Tag Archives: discovery

Iceland Journal – “Glaciers Ahead”

“Glaciers Ahead” - South Iceland

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

This single photo can sum up my Icelandic journey. By the way, I was not driving when I made this photo, I stopped and stepped onto the sparsely travelled road. The landscape, in its varied layers, over the visible distance, changes from rugged lava fields, the Eldhraun, covered in ancient moss, to rugged plateaus and the ever present yellow grasses flanked by steep talus slopes, filled with waterfalls and the dark high cliffs of Lómagnúpsnef, the bounding landmark to the western edge of the massive Skeiðarársandur, yet another glacial washout plain, this one, some 56 km wide and filled with a tangled network of creeks and rivers winding their way through black sand and golden grass to the sea. Their source: the vast glacier field known as Vatnatjökull, visible in the far distance.

As the road makes another turn, a huge boulder dominates the scene and yet another waterfall, Gulufoss, I believe, falls from the rim of the plateau. I can picture this plateau in late spring, spewing water through every crack and crevice.

Actually, only one of the glaciers that make up Vatnatjökull is visible in this image, Skeiðarárjokull, the source of the washout, can be seen stretching out in a bright white plain before the distant mountains and glaciers of Hvannadalshnúkur, Iceland’s highest peak, a 2,119 meter high volcano, also covered in ice, the summit obscured by clouds.

As the day progressed and we drew nearer to Hvannadalshnúkur, I found myself hiking through mossy lava fields to get a closer look at a small waterfall, driving a small potholed dirt road that rattled my teeth to get a closer view of Svínafelsjökull, one of several outflow glaciers coming from Hvannadalshnúkur. Here, I could almost touch the fractured glacier as it flowed between the mountains, melting into a muddy pool, filled with glacial icebergs of varying size and colour. We then spend time along the pond, enjoying the icebergs in their variety. I even had the chance to pick up a small, crystal clear fragment and taste it. A magnificent and unexpected experience. It was oh, so pure and pleasant. The taste of a glacier!

My journey, as I reflect on these images and memories did not end when I flew home, rather, it continues, as I begin to understand the incredible forces and dynamics that shape this country.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200

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

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“Wild Basil – Clinopodium vulgare”

“Wild Basil - Clinopodium vulgare”

“My love affair with nature is so deep that I am not satisfied with being a mere onlooker, or nature tourist. I crave a more real and meaningful relationship. The spicy teas and tasty delicacies I prepare from wild ingredients are the bread and wine in which I have communion and fellowship with nature, and with the Author of that nature.” 
― Euell Gibbons

Every hike seems to bring a new discovery. As I walk familiar paths, some splash of colour or unusual shape pulls me deeper into my relationship with nature. This past week, I discovered this wild basil plant. Frankly, I did not know it grew in my area and this is the first time I’ve seen one. Strange, it seemed so familiar but I did not make the connection till later.

Since I did not know what it was till I researched the photo, I did not take the time to test the smell or taste. That will have to wait for a subsequent visit. For now, I’m happy to have the photo as a reminder to return.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/400 sec, f/10.0, ISO 320

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

“Travel Oddities”

“Travel Oddities”

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” 
― Marcel Proust

It’s pretty amazing the things we see when travelling. I’m not talking about the tourist traps or grand vistas, for me, it’s about the mundane and pondering what something is and how it got to be there.

On a recent trip to Baja, I came across several stacks of wood along the beach. They were out-of-place and were not there last year. In fact, this stretch of beach has a significant absence of driftwood. Last year this wide swath of beach separated the San Jose  del Cabo estuary for the Sea of Cortez. The estuary, is the outflow of fresh water that has accumulated via sand streams (a slow percolation of groundwater from inland) and is separated from the ocean by a strip of land. In this case, a beach, about 50 meters wide.

The estuary is rich with plant and bird life as opposed to the rest of this mountainous, desert peninsula, dominated by rock sand and cactus

I wondered who had stacked these pieces of wood in this fashion and automatically assumed it was the surf fishermen or surfers who frequent this strip of beach. The who remains unknown but how the wood got here became clear on talking to people who were in the area after hurricane Lydia came through the area last fall.

The heavy winds and rainfall overwhelmed the estuary causing the whole structure to shift several hundred meters east. The wood came for trees uprooted in the estuary and deposited in the ocean, which eventually pushed the wood ashore. Apparently, it was quite unpleasant after the storm as not only trees and garbage, but also wildlife and people squatting within the estuary lands were also washed out to sea.

So, this simple odd composition has a story to tell, if you but ask.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 116mm
1/250 sec, f/8.0 ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Yellow-collared Scape Moth” – Cisseps fulvicollis

“Yellow-collared Scape Moth” - Cisseps fulvicollis

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust

It seems to be butterfly and bug week for me. Butterflies, especially, have been sparse this year, though small months are plentiful, yet elusive. The butterflies also serve as subject matter as flowering plants seem to be in a transition phase, many is seed and others just budding.

When I went hiking during yesterday’s eclipse, I found that most insect life seemed quite subdued, except for mosquitoes, who welcomed the early dusk as an extended mealtime. As I passed a small cluster of Joe-Pye Weed, I spotted this colourful flying insect. Having no idea what it was, I photographed it with the intention of looking it up on my return home, which is my practice lately.

I thought this was some form of fly and was surprised to find out that it is a moth. It did not fit the common form of moths around here. Yet, when I look more closely, it does have all the characteristics of a moth.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Water Avens – geum rivale”

“Water Avens - geum rivale”

“A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones.”
― Abraham Lincoln

This one is a new plant for me. While hiking on Sunday, I caught a brief flash of burgundy a short distance off the trail, from the corner of my eye. As I looked from a distance, I could not make out what I was looking at. So, I decided to step off the trail to investigate.

My first step into the trail put me ankle-deep in water, which I was not aware of. I then proceeded carefully, stepping from log to log, approaching this cluster of unknown plants. It’s yet another of those, “How did I not notice theses before?”, moments. How did I not notice that the trail was also paralleled by water, beneath the undergrowth? Perhaps it has to do with the exceptional amount of rainfall we’ve had over the past several weeks. Perhaps, this water-loving plant only grows in particularly wet years?

Setting up my tripod enabled me to make several images of this wonderful and mysterious plant, though I was still challenged to get a good, sharp image, by an ever-present breeze, even at a fairly high ISO.

On my return home, I followed my routine of reviewing the images and trying to identify the plants. I could not find it at first, but after flipping through a few books and internet resources, I finally identified it as Water Avens, which now makes perfect sense to me, given that it was growing in water!

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/20 sec, f/10.0 ISO 800

for more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“York River Backcountry”

York River Backcountry

“I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land.”
― Aidan Chambers

The York River, in Central Ontario runs from Baptiste Lake, meanders through the region and changing its aspect several times along its course. It is inaccessible, other than by canoe through much of its journey.

I’ve hiked to many of the chutes and paddled several sections of this beautiful river. Yesterday, I went for a back-country drive, looking for a diversion from wildflowers, though I found many of them too.

During this drive I came across a road named Iron  Bridge Road. The name got my attention and I proceeded to see where this “Iron Bridge” was, hoping I was not committing to a long drive, only to find that there used to be an iron bridge.

The bridge itself was not far down the road and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it cross the York River and offered a nice view of the river as it wound its way through the back-country as a gentle flow, with lily pads and arrowroot growing along the shores. From my maps, it would appear it continues this way for several miles, before entering into a series of rapids and chutes.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 200 mm
1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Herb Robert” – Secord Forest

“Herb Robert Blossom” - Secord Forest

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
― Alice Walker

This diminutive member of the geranium family has been on my mind since I first encountered it a few weeks ago. I’m finding I’ve missed seeing so many of the smaller wildflowers in the past, then, suddenly, they are everywhere and in unexpected places.

The first time I saw the pale purple gem, was on a Secord Forest trail, where I photographed it, not knowing what it was, and then identified it by referencing my plant identifications books. The next time I saw it, was at the Royal Botanical Gardens, in Burlington, Ontario. I felt like such a botanist, being able to spot and identify this tiny purple flower among all the other plants on display. I’m not sure if they are deliberately included in the gardens or if they were placed there by nature.

On researching the plant I also discovered it has significant uses as a medicinal herb for the treatment of toothaches and nosebleeds and also to heal wounds. The crushed leaves smell like burning rubber, but make a good mosquito repellant. I tried this and it seemed to work, other than the fact that I smelled like burning rubber, which is not necessarily a desirable trait.

Nikon D800
Nikkor AF 28-70mm f/3.5~f/4.5D @ 45mm (28mm extension tube)
1/60 sec, f/5.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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