Tag Archives: waterfall

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

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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 – “Kirkjufellsfosser, Front View” – Snæfellsnes Peninsula, West Island

“It’s not about inviting great things into our lives. Rather, it’s about accepting the invitation of great things to step out of our lives.” 
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

For those following my Iceland journey from late October, you will know that it was made up of a series of ‘general’ destinations. We simply set up a schedule to take us from one overnight stop to the next, leaving time between those destinations to enjoy the journey along the way. This meant roughly two to three hours of daily driving and we never had a particular ‘sight’ as a destination. We allowed each day to simply ‘happen’.

The only exception to this ‘plan’ was Kirkjufellsfosser, which I addressed on a prior post, which includes a photo of this iconic waterfall which appears on almost every Iceland travel brochure. Choosing Kirkjufellsfosser as a deliberate destination also made for the longest travel day, most of which was spent simply driving to get there and then back, the entire length of the Snæfellsness Peninsula, to get to our accommodations for the night. Yet again, despite the extended ‘windshield’ time, and off and on rain, we were still able to enjoy the ever-changing and wondrous scenery.

The travel brochures hardly do Iceland justice and it’s impossible to portray the incredible diversity we witnessed effectively. Those brochures often show scenes from the same vantage point, so when you arrive, the scene before you is quite different from what you expected to see. This image is a prime example. The ‘iconic’ image is made from near the top of the cascade, with Kirkjufell mountain in the background. That vantage point is near the top of the photo above. However, there are many other ways to view this waterfall, including from near the base, which is where this photo was made. It’s important to note, that these falls are named, fosser, which is the plural to foss, or waterfall. In fact, many of the waterfalls in Iceland are made up of multiple sub-falls.

Nikon D300
TAMRON SP AF 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF A16NII @ 32 mm
1.3 sec, f/32, ISO 200

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

Iceland Journal – “Goðafoss” – Northern Iceland

“Nature was pure, and still is.” 
― Anthony T. Hincks

On day five of our ten-day Iceland trip, we drove through what felt like a rather long stretch of nothing much, as we departed the plains and low hills of Mývatn and headed towards Akureyri, Iceland’s’ second largest city. On our map we noted the location of Goðafoss and decided this was to be an extended stop on our journey.

As I found typical of Iceland, things are often not what you expect. The map showed Goðafoss close to the highway, but we expected a short side trip to get closer. As we rounded a bend, a large river appeared in front of us and there it was,Goðafoss, right next to the highway, a distant spray of green and white in the distance, some six kilometers ahead of us, yet is was clearly recognizable.

Goðafoss is not as big as I expected, with a vertical drop of about 12 meters and a width of 30 meters. Though not exactly as imagined, it’s a beautiful wide and complex waterfall, especially at this time of year, when the waters run cold and pure, no longer carrying the spring sediments which make the water cloudy and gray. This purity showcases the gorgeous green tones of the water, as it falls and as it pools beneath the falls. Goðafoss is the Skjálfandafljót river which flows north from central Iceland’s highlands.

As with many of the waterfalls we experienced, it was quite easy to gain close access to the waterfalls from well-marked access points. On our arrival, we set up our cameras close to the base of the eastern side of the falls, visible in my image  just left of the bottom center. This area is a small shelf of rock, covered in snow, at this time of year.

There were several other people there taking pictures and just enjoying the sight, for the most part, very respectful of others enjoyment of this beautiful place, including photographers, like me, setting up tripods to make long exposures. My son and I spend quite a bit of time shooting from different angles and at different speeds trying to capture the feel of this fall.

I have several decent images, but none really resonate with me, so we headed up to the top, where there is a large viewing platform, with good visibility of the falls. Once more, there were quite a few people taking pictures; some avid photographers with tripods and filters, as well as the casual tourists and the ever-present ‘selfie seekers’, posing in various positions along the railings.

This platform yielded the best photos, though I was unprepared for the brightness of the freshly fallen snow and did not have a good neutral density filter with me to compensate for this. Generally, I can accomplish good light balance through ISO, aperture, and exposure settings, but I maxed them all out trying to get a long exposure. The image above is the best of my attempts, and despite the challenging light, I think it turned out alright, showcasing the bright snow and deep emerald waters. What it can’t show is just how cold this water is. The only evidence being the thin ice-floes accumulating in the foreground, just off my initial vantage point.

Nikon D300
TAMRON SP AF 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF A16NII @ 22 mm
1/6 sec, F/29, ISO 125

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

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

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

Iceland Journal – “Stepped Waterfall” – East Iceland

“The best part of the journey is the surprise and wonder along the way.” 
― 
Ken Poirot

One thing I never got tired of in Iceland was the waterfall and there was never a shortage of waterfalls. For those following this series of posts in my Iceland Journal Series, this will come as not surprise. In fact, it got to the point where I was bypassing some waterfalls as ‘insignificant’ since I knew there was not time to enjoy them all.

Back home, I could spend hours exploring a waterfall, photographing it at different angles and exposures, trying to capture the ‘essence’ of that particular waterfall. Each has its own unique characteristics that set it apart from others.

This particular waterfall, somewhere along the eastern coast of Iceland really fascinated me. It captures the character of the East Fjords so well. The water steps and zigzags down the steep slopes as it flows through the ravine of its own making. Or, was this deep ravine already here, the result of some geological upheaval and the water just found a convenient path? Would have loved to explore it more thoroughly, but, like many of the roadside waterfalls, it’s on private property and numerous fences make it difficult to get close.

So, I just stood in the grassy field near its base and enjoyed watching the progression of the water, leaping and dancing from rock to rock; sometimes taking small careful steps while, at other points, plunging great distances into cool pools below. I never get tired of watching water move and there is such an abundance here, I could not see it all, even in a lifetime.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 95 mm
1/100 sec, f/5.0, ISO 400

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

Iceland Journal – “Skógafoss” – South Iceland

“Skógafoss” - South Iceland

“The places where water comes together with other water. Those places stand out in my mind like holy places.” 
― Raymond Carver

Water upon water, water flowing everywhere, from the high and cold places, that is Iceland.

And this, is one of the most known waterfalls for a few reasons. Skógafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland, at 60 meters in height and 25 meters wide. It’s also just a short drive from Reykjavik and one of the first significant waterfalls you see for the Ring Road, Highway 1. It’s also very easily accessible. In fact, you can walk right up to it. You’ll get soaked by the mist in seconds, but you can walk right up to it, as many people did on this rainy October day.

The waterfall itself is on the River Skóga, this the name Skóga / foss (Skóga / waterfall). It’s actually one of many waterfalls on the Skóga river, but the others are much smaller and further up the river from Skógafoss.

As I mentioned, many people walk right up to it; people with cellphones, point and shoot cameras, and the hardcore photographers with their tripods and water resistant coverings, all wanting to take some memory of the beautiful place home with them.

You’d think this would be dangerous, but despite the height of the waterfall, the actual volume flowing over it is not as great as you’d think. I would not recommend showering under it, but you can get very close, and very wet!

As I said, we visited on a rainy day, so were already in our rain gear as we approached. It did make for stunning photos either, as I was trying to get an angle that did not have people in it and the fine mist and rain  provided me with a soft white background rather than a few clouds and blue sky. I also did not want to commit to bringing a tripod and setting up like many others, so shot this handheld at 1/8 of a second, which is the best I can do at shooting hand held. Thank goodness for the Vibration reduction in modern lenses.

I thoroughly enjoyed being there and taking in this wonderful sight, despite the spray of water and the cool temperatures. It looks much more pleasant in the summer, though I expect it would be packed with people.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 78mm
1/8 sec, f/13.0, ISO 200

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