Category Archives: Iceland

500px

I have just created a portfolio at 500px. I will be using this site to highlight collections of my favourite images.

First up, several images of farm buildings in Iceland. I never cease to be fascinated by the feeling of emptiness and sometimes desolation that these places and buildings create.

My first portfolio at 500px

Also posted in art

A day with Joshua Holko

Like many photographers, I suffer from a tendency to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). For a while now I have been aware that the quality of my prints and skills as a printer haven’t been improving and fall well short of what is expected of a fine art print. First solution is more megapixels, right? So I upgraded my camera. This resulted in bigger prints but didn’t do much for my ability to print, so new printer, more software, more plugins, still looking for that magic bullet.

Then I happened upon the website of Melbourne-based landscape photographer Joshua Holko. Joshua has won many awards and regularly leads photograph trips to places such as Iceland, the arctic and Antarctic.

After an exchange of emails, we arranged a day for me to take advantage of Joshua’s mentoring program. And what an eye-opener that day was.

Starting with shooting technique we discussed the entire workflow needed to produce a gallery quality print. Joshua critiqued some prints I had brought with me, then spent several hours taking me through a Photoshop workflow that produced much better results than I would have imagined.

And to prove that more gear isn’t the answer, Joshua then produced a beautiful, detailed print from a file from my old camera, not the fancy new one.

Spend a little time to go through Joshua’s website and his list of achievements, this man knows what he is doing.

Before you give in to the symptoms of GAS, try learning how to use and get the most out of the equipment you already have, that might solve the problem.

A farm in Iceland

Also posted in art, changed thinking, influences, Photographers

Sheep Roundup

In September 2011, we were travelling in the north of Iceland and had the privilege of watching a sheep round up. This was great community event with many families gathered around to take part and watch the sheep being brought in from the surrounding hills and sorted out ready to be brought in for the winter.

It was clear, cool day with lots of BBQs, drinks, fun for the children, who often took part in locating and retrieving the family’s sheep.

This year was just a little different, as this article from an Iceland newspaper shows.

 

 

 

What I did on my holidays…

Eldhraun Lava Field, Iceland

I went to Iceland. Again.

Also posted in art

Arriving at Flatey

There are at least two islands named Flatey in Iceland. The one we briefly visited was Flatey Island in Breiðafjörður. Flatey means ‘flat’.

The Icelanders tend to name things in a very literal way. For example, the volcano that disturbed air travel in early 2010, Eyjafjallajökull, means Island – Mountain-Glacier, which pretty much describes it.

Flatey Island was originally the site of a monastery founded in the 1100s. It is now a small settlement and a ferry stop on the sail from Stykkisholmur to Brjanslaekur. From there you can drive to the spectacular bird nesting cliffs (puffins!) at Latrabjarg. The ferry is the only way to get to Flatey unless you have your own boat.

 

When we arrived at the Flatey dock there was a lot of activity. A young mother was bringing her new baby home to the island and she was the centre of attention for the locals. But then a group of young disadvantaged adults, escorted by several Red Cross volunteers, made their way off the ferry to the dock to begin their summer holiday on the island.

The main attraction immediately became the young woman getting her first wheel barrow ride (no cars on Flatey). Her shrieks of laughter were soon the centre of attention for all on the dock and the ferry.

Stories of Iceland #2

Food

Do they have nice food in Iceland?

Yes, they do. But if you believe some of the tourist guides, you mightn’t think so. According to some reports, Icelanders live on a diet of rotting shark, pickled ram’s testicles, grilled minke whale and smoked puffin.

The culinary highlights for tourists are hot dogs and hamburgers. This starts to sound believable when you read that the most popular restaurant in Iceland is a hot dog stand.

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

However, we were very pleasantly surprised to find that there is real, fresh and excellent food available just about everywhere. We didn’t try the hot dogs, but on the couple of occasions we resorted to hamburger, we were very pleasantly surprised at the range of choice and the quality. (If you find yourself in Stykkisholmur, go to the Café Narfeyrarstofa and have the hamburger with the blue cheese dressing.)

Although the lamb in its various forms was excellent, the best option just about everywhere was seafood. In most places, this is served the day it is caught and in some places it is straight off the boat.

In Isafjordur, the Tjöruhúsið (Tar House), a restaurant in the local folk museum, is right beside the harbour. There is no menu, just whatever was caught that day. The fish is fried and delivered to the table in the pan in which it was cooked.

We were having an afternoon coffee at the Café Riis in Holmavik, when about 3.30 pm a man entered and asked the waitress what the catch of the day was. She replied, “I don’t know. We haven’t caught it yet.” We decided to go back that evening and find out. It turned out to be trout from a local lake.

But the freshest seafood of all was in Stykkisholmur. We went on a boat trip to see the rare white-tailed eagles nesting on an island in the fjord. On the way back the crew dropped a basket overboard and scooped up a load of scallops and sea urchins. These were opened and eaten on the spot. My first scallop had been out of the water for less than a minute.

Stories of Iceland #1

Sheep

Are there sheep in Iceland?

Yes, there are a lot of sheep in Iceland.

Iceland has two types of sheep: beach sheep and road sheep.

Beach sheep, as their name suggests, live on the beach. These sheep are mostly seen in the West Fjords where there isn’t a lot of land between the water and the rock walls of the fjords.

Beach sheep can be seen walking on the sand, or the rocks by the water’s edge. They can even been seen wading and paddling in the water. And on one occasion wading in the rock pools and eating vegetation off the rocks.

Road sheep, as their name suggests, live on the roads. This is because there is very little flat land in Iceland. In Iceland a lot of roads are built up above the surrounding land. Road sheep stand on the road to eat the grass on the edge. They also sleep on the slope of the road, and rest their heads on the road, using it as a pillow.

When you approach a group of road sheep in a car, they stare at you. They will move out of your way if you really insist. But probably not in the direction you were expecting.