Books & Movies

New Earth – Jeroen van Nieuwenhove & Kvika – Björn Steinbekk

Two fantastic books about the volcanic eruption 2021 at Geldingadalir, Reykjanes.

In “New Earth” Jeroen tells us all about his journeys to the volcano. From the first visit with a 12 km-hike through rough terrain in a snowstorm in the night to his exitement when new fissures openend, his growing aspirations to find new and interesting angles to shoot, discovering even more perspectives by using the drone and his recognition of this event as a “true privilege and mind-blowing” experience. Will he also get the “perfect” shot, an eruption on the ground and the northern lights dancing above? (Spoiler: he does!)

In “Kvika” Björn takes us on his whirlwind relationship with this new volcano. He talkes about how he instantly fell in love, the first date and the ones following. Growing together, building a relationship through his hikes to the sight and flying the drone to capture special moments. But there is also some jealousy that other people enjoy this attraction as well (and I can totally relate to this) and finally the cool-down and the break off.

The two books are quite similar, they both portrait the eruption in a personal way and have absolutely amazing pictures. A difference is in the appearance. “New Earth” is smaller (approx. A5) and in landscape format. It’s a hardcover with a very nice “soft” feel, I would have liked it a little bigger though, those pictures deserve more space.

“Kvika” is in A4-portrait format, which is beneficial for the pictures. What I don’t like so much are the open cardboard book covers, they will probably become frayed quite fast when the book is used a lot.

What I like is that in “New Earth” the technical camera settings of all the shots are added which, eventhough conditions are of course never the same on a different day or location, give other aspiring photographers at least an idea how to take pictures in a situation like this. Every picture has a small caption why, when or how he took it which really gives a lot of insight. I love how he really takes us with him on his countless trips to the eruption. If I had to choose my favorite photo I’d probably say the one on pages 44/45, so powerful, like entering hell itself. The “beating heart” is absolutely incredible as well, so is the “fiery eye” and I could look forever on the “edgy spiral”.

There is less text and no information about the camera (or drone) settings in “Kvika” but it doesn’t matter at all. All of the photos are just unbelievable and I love browsing through the book. The “lovestory” is really cute and I haven’t read a non-fiction book with that touch so far. A great idea was adding QR-codes which bring you straight to the videos on Youtube, very cool added extra value. My favorite picture is where the red and black lava from the uppermost crater flows down to Meradalir, surrounded by white snow, wonderful composition and contrast.

Of course I was watching the webcams non-stop from the moment they were set up and visited the erupting volcano myself in July and August 2021. It is just fantastic to “revisit” this force of nature again with the help of those two amazing photographers and their stories. I can only highly recommend to grab yourself a copy of those fantastic books.

Both authors are already well known in Iceland and beyond. Jeroen is a Belgian landscape and wildlife photographer, who moved to Iceland several years ago, focussing fully on photography and guiding tours. Björn is Icelandic and has always worked in entertainment, content creating and marketing. Especially his spectacular drone-videos from the eruption at Reykjanes went viral.

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