Icelandic horse so far away in the pasture, his sound traveled like an echo.

In the distance, white capped mountains hovered over a thin stretch of fog, breaking the horizon into two. The sun through stretches of clouds illuminated spots of yellow green hillside and isolated barns.

Towards the end of the gravel road, I was met first by the sound galloping hooves and turned to see a sole horse the color of antique brass. His mane, thick, long and frizzy flying wildly behind him, surrounded by nothing but pasture. The reflective puddles of collected rain burst upwards on impact and fell back to earth. Spots of summer had already made their marks on the land, bleaching strands of grass to varying shades of tan.

The horse slowed himself down a bit past where I stood watching him, to the corners of where a thin wire and wood fence connected. He proudly walked the boarders between us before he turned to graze, and I let him do so privately.

Past our summer cabins, equipped with hot tubs, and another section of land with patches of reeds taller than my head and dotted white with new born lambs and their mothers, I turned to walk the one way road, free from a single passing car.

The summer sky was turning a shade of lavender as the sun made its rounds around the northern tip of the world and clouds moved in. Wildflowers collected on the side of the pavement with yellow pocks. Past a row of trees was one farm house with a wine red roof. This was my money shot. Determined to get the perfect angle, I hopped a ditch just dehydrated enough to see mud lining the bottom.  If I jumped across just right, grabbed hold of the reeds, I could pull myself up to the other side. First try, a success. The red of the roof was striking against the vivid greens of grass and bushes divided in half when met with clouded sky.

Unfortunately, my trip back was met with over confidence and a Nike, to this day, coated in a layer imbedded with a light brown mud. The walk back, albeit squishy, looked different than when I had come. Streaks of neon yellow broke through the sky and the cement road stretched and winded until it disappeared to more green. The whole farm, and its surroundings, the trio of horses grazing I had originally not seen, seemed more alive, more vibrant with color. But isn’t that always the way.