New Web Site

General Thoughts

— New Web Site —

Diamond Beach Storm - Iceland No. 1

Now seems to be a good time to gravitate to a new (very similar) web site since I will begin posting images from my recent trip to Iceland, along with some commentary on the photography and lessons learned from the experience. To receive a notification when a new post is available, please sign up with your email. To see the initial post with the latest work, go to the new Home page and click on Blog|Post. You can access the new site by clicking HERE.

Day 18 – May 31, 2019 Friday – Heading Home

General Thoughts

Passenger Seat Chaos

Not much sleep last night because of all those stops for photography on the way back to the hotel. Didn’t get back until after midnight and starving. So I made the final instant Pasta Carbonara which was pretty tasty, but that put off the final packing a bit. Neatly stuffed everything back into the bags but never got to bed until 3:30am, but with a late afternoon flight, I could get up on my own, although I did set the alarm to be sure not to overstay the hotel. Dropped off the car and Lo and Behold! the two tunnels I was unable to pay for online way back when, were automatically added to the rental bill. Somebody was watching. The only thing of note while waiting to board my flight was that there was some filming of a movie, tv show or commercial, all being done without controlling any of the regular airport travelers that may be in the shot. It was a major production, with loads of equipment, actors, stylists, cameramen, a still photographer, director, etc! Other than that, no problems on the flights, except a little delay out on the tarmac both at Dulles and another delay in RDU as our gate was occupied. We were delayed more while on the plane than the actual flight time! But Dulles was a convoluted mess. Arriving a little after 7pm I figured there was plenty of time for the connecting flight at 10:15. Of course it took a while just to get off the plane, and then followed a course that herded us onto these weird bus-like people movers to another terminal where we went through a cue for Passport inspections.There were 50 inspector stations available but only about a half dozen were manned!! So that took forever. Then on to get your baggage, where I followed the transfer arrows to what looked like a giant empty hall where a lone employee stood behind a very long desk. I thought I was in the wrong place, but she assured me I was where I needed to be and my bags were checked onto the next flight. Followed the purple arrows this time through a maze where I stood on line, which seemed to never move, to go through security again. Then herded onto another of those people mover things to the terminal where my flight would depart. That debacle took two hours!! and it seemed the whole process had way more capacity than was being used when I went through. 

Traveling to Iceland for anyone interested in landscape photography, offers some pretty unique opportunities. But as in any location around the world, every landscape is best captured when all the elements come together at that singular moment when the shutter is released. During this trip, I felt blessed to experience some wonderful light (only one of the elements) twice; once when I was at a location of my choosing and ready for it, and another when it happened suddenly and briefly while on the road at a “less than iconic” location (another of the elements). There were many times when the light was good (?), and research put me in a location where my “luck” had a better chance of coming to fruition. Other times it’s just the recognition that what you’ve come across needs to be recorded in some way, as in last nights adventure while heading back to the hotel. But there is nothing like being on location that really helps in determining where the chances of success might lie; to put yourself at that spot in anticipation of the good light, or knowing where to go on short notice when things happen unexpectedly. It is difficult at times to accept the disappointment of not getting the shot you wanted, but much of the satisfaction that comes from photography is the enjoyment in the making of the photograph. What you come away with may not be that killer shot, but the experience of the attempt, in and of itself, is what drives all of us on to that next attempt.

Being “Homeless in Iceland” may not be everyones preferred method of photoadventure as it has been mine for many years. And I’m not quite sure if it will continue to be, as I felt this trip really wore me out. I don’t know if it’s the relentless march of time or the effect 24-hours of daylight had on never being able to stop searching for the next composition to put before the camera. Surely sleep deprivation played a role in it all, illustrated by the need from time to time to just pull off the road and crawl into the bedroom for a few hours of rest. But by the time the trip was nearing its end, I was ready for it to end, which was a new experience. I also experienced the frightening visage of myself in the mirror after a long day, and wondered if other travelers may have held onto their children a little more tightly after seeing me nearby. But I consoled myself saying that they just didn’t understand my homelessness.

Many thanks to those who chose to follow along through this journal and shared the experiences with me. I hope you weren’t bored and I hope it was somewhat coherent. Most times, the journal was written when I was exhausted, and often would wake up to find that my finger was resting on a letter that repeated across the page. Sometimes, it was difficult to remember what had occurred during these long days…some of which were several days in length. All in all, there was over 2700 miles of driving with diesel fuel (cheaper than regular fuel there) generally around 234Ikr per liter, or $1.89 at current exchange rates. Just to be a little exacting, there are 3.78541178 liters in a gallon, so it translates to about $7.15/gallon!! Needless to say, on this trip fuel was the greatest expense while in Iceland. Lodging was minimal, with one stay in a dormitory room at an International Hostel, and the final night at a hotel near the airport. Now it’s time to get adjusted to life not on the road in a foreign land, but I would like to leave a few photos I compiled along the way. They were signs of things that weren’t allowed that I found amusing. 

Bathroom – Self Explanatory


Bathroom Ethics

No Pooping / No Peeing

No Overnight Parking – Broke that One

No Drone Signs were Everywhere


Gas Station – Have a Nice Day




Day 17 – May 30, 2019 Thursday

General Thoughts

Hallgrimskyrkja, Reykjavic – jj raia

After sleeping in at Godafoss, had a breakfast bar and headed west along the Ring Road knowing full well at some point I would have to make the choice between searching for Haifoss that was missed during my initial pass through, or go all the way to Reykjavic and see a little of the city. The moment of truth came when I hit route 30 and pulled over to check some map things. The drive up to the falls would have to be doubled back on just to get to where I was currently, and it was not just a few minutes away, with a sketchy stretch of F-road involved. So I thought I would give nature a break, somehow find the famous cathedral and parking and hit one of the more famous tourist locations, a big departure from trying to avoid crowds. The cathedral wasn’t too difficult to find, and was lucky to find a parking spot just two blocks away; but the tough part was figuring out how to pay for the spot. It seems you have to use a particular machine for the specific area in which you park. Finally figured out the computer part of it, but still thought I was buying enough time to last until the next day!! I had read the hours for tourists begin at 9am, and by now it was a little past 10am, so I should be good to go. No entry fee, only if you want to take the elevator to the top for a view of the city. The only snafu was that it was closed to tourists until 12:15 because of a special holiday service. So back to the car and grabbed the tripod and wandered a while among the narrow streets in the vicinity until I figured I’d have a really early lunch. I thought that this meal should be my departure meal, so I had a local fish dish with vegetables and rice and as a finalizer, some French Chocolate Cake with cream and a strong cup of coffee to go with it to keep me awake through the remainder of the day. Then back up up the cathedral where there was no problem getting in, but the crowd needed to be dealt with. It seemed everyone was taking pictures and generally respecting their space, when I have the camera up to my eye, focusing on the ceiling, when from behind, this guy steps directly in front of me, so close that his backpack hits me in the chest, and proceeds to take a picture!! I said “Excuse me?” and the guy never even acknowledged me. So he walks up ahead and begins to point his camera up at the ceiling, and I did the exact same thing to him and didn’t even turn around to see if it mattered to him. That’s why I tend to stay away from crowds if at all possible. It may get me in trouble.

Hallgrimskyrkja Interior – jj raia


Afterward, I drove toward the Reykjanes area south of the airport just to have a look around before the light gets better much later in the day. It’s a vast area of ancient lava flows with almost nothing growing on the ground; a stark landscape of lava rock and black dust where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are drifting apart. There were two particular areas of interest though, the sea stacks and thermal areas. Found them both, eventually, and from the looks of things, the sea stacks looked to be a dud. But they did have a 6-foot tall statue of an auk (a bird) there. But it was a dud, not because of the stacks themselves, but due to a serious lack of drama. The skies were still cloudless, the tide was low, so minimal interaction of the ocean with the rocks, and the ocean itself was as calm as I’ve seen it…just nothing happening. 

Auk at Reykjanes – jj raia

Time to check into the hotel which was nearly impossible to find, and unload all the crap from the house (car) to begin the repack after I return from Reykjanes sunset. The sea stacks remained a bust with a second viewing, but the lighthouse with some flowering lupine was an unexpected bonus. 


But it was getting late and the only opportunity left was the thermal area. Just after I got there, a group shows up for a photo shoot that I believe was for the sunglasses the “models” were wearing. Boom, Boom, Boom, they were done and on their way. I just kept making photos of the steam rising in front of the setting sun, moving as the wind changed and just waiting for the right moment of steam wrapped around the sun to trip the shutter.

Reykjanes Thermal Area – jj raia

As the sun neared the horizon, I packed up and thought I’d drive slowly along the coast just in case I see something. One thing I did see was a small meadow of blooming lupine in front of a graveyard of white wooden crosses still lit by the setting sun. Found a spot to park, unpacked the camera and rattled off some shots in hope of combining one of the sky properly exposed and focused, and two others of the close lupine focused on and properly exposed. As I finished, the sun was done for the day, dropping below the horizon. Everything was packed up and continued the drive. As I looked out at the ocean, I was amazed to see that the ocean was much brighter than the sky!! It’s usually the other way around with the sky brighter than the ocean. I thought to record this anomaly, but there would be no subject, so what’s the point. Rounded a bend, and there was an ocean liner casually cruising along the coast!! Found a spot to park, broke out the gear again and clicked away trying to place the ship in a “notch” of the rocky coastline. Wow, that was great, two possibilities right in a row. Packed up the gear again and headed for the hotel. But then I saw what I believe to be Snaefellsjokul, the ice-capped volcano way out at the end of the Snaefellsness Peninsula which is a few hours drive away!! It shone light blue against the reddening (really peachening or coralizing) sky, still with the bright ocean. But, as an added bonus, the black shoreline had a solitary house silhouetted within which, you could actually see brightness in a few of its windows. Found a place to park, and unpacked the gear for a third time. These may be great additions to the bright pastel long distant telephoto shots I’ve been taking this whole trip. And usually I leave the camera on the tripod in the back of the SUV (in the bedroom) all ready to go on a moments notice. But, it being the end of the day with nothing else anticipated, I packed it all up each time, only to have to unpack it again a few moments later.

All in all, the end of the day was great…what a way to end the trip photographically!! And it truly was the end of the day as I turned into a pumpkin…