Tag Archives: mountains

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:


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 – Day 9

“Videy Island” - Reykjavik, Iceland

“Videy Island”  – Reykjavik, Iceland

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” 
― John Lennon

This was our final full day in the glorious land known as Iceland and we spent the day touring the city on foot, starting at the harbour front. I could not help but be entranced by the raw beauty of this place, even when surrounded by a bustling and busy European City.

Looking across the bay, my eyes were drawn to the vast mountain plateau and distant volcanic peaks that dominate the horizon. In front of this snowy majesty sits a small, uninhabited island known as Videy Island . You’ll notice a single large building. This is Videy House, now a restaurant and historical centre.

Something that I did not notice, when I was composing the photo, is the small white structure, just left of centre. It turns out that this is the Imagine Peace Tower and is an outdoor artwork conceived by Yoko Ono, in memory of her late husband, John Lennon.

It’s a tower of light designed to communicate to the world that peace and love is what connects us. It is lit every night from October 9th (John’s birthday) until December 8th (the anniversary of his death). It’s also lit on the Winter Solstice and New Years Day.

Sadly, while we were there, I was still under the weather and did not have the opportunity to see it lit up.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 170mm
1/400 sec, f/11.0, ISO 400

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

Iceland – Day 4

“Möðrudalsfjallgarðar” - East Iceland

“Möðrudalsfjallgarðar” – East Iceland

“When hell freezes over the Earth shall be covered in snow.” 
― Anthony T. Hincks

The theme of this day is snow, never-ending snow, floating snow, drifting snow, skin biting snow. You see, today we headed into the north of Iceland. As we awoke in the town of Egilsstaðir, light snow had already fallen overnight and dusted the world in white. The forecast showed the snow would be ending by mid-morning.

That was my first mistake, there is no such thing as a long-term forecast in Iceland, and a large arctic storm west of Norway was pushing cold air and moisture towards Iceland. Roads that started snow-dusted soon turned to ice and, as we ventured ever higher into the mountains which divide East and North Iceland, we ran into a continuous series of storms which created white-out conditions.

I should note that our rental vehicle was a 4×4 with studded tires. I wondered, “Why the studs?”, when we picked it up that rainy morning a few days ago. Now I know. There are no salters here and we only saw two snow ploughs on our 170 km drive, despite the horrible conditions.

This was to be our shortest drive on the ring road trek, but ended up taking much longer due to the ‘white knuckle” road conditions.

Despite this, we still had a great time and made many beautiful photos along the way, including Dettifoss and Snelfoss, two massive waterfalls that flow through an enormous fissure running through a wasteland of volcanic rock. That 24 km drive down the Dettifoss road was more of the same: icy roads and constant snow drifts. If roads at home were like this, I would not venture out.

As we neared the end of the day, having survived the roads, thus far, we headed for the Krafla Geothermal Plant, at the base of Krafla, a 818m high volcanic dome, with plans to drive to the viewing area at the top and take in the beautiful emerald-green pool that fills the cone. When we arrived, we found the access road closed, due to poor conditions. We sat in the car till yet another squall passed over and decided to hike the 2.5 km road to the top. Half way there we had reached the lead edge of the peak and were greeted with +100 km/h winds and stinging snow. In the distance, another squall loomed close by. Since there was no shelter at this height, we decided it was safer to head back down, rather than proceed.

I can’t say I have ever experienced nature in such a raw form.

Our final destination for the day was the Grjótagjá Cave, a series of caves containing hot springs, too hot for human use, filling the caves with warm steam. It is also quite amazing to realize the caves were caused by the collapse of the land within the valley, creating visible cracks that define the edge of the volcanic formation below.

I ended my day with a fantastic lamb and mushroom pizza and a lovely Icelandic Porter at a local restaurant. I seem to be ending each day with food?

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/4167 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20

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

Iceland – Day 3

“Berufjörður” - Djúpavogshreppur, East Iceland

“Berufjörður” – Djúpavogshreppur, East Iceland

“Welcome to driving Iceland, where every turn in the road opens up a brand new and astounding vista. Just when you think you have found the most beautiful sight in the world, another competes with it in an endless play of wonders.”
– Ed Lehming

Today’s theme is mountains, fjords, and glacial streams. First, the mountains are really a continuation of yesterdays mountains, though in line with my quote, the mountains today, as we departed Höfn, had a slightly different character than the glacial mountains we travelled through yesterday. Today’s mountains were ancient and terraced, made deep in under the oceans and heaved up by tectonic forces. They remind me of the Rocky Mountains of North America, with their angular peaks and banded appearance.

Between these rows of mountains, deep fjords cut into the coast of East Iceland, stretching for many kilometers inland and forcing roads to cling tenaciously to the edges of the mountains.

The fjords certainly added to our travel, but what a sight to see; enormous mountains to one side and fingers of the Atlantic Ocean reaching far into the valleys between. It was astounding to look back across and see the fine thread that represented the road we had just traveled, along the edge of the water.

Within the valleys of the snow-covered mountains, nearly every crack and crevasse flowed with clear, ice-cold, melt water. I can imagine this place in late spring. The hills must be completely awash with water.

I could not resist filling my water bottle at the base of a 1,085 meter high mountain. It was an amazing experience to drink this ice-cold elixir while looking high up to the peak that created it, the cool mountain breezes blowing on my face and refreshing my very soul. This, is glacier water, not the stuff marketed with pictures of mountains! This is the real deal.

We neared our day with a 6 km. drive though a tunnel carved below Kollufell Mountain, shortening our drive by some 35 km. Before settling in our room in Egilsstaðir, we decided to take drive around the long lake that if formed within the Lagarfljót River, Lagarfljót Lake.

At the south end of the lake is a trailhead that leads to Hengifoss, a VERY steep, 2.5 km hike up the side of one of the river valley’s bounding mountains. We made it to just past the 1 km mark, beaten by high winds, cold, and exhaustion, being the end of the day. At this point in the ascent, we were greeted by Litlanesfoss, a smaller falls below Hengifoss. I took the time to make a few photos and began our decent.

At the end of the day, a nice bowl of Icelandic lamb stew in Egilsstaðir made up for the cold and the memory of the experience with stay with me for a long time.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/2179 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20

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


Iceland – Day 1

“Rangárþing Eystra” - South Icelend

It is said, “There is no bad weather in Iceland, only bad clothing”
– unknown

“Rangárþing Eystra” – South Iceland

The saying above rang true on day one of my trip to Iceland with my son. I agonized about taking the right cloths for this land of ever-changing conditions, trying not to pack too much, but being aware that too little could also pose a problem.

We landed at 6:05am to surprisingly mild temperatures and no rain, though the forecast had called for it. By 7:30 am we had picked up our rental 4×4 an were on the road towards Vik, our first stop on our ten day Ring Road excursion.

By 9:30 the sky was just brightening as we drove through a tortured and raw landscape of jagged volcanic debris, a slight tang of sulphur in the air, noting the columns of steam rising from the earth’s depths, reminders that volcanism is still a very real part of what makes Iceland what it is, a land of fire and ice.

For me, “raw” best describes what I am seeing. It’s layers upon layers of glaciers, lava fields, geysers, and pale yellow mosses that tenaciously cling to the exposed rock.

As we continued our journey towards Vik, the landscape calmed a bit, changing from lava fields to high, snow-covered mountains, water falls, and twisting, sinuous rivers, winding their way through black sands to the sea. Between these mountains, farms fill valleys, defying nature yet dwarfed by the enormity of the landscape the are part of. One such valley is pictured above, as icy waters escape their mountain homes, on black paths to mingle with sea water in the north Atlantic Ocean.

The other factor at play is, of course, the weather. This image was made around 12:30 and a system pushed straight up the mid-Atlantic by the Gulf Stream continues to darken the skies, eventually ending with sheets of rain and temperatures just above freezing. By the time we got to Vik around 3:00pm it was cold and miserable and we called it quits for the day. More tomorrow.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/556 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20

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

“Sierra de la Laguna and Estuary” – San Jose del Cabo

“Sierra de la Laguna and Estuary” - San Jose del Cabo

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” 
― John Muir

I realized, as I was posting this image, that the same scene is the background for a previous post. But, that’s how I create many of my compositions. Several images from the same vantage point, as I take in my surroundings and observe the various elements that make up the broader scene.

What resonates with me in this image is the stark contrasts between the lush vegetation of the estuary in the foreground and the stark mountains of the Sierra de la Laguna in the background. By the way, all the green you see on the slopes of the mountain are various varieties of cactus and other brittle and spiky desert plants.

This image was made close to mid-day and a fine veil of mist hangs above lush palms like a halo, creating a slight haze across the lower mountains.

The Sierra create what I often term a ‘spine’ down the centre of the Baja Peninsula. Though rugged and mostly arid, I have noticed a few places which are green and inviting. These places will need to be explored on future visits to this region which beckons my back.

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

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Tuesdays of Texture – Week 12, 2017

“Aerial Ridge”

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

Here is my entry for Del Monte Y Mar’s Tuesdays of Texture Challenge Week 12 of 2017.

I  usually chose a window seat when flying. I have a fascination for geography and love watching the countryside far below me. On occasion, a really nice geological feature presents itself, like this ridge of low mountains, somewhere over New Mexico, if my estimations are right. I’d love to be able to have GPS going while flying.

In any case, this large scale texture presented itself to me and I was able to make a decent photograph from the plane window, a challenge in itself. Those who have attempted it themselves will know what I mean.

iPhone 5s back camera @ 4.2mm
1/3400 sec;   f/2.2;   ISO 32

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“West of Yosemite”

West of Yosemite

Today’s post is a bit of a step back in time to 2013. One place I can never get enough of is Yosemite National Park in California. The sheer scale of the landscapes is overwhelming for a ‘flatlander’ like myself. There are opportunities for images that are just not possible where I live.

For example, the image above was made while leaving the park after a day of photography. Just when I thought I was saturated for the day, this wonderful scene presented itself.

The photo was made from a roadside “pull-out”along highway 41 and highlights the layers of hills that make up the Sierra Nevada foothills. It was late afternoon and it had rained off and on all day. This diffused the light nicely and created a faint mist that lies between each layer. Again, being a rather dull, wet day, also created the nice dark silhouettes of the trees in the foreground. It’s kind of a ‘moody’ image that conveys the type of day it was. I like to think this is a non-typical image of the Yosemite area, which is usually portrayed with images of waterfalls and grand vistas. I have found that the drive to the valley is also very picturesque.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 80mm
1/200 sec @ f/4.5, ISO 200

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