The “Strenuous Hike”

When someone says “hike,” I immediately think “photoshoot,” and wonder which camera and lens to bring along. So, when a guide says, “strenuous hike,” I immediately become nervous about how heavy my equipment is, and whether I will need two hands for climbing. I also wonder about the huffing and puffing index!

On this 1.5 km hike to Hengifoss in eastern Iceland (not far from Seydisfjordur), I limited my load to the Nikon D800 and my 14-24mm lens to capture wide vistas. As I hiked and panted, I resisted the temptation to ask the downhill hikers how much longer it was.

#waterfall, #iceland, #basalt, #volcanic, #hike, #leadinglines, #rock
The rocky stream bed forms leading lines to the upper falls, the high point of our hike.

Do you see the pink lines in the cliff near the falls? They represent different volcanic eruptions over the years. This hike is a geologist’s dream.

Here an iPhone photo illustrates some detailed information on site:

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While midday is not the optimal time for photography, I was grateful for clear skies. Last week when another group hiked Hengifoss, they endured rain and fog. We enjoyed sights of long and wide vistas and cool temperatures. No complaints!

Harpa in Reykjavik

Like Sydney, Reykjavik Iceland has an architectural gem along its harbor, and it is a music hall. While I photographed Harpa from our ship as we departed the city harbor in the evening, I did not have a chance to visit the inside.

#harpa, #reykjavik, #iceland, #architecture, #harbor, #music, #july, #windstar
Harpa, the music hall, is Reykjavik’s architectural gem. Its surface is reflective except when the interior is lit. I’m sure the building looks different during the long dark winter months.

I have started to make my list of things to do in Iceland for my next trip. Iceland is a photographer’s dream.

Arctic Terns in flight

Great bird photography comes from a successful collaboration of the right location, the right equipment, good technique, plenty of patience and an ounce of luck. If you approach a target-rich environment with the right lens and practice your technique enough — you will get lucky. (I paraphrase my husband’s motto: luck comes to the well prepared.)

The nesting arctic terns on Vigur Island in Iceland (a target rich environment) are very strong, fast and quick. They are busy catching small fish and delivering the fish to their chicks on the island. They also have an instinct to attack your head, so it helps to have an assistant guard your head with a stick.

Set your camera this way:  fast shutter speed to freeze action, and all other settings to support that choice: higher ISO, wide open lens, spot meter, and maybe continuous shooting.  Then, my technique was very quick action: pan/focus/shoot.

#tern, #flight, #freezemotion, #nikond800, #iceland, #vigurisland, #bird, #birdphotography
My favorite capture. Admire the tern’s strong wings, which will help him travel the longest migration on Earth — to Antarctica and back.
#bird, #tern, #arctictern, #iceland, #vigurisland, #windstar, #flight, #migration
The soft evening light highlighted this arctic tern in flight.
#bird, #tern, #arctictern, #iceland, #windstar, #vigurisland, #nikond800, #flight, #nature, #wildlife
This capture shows a unique angle of the tern’s wings in flight, as well as the forked tail feathers.

Gullfoss: Don’t Fall In

The day before we visited Gullfoss (on July 20), a massive and powerful waterfall within a few hours’ drive of Reykjavik, Iceland, a man fell in. I can easily envision this happening, as I was carefully watching my step on wet slippery rocks alongside a steep grassy hillside leading to the falls. That day, I thought to myself, “you don’t survive a fall into Gullfoss.” The 22-year-old man’s body was found miles down the Hvita River nearly a month later. This sad incident is a safety warning to all future visitors.

#gullfoss, #safety, #waterfall, #iceland, #hvita, #tourism, #powerful, #nature
You can see a line of visitors walking the path to get a close look at Gullfoss, as it crashes into a crevice in the foreground.
#gullfoss, #powerful, #nature, #iceland, #waterfall, #safety
This vantage point shows the crevice where the cascade thunders downward. For scale, notice the tourists in the upper right of the photo.

“Thar She Blows”

“Thar She Blows” was the cry of a sailor spotting a whale, but the expression came to mind as we stood waiting for the Icelandic geyser to explode with a massive force of steaming water.

About every 10 minutes, Iceland’s Strokkur geyser puts on a show — shooting hot water about 30 meters into the air. It’s a dramatic natural phenomenon that you can watch only a few places in the world. Yellowstone National Park and the north island of New Zealand are two other sites that come to mind. Geysers are an indication that you are standing in a volcanic landscape.

You would be well advised to keep your children and yourself out of the line of fire, but not everyone follows the rules or exercises good judgement.

#howto, #geyser, #geysir, #freezemotion, #iceland, #stokkur, #nikon
I chose to freeze motion with 1/1000 second exposure and f/11, the focal length that would keep the whole scene in focus. F/8 and f/11 will also give you a sharp image, edge to edge.
#strokkur, #iceland, #geyser, #geysir, #nature, #howto, #nikon
Strokkur reaches a height of about 30 meters. It’s startling to observe its power.

Geothermal Iceland

An active geothermal field of steaming, bubbling, and erupting hot water can be found a few hours from Reykjavik, Iceland. The “Litli Geysir” (little gusher, pronounced “gay-zeer”), is the name and place that originated the English word “geyser.”

#geyser, #geysir, #iceland, #boiling, #geothermal, #caution, #hot
This geothermal field is a good place to obey the signs about keeping your distance. Even the streams can be boiling hot, and you wouldn’t want to slip and fall and get burned, or step into mud and sink.

The geothermal field reveals its wide color palette, from yellow to green to blue and purple.  Steam escapes from many vents in the Earth.

#landscape, #iceland, #geothermal, #steam, #colors, #nature
Volcanic mountains and evergreens create a peaceful backdrop to the geothermal field.
#iceland, #steam, #geothermal, #hot, #sulphur, #landscape, #photography, #nature
Speculating that sulfur deposits may account for the yellow stain on the rocks underlying the hot stream here. As the water dries on the rock, the sulfur oxidizes. Notice ruins of a building to the left near the steam vents.

 

Most Photographed Mountain in Iceland

Stock photos of Kirkjufell at sunset with three waterfalls in the foreground had captured my imagination before our Iceland trip. How I wanted to see that scene in person, and even take my own photo on location!  But alas, I realized that the sun doesn’t set in summer until close to midnight, and the logistics just would not work.

Would my only photo of Kirkjufell be this one through the bus window?

#kirkjufell, #snaefellsnes, #bus, #mostphotographedsight, #mountain, #blueandgreen
Polarizer in the bus window gave the sky an eerie effect, as I captured Kirkjufell while driving past. One can see the way the top of the mountain resembles a church (“kirk”) shape.

As our ship left the harbor that evening, I got one more chance to photograph Kirkjufell and the surrounding mountains. Note to Self: while capturing the iconic photo you admire can become a treasure hunt that grows into an obsession, there is much to be said for creating your own unique set of images, rather than duplicating the classic shot. In fact, I will remind myself that creating my own unique images is the best path to take.

#iceland, #kirkjufell, #grundarfjordur, #landscape, #sony, #landscape, #mostphotographed #mountain
Departing Grundarfjordur, Kirkjufell was sidelit in the evening light.