Tag Archives: squall

Iceland Journal – “Selfoss” – North Iceland

“Selfoss” - North Iceland

“Unlike the majority of people, he did not hate or fear the wilderness; as harsh as the empty lands were, they possessed a grace and a beauty that no artifice could compete with and that he found restorative.” 
― Christopher Paolini

It’s really hard to describe this place. The photo was made about an hour after the one I posted yesterday. That’s how fast conditions change in Iceland. For about thirty minutes, we enjoyed relatively clear skies, though snow squalls loomed on the horizon.

This is Selfoss, a broad, but relatively low waterfall in Northern Iceland. The landscape around this waterfall, and the higher, Dettifoss below it is unbelievable. From beyond Selfoss, the steep ravine you can see here gets even steeper with an almost tortured look, like the earth was torn apart, leaving a gaping maw of high, jagged cliffs of black basalt.

There is nothing smooth or soft here. The entire landscape is dark and sharp and barren, with a few mosses and sparse grasses clinging tenuously between the blasted rock. There must have been a great upheaval here, in the vast volcanic plains of Mývatnsöræfi, in Iceland northern region.

The other thing that does not show in the photo is the biting and relentless winds that whipped at us as we made photos of the waterfalls, stepping through deep snowdrifts and winding between the sharp rocks that line the edges of the gorge. Don’t get me wrong, this is a well-travelled tourist site, with a large parking lot and well-marked trails, but at times the drifts made it tough to walk and they covered jagged rock beneath them.

We spent about an hour photographing both Dettifoss and Selfoss. Then, looking to the sky and seeing another squall approaching , we made our way back to the car, which is about a half kilometer walk. Before we got to the car, the squall hit and made it difficult to see more than a few meters ahead of us. By the time we got back to the car, the full savagery of the storm was on us and we could barely see the length of the parking lot, so we decided to wait it out. As we sat in the car, we saw a tourist bus pull in and had to wonder how that bus had navigated the horrible, drift covered road that led us to the waterfalls, 26 kilometers off the Ring Road! Not to mention, people would have paid good money for the tour to the waterfalls, been transported through along dubious roads, only to arrive in blizzard-like condition.

The storm eventually eased and we left the parking lot with three other cars, knowing that the road we had travelled to get here would be in even worse condition on the way out. Fortunately, the trip was made safely and our journey continued.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 160 mm
1/500 sec, f/13.0, ISO 800

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“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”
― Mary Oliver

This will be my final post for 2016. My year ends much as it began, on the local trails, camera in hand. Today, I hiked about 6 km on snow packed trails, not meeting another hiker. The trek began bright but hazy and mild and ended two hours later, somewhat cooler with a fairly consistent snowfall, which inspired this final post.

It’s good to have some tools at your disposal. In this case, the ‘concept’ of an image capturing a December snow squall in the pine wood lot behind my house did not quite render my vision as a photo.

That’s where the ‘tools’ come in and running the image through the Topaz Impression plug-in yielded the desired results. It brought out the warm colours of the trees that I saw initially and enhances the nice blur of the heavy snow, a slightly washed-out effect, which is what I was after.

This has become a go-to for me if a photo does not convey the ‘feel’ I was after. My ‘impression’ of the scene. So, since I’m not a painter, I can be a photo-impressionist, and I like that. Wishing you a Happy 2017.

Till then,