Iceland's no stranger to the silver screen. It's featured as the backdrop for movies ranging from Prometheus and Thor to TV shows such as Game of Thrones. But it wasn't until the country landed the leading role in 2013's 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty', that it really catapulted into the collective psyche of travellers the world over.
In 2015 alone, Iceland's inbound tourist figures were up some 30%. That's no small number. The plus side of this surge in interest for those of us who are yet to make it to these epic lands is that we have more photographs to trawl through to appease our appetite for adventure.
Chris Welch is one such Iceland-visiting photograph taker. Chris, from Eastbourne, England, has been shooting photos for less than a year. We're friends with Chris on Facebook and, after seeing a few shots from his trip pop up in our feed, we couldn't help but ask to see more and get the run-down on his time out there.
Chris! Who are you, where do you live and what do you do?
I'm Chris Welch, I live in Eastbourne, England. And I’m a musician and owner of a function band who perform at events.
What made you want to visit Iceland?
It was my dad who got me onto Iceland. He showed me all of these amazing and varying landscapes within one relatively small area, and I could just tell it was a landscape photographer’s dream.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with all the possible shoot locations and start planning the trip. We left about two months after I realised how beautiful Iceland was.
Where exactly in Iceland did you travel?
The south west. The furthest along the south coast we visited was a town called Vik. I say 'town', but the population isn’t even 300 strong! We stayed at various different locations along the south coast and then up at some cottages on a farm at the top of the Golden Circle.
What was your highlight?
It is so hard to think of a specific highlight. With the forever changing weather it was such a challenge to get the photos I wanted, but it was this that has actually stuck in my mind. I absolutely loved driving through Iceland's breathtaking landscape, every turn had something new. Whether it be snow covered mountains or huge waterfalls, drive another 5 miles and you could find it difficult to see any snow at all.
Let's talk photography - how long have you been shooting photos for?
This is my first year taking photos, I bought a Nikon D3200 in Miami and I’ve been addicted ever since. It’s just a hobby at the moment, although I’ve used it to create some album artwork for a vinyl single that I’ve produced for a solo artist recently, as well as a music video. I’ll try my hand at anything.
What kind of gear do you shoot on?
I use a Nikon D5500. It’s all I can afford but I love what it can do! For the wide angle shots in Iceland I used a Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 which Is great to get a huge landscape in. The image with the reflection of the mountain was simply a large puddle, but the Tokina allows me to get right up close to the water and still get the whole landscape in. The fisheye images are great fun and dramatic, it’s such a cheap lens for how fun and how sharp it is (Vivitar 8mm).
Do you find photography makes travel more interesting?
I find it’s certainly something to really get into, but you have to try and be creative while travelling because you only have a certain amount of time to get good shots that aren’t just generic travel photos.
I always bring my camera away with me, as I also try to capture time-lapse footage of each place I visit. My aim is to collect a wide variety of time-lapse clips and put them together one day with some music that I’ve written. Its a long term project. I've already got footage from Turkey, Ireland, Portugal, Poland, Iceland and, of course, England.
Where was your favourite place in Iceland to shoot?
I think my favourite place was being at the crashed DC-3 plane site for the 30 minutes that the weather was actually interesting. For days it had been completely overcast and you could hardly see a mile ahead. A glimpse of blue sky appeared and we happened to find the road by chance that you access the plane from. The road is about a mile of just volcanic black rock, sand and shingle.
Luckil,y we'd opted for a 4WD hire car. With the quick changes in weather I was able to get a few pictures of the plane with the sun behind it, as well as some moody shots when the sun started setting and clouds started moving in.
Where are you off to next?
This year I’m off to Tenerife. I can’t seem to get away from volcanoes! Also the Czech Republic and possibly Greece.