The elite local team – “Siggi”

Sigurdur Einarsson, driver

During the last three years, Sigurdur Einarsson, Siggi as everyone calls him, has been without exception the driver of our workshop vehicle.

We use excellent vehicles for all terrain travelling during our workshops from Gray Line in Iceland. Most commonly we us a truck originally build by the well know German company MAN. The MAN is a 4×4 truck with both front and rear axel air locks and a great transmission. If we need to go over rough terrain the tires can be deflate to make the truck softer and then air pumped into them again with a built in pump.  We usually have few seats removed and use only 18 seats for our workshop tours. Both to make plenty of space for gear at the back as well as we have specially made boxes for tripods and gear bags, plus provisions at the front. So it is very easy to grab the immediate gear during field stops on the way out of the truck.

But there is no vehicle better than its driver and then I like to introduce to you the one and only Siggi, our great driver who drives our workshops groups safely between places, up steep hills, around bends, down slopes, across rivers, across deserts and between narrow cliffs.

Siggi is an excellent driver, but that is only one of his qualities. He is not the least always ready to assist and his concern for the wellbeing and the safety of his passengers is one of a kind. I sometimes arrive late to a field locations, as I have been busy with some admin work. Then I can usually just ask Siggi where people are and he will point out to me where each person is located. Siggi is continuously looking after individual passengers well being.

Siggi is also our helping hand when we make sandwiches on location; grill lobster, lamb or something we have picked up fresh from farmers. Or when we for example slice smoked artic char and put on rye bread or prepare some nourishment for coffee break during location stops. Finally Siggi wants to keep his vehicle clean. When we come late to our hotel and leave early next morning, we do not easily realize that Siggi has washed the car and cleaned it indoors and spread garbage bags around for people to use.

Siggi has traveled all over Iceland. As a young boy he traveled around the country with his parents and later with his wife and their children. He has also climbed many of the highest mountains in Iceland. Finally to top everything, Siggi usually bicycles to work nearly all year around. That is what I call being a hero taking into account the often cold, wet and windy weather we have during the winter.

Siggi says that the best thing about his work as a driver is making good friends. And he has got many friends. I can count many within our FocusOnNature family who are good friends of Siggi and keep in touch with him after participating in a workshop with us.


The elite local team – “Gummi”

Guðmundur Ingolfsson, photographer is another elite link in the FocusOnNature local team.

Like Ragnar, Guðmundur or “Gummi” like we call him, travels with some of the workshop groups in the field, guiding the instructor, assisting him and the participants in any way he can. He is my local man in the workshop vehicle, like a steersman in the bridge with the instructor being the captain, while I might be taking care of things ahead or behind and ensuring everything flows as easy as possible. As I say, my place is in the engine room missing out of lot of the fun, but man has to do, what man has to do.

Gummi knows the land like the palm of his hand. As a boy he travelled first with his parents out in the country. When he got a bit older he worked during couple of summer holidays for the Maritime Institute in Iceland surveying harbors around Iceland. Since then he has spend many summers with his family or his better half, traveling around the country and photographed it at the same time. For years Gummi had a Iveco 4×4 truck made originally for the Italian army, painted in bright yellow-orange color which we used during the first FocusOnNature workshop. It then got the name “The Yellow hen”.

I have known Gummi for decades or since I entered the photographic field in Iceland in the 80’s after my studies. Gummi’s company “Imynd” (Imagine in Icelandic) was at that time the most reputable industrial and advertising studio in town and has always since been closely related to work for many government institutions and the art community in Iceland. If a serious photographic work needed to be done, it was taken to Gummi.

To day his studio is the only one I know that properly can support analog image processing but at the same time Gummi has taken the big leap into the digital age. I don’t think he was found of having to do that, but when he does something he goes the whole 10 miles. He is now using Phase One and Nikon D3x, Mac computers linked to a Drobo and an Eizo Color Edge monitor.

In the 80’s Gummi started documenting the center of Reykjavik, often going out very early on a Sunday morning when there where few cars down town and no people around. During his photographic education in Germany around 1968 he learned that this was a normal practice over there. And now Gummi is doing this again about 25 years later, taking most of the images from the same locations as he did before. From my point of view this is photojournalism par excellence.

Gummi has a penchant for good jokes and storytelling and anyone who has the pleasure to get to know him will be amazed at his encyclopedic mind. Whether it is in the filed of photography, history, literature, music or art, Gummi is extremely well informed. Not the least he has a great sense for timing for example when to keep quiet or to speak out or put on music with a Swedish jazz band. There is no one I trust better to look after my workshop participants and steer my workshop group safely through an exiting field travel in Iceland than Gummi.


The elite local team – “Raggi”

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, photographer is one of the elite links of the Focus on Nature in Iceland local team.

During workshops Ragnar travels with many of our workshop groups in the field, guiding the instructor and assisting them and the participants in any way he can. He is also the local man on the spot when I am taking care of things for the workshops to flow flawless.

Ragnar or “Raggi” as we call him, is an unpredictable person in a very positive way. He has great imagination and is quick thinker to respond to the weather and light regarding locations, which is a very important when trying to follow the exciting light during field work  Raggi has established a great friendship with both instructors and participants of FocusOnNature workshops which says it all.

Raggi has traveled not only over all of Iceland, but also widely over the northern hemisphere, including to the North pole, Northern Canada, Greenland, Siberia and of course across every glacier and most mountains in Iceland. “If it is cold or steaming hot, I am there” Ragnar says. He has also photographed every volcano eruption in Iceland for decades and published numerous books about geology events in Iceland in cooperation with Ari Trausti Gudmundsson, one of Iceland’s best known geophysicist.

Raggi has mastered a broad range of work, including studio advertising photography, illustrations of travel publications, annual reports and covering of official arrangements. He has covered many events arranged by the Export Council of Iceland, the Scientific Council of Iceland and the President of Iceland as well as numerous banks, corporations and institutions. He has provided illustrations for a number of books, calendars and magazines.

Gettyimages, Corbis and numerous other stock agencies around the globe, represent Ragnar´s works. He specializes in photographing nature and travel in the Arctic. Content varies from people, geological formations, volcanoes, geothermal activity, unusual landforms, waterfalls, glaciers, and wildlife. The Northern Lights, are among his favorite subjects as well as glaciers, super jeep tours, and traveling to the hardest place to reach in Iceland

Strobes? Yes. One of Ragnar’s signature styles is using strobe in remote locations, often powered from his ATV. He uses them to mix with available light to get the interesting light in the images he is looking for

Ragnar’s website