Clouds and Berms and Lines, Oh My

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Abstract / Iceland / Impressionism / Inspiration / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography


January 26, 2020 — Jökulsárlón, South Coast, Iceland

Iceland’s south coast has lots of berms. The ones parallel to the beach are breakwaters and, presumably, the ones perpendicular to the beach are for flood control.

Iceland also has lots of clouds — at least in the winter.

This photograph has both.

Iceland also has powerlines, which — much to my annoyance — clutter what would otherwise be many great shots.

I normally do all I can, including post-processing work, to be sure that my images don’t have human-made objects. Yet this one has powerlines shamelessly marching along the horizon. I have another version sans lines and towers, courtesy of careful use of content-aware fill in Photoshop, but after spending time with both versions I prefer this one.

It’s the exception that proves the rule. The towers and lines provide scale and just a bit of dissonance, supplying the image with needed tension and a hint of texture.

(Nikon D850, Nikon 24-120mm f/4G VR. 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. Sometimes we nature photographers have little choice but to live with human elements in a scene. After all, we ourselves are human elements.

    The proverb about the exception proving the rule has come to be misunderstood because “prove” originally conveyed the sense that the language has preserved in “probe,” which is another form of the same verb. If we wanted to convey the original meaning of the proverb today, we’d say “the exception tests the rule” or “the exception challenges the rule.”

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    • It’s true, we ourselves are human elements. I looked up the proverb. Several references say that if you think of “prove” in the mathematical sense, meaning something more like “test,” it helps in understanding the proverb and using it correctly.


      • One survival of the ‘test’ sense is in the phrase proving ground, which Wikipedia explains refers to “a military installation or reservation where weapons or other military technology are experimented with or are tested, or where military tactics are tested.”

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  2. The powerlines reminded me of the Martians in War of the Worlds, striding across the land.

    My memory was fuzzy, but sure enough — when I checked the plotline, I found that the Martians were killed by an onslaught of earthly pathogens, to which they had no immunity: “slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth”. Well. How timely.

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    • Now that you mention it, that’s what they remind me of too. Iceland’s infrastructure seems to be functionally perfect, but aesthetically, not so much. And yes, timely indeed. Stay well.


  3. I enjoyed how the repeating element of the power poles and clouds invited me to journey from right to left within this image. Beautiful blues

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    • Thank you very much. That’s exactly what my eyes did at the time. And the blues just knocked me out. Took a bit of work to preserve them in the image.


  4. It drives me nuts seeing all manner of objects getting in the way of a good photo. I don’t think most people even see this amount of undesirable clutter.

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  5. After watching many vlogs by British (not that it matters, I guess) photographers with all the many human elements on some of their coasts, including Rachel, I’ve become more accepting of their existence. Obviously, if the can be composed out that would be best if it’s one desire. These work just fine, I think. I have to deal with cell phone towers in some of my landscapes and I always leave them. My basic rule of thumb is two-fold. Could I move the object physically without destroying anything, such as a fallen branch in a cascade, or would someone who is familiar with the scene recognize their absence. I guess in both cases the power lines would remain. And happily, they work well in your composition. They remind me a little of Shinto toriis.

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    • I understand completely. And yes, those towers also remind me of Shinto toriis. Overall, however, my criteria are different. Similar to Bruce Percy‘s quote which is in a recent blog of mine, I consider myself to be making pictures rather than photographs in the strictest sense. In seeking to create some sort of ideal, my criteria are closer to what they would be if I were painting the scene. So, would I include a cell tower in a painting? Probably not, unless the presence of the cell tower served a purpose for me.


      • I understand. But if it is a well known scene that many would recognize might that not change your outlook? I often wonder why painting a scene allows for so much interpretation but should a photographer exercise the same freedom it is tagged as Photoshopping with all the negative connotation that has come to represent in some circles. I remember reading long ago that early in his career Andrew Wyeth was criticized for the level of realism in his paintings. There are others who received the same criticisms but as a recognized master that dumbfounded me.

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      • It depends. Would I remove the Mount Sutro Tower in a shot of San Francisco? No, I wouldn’t. Did I remove the cell tower on top of an otherwise pristine ridge at Sea Ranch on the Sonoma Coast? I sure did. Everybody at Sea Ranch knows that tower. Everybody agrees it’s ugly. In the end, I think it’s up to the artist. Artist show what they want to show. Art, by definition, is subjective. Photoshopping in a journalistic photograph or an image intended to be a depiction of something as a visitor would see it is verboten in my opinion. Photoshopping as art which is not intended to be realistic is an open field. That’s the distinction I make.


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