This Shot Was a Gift

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Iceland / Photo Log / Photography / Sunset


January 25, 2020 — Route 1, East of Reykjavik, Iceland

This shot should not have worked. It was shot through the window of an off-road bus (think rock-hard suspension) going 90 km/h on a not terribly smooth highway. The window was dirty from two days of being splashed with road slush. But it was the first time we’d seen the sun since our arrival. The colors were otherworldly and the land was an Icelandic combination of bleak and beautiful, complete with puffs of geothermal steam.

I had to at least try to record it—more for documentation than art. I clicked off about five shots with no real hope of anything useful and then I immediately shoved them out of my mind. Didn’t give them another thought.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was going through my images a week-and-a-half later and this appeared. I didn’t even recognize the shots at first. Then it came back to me. The other four shots in the series were a complete waste of electrons: horrible reflections, window-dirt blobs, motion blur. Useless.

But this… This was a gift.

(Canon G5X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. You’ve given us a good example of how quirky life is. This picture shouldn’t have come out any better than the other four shots taken under the same circumstances; yet it did, and it came out not only a little better, as might be expected, but a lot better.. It’s your “black swan” of a bleak landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely feeling of vastness…can feel the air…🤔I always wonder what one could create with discarded images…something in them when you look at the whole…have a creative day Michael ☺️ smiles Hedy

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The message that comes through to me, Michael, in this posting is that it is good to be a rebel, to break the rules, to defy conventional wisdom, and to keep shooting. There is something serendipitous about photography, especially in the uncontrolled outdoor environment, that always keeps me interested. Every photo has a chance of being or becoming something special.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. gregoryxandrew says

    Whoa, that is beautiful!! You’ve really pushed Iceland into the “absolutely must visit” category for me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So beautiful, Michael! And those “impossible” gems are really – true gems. A gift to you – and us, this time. And you are so right about the feel of Iceland: “One actually has to put one’s feet on the ground in this magnificent place to fully appreciate it.” Knowing you loved it makes me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Always shoot what you see. You just never know. And always save what you’ve shot because you just never know. And always process what you’ve shot because….well, that’s obvious. This is a wonderful landscape and so happy that you did shoot it. I agree with Steve, why this came out better than the other four is a mystery but a good one. So far you are building a great collection of images from the trip. More awe to come I am sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’ funny, I can believe this was taken out of the dirty car window but I can also believe – very easily – that this really looks as extraordinary as the scene did that day. There is a wonderful otherworldly quality to it.

    Liked by 1 person

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