A View into the Past

A 21st century bit of nostalgia

Sometimes, as I’m looking at some of my older photos, a bit of nostalgia creeps in with the memories of places visited and people met. Perusing some of my images from my June 2015 short trip to Iceland, I came across a set of shots that I took as I had followed the road beyond Siglufjörður along the coastline in the direction of Haganes.

If you ever get the chance, this is a lovely drive albeit it a bit of a winding road, as you climb the hills and follow the contours. At one point, I caught this view…

The Road Above and Below the Clouds

Literally, this road takes one above and below the clouds! The low-hanging cloud banks are above the water on this side of Haganes, providing a cozy blanket in which to wrap the peaks beyond the town.

As I processed this photo, I was struck by the light conditions, as the overall light was a bit of hazy blue; rather than process this out of the image, I chose to keep it, as I felt it gave a sense of an old image from days gone by. It also reminded me that I want to go back to Iceland again and again, as there is never enough time to capture all of its beauty.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon (for Beliebers)

How Justin Bieber saved the Iceland economy.

For quite a while, I have heard the NPR commercial for Planet Money that mentions “Learn how Justin Bieber saved the Icelandic economy” and had no idea what they were talking about, as I’m not a Belieber.

During my photo tour of Iceland I got the answer to this mystery, as our fearless leader, Loren Fisher, mentioned that several of our locations were in a Justin Bieber video. Here’s one of them…

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

This is a view looking from Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, which is a stunning area to visit, as you can see; in the above image, we’re looking back in a southerly direction toward the Ring Road looking down the Fjaðrár river. The name of this canyon is probably one of the more difficult Icelandic words to pronounce; it is a combination of two words: Fjaðrár, the name of the river, and gljúfur, which just means canyon.

This canyon is gorgeous and fun to explore, as it’s only about 2 kilometers long; just leave your fear of heights in the car, as it does have a depth of 100 meters (300 ft), which can be intimidating when viewed from the edges (as I experience a certain amount of vertigo at heights, I tend to be aware of this).

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon II

One of the things that really stood out for me are the soft grasses and mosses on the outcroppings into the canyon. They look rather inviting to lie down and take a nice nap (on a drier day), while listening to the wind and the water playing their tunes.

As the weather was a bit fierce, we didn’t spend a lot of time here. It does make me want to come back at some point to hike the canyon from the lower vantage point of the river’s edge. Be mindful that this does require an occasional bit of wading through the Fjaðrár, which will mean very cold water!

Here’s the Justin Bieber video with all the great Icelandic sights: “I’ll Show You”.

I can honestly say that it was fun to see the video and recognize numerous locations that we’d visited; also, I definitely didn’t pull some of the stunts that Bieber did, as they look genuinely risky without a crew to catch you!

A note about the photos; they were taken with a Canon EOS R5 and a Canon RF 24-105mm f4/L IS USM lens. As this was a rather overcast day, I had inserted a Kolari Vision Iridium color enhancing rear filter; I discovered these filters shortly before going on the Iceland trip and really like them, as they allow one to swap lenses and keep the same filter.

Reynisfjara Black Beach

There maybe something interesting besides the beach at Reynisfjara!

One of the possibly underrated stops during our Icelandic photo tour, was at the Reynisfjara black beach near Vik; it was a relatively short stop, as we were leaving Vik with our major attraction being the Strokkur geyser and the massive Gullfoss waterfall. Additionally, it was a drizzly, rainy morning and heavily overcast skies.

You might think that this is not a recipe for great photography; of course, it could be an opportunity to take some different shots from the usual beach pictures…

Reynisfjara Basalt

The basalt columns at Reynisfjara are magnificent to behold and I’ve found that examining the structure provided by these magnificent columns presents an interesting mix of points of view. Seeing how they line up in front of the lens and the patterns they generate is one of my favorite ways to explore this type of wall.

There’s much more than just the patterns and textures, as Nature conquers every possible opportune spot…

Cave Flora

This plant found just enough soil to hold onto the basalt column and present some pretty little flowers. Of course, there are also plenty of mosses, which one expects. These plants with their paper thin white flowers really stood out.

Elemental Damage

Of course, the elements do claim some victims among these plants, which does present an image that is a bit more tragic, yet interesting.

Iceland’s Waterfalls – part 3

The power of water!

Thus far I’ve covered waterfalls that were part of our photo tour with Loren Fisher, whose workshops and tours I recommend wholeheartedly! As I had convinced my good friend, George, to spend some extra time in Iceland beyond the scheduled tour, we went up north to the Akureyri area for some additional exploration.

The Goðafoss waterfall was one of the places that I wanted us to visit, as I had been there before and these falls left a lasting impression on me…

Godafoss – down-river

Even though it happened to be a cloudy, rainy day, the walk toward the falls begins to tell the story of how impressive Goðafoss is.

The name Goðafoss is interesting, as it could mean one of two things: either waterfall of the goð (pagan idols) or waterfall of the goði (chieftain). Linguistic place name experts, such as Svavar Sigmundsson, suggest that it is the former, as the two crags of the falls resemble pagan idols.

Godafoss – Eastern bank

As we get closer to the falls, we can get ore of an impression of their sheer magnitude. While these falls are neither the tallest nor the most voluminous in Iceland, it is hard to not feel their impact. The drop in the river Skjálfandafljót over Goðafoss is a mere 12m over a 30m width, which are small numbers compared to Gullfoss.

Godafoss – top view

Looking from atop the Eastern bank of the falls, it was amazing to see this much water flow by in fairly close proximity.

On this day, the weather was rainy and breezy, which was a little different from my previous visit in 2015…

Godafoss – 2015

On that beautiful day, I did make it down to the water level to get the above shot. With a very wet clamber to get down there, I didn’t want to risk it on our recent visit.

Iceland’s Waterfalls – part 2

The Golden Falls

The day after we visited the waterfalls in yesterday’s post (Iceland’s Waterfalls – part 1), we had another spectacular day! After spending some quality time on a black sand beach in Vik (a post to come), we visited the Mighty Geysir – Strokkur and then came upon Gullfoss!

The Golden Falls – Gullfoss

Gullfoss, the ‘Golden Falls’ is located in southwest Iceland and easily accessible during a day trip from Reykjavik. The waterfall is part of the Hvitá river, as it flows through a three-step staircase into a canyon; the steps are 11 m and 21 m, before a final step of 31 m into a crevice. The average amount of water flowing through the falls is 141 cubic meters (5000 cu-ft) per second, which made it very tempting for hydroelectric exploitation.

There were attempts to create a hydroelectric power plant here during various times in the 20th century, but each failed due to the prohibitive costs to potential investors. In the end, the rights to the waterfall were sold to the state of Iceland, and it is now protected.

Here’s a quick video of these immense waterfalls in my YouTube channel:

The Golden Falls

The images in this post are taken with a Canon EOS EOS R5 using a Canon RF24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens. First level processing of the images was done using Skylum’s Luminar AI software; touch up processing was done in Photoshop. Video was captured with an iPhone 13 Pro Max and processed with iMovie.

Iceland’s Waterfalls – part 1

The Icelandic landscape is graced with so many waterfalls that it often feels as if you can photograph one from just about any location on this wonderful island. At one point during our trip I did a count and saw 19 waterfalls from a single vantage point.

In this first waterfall post, I have images from some of the falls along the southern part of the ring road, which we encountered on the day that we traveled from the Snæfellsnes peninsula toward our next stop in the town of Vik.


Our first stop was the amazing Seljalandsfoss waterfall; the 60m drop of the water provides an impressive spectacle. One of the features that really makes this waterfall a great place to visit is that there is a cavern behind the falls that can be walked up to for a view of the landscape through the curtain of water. Seljalandsfoss waterfall is part of the river Seljalandsá, which has its origins underneath the Eyjafjallajökull glacier.


Our next stop on this day had us visit the mighty Skógafoss waterfall, which is about 25m wide and has a drop of 60m. Photographing this waterfall was an awe inspiring experience, as the shallow side of the Skógá river is a perfect spot from which to capture it. As the weather really cooperated, there were moments of double rainbows across the river in front of the waterfall. As the land in front of the falls is very flat, visitors can walk up close to the actual waterfall.


The Kvernufoss waterfall is a less often visited neighbor of Skógafoss, possibly because it’s a bit more of a hike, and it’s not as powerful; the falls are a mere 30m, half the height of the other two powerhouses of the day. The walk up to Kvernufoss is stunning, as it meanders up by the river Kverna toward the falls; the hike is about 20 minutes and mostly across a path that is well maintained. This waterfall is another one where it is possible to catch a view from behind the falls.

One note about our visit to Kvernufoss: as we were shooting, we caught sight of a marriage proposal that was taking place; we made sure to capture this, which was a stroke of luck for the photographer on assignment to shoot the proposal, as she had a bit of equipment trouble and we were able to provide her with the images of the event. Sometimes, luck is there and it’s nice to be able to help!

More waterfalls later in the week!

Fumaroles of Hverir

A teaser of the Hverir geothermal area.

There are some locations that you want to visit more than once; whether it is the beauty of the colors, the raw power of the water, or the otherworldliness, there is just something that pulls you back in. For me, the Myvatn region in northern Iceland has that hold over me. I have been there twice thus far and want to go back to explore much, much more!

One of the key attractions is the Hverir geothermal area, which is located just off the Ring Road…

Fumarole in Action

There is a definite sense of being on an alien planet, when you get up close to these fumaroles and take in the influence that sulfur has had on this landscape. Between the sounds, the sights and the smell, I could think of what makes people think of locales, such as Hell; one can imagine that demon’s breath is being spewed forth from the very ground upon which we walk!

I’ll leave you with this teaser, as I’ll do several posts about some of the views that were available in this region! More to come!

The Icelandic Horse

Have a chat with a horse!

During the photo trip, one of my main goals was to capture the stunning natural beauty that is Iceland; after all, the country is filled with amazing sights, well-known for its glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes, geysers, and lagoons. Although puffins were listed among our tour stops, the fauna of Iceland was not my main interest.

So, when we made a road-side stop to photograph some horses in a field, I did not expect to come away with a profound impression of how the Icelandic horse connects to this rugged land and its people.

Soulful and Rugged

As I helped several of the other photographers in our group to get some good shots by drawing the attention of several of the horses, I came to feel that there is a strong connection between this land and its horses. It’s as if the horse is a reflection of the country: not large, yet sturdy, able to withstand whatever nature throws at them, and filled with a strong character.

Built for the Weather

A coat that is able to grow for the tough Winter months, compact size and sure-footedness are some of the key characteristics of the Iceland horse.

The horse was brought to Iceland by the Norse settlers who arrived in the 9th and 10th centuries. From these horses, over the centuries selective breeding, as well as natural selection, developed the breed into its current form. The breed was almost wiped out due to the massive eruption of the volcano at Laki in 1783; the months of spewing of sulfuric aerosols from this event had a profound impact on the climate and landscape, reaching well beyond Iceland.

Eyeing the Human!

As these horses stand an average of 13 to 14 hands, many will consider them pony size, despite the fact that breed registries refer to the Icelandics as horses. They are also known for a spirited temperament and large personality, and have another unique characteristic: their gait.

The Icelandic is a five-gaited breed, as they have two additional gaits beyond walk, trot and canter/gallop. The fourth gate is a four-beat lateral ambling gait know as the tölt; this gait stands out due to its explosive acceleration and speed, while still being comfortable. The fifth gait is called a skeið or flugskeið (flying pace); this racing gait is fast and smooth, enabling the horse to reach speeds of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).

Next time when you’re in Iceland, go check out these horses and don’t be afraid to talk to them; they are great listeners who prefer a good conversation over a handful of grass!

Snæfellsnes Peninsula – part 6

Rugged and awe inspiring.

How does one follow up the view of Kirkjufell, you might ask. In Iceland, the answer is simple, as each landscape is unique in its own way and dramatic!

As we were heading toward a great little church (coming up in part 7), we made a stop to enjoy another aspect of Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Berserkjahraun lava field.

Berserkjahraun I

The lava field is about 4000 years old and covers the western part of Helgafell, situated between the towns of Stykkishólmur and Grundarfjörður. Its name, Berserkjahraun comes from one of the old Icelandic sagas, the Eyrbyggja-Saga. According to the tales a farmer brought two berserkers from Sweden to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, who he later gave to his brother Viga-Styr, who lived on the other side of the lava field. One of the berserkers fell in love with Viga-Styr’s daughter and asked for her hand in marriage.

The shrewd Viga-Styr made a deal that stipulated he could have her hand in marriage, if he cleared a path across the lava field, which feat was considered impossible. Of course, the berserkers worked together and completed a path in short time. Instead of keeping his promise, Viga-Styr had the two Swedes killed and buried them near the path. The landmarks of this legend can be found in the field: the path, Berserkjagata, the burial place of the berserkers, Berserkjadys, a boundary fence, Landamerkjagarður and a sheep den, Fjárrétt.

Berserkjahraun II

Looking across this field, one can imagine the source of such a wonderful tale. The entire field is strewn with lava stones, which seem nearly impassible. If you find yourself here, it is well worth spending some time exploring the field, as long as you watch your footing, as it is treacherous.

The images in this post are taken with my iPhone 13 Pro Max and Canon EOS EOS R5 using a Canon RF24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens. First level processing of the images was done using Skylum’s Luminar AI software; for these images, I created a template based on the Backlit Clouds template that is part of the Overcast collection of templates. Touch up processing was done in Photoshop.

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