Day 16 – May 29, 2019 Wednesday

General Thoughts

Diamond Beach in the PreDawn – jj raia

So, continuing the story, after a call home (4-hours behind) and an unexpected short nap (passed out in the driver’s seat), the place had cleared out completely. I wanted to use this low light time between sunset and sunrise to take longer exposures of the waves receding around some of the ice on Diamond Beach. So I drove over the bridge, which connects the east and west sides of the ocean inlet to the lagoon, and onto the beach. It took a while to get all the warmth strapped on and diving into the waders, but I was ready to do battle. It took a pretty long walk on the beach to reach some ice of any consequential size, and the large blocks that I found were pretty much jumbled up. These, in the photo above, are piled up about 8 feet high, but no singular block set apart from the rest for an isolated subject. One good thing though, the sky was very cooperative, with clouds and a lighter area for interest. Once I got the correct exposure for the right combination of light and flow for the receding waves, scene focused and then put the lens into manual focus (because at critical times, the lens can begin hunting for focus with all the moving foam and smooth ice, and you may lose the shot), I needed to hand hold a soft grad over the hard grad that was on the lens with a holder, and trip the shutter at the right moment. All the while, being cognizant of the incoming waves as a big one can really sneak up on you. Several times some big waves came in, but there was no fear for loss of life, and the waders kept me dry, if not warm. But I wanted to keep the camera and lens out of harms way as well, so occasionally I grabbed the camera and sought higher ground. It’s the “Lose the battle, win the war” method of photography. If the waves were manageable, I stayed put. But the manageable waves also presented problems at times. The tripod would shift in the sand and it would need to be repositioned for level and direction. I tried to keep everything the same for each particular composition to be able to take the best of all the images taken of that particular composition…to get the best from each if necessary. I continued this process for many different compositions, until the sun began to shine too brightly behind the clouds, and my feet were beginning to be numb. There was one small glitch earlier. Before taking the initial shots of the sunrise light, I tried to spin the polarizer into a non-polarizing position with the adapter ring attached for rectangular graduated filter attachments, and having problems spinning it. Turns out it wasn’t the polarizer after all. The affect was tightening the adapter to the filter and now I couldn’t get the adapter ring off the UV filter. So now if I wanted to use the polarizer with the adapter ring for attaching the split ND’s, I couldn’t!!

Early Morning at Jokulsarlon – jj raia

So back to the lagoon side after the waders were taken off (not always an easy feat) and photo things put back in place. I boiled up some water for a final tasteless breakfast of porridge. By then, folks began to filter in and I took out the long lens to look for abstracts of the ice and reflections. Only thing was, the wind was still kicking up the water. But occasionally, patience was rewarded and the wind would calm down enough to get a decent reflection. 

It seems that a couple was having a personal “wedding” ceremony of sorts. She was wearing a short sleeve off white gown in the freezing cold! And it appeared they even recorded themselves during their ceremony.  It seems I’ve stumbled across quite a few weddings on these trips: 2016-Schwabcher’s Landing in Grand Teton; 2017-Yosemite @ Glacier Point and @ Mt. Tamalpais and 2019 @ Iceland’s Glacier Lagoon. Spent a lot of time doing the abstracts since this group was with the sun while the first, almost two weeks ago now, was during the interminable overcast. I packed up several times to head back to the car, only to spot another possible abstraction, or duck swimming around, and I’d set up again. When I did finally finish, I began driving toward Reynisfjara Beach but found early on that I needed a nap. The past two long overnights were taking a toll. So I pulled over and got about two hours sleep in the “bedroom” before continuing on. Reynisfjara was packed when I got there, but I managed to squeeze into a spot and have a relaxing lunch of turnip soup at the cafe there, and afterward, a chocolate muffin and coffee to keep me going. Then I backed up a few memory cards while there, but having to go back to the car for the electrical converter because the laptop battery was near death. I can’t imagine why since it’s been on charge whenever I’m driving and just had several hours of car charging. Actually, finding out things went to the laptop hard drive instead of the external…more complicated than my meager mind can even contemplate how to resolve. Working on it. Camera batteries have not had any problem recharging from the multi-charger, but for some reason, the laptop cannot. For the camera, when I’m finished for a while, I switch out the partially used one and charge it in the car while driving and replace it with the back-up. Almost always have two fully charged camera batteries without access to wall outlets ala McDonald’s.

Hoping the tide will go down some here at the beach to get a good shot of the sea stacks before heading to Skogafoss for the overnight. 

Reynisdranger – jj raia

The tide was low when I attempted to climb over some serious rocks to get a good view of the sea stacks, but the rocks where I placed the tripod were pretty slick, so it was like isometric exercise just balancing on the rock, fearful of even shifting my footing fearing falling off. I did manage to first get the proper exposure for the sky, and then the wave movement and rocks, but I knocked out several different images from the same spot so I could have a choice as to which to use into a final compilation.

After a quick dinner at Skogafoss, I headed over a short distance away to the parking lot for the wrecked DC-3 and totally decided not to hike the 4-miles round trip in the gathering gloom of dusk. I had the portable light at the ready, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. I must have pulled a muscle somewhere along the line as it hurts just to walk. I guess it was easier to take the safer course, but I wouldn’t have made made it to the plane in time for sunset, and wouldn’t wait around for sunrise. In the end, it was just too much work for too little photography; for me anyway.

Day 15 – May 28, 2019 Tuesday

General Thoughts

After spending the few hours after sunset in the parking lot, there seemed to be no change to the silhouette of Kirkjufell, basically another bald sky. So I decided to take a drive on Rt576, just east of town in the dim light of post sunset and predawn. Not much there, but did find a pretty big field of lupine in bloom, but without any place to pull off the road or anything else of interest, didn’t do snything. So back to Kirkjufell and another meager attempt to get something. I’m beginning to feel that I have been shut out of every “major” photo subject that was plotted out. No colorful clouds behind the mountain, no matter how you look at it. But as they say, turn around, and sure enough, although no color, there were some interesting cloud formations above the still snow capped peaks. So I swung around to the other side of the falls (kirkjufellsfoss) and shot that way; and a little further down where there were some reflections in the stream, I shot away from Kirkjufell. So I felt a little better after that.

Wild World at Berserkjahraun – jj raia

Then it was time to head to the intersection of routes 54/56 and check out Berserkjahraum. It’s a crazy area of a lava field with a dirt road running through it. With an overcast sky, there wasn’t much happening, until I found some blooming lupine on the side of a small hill. Luckily wind were calm and I was able to easily get a shot in. But by then ai wa feeling pretty tired, so I drove out and crawled in the back for almost three hours of sleep. Turns out the spot I chose was a bus stop! Anyway, afterward Headed to see the bLack Church of Budir, with the original built in the late 1600’s. Chacked out the beach beside it and the wind was ferocious. But ai found a spot against a rock that was out of the wind and just sat in the sand facing the sun, and next thing I knew I was waking up. But it was relaxing. But it was time to make the major decision of the trip: what to do with the few remaining days? Decided to kick the can own the road and decide something as I drove toward Reykjavik.


Black Church at Budir – jj raia

When I reached the largest N1 gas station/rest area, the idea occurred to me to bite the bullet and drive all the way to the glacier bay and diamond beach and see what I had missed in the continuing rain at the beginning of the trip. After all, everything I would see today would be new having been blotted out by clouds, rain, and mist. The hope was to reach them before sunset at about 11:30pm, but it would be dicey thinking of time and distances quickly in my head without wasting time searching through any of the notes. 

Lava Beach at Budir – jj raia

So off I went, viewing for the first time all the wonders I had missed, and even seeing them in great afternoon light. It wasn’t all without a glitch though; when I reached Skogafoss, it began to rain!! I was beginning to think I was cursed. But there was a besutiful full rainbow, and as I drove further, it cleared and it was half and half sun/clouds thereafter. It was tempting to stop and take a few shots along the way, but it was more important to get there in time if I could. It was about a six hour drive and I kept feeling I would be late. But, happy, happy, joy, joy…I got there just as the light was changing on the clouds above. Only bad thing was it was pretty cold and windy, so not many reflections could be had. I did find a few small spots along the shoreline, and by getting low, not much of the rougher water was visible. Had to use a higher ISO to “freeze” the ice because the wind caused them to move around a bit in the water. But by the end of the good light, I felt I had finally, after two weeks, gotten a decent shot with good lighting. It was very satisfying and I retreated to the car for a warm-up and noticed it was just a few minutes past midnight. So the rest of the story will have to go in the next post.

Glacier Lagoon at Midnight Sunset – jj raia



Day 14 – May 27, 2019 Monday

General Thoughts

Skardisvik Beach – jj raia

The alarm went off as scheduled at 3am, just a couple of hours after I went to sleep. The dorm window at the Hostel looks out on Kirkjufell and I could see the mountain surrounded by blank sky. So just as any photographer would do, I went back to bed for another 4-hrs sleep, which is something I needed. Got a really late start after breakfast and talking to a Canadian mother/daughter team traveling together, and a stop at the N1 in Olafsvik for a hotdog and a cup of coffee, before really heading out and circling the peninsula. Since it’s not that big, before long, I saw the turnoff for Skardsvik Beach and found the water there to be almost Caribbean turquoise! It seemed like a popular spot because the little parking are was nearly full. I spent quite a while there wandering around, especially off to the left where the rocks faced away from the sun. I was setting up a shot when this guy wanders by in front of me leaving a set of tracks in the sand. There was no place further to walk on the beach, so he turns around and leaves another set of tracks! I used the 10-stop ND to blur the water, but I think that 30-seconds was too long. Tried a few without the ND to drag out the surf, and found myself scurrying to get away from a singular, larger wave that managed to get both boots a little wet. Stopped at Dritvik Beach, with it’s slate-like rocks and lava stacks, and views that reminded me of the Big Sur Coast; Saxholl crater with a stairway to the top, but bad lighting and not much in the way of foreground. 


Londranger viewpoint, kind of an iconic shot but at this time of year, the shot looks straight toward the sun, and finally Anarstapi, the built up area around the famous arch which has “fencing” so you don’t go down on the rocks and water…so the shot is not as good looking down, but you’re not looking through the holes to sunrise at this time of year. Then over partly paved Rt56 toward Grundafjordur and Kirkjufell for a very late dinner. While I was eating my Ramen, I noticed on the other side of the road that some grasses were being lit by the sun and wandered over to see if they lined up right. Turns out they did, so I grabbed my camera and clicked off what I needed just before the shadow crept over the grasses. With another bald sky, and ripples on the lake precluding any simple reflection shot, I decided to head to last night’s spot and see if anything new would magically appear as they did yesterday. But before I get my tripod set up, a car pulls up and a local woman says, I couldn’t park there, it was “her place”. So off I went to the high overlook I stopped at on the way back and was very unsuccessful there as well.

Banished to this Overlook


I seemed to have spent the entire day trying to make something from nothing; trying to make a so-so scene better than it was, and had just an overall poor and lackluster bit of output today. So I’m sitting in the parking lot, contemplating my next move while watching the mountain. A small band of clouds are camped along the horizon from where I sit, and only if they somehow make their way higher behind Kirkjufell, the sunrise will be a bust as well.

Day 13 – May 26, 2019 Sunday

General Thoughts

Hvitserkur Monolith – jj raia


The drive after last night’s sunset was not an easy one, although it was still light out. Easier because when it’s dark, you’re tired and driving, it’s easy to fall asleep at the wheel, but still not something I would want to do on a regular basis. The plan was to leave one and drive the almost two-hours to get to Hvitserkur well before dawn. The plan worked well, but it would have been a bit easier if the wind up on the promentory above it weren’t howling. It made putting the extra layer of down vest and waders that much more difficult. After the “donning of equiptment” (I felt like some kind of gladiator going out to battle), I was the only one on the beach, but before I scrambled down, I did some shots of the pastel sunrise colors on the mountains on the other side of the sound, just as I did after sunset earlier. I was using the telephoto pretty much zoomed out all the way, so an iPhone recording didn’t happen.

Turns out I really didn’t need the waders as the waves were pretty subdued and lining up the waters edge didn’t necessitate getting in the water. Not much was happening in the sky either, so the images are mostly a silhouette of the 45-foot tall monolith. I did take a wind pattern of the sand, but really didn’t like it much since it had no other element that could be called a focal point. Just as I was getting ready to climb the trail back up to the car, a sealion popped his head up and when I looked at him, he immediately dove back in the water. Then about a dozen of them popped up, and all looking directly at me when their head broke the surface!! This kept happening for a while, but they would always surface already looking at me. It was weird for sure. When I got up top again, I did a few more pastel shots of the highlands across the sound and also saw that there was a huge black sand beach with clump dunes like near the Vestrahorn not far away, but it may be difficult to reach them with something other than a very long hike.

Fabulous N1 Rest Stop/Gas Station

Fabulous N1 Rest Stop/Gas Station

Driving back toward Rt1 on the 20km dirt road, I stopped once and took a quick nap along the road in the driver’s seat, but woke with a real pain in the neck; something I’ve been called from time to time. Drove a little further and stopped again, but this time, crawled in the back into the sleeping bag for about 90-minutes. Still felt groggy, and came to the most fabulous gas station I’ve ever seen. It had facilities to handle busloads of tourists, of which I saw two that stopped there unloading everyone to go inside and do whatever for breakfast.


Kirkjufell and Reflection – jj raia


Spent a while there having some free coffee and another danish for breakfast. The coffee is good, and I figured a cup may just get me out of this sleep deprived mode, in fact two might even be better!! Turned out two wired me up pretty good.

Seems like all I’ve driven on lately are dirt roads, 44km (88km r/t) to Aldeyjarfoss yesterday and last night about 36km (72 r/t) and this morning another 21km (42km r/t). Then again on Rt54 that I thought was paved, but I believe I drove about 90km on dirt finally arriving at Grundifjordor, home of the famous pyramid shaped mountain: Kirkjufel. Ended up checking into a dorm room at the Hostel there to get a shower and some sort of real life, and had dinner (pasta primevera camp food) after a call home. Then started scouting locations for sunset in about 5 hours and sunrise about 4-1/2 hours later. I was hoping for some clouds to surround the mountain, but so far (6pm), every cloud has disappeared!! I suppose it’s better than rain. So the long drive from Myvatn to here is over, broken up by the sunset/rise overnight. Most locations here on the Snaefelsness Penninsula are fairly close, so no more anticipated long distance drives.


My Personal Hostel Room


Took a quick nap before heading out the the falls again with the expected throng. And they were there in full forcr, but I still felt uninspired. I did take some shots, but will have to be blended afterward. But I left there early as others were still at it, and I drove just a bit further west, and found a spot to make some more minimalist shots of the sunset colors and short mountain/headlands across the way. 

It was satisfying to finally get something today. I can’t believe I’m saying this after all the rain and cloudy days here, but I sure wish we had some clouds tonight. When ai got back to the hostel, turns out no one else checked into the dorm room but me, so I had it all to myself.

Kirjufellsfoss – jj raia

Had to include one shot with the waterfalls.




Day 12 – May 25, 2019 Saturday

General Thoughts

Mud Pots at Dawn – Hverir – jj raia

Those three hours since last night’s sunset shoot went by in a flash, and after looking out the car window, all I saw were clouds, although the mottled kind. It took a while to convince myself to follow through on the plan to shoot Hverir’s mud pots with a sunrise, but when I walked across the parking lot to brush my teeth, there was the faintest blush of color through the clouds. So I hurried over there, only a few minutes over the pass, and the clouds actually started to get some directional color; nothing spectacular, but very similar to the interesting clouds from last night’s sunset with the horses. I think I got some pretty good verticals that may need merging for dynamic range issues even using a ND grad. The blue mud pot that lined up well had some good texture around it as well. But once the good light was done, it was back to the campground for another few hours of sleep.

Aldeyjarfoss – jj raia

While I was sleeping, amazingly the skies had pretty much cleared, and my thoughts of visiting Aldeyjarfoss with clouds vanished. But I decided to drive the 44km up the dirt road from Godafoss anyway. I did stop at Godafoss again, and found a way over to the western side which was being renovated and technically “closed”. I’m not sure which side is better, but a cloudy day or dusk is preferable to clear skies. And those were the conditions at Aldeyjarfoss. When I finally arrived, I found a WC with both doors off, and two old pit toilets in a very tight teepee shape. It was almost claustrophobic. Turns out, there was only one guy from Canada photographing there, and he was all over the place, not staying right by the falls. While hiking the short way down to the falls from the parking area, I immediately saw some basalt dikes inside an undercut alcove that were in shade but lit by reflected light from the rocks below. They had a good design and that was my first shot instead of the falls. But I did take the falls shot from the specific rock that everyone does and it is a bit scary since it is a straight drop and it was a bit windy. But with the sun at my back, the only good thing from the flat lighting was a rainbow from the mist. Very difficult to photograph a waterfall in complete sun, but I made many exposures just for the texture in the bright water, and several others for the rocks surrounding it. Did some other abstracts of the basalt columns and the swirled rock in the layer above the columns as well as looking straight down on the turquoise water.

Old Pit Toilet at Aldeyjarfoss

But it was getting late, and I had a long drive ahead to get to the basalt colums at Kalfshamarsvik Lighthouse. On the way, right outside Akureyri, I drove through a 7km long tunnel that said it was a toll road, but there were no toll booths. On the other side, I had to pull into a rest area and take a short nap and found the first blooming wild lupine!! Across the bridge was an N1 gas station and got a hotdog and while eating it there was a small sign saying you had to pay the toll on line within 3 hours at Well, that didn’t work at all, so back on the road with a cup of coffee to stay alert. after driving through some pretty beutiful glacially carved valleys, I drove up the 20km mostly dirt road (got lost for a short while) which was mostly bare headlands, farms, sheep and horses, but with views across the ocean to the other penninsula. Almost no clouds except for some along the horizon, and made the turnoff to the lighthouse. Hiked the final km or so and luckily it was low tide and found all the hexagonal columns, but very difficult to find a good composition with the lighthouse sidelit. Tried some on both sides and at one point, two women appeared, one from Iceland and the other from Italy. And then they disappeared, I guess back to their car, escaping the cold wind that made it difficult to walk on the rocks.

Driving out afterward on the turnoff road to the lighthouse, I followed some horses that were galloping along the road, kicking at each other and just playing. Then I stopped along the main dirt road to take a pastel dusk shot across the water, braving some pretty ferocious winds. I had to use a higher ISO for a higher shutter speed to keep things sharp, because some were blurred by tripod movement from the wind.



Lighthouse at Kalfshamarsvik

There was a decent sunset picture to be had when I got back to the car, so I took a quickie with the iPhone.

Sunset at Kalfshamarsvik – jj raia

Then the drive on to Hvitserkur Arch in time for the sunrise!! Still homeless and still sleep deprived.

Day 11 – May 24, 2019 Friday

General Thoughts

Blue Pool at Leirhnjukur – jj raia

Decided to sleep in this morning since all indications were for anothr cloudy day tomorrow although there was no forcast for any significant rain. Rolled out of th car around 7:30 and stopped for a short while at Hverir again to check it out for sunrise lineups with the blue mud pots and found that there might be some alignment, so will probably give that a shot tomorrow. Then headed the short way up toward the Krafla Power Plant to Leirhnjukur where there is a small turquois pond with steam vents along with some major lava flows. It was an interesting morning, but not too productive. Had a tough time staying on the trail through the lava field and more than ince though I had lost my way. But made it back to the car pretty pooped and had lunch overlooking the power plant. On the road out, I stopped at the oddity I saw on the way in: a running shower seemingly for anyone to use. I had to check out the water, and sure enough, it was warm. 

Shower for Anyone


Not too much afterward other than checking into the campground again. But I did give myself a treat. I bought some sort of pastry made with very thin (phylo?) dough with some fruit inside along with a really good hot chocolate. Maybe it was the fact that up until now, I’ve been eating a pretty lame diet of Ramen, tuna, crackers and Camp food, other than the usual snacks of chips, cookies and trail mix. 

Godafoss – jj raia


Since it was cloudy, I decided to head out to Godafoss, just about 40 minutes away and found it to be another awesome waterfall. There is access to either side, but the western side is closed either to updating or repairs, and that seems to be the better view although I may revisit it tomorrow on the way to Aldeyjarfoss, down the gravel road about 44km. Instead of the main falls, I narrowed to a singular falls off to the side that dropped into the blue waters. Lots of folks there and saw one photographer get pretty frustrated as a half dozen folks wandered into his shot and didn’t leave for about 20-minutes. It was then back to Myvatn for the sunset location search again, and again nothing materialized. So again I went to the same spot as last night, but tonight the clouds were much more illuminated. And, as an added bonus, two grazing horses made their way into the view. They are small in photos because I wanted as much sky as possible. One actually was white and showed much better, but sometimes they were silhouettes against the lake, while other times they were among the grasses. But the light seemed to get better and better, and I kept moving to try to keep them in the frame and at the best angle to be seen. I actually whistled as loud as I could and the white one actually stopped grazing and looked toward me for a few seconds. I was having some issues with focusing the kens, and had to resort to manual quite a few times. I even tried making sure that at least one horse was in a good position, and then the other so two images might be merged later.

All in all, another good ending to the day from the same vantage point, but different as well. It ended with another intentionally blurres shot, but this time with a jagged, blurred line in the sky instead of a singular circle. Now for about 3-hours sleep before the alarm goes off at 3am!!

Day 10 May 23, 2019 Thursday

General Thoughts

Huge Waterfall Dettifoss – jj raia

Getting a little overwhelmed with so many opportunities here at Lake Myvatn (Mee-vat) along with trying to do some scouting and exploring. The drive here yesterday was highlighted with a trip on the west side of Dettifoss and Selfoss, both very near each other and accessible from the main area by the paved road 862 while the east side is accessed on the unpaved 864. The crowds were large and the spray was a problem at times, but Dettifoss and Selfoss are both huge waterfalls on the order of Gullfoss earlier in the trip. Even though I didn’t get anything with the falls, I did take an interesting reflection shot of some rocks and a small pool of water. Luckily, there has been very little wind since the first few days, so that shot would have been impossible without the flat water. After the falls, drove to Lake Myvatn and found that the campsite I thought I would stay at was closed, and the backup Hlid, proved difficult to find until much later at almost 9pm. In the interim, I did visit Dimmuborgir, a neat area of paths through lava formations with plenty of silver(?) birches that were just beginning to show small leaves, so there were plenty of opportunities to wander several different paths. I found the “lonely tree” on a tiny island but it needed better lighting or fog for a better photo. Took a look at Grjotagja, a small cave that I thought about lighting at night, but may not work, so the experience is the main thing there even though it has water on the bottom.

Hverir – jj raia


Then, late in the day I visited Hverir, the thermal area with mudpots and fumeroles, completely different from the lava landscapes. The steam vents were oretty impressive, but the mud pots were strikingly and unexpectedly blue!! Contrasted with the warm yellows, tans and oranges that surrounded them, made for a good color palette and there were lots of abstract possibilities throughout the area. 

Mudpot Runnoff – Hverir  jj raia

There was one fumerole I photographed that shoots out steam continuously. There was a nice sky, that held promise for sunset, and I wanted to get the both into one shot. There had been no one near there earlier, and after some abstracts, I went over and before I knew it, people were huddled around taking cell phone shots and another tripod photogrpher gravitated there! A tripod seems to attract a crowd.

Fumerole – Hverir –  jj raia

I felt happy with the abstracts, and I left seeking a place where the, hopefully brilliant, sunset would reflect on the lake. With almost no places to pull off the road or park, it turned out to be very difficult. I finally settled on a spot only because there was enough space for the car to fit on the road from a side road. According to the time, the sun should be setting in just a few minutes, so there really was no more time to search. But of course, there were clouds along the horizon, as usual, and only a small peaking of red showed through and reflected in only a small spot in the lake. It looked OK, but not as good as I’d hoped. So Plan B was instituted. With the lens all the way out to 300mm, I set the aperture wide open and set it to manual focus. I then de-focused so the small bright pink area now became a very large circle and the near shoreline with a tree (which actually wasn’t very near) was totally blurred. Turned out I liked that much more than the in focus versions, but we’ll have to see after Lightroom has worked on it. I couldn’t take the same shot with the iphone, so we’ll have to wait to see if Plan B saved the day.


Day 9 – May 22, 2019 Wednesday

General Thoughts


Eystrahorn in Rare Sunlight – jj Raia

Day 9 – May 22, 2019 Wednesday

Disaster was averted today but not by any of my doing, although my doing was what the disaster could have been. Got up to the same gray, different day and thought I’d head down to the beach and see what I could find although I knew I wouldn’t find the  Vestrahorn. Nothing doing down at the beach so I returned and gathered my gear for the short hike to the old movie set nearby and see what it was like. It was actually pretty neat, all old wood made into a small hamlet surrounded by a “wall” with differing buildings and each with different door styles. Some had been carved and it was all just really neat. There was even a small herd of horses wandering around and a few roosters crowing. I took some pictures of the doors and was about finished when, for some odd reason, I decided to check for my car keys. I could not find them!! I went through every pocket twice and I didn’t have them on me!! So I retraced my steps all around the movie set and still didn’t find them. Panic was starting to set in and I was so concentrated on searching the ground, I didn’t notice that the horses had come into the village, but they didn’t bother me. So I began to return to the car on the dirt road and searched as I walked and still nothing!! As I crested the hill and could finally see the car, I noticed the mirrors were still out when usually after it’s locked they fold in. So at least it was still unlocked, a good sign; and after opening the hatch, there they were, right where I had left them…What a relief.

The rest of the morning was spent procrastinating in making the decision to stay and hope that the clouds cleared around the Vesterhorn, or continue on my journey. Went back down to the beach and found a few things to shoot, but also found some big dunes on the right (looking at the ocean)side of the road that seem less trampled, but you cannot see the ocean from that side. Well, I didn’t make a decision until 2pm, and even then, stopped a few times to take pictures even before I got back to the highway. It seems at low tide, there are several interesting impressions in the sand from the streams that cascade down from the mountain. And that is where I stopped. Everything was gray: mud and sky, so they may end up as B+W and I’m hoping they may blend in with some others I’ve taken so far on the trip. Finally got on Rte1 and headed to the Eystrahorn and see if the clouds had parted. Well it looked promising with some actual sunshine and I managed to wait it out to get some sunlight on a foreground with the Eystrahorn partly visible but with some clouds along the peaks instead of as it was yesterday almost to ground level. I was just relaxing on a chair shaped rock, soaking in the sunshine, when I heard someone approach. It turned out he was from Boston and leading a bird-photography workshop…and here came all the otI’m hanging out in the hang out room feeling a bit out of place as the geriatric outcast. Everyone here seems to be in their twenties. There are only two small table and some chairs, and one guy has all his electronics spread out over the entire table. He even has a power strip!!  Managed my second shower which is good news. Bad news is it’s cloudy and it sprinkled while I was in taking a shower. I thought I outran the clouds. They’re following me.hers. From solitude to a deluge of people clambering all over the rocks. He did tell me that one of the birds in the water was an Eider Duck, but I was out of there pretty quick. 


Jumbled Rock at Berufjordur – jj raia

I’m hanging out in the hang out room feeling a bit out of place as the geriatric outcast. Everyone here seems to be in their twenties. There are only two small table and some chairs, and one guy has all his electronics spread out over the entire table. He even has a power strip!!  Managed my second shower which is good news. Bad news is it’s cloudy and it sprinkled while I was in taking a shower. I thought I outran the clouds. They’re following me.

Day Five – May 18, 2019 Saturday

General Thoughts

Day 5 – May 18, 2019 Saturday

Seljandsfoss from Behind – jj raia


Well, it seems the rain has held off, so I drove from the Skogafoss campground (really just the parking lot) to Sjelandsfoss to attempt the plan to photograph Gljufrabui, the hidden waterfall that seems too cool to be real. I did everything I can to make it happen: I brought waders since you had to walk in the stream; I brought a perfect plastic bag to cover the camera to protect it from the huge amount spray since you just about stand under it like a shower; even brought rubber bands to secure the plastic bag. Got all geared up and headed over to the falls and trudged through the stream and entered the hidden recesses of this notch canyon and discovered this thin veiled waterfall coming down in its close confines. Within seconds, I was drenched and decided to just enjoy the experience and not to risk the camera also getting drenched to make sure it remains viable for the remainder of the trip. It was a big disappointment because it was so unusual and beautiful, but I was thrilled just to have experiened being there. But, water and electronics do not play well together, so the moment was memorialized with an iPhone. After returning to the car to dry things out, I discovered that the super waterproof and insulated technical pants I bought earlier for this trip, were not waterproof after all, since I could feel the moisture on my legs. Since I was already wet, I figured I would take the walk behind Seljalandsfoss which was pretty neat, and guaranteed to get you just as wet as Gljufrabui. But I decided to tuck the backup camera (my son Brian’s, which he so graciously agreed to lend me for the trip) under my parka, and if the situation allowed, I could use it to take some pictures even though I can’t really hand-hold any longer. Well it worked out, and I even attempted a vertical panorama with some momentary blue sky!! Looks like I finished up in the nick of time as the first tourist bus pulled up with the normal outpouring of folks taking photos of one another. Not in front of the beautiful falls though. Just the usual primping for each and every person taking a photo of every single other person…it was truly comedic. But the best was yet to come later this afternoon.

Rare Fleeting Sunlight – jj raia

Driving toward Vik and the sea stacks at Reynisfjara Beach, the day turned gloomy with very low hanging clouds covering the tops of any peaks. Along with the gloom, was heavy rain…all afternoon. So much so, when I got there, I took a nap and had lunch at the cafe there. After a long lunch, still no let up, so I drive around the mountain to Vik to check it out and get some gas at the N1 there. while it was still raining, I noticed a weathered “barn” with a half-open dutch door and thought what a great picture that would make if there were a horse inside the door. And then I noticed a white horse in the door!! I was leary about walking over there (maybe private property) but ventured out in the rain with the backup under the coat again, leaned against a pole and rattled off loads of shots of the horse, hoping one would come out sharp enough. Sometimes it was like the horse was posing, but it was always moving, so it could be tough to pick one out that is sharp enough. It was pretty neat to see something like that come together.

Headed back to the Beach and sat until the rain let up a bit, and then walked the entire black sand beach to the end taking pictures still with the backup until it seemed the rain let up, and watching the throng of tourists taking pictures of other tourists on the small steps of the basalt columns or rocks. There was even a photoshoot going on with a woman in a very long dress and a man who was either the groom, or the engaged; and I took as many photos of them as the photographer. It did make for a nice shot of the couple though, and I hope I got one decent one as well. Then it was back to the car and took out my camera with tripod to take some shots of the beach and other things, as well as some design shots of the various shapes in the columns. Those are the ones I’m most happy with and hope they process well. I used a polarizer on those since all the rocks were wet from all the rain, and making slight adjustments to the polarizer made quite a difference in the appearance even though there was no change in exposure settings. It almost looked like the direction of the light changed. As I was leaving the beach back to the car, it dawned on me that if there is still time when I get back, these stone shots may work as a grouping for Seeing in Sixes. They are almost black and white, but with a suble hint of color which can be switched to B+W. It seemed that if you looked long enough at the huge wall of broken columns, subtle groupings began to emerge and I walked its length several times, always discovering new ones. Then again, looking for verticals, and again for ratios of 2:3 rather than my preference of 5:4. 

When I finished, I headed to Vic and actually bought dinner at the N1 Station and then after a while of hanging out there, headed back to Reynisfjara Beach to maybe end the day with some unexpected flash of color toward sunset; and it actually showed a glimmer, but totally fizzled in the end. So I hung out in the parking lot writing and watching as slowly all the cars left but one. I pulled down toward the bathroom so I would have a shorter distance to return to the car in the unrelenting wind, and as I spun around to go in, this girl mysteriously appeared!!! I figured she must have come from the last car in the lot, but since I never saw anyone either come or go from it the entire time I was there, it was a shocker. Turns out she said her battery was dead!!! I couldn’t believe she waited until every other car had gone before asking me for jumper cables. After failed attempts to start the car, including “popping the clutch”, I said I would go into Vik and either get help at the N1 or Police. Luckily, I happened to see a patrol car in town, flagged him down and told him the situation, and he ended up going there with a portable battery jumper and started it up. A happy ending to what could have been a very long night. 

So now I’m back in Vik again at 1am, and wouldn’t you know it, driving back it started sprinkling again!!


Day 8 – May 21, 2019 Tuesday

General Thoughts

Day 8 – May 21, 2019 Tuesday


Icebergs from the Car

The hours from late in the day yesterday, through the wee hours of today, have been nothing but exasperating. The heavy rains continued as midnight approached, and I was still holding out hope to photograph the beached glacial ice using a flashlight to illuminate them in the dim “blue hour” of the overnight. But the rain would not let up. As I waited in the car on Diamond Beach along with three other cars, I cut an opening in a plastic bag to fit over my 17-35mm lens as well as the camera itself. I wanted to be ready for the let up when it came. Once, I thought the let up had finally arrived, but when I reached for the door handle to venture out into the “light” rain, the heavy rain started anew. I continued to wait patiently, but exhaustion finally won out and I fell asleep in the driver’s seat for about a half an hour. It was near 1am, and I finally gave in, took off my boots, and somehow contorted myself into the back of the car and into the sleeping bag. Sleep came hard and fast and waking around 4:30am, it seemed the rain had slowed a bit; but nothing would happen until I drove across the bridge to the lagoon side and used the bathroom there. With that out of the way, I could concentrate on getting the umbrella holder attached to one leg of the tripod and double wrap the camera in plastic. Got the waders on along with my hoodie, parka and gloves, and ventured out into the rain. 

I suppose I could have just let the conditions block any determination to get some photography in, but I just did not want to give up or give in. I wanted some photographs of which I could be proud that illustrated my willingness to do whatever it takes to at least try to get a great shot. I don’t believe that the troubles you overcome to get a shot should have any bearing on it’s value; the photograph should stand on it’s own merits regardless of how challenging or easy it was to record. So I went out and saw the black sand setting off the most crystal clear ice I have ever laid eyes on, hundreds if not every bit over a thousand years old!! I saw smaller chunks lying on the sand while others were pushed around by the waves. The bigger pieces still had their ice blue coloration amid the black and white surroundings. 


Diamond on the Black Sand – jj raia

I was out there nearly two hours trying to get exposures accurate while utilizing the correct shutter speeds to drag the flows of the surf into silky forms; trying to get the timing and positioning right so the flow lines added to the composition; searching for “specimen” ice for interest. It certainly was challenging, but I hope I came away with a few worthy images. I guess I presented somewhat of a “sight” for the others who joined in later when the rain diminished down to a serious drizzle, because I caught them photographing me on more than one occasion. But I could stand in the frigid water while they ran away from it; I could set up a shot using a tripod to make several attempts using a single ice subject in the waves, while they hand held and did the “gun and run”; and I knew my gear was protected from the water, not worrying about the rain getting into the electronics somehow and shutting down the camera.

I ate a protein bar while I contemplated my next challenge on the lagoon side. When I went there, there were no other cars. I brought out the same gear except for the waders, and shot underneath the umbrella for several hours, attempting to make abstracts from the colorful bergs floating before me. Most bergs seemed stationary, but many a composition was ruined by a large piece drifting into the frame. But that created new compositions, and simply walking along the shore changed angles and produced still more. Eventually, my solitude was broken by the throngs of tourists and tourist busses that began to arrive for the initial boat excursions out into the foggy lagoon. I suppose it would be neat to get close to the glacier itself, since I’ve seen photos which include it, but the foggy mist kept it hidden from view.

It was difficult to tear myself away from the place where I had spent the last six hours photographing, but the disrespectful antics of the majority of tourists made my exit a bit easier. It really turns my stomach to observe the self-absorption where the person is the major subject of a photo, while the awesome beauty is relegated to a subservient afterthought. 


The bluest Blue Ice – jj raia


Enough pontificating though. Drove to Hofn where I resupplied for what will most likely be for the remainder of the trip, and then onto Stokksnes, the location of the iconic Vestrahorn!! But despite the positive outlook of the local woman who took my money for admission to this area of private land, it’s grandeur lay as hidden behind the very low clouds as did the glacier earlier in the day. The same was true of the Eystrahorn, 1/2-hour further along Rte1. Two huge disappointments. If there is a prediction of sun on Thursday, I would stay until then just to view their majesty in person. I waited patiently out among the dunes having dinner and writing this, hoping the clouds would magically disappear, but until 11pm, they were having none of that. So, I’ll drive back toward the entrance gate where the camping area (parking lot) is, and hope something will happen overnight. I would love to see these two mountains.

Eystrahorn – jj raia