Monthly Archives: November 2018

Iceland Journal – “Ok Mountain” – West Iceland

“Ok Mountain” - West Iceland

We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.” 
― Milan Kundera

I chose the attached quote for several reasons. First, and foremost, I’m referring to the ever changeable nature of Iceland’s landscapes. Many times, only small glimpses revealed themselves, hinting at something grander, yet unseen. Other times, a scene would reveal itself for just a brief period and then be obscured by clouds once more. Secondly, much of what I experienced is just starting to sink in now. I’m discovering names of places, mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls that, even though we had a good travel book with us, did not ‘fit’ together into a continuous story.

We experienced mini vistas, in isolation from each other. Recalling these ‘moments’ and the photos associated with them, fills in the experience some time after the experience itself. Understanding how these places and natural systems work together has given me a whole new appreciation for the wonder that is natural Iceland.

I’ve reviewing images that I believed that I made in one place only to find it was in a slightly different location altogether and that the surroundings are more significant than I had realized while there.

The images and associated stories, now expanded, provide a deeper meaning to the experience and I find myself getting a bit emotional about them. Putting myself back in that particular time and space and discovering them over again, with a fuller understanding and appreciation.

The volcanic mountain, or stratovolcano, pictured her is Ok. Yes, that’s its name. Even though we had driven in very close proximity to it and saw it on our map, we never actually saw the volcano till we were driving away and it briefly revealed itself though the clouds, behind us. Really? How do you not see a mountain? In Iceland, it’s quite easy and I wonder how many other wonders the clouds hid from our view?

In a way, my journey through this beautiful country continues, as my understanding and appreciation expands.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 300 mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Djúpavogshreppur” – East Iceland

“Djúpavogshreppur” - East Iceland

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” 
― Rachel Carson

I couldn’t help but match my favourite Rachel Carson quote with this image. The scene above left me breathless as I beheld it for the first time. I was captivated be the shape of the high mountains which bound this relatively short Eastern Icelandic fjord, Hamarsjörður, and the stunning play of light on both the peaks and the flanking foothills. When I return to Iceland, next time, I plan to spend more time travelling these spectacular fjords.

In the foreground is Nontindur, a stunning 935 meter high pyramid-like peak. I was enthralled by these mountains the first time I saw them, the recent high level snowfalls accenting the horizontal tiers that make the peaks in this region so unique.

The light that morning, as we followed the Ring Road along the southern coast eastward from the town of Höfn, was absolutely gorgeous and makes the ever-present yellow grasses glow with a soft golden warmth that we experienced so many times on our journey. I was concerned that travelling to Iceland at this time of year might make for some fairly dull images, but was so pleased when I revisited these locations in Google Street View to find that the light and colours that I experienced were by far better than that of summer, at least in the Google images.

As I composed the shot, from the side of the road, all the elements came together once more to produce this post card-like image that so wonderfully conveys the feelings I experienced while standing there, taking in the beauty.

In this case, as in several other shots I have been sharing, I deliberately put an object in the foreground to help establish scale. In this case, the freshly installed and sharpened fence post nicely echoes the shape of the mountains behind it and seems to be pointing to the peak itself.

Once more, I’m including the Street View link so you can also take in the surroundings that make up this shot. This is the exact spot I pulled off. You can even see the gate and fence post in the foreground 🙂,-14.4986801,3a,75y,263.14h,75.52t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s4Vekihp9U0MLxbbRcHPAsg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Iceland Journal – “Eyjafjörður” – North Iceland

“Eyjafjörður” - North Iceland

“Mountains, according to the angle of view, the season, the time of day, the beholder’s frame of mind, or any one thing, can effectively change their appearance. Thus, it is essential to recognize that we can never know more than one side, one small aspect of a mountain.” 
― Haruki Murakami

More mountains, their scale lost against the massive northern Icelandic fjord, Eyjafjörður. The highest peak, at the center, Kerahnjúkur, rising to 1,097 meters.

This was our view as we continued our round trip of Iceland, descending from high passes to enter the region around Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city, which sits at the innermost end of this 60 km long fjord, the longest in Iceland.

I was mesmerized at the stark whiteness of the mountains against the slate blue water of the fjord, coupled with the wonderful pinks in the distant clouds; layers upon layers of colour and texture. The entire region beyond these mountains, the Tröllaskagi peninsula, is defined by high, rugged, and glacier topped peaks and long, deep valleys.

The image was made at the end of October and yet, the entire landscape is like a scene from the arctic circle, which, while close, is till some 60 kilometers distant from this point. In fact, while Iceland is close to the Arctic Circle, none of the mainland is actually in the arctic, only a few northern islands can make that claim.

Once more, I’m adding the Street View link, so you can get a sense of scale. The image above is the mountains to the distant right on the Street View image:,-18.0352658,3a,75y,295.26h,92.2t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sx-j0zIt4HFdsOGNAyIe89g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Skessuhorn” – West Iceland

“Skessuhorn” - West Iceland

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 
― John Muir

It feels a bit odd using a John Muir quote here, because they know the mountains he is referring to, namely the Sierra Nevada of California and Yosemite National Park. Yet, his words ring true in these mountains as well. On this day, my son and I headed south, towards the coastal town of Borgarnes, in Western Iceland.

As we drove south from the Westfjords, a large group of mountains greeted us on the far horizon. These mountains are centered around Skarðsheiði, a 1,054 m peak. In the foreground, and just peeking through a large bank of low cloud was Skessuhorn, a steep mountain with its wonderful terraced slopes. I just kept looking at it, hoping the road would bring me nearer and that the cloud cover would not increase.

In fact, the cloud bank clung to the mountains all day and only Skessuhorn has clearly visible to us. So, when you look at this image, be aware that, in typical Iceland fashion, much of what is before is not currently visible, only being revealed for short periods and then gone again.

For me, it’s these fantastic horizontal terraces that give many Icelandic mountains such a unique appearance, as opposed to North America’s Rocky Mountains, which, while still layered, are angled. These mountains look like pyramids, with layers carefully planned out and neatly stacked. It all has to do with the unique geology of Iceland, which straddles two continental plates, creating volcanoes and areas of tectonic upheaval that sculpt the rock in such marvelous ways. By the way, this is a colour photo, but the colour is lost, in snow and rock and cloud.

Here’s the summer time Street View link. I think it looks much nicer in November:,-21.7315944,3a,75y,159.08h,87.87t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1szHTNa_fTrV0AMZqprCHs9Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 180mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“Winter’s First Kiss”

“Winter’s First Kiss”

“Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.” 
― Sarah Addison Allen

Here’s yet another image, made during a recent snow squall, a squall which abruptly shoved us closer to winter.

The large flakes quickly stuck to branches weighing them down and obscuring all traces of autumn with their bright purity.

I got out around noon to try to capture some of this wonder and was pleased that the ‘feel’ of the snow squall translated well through my images despite the flat light and the thick and continuous snowfall.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 140mm
1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 160

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)


“November Squall” – Stouffville Reservoir

“November Squall” - Stouffville Reservoir

“In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures. The bed is white and silent, and much life can hide beneath its blankets.” 
― Cynthia Rylant

I wanted to post another photo of the beautiful wintery scenes created by last Friday’s snow squalls. Though a bit early for my liking, heavy snows turned the world into a wonderland in mere minutes.

The world now lays buried under this thick blanket of snow, only hints of autumn’s brightness remain, in stubborn yellow leaves, shining brightly between the large snowflakes.

Beyond that, colours are soft and subdued, the world is quiet, as if taking a deep breath before it’s winter repose.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 95mm
1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Hraunfosser”

“Hraunfossar”- Western Iceland

“Look with open eyes and you will see the beauty of the waterfall.” 
― Anthony T. Hincks

In this post, I decided to return to Hraunfossar, as fascinating series of waterfalls in Western Iceland.

What makes these falls so amazing, is that at first glance, they look like typical waterfalls, pouring down from some glacial stream. But, on further inspection, you realize that there is no stream involved here, at least not in the typical sense.

You see, Hraunerfosser, or Lava Falls, in Icelandic, comes from underground rivers, flowing through the Hallmundarhraun lava tunnels from a significant distance. The glaciers which feed these waterfalls are many kilometers away, but can been seen on the distant horizon.

I particularly enjoyed this location, since it’s just far away from Reykjavik to decrease the number of tourists, thought there was a single bus here when we arrived, but the crowds were quite spread out. This allowed me the time to really enjoy this natural beauty without contending with the accursed selfie-sticks and people posing precariously on the rocks to get that perfect Instagram worthy shot.

The location does have some very well laid out and spacious viewing areas. Again, minimizing the tenancy for people to climb barriers for a ‘personalized’ view. It also provided some nice places to set up my tripod to make a series of long exposure images and to visually explore this beautiful place without people bumping into me or walking in front of my camera.

By “exploring visually”, I mean being able to take the time to really appreciate the fine details that make this waterfall so lovely. For example, the fine ribbons, jsu left of centre on the shot above, yielded this detail, as the ribbons flowed gently over the rock surfaces:
“Liquid Ribbons” - Hraunfossar, Western Iceland

The detail of the water, the texture of the rock, and the vibrant colours of the wet mosses made for a beautiful photo, which for me, really captures the essence of this waterfall, or rather series of waterfalls, which just blend together into a complex and curtain of flowing water.

Of all the massive and humble falls I saw, I think I was most captivated by this one.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 92mm
1.0 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)