The Hraunfossar Falls in Iceland stretch for a kilometer — where glacier melt penetrates through layers of lava and flows into the Hvita River. I was captivated by the clarity of the flowing water against the black lava and the vibrant blue color of the glacial water when it pooled in the river.
When the Winter Sun Set by 4…
I knew I was in Iceland. The sun was up for just four to five hours during our stay, and the sun followed a low path along the horizon. So the light was golden all day, you might say. (In early January, the day was four hours long. The day got noticeably longer during the 10 days we were there.)
Enjoy this golden light in the foreground of these snow-covered mountains in West Iceland.
A Glacier called Fagurholsmyri
The Icelandic people really know how to name their glaciers! It might be better to call this glacier the one we visited on January 16 at sunset. Allow me to treat you to a wide view of this awesome sight and a detail of the icebergs on the frozen lake at the foot of this frozen giant.
Detail from the lower left of this scene, including two photographers near the lakeside icebergs.
Do Birds Jump the Waves?
In Florida, I watch pelicans and osprey dive for fish, and sandpipers run from the approaching wave on the beach, but I have never witnessed a whole flock of birds jump the waves. That’s why I was intrigued by this sight in Iceland.
First of all, it amazes me that horses, birds, reindeer and seals can withstand the bitter cold and gale force winds of the Iceland winter. I saw all these types of wildlife roaming free and feeding on what Nature provides.
Then, I found myself at the foot of Vestrahorn on a black sand beach at dusk, which is mid-afternoon in January. I was photographing the mountain towering over the beach and reflecting in the wet sad. But a flock of birds floating near the shore caught my eye.
I liked the rosy tones in the sky, the snow in the mountains and the repeating waves approaching the shore. What do you like about this image?
The Eyes Have It
Why do I fall in love with the Icelandic horse?
I remember that I asked my parents for a horse when I was a young child, too young to understand that the answer would always be no. I remember how I loved to ride horses at summer camp. And I remember learning how smart horses are, and how some can unlock their own stable door. These reasons are part of the story.
Perhaps the most authentic reason is the way I feel when a horse looks at me, and I try to read their thoughts and feelings. Our true connection is found in our eye contact. I cannot explain it, but I can show it.
Flowing Hot Lava
For the first time in my long life, I had the chance to view hot flowing lava, when I flew over Mauna Loa during the 2022 eruption. Mauna Loa, on the big island of Hawaii, is the largest active volcano in the world, and it had not erupted for 38 years prior to December 2022. Upon hearing that this eruption and our vacation would overlap, I was first worried that our non-refundable trip was doomed. After checking with a friend who lives on Hawaii Island, we kept our original plans and arrived on December 3. Fortunately, we enjoyed clear skies over the west coast Kona region, and some unique sightings of the lava flow. I even got my friend Dennis, who lives on Hawaii, out on his first helicopter adventure.
Ecosystems in Hawaii
On a helicopter flight to fly over the flowing lava from Mauna Loa in early December (2022), we passed over vastly different ecosystems. This lush green area looks like a region that is continuously wet, and it also shows the fissures that belie the base layer of volcanic rock.
I moved quickly to capture this image, because I felt that the lumpy topography, the clouds, shadows, the crevice and the lack of human development gave this scene a mysterious atmosphere.
This image is included with 11 other diverse landscapes in my 2023 calendar, just published. If you haven’t ordered one and want one, email me now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newest Land on the Planet
Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on Earth, is erupting now on the Big Island of Hawaii. As molten lava spews into the air and flows down the long mountain slopes, the newest land on the planet is forming.
In the wee hours of Monday December 5, I made these photographs from the safe distance of 2 miles. You can appreciate the ferocity of the fire and hot lava.
Here is some background information on Mauna Loa and the meaning of its name from the U. S. Geological Survey. (This quote was written before the current eruption of 2022.)
“The Hawaiian name “Mauna Loa” means “Long Mountain.” This name is apt, for the subaerial part of Mauna Loa extends for about 120 km (74 mi) from the southern tip of the island to the summit caldera and then east-northeast to the coastline near Hilo.
Mauna Loa is among Earth’s most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843. It has produced large, voluminous flows of basalt that have reached the ocean eight times since 1868. It last erupted in 1984, when a lava flow came within 7.2 km (4.5 mi) of Hilo, the largest population center on the island. “
Mauna Loa Erupting
What incredible good luck to witness a volcano erupting! Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii, just began to spew molten lava one week ago — for the first time in 38 years. When I first heard the news, I feared that our planned family vacation might be canceled for safety reasons. Fortunately, the lava flow and the harmful gases known as vog, have been limited to unpopulated regions of the island. Hundreds of curious onlookers can witness this extraordinary sight from two to three miles away from the viewpoint of Old Saddle Road.
The lava flow is best seen at night, when the molten lava creates a dramatic contrast with the dark sky and land. My good friend Dennis, who lives here on Hawaii, met me at 3am and drove me up to this viewing site. We photographed the changing scene and stayed until daybreak. This image shows the first light in the sky before dawn, around 6am.
Thankful for my Teacher
This year I sense a chorus of thankful feelings that our lives have mostly returned to normal after a long period of staying at home and masking our faces to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus still circulates, most of us are traveling and working and getting our families together. Hooray!
I’d also like to take a moment to thank a photography teacher, who has inspired me and enhanced both my knowledge and enjoyment of photography: Gary Hart. Gary hosted a fascinating workshop at the Grand Canyon during summer monsoon season, teaching students about capturing lightning with a lightning trigger, and he will be co-hosting a January workshop in Iceland, where we hope to see and photograph the Northern Lights.
This morning I read Gary’s blog where he described what he is thankful for, especially post-pandemic. His blogs are very well written and always contain a few photography tips, including occasional confessions of his own mistakes, and always a touch of humor.
Thanks, Gary. Looking forward to Iceland!