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Iceland continues....A photojournal of my last 3 days in Iceland

Updated: Apr 25

To read about the first three days click here


Day 4 - An early morning start put us on the road towards the #Eyjafjallajokull #Volcano. The Volcano erupted in 2010, resulting in six days of air travel disruption to and from Europe from North America. This bucolic scene belies the potential violence that bubbles beneath the surface. Serene? A false sense of security? Or a snapshot of temporal existence?

Next Stop - #Skogafoss (filming location for Jon and Daenerys dragon ride, season 8, episode 1, game of thrones). Sometimes it is a movie, or a series that depicts a place with such magnificence and grandeur that the desire to visit becomes overwhelming.




As the sun hits water cascading down from Skogafoss Falls in a particular way, one can capture a #rainbow.


There are certain things, waterfalls, for the power they display, and rainbows, because they give the hope of an even better tomorrow, that almost demand to be photographed. The two together I find irresistible. In this image, the diagonal lines seem to converge with the vibrant rainbow on the left and the white cascading water on the right. Maybe you'll have to dump the water from that pot of gold.


Skogafoss flows from the cliffs of the former southern coastline and is one of the biggest #waterfalls in Iceland, with a drop of 62 meters (over 203 ft) and a width of 25 meters (approximately 82 ft)


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Moving East - next stop #Dyrhólaey, formerly known as Cape Portland, the southernmost point in mainland Iceland


After many switchbacks up this very steep hill, we made it to this beautiful lookout point. Note that you can’t get here with a big tour bus.

Dyrhólaey is the southernmost point in mainland Iceland. It was formerly an island of volcanic origin, and is also known by the Icelandic word eyja meaning, of all things, "island".

The rich colors of Iceland play into that instinctive human tendency to make order out of random natural events. Here one might see the white hot edges of a flaming arrow pointing Vikings toward the sea. Or not.


#Lighthouses, why do we like them so, why are they included in our photo albums? Why do we seek them out? What is it about them that makes them so special? Is it the way they pierce the sky? Is it the safety they afford to passing ships? Maybe they just remind us of building sand castles and the innocence of youth.


While we didn’t see much when we went bird watching we did catch some Northern Fulmar nesting on a cliff in Dyrhólaey.


Our next stop was the famous Reynisfjara Beach, one of the most dangerous beaches where “sneaker waves” have been known to knock down tourists and take them off to sea. Reynisfjara Beach was the filming location of Eastwatch by the Sea, Game of Thrones, where the wall across the north of Westeros ends.

Basalt columns surround the shoreline and dramatic sea stacks rise from the ocean. These stacks are known as #Reynisdrangar, which according to folklore are trolls that were turned into stone.


On to Vik…were we stopped to see a church and to have lunch.

I often look for corners when photographing objects and found one I loved. The corner of the fence, while off the center axis, brought my eye to this beautiful little church while making me wonder what else is in the foreground.



After many days devoted to a persistent pursuit of Puffins to photo, we finally found a giant fiberglass one. Maybe on our next trip we will pay closer attention to their migratory season...If you want to see real Puffins, consider boarding a boat in Landryjahfn. Unfortunately, April was not the time of year to do that. A summer excursion, between mid-May and mid September is the best time to go.


Next to Seljalandsfoss, Southern Region, Iceland


The Seljalandfoss Waterfalls has a 60 (197 ft)meter drop and is part of the Seljalands River with an origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajokull.


If you hit this waterfall with the sun behind you, you’ll see the breathtaking image of these forceful falls and beautiful rainbows.






We went to Grotta Lighthouse to see the Northern Lights

As previously mentioned, early April is a nice time to visit Iceland. Among other reasons, it is not brutally cold, the days are adequately long with enough night for sleep, and the Northern lights are still visible. During our short stay, there were two nights where the Northern lights made themselves available. #NorthernLights There are a number of web sites that provide information as to where and when these might be viewed on the island. To see the Northern lights we took a short drive to the Grotta lighthouse, and waited in our car until we saw the hazy green stripes in the sky. Yes, it was that cold but not officially "brutal". You can venture further out into the countryside but as these sightings are not perfectly predictable, the lighthouse area is sufficiently far from the light pollution of Reykjavik to allow satisfactory viewing. The aurora borealis appeared a bit after 10pm. Using tripods for our cameras, we set the ISO to 1600, opened the lens to f4, and took 20 second shots with the self-timer. If you look carefully in the photo you will see my face above a white scarf.


Taking long exposure shots proved challenging in such a popular area. After about the 15th second, someone would invariably walk in front of the camera, creating ghost like impressions. If this works for you, then great, but often it does not. In that case, be prepared to spend time taking many shots, or at this location, hope the tide is low and find a less populated spot on the beach.

 

Day 5 - We decided to explore the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, in the Western Region of Iceland. For any GOT (Game of Thrones) fans, much of this region has a real “north of the wall” vibe where the snow covers the ground most of the year.

We headed towards Kirkjufell, made famous by Game of Thrones as the "Arrowhead mountain", which is often referred to as the “Church mountain” because it looks like it has a steeple.


It is no wonder that the Kirkjufell, 463 meter high on the north coast of Iceland's Snæfellsnes peninsula, is claimed to be the most photographed mountain in Iceland. The unique character of this mountain results from its location between the erosive forces of two retreating glaciers and several volcanic eruptions since the last ice age.

During the summer, from May-August, kayakers can be seen in waters around the mountain. When we went it was still too cold for us to kayak. Maybe next time.


Back to Reykjavik for a leisurely stroll around the park. Here in the center of the city we were greeted by a plethora of aquatic birds.

After dinner we stopped for some delicious homemade crepes with ice cream and hot beverages


When I traveled with film cameras, I used a tripod for my night shots and because of the long exposure invariably had “ghosts” in my images. It is very difficult to keep a camera shutter open for 30 seconds or more in a popular destination and not have someone walk right in front of your camera. While the use of a tripod allows for a higher resolution photograph with less grain, it is not always the best solution.


Today, digital SLRs boast high ISOs and an ISO of 1600 or even higher, will still yield remarkably good quality imagery. When I captured the shot above I adjusted the camera’s ISO to 1600, opened the lens to its largest aperture, and used a shutter speed of 40. Later Photoshop was used to open up the shadows. While a higher ISO would have made that post production unnecessary, the highlights would have been blown out making the stained glass doorway devoid of detail.


 

Day 6 - Iceland has been an amazing journey and we started our final day with another walk around the park.

Even though Merganser can be seen throughout North America, I enjoyed seeing them sunning themselves and so, took the shot.


The magnificent swans were so graceful that it was a pleasure to watch their white bodies contrasting with the deep blue water as they glided along the aqueous dance floor.


One final morning walk around Reykjavik where we saw street art, a beautiful church and more.


You might interpret the mural above as “Construction in Concert with the Community”


Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church is the largest church in Reykjavik and among the tallest buildings in the entire country. Its geometric lines pierce the sky.


”Longer boats are coming to win us. Hold on to the shore.”


Stopping by the Steel Sculpture that looks like a Viking ship is almost obligatory. The metal plate below the sculpture creates a reflective “pool” and adds to the allure.


My daughter reminded us that no visit to Iceland is complete without an outdoor soak in one of Iceland’s volcanically heated pools, a tradition that dates back to the Vikings. We immersed ourselves, soaked, swam and relaxed at the Secret Lagoon of Hvammsvegur in Flúðir, which was so secret that it took us hours to find. Since 1891, icelanders have gone there on cold, dark winter days, to unwind, and to recharge. This pool is less crowded, less expensive and more mellow than the touristy Blue Lagoon.

While we saw a lot in a few days there is so much more we wanted to do. Iceland warrants at least three trips, one in the late winter, one in the early summer, and one in the late summer. In the winter you can not see the northern parts or the interior of the island easily as most of the roads are closed. In the summer you can not see the Northern Lights but can hike the trails and see the puffins. So the shoulder seasons do provide a bit of compromise and are usually a bit less expensive. If you live on the east coast of the USA, a trip from any of the New York airports is less than five hours. The island is deceptively large when you find a particular area where you wish to linger or find the central island roads closed due to ice or snow. As we leave knowing there was much more to enjoy here, we plan to visit Iceland at least two more times within the next few years. If things go according to plan, the next trip will be in May bundled with a stopover in Scotland.


A couple more tips my husband thought might be useful. You will find gas stations very far apart when you travel the sparsely populated interior of the island. Filling your tank when it is half empty rather than waiting longer will make for a more comfortable ride. Also, in some remote areas or after hours, the stations may be completely self-service. Aside from pumping your own gas, which happens anywhere, there is no one around to pay and purchase must be made by credit card. Here’s the catch for you Americanos. Your credit card must have a PIN associated with it. This is not the one you use to get cash, access an ATM or even a zip code. This is a number that the bank assigns to the card about which you may or may not be aware. Call before you go, and they will inform you that it came when you first got the card, like 10 years ago. However, they will send another PIN now that you know you need it. Just be sure to allow a week for it to arrive. The wind can be very strong and often shows up unexpectedly. Be sure to hold on to the car door when getting in or out as a powerful gust could actually bend the door backwards. Neither the car rental place nor your pocketbook will be happy about that. Also, in the event you do not want to drive all over looking for those cute horses or puffins, there is a restaurant in Reykjavik that has them on the menu.


On another note: what should you bring with you to #Iceland

  • A down or Thinsulate vest

  • A warm winter jacket with a hood

  • Sturdy waterproof hiking boots

  • Warm Hiking socks

  • Lightweight thermal underwear (silk or wool works well)

  • A warm hat

  • Scarf

  • Warm gloves

  • Crampons (traction cleats, grips for shoes) something I should have brought with me, but nobody told me

  • Sunscreen

  • Sunglasses

  • Camera equipment, such as a DSLR with wide angle lens and telephoto lens

  • A bathing suit and lightweight towel large enough to cover your body

To see more photos of Iceland, be sure to visit https://photographybymariasavidis.com/Iceland.html


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