I mentioned a little while ago that I’d been shortlisted in the Weather Photographer of the year competition.
The organisers, the Royal Meteorological Society and the Royal Photographic Society received over 2000 entries from 60 countries for this year’s competition.
Quite bizarrely, whilst not taking the overall title, I came in first place. This is a link to the results – https://www.rmets.org/weather-photographer-year-2017-winners-announced
I wish I’d been able to attend the awards ceremony in London last night, that would have been my first. I’d have been worrying about just how happy I could look for the winners, certainly not expecting I’d have been one of them. However, I’m honestly very happy to be here in Fuerteventura, exploring a whole new angle to my photography. I’ve another post to follow about ruined and decaying buildings very soon.
I got a Google alert on the beach today (great to have 4G while lying in the sun) to say that I’d appeared on the BBC News website. Certainly not something I thought would ever happen.
Here’s the picture, once again, that got me first place..
But we live with evil amongst us. The news from Manchester over night has left us all so shocked. That those that seek to hijack our way of life and terrorise us should choose such a soft target, chilldren and young teenagers enjoying a concert, I’m beyond words.
The way people reacted to this atrocity: people forming lines to ensure disabled people in wheelchairs were able to exit the venue amidst the panic, people who were genuinely fearing for their lives and whose first instinct must have been to run did not; those that stopped to pick up people who fell, fighting the tide of panicked people rushing for the exits, making space and carrying them out; the taxi drivers, turning off their meters to ferry people away to re-unite them with their loved ones; the restaurants and hotels offering shelter, food and support to those affected and a million and one other kindnesses, make us realise that goodness prevails and will always prevail.
This evil was met instantly with love and solidarity. Ordinary people of all faiths and those with none, interrupting their lives, rushing to help in any way they could. This is what we must take from this. Good people, the vast majority of the people inhabiting this planet will stand together against this evil.
To all those affected by this terrible event, who have witnessed the darkness first hand, I hope that you can find your way back, though good knows how, to re-connect with the beauty of our planet and heal. All right minded people across the world, our thoughts are with you.
I’ve been revisiting Iceland recently. Not physically, sadly, but through the photographs I took in the years before the island became quite so swamped with tourists. I was a tourist myself of course but I enjoyed being in the minority, not the majority. Now tourists outnumber the Icelandic people themselves.
I was lucky to visit Iceland when I did. I made some good friends who have seen their home transformed since the financial crash and banking crisis of 2008. I can understand why the Icelandic government took the route they did but of course politicians rarely experience the outcome of their actions. They are far removed from the lives of the ordinary citizen.
Some in Iceland are of course making a lot of money out of tourism, taxes are boosting the economy, but for a lot of people, finding a home is becoming difficult because it’s more lucrative to rent to tourists than to the indigenous population and with thousands of people trekking and driving off road, not respecting the incredibly delicate ecosystem that exists on such a young island, well this makes me very sad. I look back at these photographs with pleasure that I was there in the wilderness alone, and sadness that I’m not likely to ever be able to experience the same again..
..you get that email that tells you one of your images has been chosen or shortlisted for one thing or another. It’s not what we set out to do as photographers. The images we take are all that matters but when those images are recognised and validated by judges of competitions, it feels good.
I heard this afternoon that one of my images, that shown below, has been shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society membership card competition. There are some great images in the shortlist but if you like my photograph, well, your vote would be much appreciated. You don’t have to be a member of the Royal Photographic Society to do this. Simply follow this link and leave your email address. You won’t be spammed I promise..
Here’s my image. Taken in Iceland last winter. The Wizard’s Hat has become one of those iconic Iceland images. I was very lucky with the weather and the light the day I was there to capture my own take on this iconic landmark.
In the third part of my series showing photographs taken on sunny days as opposed to my preferred, rather more dramatic weather days, I’ve included pictures of some of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks, in the sunshine. Some of these images you will have seen before but I think they can stand a dusting off and a second showing. The reality for a lot of people visiting Iceland is a lot of very grey weather. I’m lucky to have visited enough times now to capture some of these places at their very best.
The Seljalandsfoss pictures were bizarrely taken at midnight after a very long day of commercial photography in the central highlands for a Reykjavik car hire company. Getting back to the apartment late after a long and difficult drive on deeply rutted dirt roads, I saw the barely setting sun and I knew my day wasn’t over. I had to make the hour long drive to the falls. I’m so glad that I did.
Click on the images for a larger, sharper view.. :-)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of Iceland on the sunny side over the last few posts. I’ve been very lucky to visit Iceland many times now experiencing all seasons and all weathers. An incredible and very beautiful place and very warm and welcoming people. I have made a lot of friends in Iceland. Their hospitality second to none.
Last week I posted some sunny pictures from Iceland. These are not the pictures I like to take of the dramatic weather that happens there but when the sun shines, it’s a delight and so I decided to share some of my sunny day pictures for a change. These pictures were taken of the Vatnajökull Glacier as it spills down from the massive volcano summit at two of many locations, the much photographed Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the not so often visited Hoffellsjökull. I say not so often visited, I mean by tourists. There are hot spring pools here that are very popular with local people.
The day we visited there were a plethora of huge oversize wheeled pick-up trucks, the bigger the wheels the better apparently, as is the way with some Icelandic men and I have to say, probably unfairly, a certain piece of banjo music came into my mind. I’m sure in reality, they’d have been very welcoming (no not welcoming in the “Deliverance” sense) if I’d stripped off to my shorts in the sub-zero temperatures and joined them in the wooden tubs fed by the hot springs but I had photographs that needed taking. Maybe next time.
For those of you not of a certain age, I apologise for the movie reference made in this post but can recommend the film Deliverance, made in 1972 with Burt Reynolds, John Voight and Ned Beatty. A very scary movie with a brilliant bit of banjo playing at the beginning. Look up Duelling Banjos on YouTube if you’re not familiar. The film follows three guys who decide to take a canoe trip into back woods USA with terrifying results.
..And now I feel old. I’ve just realised that when I was a youngster they’d only just mastered sound on films 4o odd years old and certainly hadn’t cracked the colour equation yet.
But I digress, here are some pictures of these two beautiful locations. Glaciers can look downright grey and dirty and not at all attractive in the summer months but in winter, they are stunning.. :-)
As followers of this blog will know, I like bad weather. At least, I like to photograph dynamic weather. As a result I feel sometimes that I do Iceland a disservice as many of my photographs tend to be taken when the weather is doing its thing.
However, of course the sun also shines in Iceland and when the sun shines in the winter months, it’s magical. Daylight is very limited, just a few hours a day and with the sun hanging so low in the sky, the light has a wonderful quality.
Last week I shared some pictures of Vik in the Sunshine. This week I’m sharing a few more blue sky landscapes. As I started to go though my archives, I realised there were far more sunny days over the last couple of winters I’ve been in Iceland than I’d remembered so I’m going to be posting these picture postcard winter landscapes over several posts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them..
Vik (pronounced Vig) has the dubious honour of being the wettest place in Iceland. Having visited many times I can certainly vouch for this however, on one particular winter’s day this year, driving from Höfn in the east of the island, as we headed toward Vik, a sort of half-way point between Höfn and Reykjavik, we emerged from heavy snow and leaving the blizzard behind, we drove into a wonderfully bright sunny day.
Here’s a few rare, at least in my collection, picture postcard photographs of Vik in the sunshine. The town is hidden behind the dunes but the church can clearly be seen up on the hill. The rocks are known as Reynisdrangar and are basalt sea stacks. I’ve also included a look back at the blizzard we left behind which incidentally pursued us relentlessly as we continued our journey to Reykjavik. Finally catching us up a few hours after we arrived in the capital, it made the drive to the airport the following morning for our flight home a little more hazardous than we’d have liked as it was still snowing.. :-)
This picture was taken as a blizzard blew in from the sea on the south coast of Iceland backed by gale force winds. Within minutes of taking this picture we experienced white out conditions and were very grateful for the yellow markers every few meters along the road that let you know you’re still on it.
The wild, raw nature of the winter in Iceland always makes me want to go back. When you’re alone in this wilderness you cannot help but feel alive and connected in a way I’ve certainly never experienced anywhere else. It sounds crazy to some perhaps but when I’m battling the wind, trying to keep my tripod from toppling over let alone steady, trying to keep my lens clear of snow and some kind of circulation in my fingers as the sub-zero temperatures and wicked wind chill get to work on them, I’m really never happier.
52mm f/11 1/80 sec. ISO-100
While I sort through the many pictures from the Azores and try and organise them into some kind of coherant and meaningful order, I thought with the temperatures unusually for this time of year reaching 80°f outside, I’d dip back into some winter pictures from Iceland. This one was taken in February 2015..
Here are a few more snowscapes from my recent visit to Iceland. From complete white out to the scene as the blizzard recedes, these pictures depict the harsh beauty of winter in Iceland.
This is a photograph taken at Jokulsarlon, Iceland’s famous glacial lagoon. There are others but this is the one that most people visit. Here huge chunks of ice break free from the Vatnajökull glacier and float in the lagoon somtimes for many years before they are finally washed out to sea..
Here are a couple more pictures from my recent visit to Iceland. These vast empty spaces I find so energising, restorative, beautiful, of course, and the need to photograph them quite profound.
I imagine this is what Europa, Jupiter’s smallest moon, must be like – a keen contender in the search for extra-terrestial life. This picture however was taken in Iceland in February. The stark, raw, wild beauty of it touches me deeply..
Having just returned from enjoying some lovely warm sunshine in Fuerteventura, here are some pictures I took when I was in Iceland in February. Quite a contrast.
When traveling through Vik (pronounced Vig) in Iceland, you can’t fail to notice the rock stacks that extend from the cliff into the sea. These rocks are known as Reynisdrangar.
The black beach at Vik can get very busy as can the beach at Reynisfjara just to the west of Vik with people wanting to view the rocks but a short drive east, just out of town and by negotiating a very rutted and decidedly icy and snowy track, I found myself on the beach with not another soul in sight. Just how I like it.
This blizzard had been following us along the coast all day, it was finally making landfall and as ever, the road conditions got interesting thereafter..
70mm f/11 1/200 sec. ISO-100
..And as always seems to happen whenever I get near a beach, even a beach at -10ºC or 14ºf with a fearsome windchill, I got wet. Whilst focusing on the rocks, literally, a wave curled around and snuck up behind me…
Höfn is my spiritual home. Some of my best friends are here. I have been welcomed into homes and into the community and treated with the most incredible hospitality here and when I became ill here a couple of weeks ago, I was treated with care and compassion to the point that phone calls were made way beyond the call of duty to check how I was doing. Yes, Höfn is where my heart is.
Besides the wonderful people and the incredible health and dental care, the scenery is just incredible and a short ride along route 1 and through the tunnel that takes you through a range of mountains you will come to Hvalnes. If you’re from Höfn, which as I’ve mentioned before is pronounced h’up (the h is very breathy) you’ll pronounce Hvalnes with a sort of clearing of the throat k followed by va-ll-n-yes.
Icelandic is not easy but Iceland sure is easy on the eye.
Whilst being blasted once again by winds gusting up to 70 mph that were literally pushing our car sideways on the Ice which when you’re driving along the highway is extremely unsettling, I managed to stop the car every now and then and take pictures that engender such incredible serenity in me but they really do belie the conditions. Taking them, well, that was a real battle on this occasion.
24mm f/11 1/125 sec. ISO-100
The reindeer in the picture below were not at all bothered by the weather, settling down on top of the black sand spit, that separates the ocean from the frozen fresh water lake, to ensure they benefitted from the very best of the wind and its numbing windchill. The ambient temperature was around – 12 °C making this feel more like, I’m reliably informed, -50 °C. This was not the weather you’d want to spend too much time out of the car taking photographs. Thankfully, having visited the location many times, I knew where I wanted to be and I got my pictures on this rather wild Sunday afternoon but they really were hard-won on this occasion! Nevertheless, I enjoyed taking these photographs and I very much hope that you enjoy viewing them. :-)
Travelling on Route 42 between the south coast of the Reykjanes Peninsular to the north (where you’ll find Keflavik and Reykjavik), you’ll come upon Kleifarvatn. Kleifvatn is a very beautiful lake which when we visited, was largely frozen.
With no river running in, or out, of the lake the depth at around 97m or 318ft, varies with ground water levels. After an earthquake that struck in 2000, a fissure opened up beneath the lake and the water began to drain rapidly. It was like a giant bath plug had been pulled. The fissure has since been sealed itself however and the water levels have gradually returned to pre-2000 levels.
Rather like Loch Ness, a serpent like creature the size of a whale is said to inhabit the lake and has been seen to surface for as long as two minutes on occasion. With no photographic evidence to go on, not even the shaky rather dubious kind that Loch Ness has produced, I’m going to have to go with the Nessie model on this one and guess the two are related. There are, after-all, very close ties between the Icelanders and the Scots given that when the vikings visited Scotland, they wooed dozens of Scottish lassies with the tap of a big club to the back of the head and carried them off in their Viking long boats. Thinking about it however, if they’d wooed a Nessie with a particularly big club, even a youngster, we might have historical accounts of such a feat, a Nessie Viking saga at the very least.
Taking route 42 turned out to be quite interesting on a day when the winds were near hurricane force and blizzards descended every now and then but we’ve had a lot of those, interesting experiences I mean, motoring through Icelandic in February.
In the photo below, although the weather is clear ahead having left the heavy snow behind us, you can clearly see snow being blown from the top of the bluff on the right. Not having such good eyes these days I thought that it was cloud on the horizon when I took the picture, but we soon learned otherwise. It’s not always falling snow you need to worry about when the wind’s blowing of course.
A visit to the beach in Iceland in winter is a wonderful thing. The black sand, the snow and ice, the wonderful light, it really is something to be savoured. I’ve put together some pictures here of one particular visit to the beach where during the course of the day, the wind rose from about 3 m/s that’s about 6 miles per hour to about 30 m/s, that’s getting on for 70 miles per hour. This was one of those occasions, and I mentioned it in my last post, where getting out of the car can be extremely difficult unless you position the car carefully. Damage to doors on hire cars is extremely common in Iceland when unsuspecting tourists park up, open the door with the car facing downwind and the door is subsequently wrenched off its hinges. Extreme wind speeds are commonplace and even more so in winter. I just needed to get out to take a picture, standing was difficult, I had to hang on to the tripod and to the car and somehow get a composition and press the shutter but I think it was worth it. I’ll be posting some more pictures from a little further down the coast in due course.. :-D
Ponies are a very special feature of the Icelandic landscape that you’ll see everywhere you go if you visit Iceland. These very placid friendly little guys stay out in all weathers, experiencing the most extreme conditions Iceland can throw at them. I’ve seen them huddled in blizzards with winds so strong it’s been impossible to open the car doors or stand up if one manages to leave the car for a quick photograph, such is the way of photographers – quite mad really. Who else would try to open car door in 30 metres per second winds to take a photograph of the blowing snow.. hmm (see below).
The ponies are a unique breed with a unique gait. They are extremely well adapted to the Icelandic climate and when there was a general call amongst the Iceland community to treat the ponies better, many of them became ill simply because they were unused to the richness of additional food in the way of hay and silage that they were provided with. It’s true that in times past, a good pony was the equivalent of a Porsche for young guys hoping to attract the girls.
One of the ponies I was photographing, and as an ex-teacher I know there is one in every class, took great joy in sticking his tongue out, every time I pressed the shutter..
I had to ask the question why farmers would keep so many ponies on their land. Farmers, not renowned for their sentimentality when it comes to their animals (not that they don’t care for them of course), keep animals only if they can make use of them and in Iceland, the answer is meat.
The boom in the tourist industry however has given many of these ponies a reprieve as they are proving more valuable to farmers if they rent them out for trekking. Some farms, with spare accommodation, are offering all-inclusive riding holidays. This is bringing in huge amounts of revenue to struggling farms.
I mentioned the unique gait of these ponies earlier, they have a way of walking, and trotting, that keeps their backs almost completely level giving the rider a very comfortable and bump free ride. Just perfect for children and those with no riding skills.
In the worst of weather I have seen these ponies galloping, rolling and playing. This tells me these animals, despite their harsh existence, enjoy life tremendously.
Hraunfossar means lava falls and that’s exactly what you’ll find when you visit. Turquoise water cascades from many different points below a lava field giving rise to a beautiful water feature on a spectacular scale..
Barnafoss is the name given the small waterfall that flows through the gorge just above Hraunfossar. It’s the colour of the water as it cascades through this narrow gorge and through a natural stone arch rather than the scale that makes this waterfall so special.
Following on from my last post, here’s another frozen waterfall. This one is Gulfoss, one of the main attractions on the ‘Golden Circle’. The golden circle takes in a number of Iceland’s iconic landmarks, the ones that are within a reasonable distance from Reykjavik that is, making them ideal destinations for tour bus day trips.
For this reason, if I’m going to visit one of these destinations, I usually do so very early. Usually before breakfast has finished being served in the many hotels that are springing up in Reykjavik to serve the dramatic rise in Iceland’s tourist industry.
These pictures were taken at dawn on a bitterly cold -10°C day. The wind was blowing hard giving rise to a significant wind chill but properly togged up, this wasn’t a problem. As the sun began to rise, I began to shoot.
24mm f/11 1/40 sec. ISO-100
I have arrived in Iceland once more! So good to be back. It was a positively balmy -8°C today but it doesn’t feel nearly as cold as Cornwall does at +8°C but that is down to the very dry cold. It makes all the difference to how the air feels when it’s free of moisture. That said, it was a bit breezy today so my trusty fingerless gloves to allow me to control my camera and mittens for in between shots were an absolute must.
We were back at the Snaefellsnes Penisular today and a place some of you might recognise from my last trip when I photographed this location at night, under the northern lights.
Kirjusfellsfoss is a much photographed location but it’s easy to see why. I was unable this time to photograph the waterfalls from below because of the depth of the snow between the rock edge and the water so no path down but I was just as happy with these shots of the frozen waterfalls from above. I hope you enjoy them.. :-)
Kirkjufellsfoss – Upper falls
I’ve been so busy the photographs needing to be processed and catalogued are stacking up. This afternoon I spent an hour or so going through some of the photographs from my last trip to Iceland. These are a few I picked out for processing this afternoon.
I’m due in Iceland again at the end of January. With one of Iceland’s largest volcanos threatening to erupt, I’m hoping it’ll just simmer down and behave. Katla has historically erupted twice a century and with cluster earthquakes suggesting rather unwanted activity, the authorities are monitoring the situation very closely.
Click on the images for a sharper, clearer view. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed taking them.. :-)
The Road to Stykkisholmur
Touring the Reykjanes Peninsular on our third of this last trip to Iceland, autumn colours were vibrant and as we were heading back along the southern side of the Peninsular, the rain showers were massing and with bright sunshine interspersed from behind us, the inevitable result was rainbow after rainbow. None of us had ever seen such vibrant rainbows before. As with a lot of things about Iceland, the drama is always heightened… :-)
Sony ILCE-7R 24mm f/11 1/200 sec. ISO-100
Two of my Iceland pictures have just been shortlisted in the Outdoor Photographer of the year competition and will be published in a book due to be released next year. The two pictures are the waves crashing through the ice that I posted on my last post from Jökulsárlón and this one that you’ve seen before, in fact I posted it a little while back but it remains one of my favourite pictures. It was favourited by two National Geographic Editors a few weeks back and can be found under Editors Favourites with around 700 likes on the National Geographic website.
It was taken on my first ever trip to Iceland and I think it was the afternoon that I took this picture that confirmed I was smitten with this amazing island. From a photography point of view my inspiration was rekindled and from a personal point of view, I’d never before visited somewhere that brought me such peace. That said, I did find something similar on the slopes of Fuji-san in Japan when I lived there in my late 20’s. Both volcanic regions thinking about it. Perhaps paradoxically, the raw energy just below your feet has something to do with that..
Nikon D800 70mm f/11 1/15 sec. ISO-100