The story behind… The lady and the lake

In July I finally visited one of the regions that has been on my bucket list for a long time: the Italian Dolomites. The place is filled with uniquely shaped mountains and lakes and forests and… Well, you can understand how it ended up on my bucket list. Since I was going to spend my holidays with friends and family in Udine, which is near the Slovenian border, we only got to pass through the Dolomites on our way to and from Udine. A famous place in the Dolomites is Lake Braies (aka Lago di Braies aka Pragser Wildsee) which is a gorgeous emerald coloured lake surrounded by mountains. As we were driving towards Udine, we visited it for the first time. The sun was shining and goodness was it gorgeous. And subsequently filled with tourists. There were people everywhere: walking, having drinks, sitting in boats… There was no way I could have made a self portrait then and there without other people in it. So I didn’t. And afterwards I kept thinking about it.

Fast forward to the end of our holiday, when we drove homewards through the Dolomites again and I noticed the sign saying ‘Lago di Braies’. Casually (*cough*) I mentioned it to my friend behind the steering wheel. He said “Do you want to go?” and a little bit later we saw the lake for the second time. This time it was raining and this had cleared out a lot of the tourists. As we got closer and closer to the lake, it started raining harder and harder. Boats were brought to the side and every sane person there ran frantically from the rain and sought shelter. Enter Els! After some other self portraits, I found myself on the other side of the lake, climbing a slippery rock, while my friend helped me out at the tripod with my camera. And helped me off the rock in order for me not to die. This wonderful place suddenly belonged to only us. To me this is a beautiful memory and a sign of true friendship, when you have someone there who enables your crazy obsessions, especially when these obsessions involve running about in the pouring rain.

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Icelandic horses

A couple of weeks ago Canon and Focus Magazine took me and three other finalists to Iceland to make our final images for the Canon Grand Prix 2016 competition. I cannot share any of my final images yet, but I can share some photos I made of Iceland’s iconic inhabitants: the Icelandic horses. These rugged animals are kind and very curious, and I was very happy we were able to make a few stops during our road trip to photograph them.

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I’m still, I’m still an animal

As an animal lover, it is always a treat when I get to meet some furry friends. Although Iceland may be best known for its horses, there are also other animals like reindeer (which we saw but I didn’t get to photograph as they were on the side of the road where it was impossible to stop), puffins (although I’m not entirely convinced they’re not just a legend), seals and dogs!

Check out this cutie patootie horsing around:

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At Jökulsárlón, Iceland’s famous glacier lake, I crossed path with this seal:

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And when we got out of the car to hike to a ‘secret’ waterfall, this fluffy chap showed up and lead the way – a bit like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. He stayed with us the entire time, all the while running through the river, rolling in the dirt, barking at birds, and simply sitting happily. When we left, he also left with us. The fact he stayed with us, and that there was no one else around for the majority of the time, made the entire afternoon magical.

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Aurora timelapse

In February I visited Iceland for the second time with some friends. One of them actually mostly joined us for the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, aka Aurora Borealis. While I knew you can’t be sure to see them just by going somewhere north during wintertime, I was definitely hopeful. And our wishes were granted. The first night I noticed something in the sky that I couldn’t quite define. Was it a cloud? I took a picture with a long shutterspeed from the car (very artistic), and it revealed a green spot in the sky! I became the ‘aurora spotter’, pretty much pointing my camera to anything that slightly resembled this strange phenomenon. The second night, the spot became a curve stretching out from the left to the right. And the third night, we spent hours outside freezing our asses off. Because this is what we saw.

Aurora timelapse in Iceland from els vanopstal on Vimeo.