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.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula – part 1

A while back, I presented you with a teaser with some images of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, which provides an incredible variety for photography, ranging from stunning landscapes to history and wildlife.

Today, I’ll highlight one of the early encounters on our trip: Búðakirkja in the town of Búðir.

Búðakirkja standing strong under a heavy sky

This is one of a set of so-called ‘black’ churches in Iceland, which stand apart from many other churches due to their exterior being covered with tar pitch, so that they could better withstand the elements.

Búðakirkja was built originally in 1703, when it was a small turf church with a cemetery to provide consecrated grounds; burials have taken place here since 1705. Due to the rough weather and economics, the church fell into disrepair and was abolished by royal letter in 1816 due to its poor condition.

In the mid-19th century, a local widow, Steinunn Sveinsdóttir, applied for permission from Church authorities to rebuild a church at Búðir. Her efforts led and paid for the building of the wooden church that we know today.

Búðakirkja with mountain range in the background

Construction of the church finished in 1848, and it was consecrated in 1851. Steinunn passed away in 1854 at the age of 77 years; she is buried in Búðir cemetery, where a gravestone still stands in her memory.

The church itself is rather small, as it measures approximately 9m x 5m, which is a single space; it seats about 50 people and is still available for ceremonies. Just be aware that there is no heating or running water in the church, so you may have to rough it a bit.

Búðakirkja holds one’s attention

Visiting this location definitely provided me with a sense of mystery and a deep appreciation for the people who made (and make) this area their home. It takes dedication, perseverance and faith to be successful in this rugged land.

More details about the church can be found at its website link.

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!

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 Mighty Geyser – Strokkur

Catching a geyser eruption sequence in Iceland of the mighty Strokkur.

I think it’s an understatement to say that Iceland is paradise for photographers, as I have found no other single island that offers the variety of scenic wonders that I find here (if you know of one, please share, and I will add it to my bucket list).

In August, my good friend and excellent photographer, George Fellner (link) and I joined a photo trip to Iceland that was led by Loren Fisher (link). This trip was a lot of fun and filled with amazing photography opportunities (there are a lot of images still to edit).

One of the iconic bits of Icelandic scenery that I was lucky enough to capture is the geyser Strokkur (Icelandic for ‘churn’), which you can see in this eruption sequence.

Strokkur has been around for quite some time, as it was first described in 1789, when an earthquake unblocked a conduit, so that the geyser could manifest itself. Even though its activity was rather variable it was active throughout the entire 19th century until at the beginning of the 20th century, Strokkur’s conduit was blocked once again by another earthquake. It remained inactive until its conduit was reopened in 1963; this time it was done with human assistance.

Since the 1963 re-plumbing, Strokkur has been very reliable with eruptions every 6-10 minutes and producing a typical height from 15-20 meters.

During our visit to the site, I witnessed 5 or 6 eruptions and noticed that some might be quite a bit smaller than others. As I was trying to predict the exact time of eruption, I built up a sense of the surface tension that builds up just before Strokkur lets go; it is almost as if the earth is taking a number of breaths in order to have enough air to propel the geyser. At the split second before eruption, a large bluish bubble rises up, which then explodes upwards, as you can see in the photo sequence.

The photo sequence of the eruption is was shot using my Canon EOS R5 camera and a Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens. The sequence was taken in aperture priority mode with an f-stop of 6.3 and 100 ISO; the resultant shutter speeds were in the 1/1000 to 1/1300 second range.

Puffins are magical!

As 2021 enabled us to slowly, carefully head back toward travel and exploration of our world, I did manage to take a photography trip to Acadia National Park in the wonderful state of Maine.

Acadia is an exciting park to visit, as it presents a wealth of photography opportunities with excellent variety. During this trip, we photographed the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, sunsets in Bar Harbor, lighthouses and nature in its many manifestations. It was a great way to unwind!

A side trip took us to Machias-Seal Island, which territory is disputed between Canada and the United States. The benefit of this dispute is that small groups are allowed to visit the island’s puffin colony, weather permitting. As our guide had reserved our tour’s spot well in advance (spots sell out in early January), and the weather cooperated, we had the pleasure of spending several hours photographing from blinds, as we were surrounded by puffins everywhere. Here’s one shot from that magical time.

Puffin Discussion

There were hundreds, if not thousands of puffins around us. From time to time, some of them would even run across the top of our blind, giving us a pitter patter of little puffin feet as a sound track.

This image was shot using a Canon EOS R5 using the amazing Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens. This lens absolutely blew me away with the image quality that it was able to produce.

There will be more posts coming from this trip!

Thoughts of Kharkiv

As the insanity of war has invaded the country of Ukraine, I can’t help but think back to my visit to the city of Kharkiv less than 4 years ago. The warm welcome that I was extended by the people of SoftServe made this a truly special visit.

These very same people are in my thoughts, as I see images of barbaric attacks on this great city, where I walked along the banks of the river

Kharkiv on a Spring Day

The visit may have been a work trip, but the camaraderie was heartfelt and time was enjoyed in each other’s company. Now, I can only hope that all of these work friends are safe and that this needless violence is stopped immediately, so that they can rebuild and get their lives back to normal.

This image was created using 3 shots taken with my Fuji X-H1 and processing them with Aurora HDR, using an Ethereal Drama preset; secondary processing was done using Luminar Neo. Both of these products are from Skylum, a company founded in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Let’s all do our bit and help the people of Ukraine defend their democracy!

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Stack

Better pick ’em from the top!

Welcome to week 215 of the Tuesday Photo Challenge!

First of all, thank you for the great response to last week’s theme; I will post the round up, some time on Wednesday.

For this week, I looked for something that tied loosely to our Assemble theme from last week, while going in a slightly different direction. One form of assembly could be creating a Stack or a set of Stacked objects, such as in the photo with this post.

One reason for my going with this theme is that while sometimes we feel the deck may be stacked, we can always stack the odds in our favor; we can go in many directions, and I look forward to the type of stack that you’ll find in your creative wanderings!

Here’s the creation of a market vendor…

Navel Oranges on the Market – Rotterdam

This image comes from a walk among the many vendors at the market in Rotterdam; this market is a classic, as vendors set up their booths and display their wares to their best advantage. The quality of the foods is always outstanding and there are lots of places where you can sample. It’s a great experience on a Saturday morning!

The full rules of this challenge are in TPC Guidelines, but here’s the tl;dr:

  • Write a post with an image for this week’s topic
  • Please tag your post with fpj-photo-challenge (if you’re not sure about how tags work, please check out this WordPress article about tagging posts)
  • Create a pingback link to this post, so that I can create a post showing all of the submissions over the week (note: pingbacks may not appear immediately, as my site is set up to require approval for linking to it; helps against previous bad experiences with spamming)
  • Have fun creating something new (or sharing something old)!!

Can’t wait to see what you’ll stack! Have a great week!

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round Up 212

Love is all you need

Welcome to the 212th round up of the Tuesday Photo Challenge!

Love flowed throughout all of your entries for this week’s theme and I have to say that I loved it!! It was impossible to not feel the love that exists all around the world and in each of your hearts! Thank you for sharing generously.

Once we let love rule, we can…

Imagine Peace

During my visit to Liverpool I saw this view of the Museum of Liverpool and was struck by the deep and resounding importance of these 2 words from the great poet John Lennon. If we unleash the power of love, we can imagine, and achieve, peace.

Please enjoy the following blog posts:

  1. Teressa started off this week’s responses with a capture in Another LQQk that is absolutely perfect for the theme; and it’s iconic!
  2. Diane strikes at the heart of love for many of us in her post in pensivity101; I’m confident that I’m not the only one who relates to the love that we feel for our furry family members!
  3. The contributions in Don’t Hold Your Breath are always amazing, and I really enjoyed the trip to Strawberry Fields; in this case, all was real!
  4. Kammie’s captures in her post in Nut House Central are fantastic, but it’s the last photo in this post that really caught my eye!
  5. Indira shares some of what she loves in her post in Sharing Thoughts, each of which thoughts has great meaning; lovely!
  6. I really love the entry in Geriatri’X’ Fotogallery, as the Beatles are even asking for some Help!
  7. Xenia shares the love of her whippets in a lovely post in Whippetwisdom, which is not at a loss for words! In a second post in Whippetwisdom, Eivor and Pearl are enjoying the snow as part of their playground!
  8. Another wonderful post comes to us from A Day in the Life, where some of the things she loves are shared; although I don’t think we get the iced latte!
  9. Sandy does share a feast for our eyes in her post in Out of my Write Mind, as we get to enjoy the love that unfolds in Nature.
  10. Teresa shares her love for the wonderful city of Prague in her post in My Camera & I, with a lovely look at love!
  11. Ken shares his love for serendipity in Pictures without Film, as timing and love find a way to the top in a fantastic photo!
  12. Nicole brings us the romance of young, star-crossed lovers in an amazing post in Une Photo, Un Poéme; the great photo and the story are all about love!
  13. Susan unleashed her creativity in bringing us love that’s in the air in her post in Musin’ with Susan; love the technique used for this great image! Also, go check out Susan’s week in review in Musin’ with Susan for more great photos and beware of the belly of the beast!
  14. Amy shares her process in creating really cool images transferred onto wood in her post in Photography Journal Blog; this kind of experimentation is what leads to great art and wonderful results, as we can see here.
  15. Debbie takes us toward a dreary day in St. Albans in her post in Travel with Intent; the treatment of the photo is simply stunning!
  16. There is much wisdom in the wonderful post in Sgeoil, as the lowly dandelions deserve our love!
  17. Cee brings us the song that gave us this week’s theme in her magnificent post in Cee’s Photo Challenges! And that Yellow Submarine is amazing!
  18. David takes us on a Beatles tour with his Blackbird-themed post in David M’s Photoblog, which shows us the great variety of these birds in beautiful photographs!
  19. Another wonderful post was shared in Our Other Blog: Two Sisters and Two Points of View; the yellow submarine popped into view right away with love, and the Tardis just made it complete for me!

Please let all these wonderful authors know how much you enjoy their blog posts!

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