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A song of ice and film
It was a trip years in the making for photographer Fiona Howarth — a bit of a working holiday, so to speak.
And now, the Abbotsford woman has plenty to show for the three weeks she spent traveling in some of the most raw and spectacular natural settings the planet has to offer.
Sublimity: Iceland and Greenland, a collection of nature photographs, taken late last spring by Howarth, will hang in the Fort Gallery until Sunday, Sept. 8.
The show features 27 photos — all 16" by 20" in size — including breathtaking shots of thunderous, frothing waterfalls, towering rock formations and haunting images of floating sea ice, perfectly reflected in the ocean's glassy surface.
Howarth had seen photos of the remote northern region years earlier and it had been a long-term goal to witness it for herself.
"I decided this was the year. So I booked it, and I went by myself," said the 30-year-old, who works as a nurse.
Traveling by plane — both large and small — helicopter and road, the photographer arrived in Iceland in late May and ventured as far into the country as she was able, with many of the roads at higher elevations still closed to traffic because of ice and snow.
Howarth, who works exclusively with film because she prefers the results over digital imagery, estimates she shot about 2,000 photos during her journey.
Narrowing her selection down to just 27 images to display on the Fort Langley gallery's limited wall space proved a challenge, she admitted.
In the end, she chose only a few from her brief side trip to Greenland.
Of her three weeks abroad, Howarth spent only three days in the Danish protectorate. Not only was it expensive to travel there, with helicopters offering the only transportation between villages, but the scenery, while beautiful, was not as varied as she would have liked.
Iceland, on the other hand, offered her rich diversity in its glaciers, geothermal hot springs and volcanic plateaus, with "sulphuric, boiling mud pots all around you.
"I wanted to show how varied and beautiful (Iceland) is," said Howarth. Greenland is a lot of ice. Nothing grows there."
While the people she did meet were hospitable and happy to chat at length with a Canadian, Howarth said she spent a fair amount of time alone while she sought out new locations to document.
"It was quieter than I expected. There were times when I never saw a soul."
Howarth has been a photographer for the past 10 years and in that time, her work has been displayed in New York, across the U.S. and in Britain.
For her next adventure, she hopes to train her lens on sites in warmer climates, including Easter Island and Egypt — though she acknowledges it may be a while until the North African nation is once again safe for travelers.
Until then, having her photos displayed at the artist-run gallery in Fort Langley offered Howarth the opportunity to convey to local audiences all that the Iceland and Greenland have to offer.
"I really wanted to showcase how wonderful they are and what a great travel opportunity they are if you like nature," she said.
Sublimity: Iceland and Greenland is now on display at the Fort Gallery, 9048 Glover Rd. The photographs will hang until Sept. 8.
The gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Call 604-888-7411 or visit howarthphotography.com to learn more.