Brno at Night

A couple of quick images from wonderful Brno

As it’s a week of business travel and the usual all day affair of meetings and meals, I’ve been remiss in posting; so here’s a quick post of a couple of captures while walking back to my hotel here in Brno.

Father Martin Streda statue

This statue of the revered Father Martin Streda struck me with the interesting lighting, as it stands next to the Jesuit Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Father Martin Streda’s reverence comes from the time of the siege of the city of Brno by Swedish troops during 1645; according to the stories told, the Virgin Mary appeared to him during his prayers and told him that the city of Brno would not be conquered, if everyone obeyed God. After this apparition, Martin proceeded to be uncannily accurate in his predictions of attacks by the Swedish and the last cannonball fired at the city landed at his feet and remained motionless.

Little Mozart

This statue produces another interesting shadow due to the way it is lighted. It is known as ‘Little Mozart’ and stands in front of the Reduta Theatre on the square known as the Cabbage Market (still in operation 6 days a week). In 1767, the then 11 year old Mozart performed at the theater along with his sister Maria Anna. The statue is unusual in that it has the head of a mature Mozart on an child’s body with a single wing; the latter is likely included to mark the tragic death of the composer.

If you get the chance, Brno is a fabulous city to visit with lots of sights, great restaurants and hospitable people. I always enjoy coming back here.

And yes, the meetings and trip have been extremely productive!

Visit to a Volcano (part 2)

Part 2 of a trek to Fagradalsfjall volcano and the experience of witnessing Earth’s tremendous power

In yesterday’s post (Visit to a Volcano – (part 1)), I documented the journey to the August eruption of Fagradalsfjall, which took us about 2-1/2 hours to reap the reward of the sound and fury of Mother Earth.

After overcoming the first sensations of the sound and vision produced by Nature at its finest, I found a spot from where I could set up my tripod and camera; with a Canon RF 100-500mm telephoto lens mounted, I wanted to get to the capturing of this amazing spectacle…

Volcanic Action #1

In the first couple of images, I attempted to get a sense of the scene in front of me. Under the spell of Nature’s prowess, these were feeble trials of basic photographic work.

Part of what I had to come to grips with was that I needed to connect with what was happening in front of me; having never experienced a volcanic eruption in person before, I was overwhelmed…

Volcanic Action #2

As I tightened my shot and reduced the field of view, I started the process of building a connection with Earth’s power. Heat was palpable and even the bright day could only diminish some of the glow of the lava flowing away from the cones.

As I slowly started to make a connection, there were aspects of the eruption that I could sense: rhythm, magnitude, under-worldly sounds…

Volcanic Action #3

Lines started forming in from of my lens, as the feel of the volcano’s machinations could be felt in every fiber of my body. Between the low register sounds emitted by build up and compression of air in the underground chambers, and the semi-explosive emissions of lava into the air, one cannot help but be inspired.

Slowly but surely, I attempted to build a series of images…

Volcanic Action #4

There is a sort of fiery dance, as the lava is thrown up into the air with the grace of a ballerina, where it solidifies into shards that glow in their descent. It reminds me of a hot spring, where the mud releases streams of water into the air, but significantly hotter!

The visions kept dancing…

Volcanic Action #5

The glow of the lava stream with the multitude of fiery shards in the air really gave me the sense of witnessing something beyond humanity’s capability to fully harness. The immense power coupled with such beauty left me staring in amazement.

And the best part is that this spectacle kept on performing in front of my eyes…

Volcanic Action #6

Capturing protuberances gave me a sense of what it might be to look at our Sun from a closer vantage point. We’re given a taste of our home star’s power on our own planet.

The unfortunate part is that our visit had to end, as we were on a timetable. I could have spent many more hours at this amazing site, and would have loved to capture this brilliance under darker conditions. However, I will cherish that time that I had at Fagradalsfjall volcano, knowing that I was lucky enough to experience something that lasted for only 19 days. Sometimes, it’s good to be lucky in getting to a place!

The 4.5 mile hike each way was well worth it, and I feel privileged to share this experience with you!

Visit to a Volcano (part 1)

First of a two-part series about my visit to Fagradalsfjall

On August 13 2022, I was fortunate enough to view something that might be a once in a lifetime opportunity: an active volcano! On August 3 2022, Fagradalsfjall volcano on Reykjanes peninsula erupted, which would last for 19 days.

On that day, my traveling companion, George Fellner, and I, accompanied by two other photographers in our tour group, took on the hike to the active volcano. The initial trek in was pretty smooth, as there was a reasonable path in; volunteers had worked tirelessly to improve access to this amazing attraction. Soon the landscape became more dramatic…

Path to Fagradalsfjall

Boulder fields, such as in this image, were common place and required a bit more careful traversal. As we picked our path through this terrain, we encountered evidence of great lava flows…

Lava Flows

The lava flows were still a significant distance from the volcano, but they helped keep us inspired to keep moving forward to our goal. As we crossed more ridges, our hope kept rising with each of them…

Approach to a volcano

With each cresting of a ridge, we expected to be treated to the view that we were after! In the above location, we were still about 25 minutes away from our target, but we were getting closer…

Getting close!

At last, we can see smoke rising in the distance: the volcano is near (about 15 more minutes). More immense lava flows are encountered in our path…

Lava Immensity

These older lava flows give a good sense of the awesome volume of lava that was spewed forth by the volcano. This field is truly immense. And then, one last ridge…

The final ridge

It was a truly inspiring moment to crest the final ridge and reach the crater; after 2-1/2 hours of hiking, we had reached out goal!

The first part that struck me was the sound of the lava: it reminded me of heavy waves crashing on the shore with much more of a bass note; I could feel the impact of the lava waves throughout my entire body, and was awestruck by the sense of earthly power in that moment.

In the next post, I will share more of the photos of the volcano, which were shot with my EOS R5. These trekking photos were all captured with an iPhone 13 Pro Max, as the rather heavy backpack had all the serious gear stowed in it.

And, of course, I had to take a selfie…

Feeling the Heat

A Walk through Reykjavik (part 3)

Mirrors and reflections abound in Harpa

In this conclusion of this 3-part post (cf. part 1 and part 2), we visit one of the most interesting architectural constructs in Vesturbær: Harpa.

Harpa is a concert hall and conference center. Its construction started in 2007 as part of the redevelopment of the Austurhöfn area; due to the financial crisis work was put on hold until the Icelandic government decided to fund the rest of the costs to finish the half-built concert hall in 2008.

Harpa reflects the Harbor

Positioned on the harbor and facing the Atlantic Ocean, Harpa is built as a steel frame that is clad with glass of various colors to give a sense of the basalt landscape of Iceland.

Harpa Facade

The facade is intriguing, as it allows one to look through parts of the hall, and invites the viewer to look for reflections and color patterns; there’s even a particular pane that is appreciated by selfie takers for its reflection of the views!

The facade and overall structure are very appealing, but there’s one feature that really caught my attention: the ceiling!

Harpa Ceiling View

The ceiling had a wonderful pattern of mirrors, lights and angles that are just wondrous to behold. Every turn of the head gives the eyes another set of inputs that intrigue and amazement to entertain the brain!

One literally could spend hours exploring the reflections in the ceiling and the patterns that appear; while not spending that much time, I did take a good number of photographs. Here’s another view:

Q*bert in Harpa

If you are familiar with the Q*bert game of the 1980s, you may also see the geometry that was the hallmark of that game’s 3-dimensional look and feel. The ceiling provides countless views like these, as we keep our eyes open and minds receptive to the varied views.

I look forward to the possibility of one day experiencing a concert in this wonderful space and having more time to explore all its views and angles.

A Walk through Reykjavik (part 2)

More impressions from walking through Vesturbær

In this second installment (cf. part 1) of our walk around one of the neighborhoods in Reykjavik, I’d like to share a couple of impressions of the mixture of architecture in the small area that we explored. The area where we wandered around is the Old West Side, Vesturbær.

This section is the earliest area of Reykjavik to be settled, starting around 1800. When walking through the area, one of the things that stands out is that the older structures are slowly being surrounded by newer architecture that rises up around these houses and looms over them.

Hlíðarhús

Hlíðarhús (sign on the structure) were small farms in the Reykjavik area, which stood near the current Vesturbær; Vesturbær used to take its name from them, when it was called Hlíðarhústastigur. This particular house stands surrounded by concrete edifices, and an inspiring mural art work.

The Vesturbær area is definitely upscale, and sought-after in the real estate market. There are several foreign missions sprinkled across the neighborhood, which still has its regular feel as well.

Bicycle Storage

With real estate at a premium, space utilization should be optimized. The people that live here understand how to do that, as a balcony is a good spot to put the bicycle.

The overall layout of Vesturbær is somewhat haphazard, as the turn of the 20th century didn’t include a lot of city planning, as Reykjavik was expanding. It does make for a cozy neighborhood feeling, as houses might be tucked in great spots and you get to know your neighbors!

Modern life in Vesturbær

This more modern-looking house had found a perfect spot in the Vesturbær neighborhood. Even here it is evident that much thought was given to how to best fit in the space afforded.

As we walked up and down streets throughout the area, I couldn’t help but get a sense of the old town charm that exists here.

Vesturbær street view

It’s amazing to think that streets like this one are a mere 5 minutes’ walk away from hyper-modern structures, such as the Harpa Concert Hall and Meeting Space…

More about that in the next installment!

Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón (part 2)

The second of two posts on the impressive glacier Vatnajökull and its offspring. Photography on a rainy, windy day might be challenging, but it’s still worth it when landscapes are this amazing!

In the previous post in this series (Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón (part 1)) the focus was squarely on the main feature of the two, Vatnajökull, the magnificent glacier. While not as imposing as the glacier, Jökulsárlón, literally ‘glacial river lagoon’ is a wonderful source of images and a backdrop for four Hollywood movies.

This is truly a river that carries glacial output from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier across the lagoon toward the Atlantic Ocean. Breiðamerkurjökull is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, as icebergs break away from it, slowly floating away; some of these icebergs can spend as much as 5 years in the lagoon, depending on their size, before they are small enough to make it to the ocean.

Jökulsárlón ice flows

The ice flows in the above image are near the exit of the lagoon, where they will meet the Atlantic Ocean. As these blocks of ice meet the ocean, some break up and chunks are driven back onto a black sand beach, also known as Diamond Beach. On a sunny day, they are a spectacular sight.

Jökulsárlon icebergs

The iceberg sections above still show the striations of the dirt that has been collected along the path of the glacier, to be covered with snow and ice; this gives a sense of the age of the ice, somewhat akin to the rings of trees. Notice also that certain parts of the ice have a distinct glacial blue color; this ice has been compressed into a crystalline structure that is more reflective of the blue area of the visible spectrum.

Weathering the day in Jökulsárlón

Despite it being a rainy day, neither the birds nor the photographers were discouraged from checking out this magical location. It did convince me that it will be wonderful to spend a couple of hours here to photograph its beauty on a sunny day!

As you might imagine, I will certainly want to come back to explore Iceland more in the future!

Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón (part 1)

The first of two posts on the impressive glacier Vatnajökull and its offspring. Photography on a rainy, windy day might be challenging, but it’s still worth it when landscapes are this amazing!

The land of Ice and Fire provides magnificent displays of both, and I was fortunate enough to get to experience the entire spectrum during my recent photography tour.

I will dedicate two posts this week to the ice marvels presented by Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón. Let’s start with the Glacier of Lakes, as Vatnajökull translates, which is the largest ice cap in Iceland and the second largest in Europe. With an average thickness of 380m, it is rather imposing.

Despite the fact that we visited on a rather rainy (and windy, as in hold on to your tripod, lest it blows over), it was inspiring to visit both sites. After a short hike from our parking location, there was a great location to get a complete view of the ablation zone of the glacier:

The Foot of Vatnajökull

As I walked toward this area to set up my tripod, I was greeted by the sound and view of a segment of the glacier breaking off; it was a small section, but still awe inspiring to experience. It is clear from the amount of dirt that is embedded in the ice that a lot of material is collected, as the glacier progress downhill at its slow pace. Of course, the forces exerted by this mass of ice and snow are tremendous and landscape altering.

Vatnajökull Glacier ablation

This second image is a bit further away, so that it provides a better view of the ice sections (miniature icebergs) that have broken loose from VatnaJökull, and have started their journey, as they float along.

In the next post, I’ll cover the lagoon that is also fed by Vatnajökull: Jökulsárlón.

Both of these images are HDR composites of captures at -2.3, 0.0 and 1.3 EV and combined using Skylum’s Aurora HDR. I’m a big fan Aurora HDR, as it not only does a stellar job of the HDR processing, but also makes it easy to make some quick adjustments that provide a sense of what the final image can look like.

After the HDR composites are finalized, I do clean up and touch up in Adobe Photoshop; on a rainy day, there was no avoiding getting some droplet on the lens filter, which had to be removed in post-processing. I did some further balancing of the exposure, as the sky was rather bright compared to the foreground.

Snæfellsnes Teasers

On day two of the photography tour, we left our meeting place, Reykjavik, and headed to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, where we were spending the next couple of lovely days. Snæfellsnes is positioned on the western side of Iceland, with the Hornstrandir peninsula to the north and Reykjanes to the south. It is very drivable from Reykjavik at about 120km; a couple of hours and you’re there!

If you’re wondering what makes the Snæfellsnes peninsula worth it, let me start with the following image of the mountain Kirkjufell:

Kirkjufell Mountain

This mountain is claimed to be the most photographed mountain in Iceland, which I can believe on a day that we had. The mountain is unusual in that it’s not a volcano, but does contain volcanic rock. Its shape goes back to the ice ages, when it was a nunatak: a summit that protruded from a glacier. Also, I’m sure that Game of Thrones fans will recognize this location. And, yes, there are waterfalls nearby…

As if Snæfellsnes doesn’t have enough going for itself, there are Icelandic horses to be found everywhere:

Not so Old Blue Eyes

The Icelandic horse are a proud stock of the country, and their bloodlines are well protected. These hardy animals are long lived and unique to Iceland, where horse are not allowed to be imported. One of the unique characteristics is that they are five-gaited: in addition to the walk, trot, and canter/gallop, they have an ambling gait known as tölt, and a pace called skeid, or flugskeid, which is very smooth. The ancestors of the Icelandic horse are likely to have come to the island with the Vikings who settled in the 9th and 10th centuries, C.E.

What else might one expect on Snæfellsnes? Lots more landscape variety, interesting black-colored churches, captivating coastline and great food; yes, there will be more photos in future posts!

As we wrapped up our first day in Snæfellsnes, the light turned rather pretty for us and we caught this scene:

Ingjaldshólskirkja

This location was just magnificent with the mountains in the background, dramatic cloud cover and a beautifully lit church. The location has been the site of a monastery during the middle ages, and it is said that Columbus has stayed at this monastery during the winter of 1477-78; this is where he learned about the voyage of Leif the Lucky, whose crew were the first Caucasian people to discover Vinland. The current church at the site was built in 1903 and is the oldest concrete church in Iceland.

As you can tell, we were off to a great start on our voyage!

The Wee Writing Lassie

The Musings of a Writer / Freelance Editor in Training

Pencil Notes

Pencil on paper. Images arise. Message received.

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Mama Cormier

.... my journey to a healthy life, making new memories and so much more

Don't Forget the Half

Loving the sum total of all my parts!

sound mind journal

a quiet place where our minds meet

My Camera & I (2)

This blog is my creative outlet where I can share my photos, my travels, my random thoughts and a bit of myself.

Maria Vincent Robinson

Photographer Of Life and moments

Does writing excuse watching?

Wasting time on the couch.

Dare Boldly

Artful Words to Inspire Everyday Living

Jennifer's Journal

Website & Blog of J. Kelland Perry, Author

Out of Four Stars

It's more than just the opening weekend

thoughts and entanglements

A collective of poems and photos. All photos taken by me unless stated otherwise.