Category Archives: Travel

Iceland Journal – “From Deep Within”

“I take pleasure in solitude, many see me as distant but only few know it’s when I’m most alive.” 
― Nikki Rowe

On day eight of our Icelandic tour, we headed inland from Borgarnes towards Geyser. The trip took us around a fjord still used as a whale processing area, with a large plant at the farthest end of the fjord. The plant was notable for the many talks along the surrounding will sides, used to store whale oil. It was off-season, so the plant sat mostly dormant with only one ship docked at it’s pier.

As I said, the trip took us inland and into more high plateaus, which were fairly unremarkable except at this highland lake near Laugarvatn, the far shore filled with geothermal plants and vents, belching out steam into the cold sky , which stood in contrast to the snowy hillsides.

I would have liked to have gotten closer, but we wanted to get to Geyser in good time and then to Reykjavik by the end of the day, so we had to choose our stops carefully.

Though our primary destination for the day was Geyser, these areas of activity made the  drive more interesting.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 210 mm
1/400 sec, f/10.0 ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

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Iceland Journal – “Borgarnes Sunset”

“It was dusk and the light had an ultra-violet quality to it, a final burst of pigmentation as night and day rushed at each other in a clash of colour prisms before darkness finally, inevitably won out.” 
― Karen Swan

Though much of our trip was filled with the overcast, misty, and often gloomy light of autumn, we were, on this occasion greeted with the magnificent colours of an Icelandic sunset.

On our arrival in Borgarnes, a large town on Iceland’s west coast, we decided to end our day of travelling with a walk to the harbour and were treated to a lovely, though brief, show of light over the water. I do recall making this photo and looking at my phone, a bit disappointed that the full spectrum of colour was not truly captured; close, but not quite the real thing.

iPhone 7

Iceland Journal – “From the Depths” – Hraunfosser, Southwest Iceland”

“From the deep places of the earth, pours forth a cool purity few can fathom”
– Ed Lehming

The mere sight of these falls brought freshness to my day. There is something in flowing water; a virtual baptism and washing away of the days heaviness happens, and the joy of simply living in such a marvelous world is reaffirmed.

This is yet another image of a section of Hraunfossar, in Southwestern Iceland. I left this one a bit darker to allow the brightness of the water and rich colours and textures of the mosses to dominate over the dark rock.

I keep having to remind myself that the water here comes not from surface streams, but a complex network of underground rivers that flow beneath the surface, through ancient lava fields. Here, it escapes to the surface through the side of a steep embankment. Many visitors to Iceland don’t realize that all the tap water comes from such underground streams. That’s right, the tap water is actually spring water. I started my trip with the purchase of a single bottle of water which I kept refilling with tap water or from mountain streams, after ensuring there was not a large, sheep filled pasture upstream.

Though warned to the contrary, I found nearly all the water at our various overnight stays was lovely and fresh. The exception being Reykjavik, where the water at our hotel reeked of sulphur. Though safe, I had a hard time convincing myself that it was OK to drink.

Once more, I am including a link to the high resolution version of this image should you wish to take a closer look at the details.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 170mm
1.0 sec, f/36.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

Iceland Journal – “Silk Curtains” – Hraunerfosser, Southwest Iceland

“The waters flowed over the rocks like dancers clad in ribbons of silk, some fluttering like gossamer curtains in a summer breeze.”
– Ed Lehming

I know that I have shared previous images and thoughts of this magnificent series of waterfalls. As I continue to review my images, new perspectives reveal themselves. Here’s an image of a small section of the broad and complex waterfalls, just to the right of my prior image. I chose it because it represents the beginning of the falls and water flow is scant and complex here. The details of the water losing over the rocks is almost magical when seen as a long exposure.

The long exposure also enhances the colours, adding a slight, natural saturation which causes the abundant mosses and lichens to stand out, as well as the short and scrubby Icelandic birches, which also share this scene, the every detail shining through. It also lets the subtle blue tones of the glacial water to reveal themselves. It’s a very pleasing image to me personally, another fond memory of this trip, which still occupies my dreams so vividly.

I could have spent the day examining and photographing this waterfalls, but alas, we had to move on to our next stop and more of the beauty Iceland had to offer us before heading to the coastal town of Borgarnes for the evening.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 86mm
1.0 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

Iceland Journal – “Across the Fertile Valley” – Southwest Iceland

“I am reminded that the most fertile lands are often built by the fires of volcanoes.” 
― Ed Lehming

On the seventh day of our Iceland journey, my son and I travelled through the high mountain passes at the base of the West Fjords, southward along Highway 60 to rejoin the Ring Road, just north of the town of Bifrost.

We were greeted by this spectacular view of a broad valley, filled with meandering rivers and lush farmlands, stretching to the horizon, some 30 kilometers distant, which is bounded by the Skarðheiði mountain cluster and dominated by steep sloped Skessuhorn, poking from a persistent cloud bank, which did not break up all day and kept the rest of the mountains obscured. I could not keep my eyes off Skessuhorn as we drove along, and eventually into, the valley, which is bounded in this view by the Norðurá river. The Norðurá joins several other rivers to form a small delta, just north of the town of Borgarnes, our final destination on this day of travels. I have included a link to the high-resolution version of this image, should you care to have a closer look.

This is a truly remarkable area for Iceland, in that it a very large expanse of farmland, though it is still a very active geothermal area, interspersed with hot springs throughout the valley. An aerial view of this region shows it to have been formed by glaciers, carving and eroding the volcanic bedrock and creating ideal conditions for rivers to flow and deposit their rich, mineral laden silt within the valleys carved by the glaciers.

It was this area that we intended to explore that day and it led us through the farmland, past steaming vents, cold glacial streams of turquoise, and up into the highlands and lava fields of the Hallmundarhraun and the peaks of Ok and Eiriksjökull. It was, in the typical fashion of Iceland, an incredible change in environments, within a fairly short distance of some 30 kilometers. The trip also included a stop at the magnificent Hraunfosser waterfalls, which I have already discussed in a previous post.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 116mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

Iceland Journal – “Clear the Way!” – West Iceland

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
― Erol Ozan

This, our sixth day of travel, did not leave us lost, as the quote may imply, but it did send us down some ‘interesting’ paths.

As I noted in previous posts, there are roads which enter Iceland’s mountainous and rugged interior known as “F” roads, which we were prohibited from driving on with our rental vehicle, despite studded tires and four-wheel drive. As Iceland approaches late autumn, these roads can quickly turn treacherous and they are very remote, so emergency assistance would be very expensive, if even available.

As we mapped out our path from Svínavatn to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we noticed that travelling the Ring Road would have taken us further south than we wanted, meaning extra distance and time lost driving. We were directed by locals to take a ‘shortcut’ cross-country from Staðarskáli to the town of Buðardalur, at the base of the West Fjords. It turned out that the ‘shortcut’ was an “F” road, so we sought other passages. It turns out that just north of the “F” road is an ‘official’ road, in the form of Highway 59, which parallels the “F” road. I’m really not sure how much better than the “F” road this highway was, since it was roughly thirty kilometers of black, icy, and potholed track through some of the most desolate landscape we had seen yet. I think we drove nearly twenty kilometers without seeing a single building. Barren grassland and low hills reaching to the horizon.

What we did see lots of was sheep. Despite the barren, windswept landscape, sheep were everywhere. That was true, not just here, but throughout Iceland. There are just over three hundred thousand people in Iceland, and at last count, there were over eight hundred thousand sheep. They are everywhere, in open fields, on high mountain sides, in the tortured and twisted lava fields, and often, on the road. Yes, there are fences aplenty, but the sheep seem to find their way over, around, and under the fences, often grazing right next to the road, or like here, on the road. So you have to be ever vigilant while driving.

This troupe was very cooperative, except for a few stragglers, who hurried to catch up with the rest of the flock, who were waiting patiently on the far side of the bridge. I just had to stop to take a picture, since this captured yet another aspect of our drive.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/125 sec, f/35.6 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“Hnúksgirðingar” – Snæfellsnes Peninsula, West Iceland

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.” 
― William Butler Yeats

I can’t say enough about how stunningly raw the landscape in Iceland is. Even on dull, slightly overcast days, there are these short breaks in the cloud where the world is alight with colours, and these colours stand in sharp contrast to the black, volcanic mountains and plains.

Above is a prime example. This mountain stands along the shores of Kolgrafjörður, one of the many fjords found along the rugged and beautiful Snæfellsnes Peninsula of western Iceland.

On the sixth day of our Iceland excursion, my son and I were on our way to Kirkufellfoss. That’s the waterfall with the odd-shaped mountain in the background that is on virtually every Iceland brochure. It’s located about three-quarters of the way out to the tip of the peninsula itself, along some pretty rough roads. Though Kirkufell was our destination, the journey there was simply breathtaking and varied. The landscapes included vast fjords, filled with hundreds of small islands, winding mountain roads, dormant volcanoes and high glaciated mountains.

As with other regions in Iceland, the scenery changes quickly and unexpectedly, each turn in the road presenting some new wonder. I recall this particular mountain well because of the way the yellow grasses glowed in the brief and diffused sunlight and how the bright green mosses stood out against the dark talus slopes of the mountain. I found, as I reviewed the photo, that there are so  many details that my eyes did not pick up on, even as I composed the image. For that reason, I’m posting a link to the high-resolution image here and encourage you to spend some time, zooming in and looking for the sheep, the waterfowl, and exploring the mountainside details that are lost in the image above.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70mm
1/40 sec, f/3.2 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com