Sometimes it’s just fun to see where things can go with a photograph. This is one of my most sucessful images turned into a jigsaw then blown apart using the 3D tools available within Photoshop to reveal the gem of the photograph, within a globe, and with a photograph of the Milky Way I took behind. I had to photograph my own hand and then isolate it to create the illusion of the hand holding the globe. Why, well why not? For those curious, this is the engine house used in the opening titles to Poldark.
I’m still a landscape photographer at heart and the Fuerteventurian landscape has so much to offer. When clouds hang over the middle of the island and a few drops of rain are perhaps in the offing, not likely but maybe, of course I’m ready with my camera. After a wonderful day on the beach, much needed recharging of the batteries before facing the British Winter, this was the scene as we crossed the island from east to west.
The second picture, taken just a few minutes later as we approached the west coast, is of this wonderful lone palm tree with lava field and mountain beyond. I posted another version taken at dawn that wasn’t quite right. This version was taken from the car as I was whisked by, by my companion, impatient to get home for that late afternoon, holiday gin and tonic. I will definitely try, before I leave, to get the composition I want with the conditions I want but if I don’t, there’s always, hopefully, the next trip. :-)
I’ve written two posts now about the abandoned and ruined buildings to be found on the island of Fuerteventura. I’ve posted a very modern abandoned apartment complex, a much older and rather grand house and now Lal Florida, the oldest of the collection of ruins I’ve come across. Each I believe representing periods of economic hardship over generations.
La Florida is a complete abandoned and ruined village. Found on a very narrow road that links highways FV-30 and FV-511 there’s no way of knowing why the village was abandoned and left to slowly decay or even when that happened, I’ve not been able to find any information.
It was kind of eerie walking around these buildings that were once homes for families displaced. It would be so nice to know where they went, what happened to them. Perhaps it all came down to modern buildings that were much more attractive to move in to. Life in these buildings, even complete, must have been harsh
It’s been extremely difficult to whittle these photographs down to a manageable handful. This village of La Florida was a photographer’s dream.
I’m very grateful to Lynn over at BlueBrightly, who produces the most exquisite posts with beautiful photographs that always have an eye to detail. These last few posts have been a bit of a departure for me and it is Lynn’s work that had inspired me to take this step away from the grand vista that has hitherto, always been my focus and look a little more closely at things within the landscape rather than just the landscape itself.
All the images I’ve taken before have featured graffiti. There was no graffiti in the village of La Florida except in the final building I entered and it consisted of a perfect blue circle. I have absolutely no idea of it’s significance but with the shadows and the colour, it was every bit as much a piece of art as that that I’d encountered previously.
What a view these people had from their homes once upon a time though..
I hope you enjoy these images.. :-)
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..
It has been the most unbelievably busy year. I have been working on a project that is about to come to fruition but will keep under my hat for now. I’ve also had two new book covers since I last posted and been shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition as well as Weather Photographer of the Year, a competition organised by the Royal Meteorological Society in associating with the RPS. Both competitions feature photography from around the world.
I’ve been very lucky, anyone who follows this blog will know that I have been able to travel to Iceland a few times, a place where a lot of weather happens so you can guess where my shortlisted photograph was taken. This has all involved a lot of work organsing prints, profiles and narrative to accompany the photographs as well as work on my project.
Though a bit of a ghost in the blogosphere over the last year, I am still here, still dipping into blogs and though not as actively engaged, I have been enjoying all the posts that I’ve been following through my reader. At the end of the project, end of August, I will be away, recuperating for a few weeks and then will be back, I hope, to being a more active member of this amazing community. Thank you for your patience. I wouldn’t be so busy if it wasn’t for all those on WordPress who have been so supportive over the last four years.
For all those suffering the heat of the summer, I hope these pictures can cool you down a little. For my friends in the southern hemisphere, it could be colder.. ;-)
Below is my shortlisted picture for Weather Photographer of the Year, I’ve added a couple of others. Some of you may have seen this image before. Just one of those shots taken when you find yourself in the right place at the right time and you happen to have your camera with you.
You can see all the images shortlisted in this years competition by following this link. Amazing photography. Well worth clicking the link. Not sure what I’m doing there but I am looking forward to the awards ceremony where I’ll get to meet some of these amazing photographers. The winner will be announced at the ceremony.
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..
On my recent visit to Fuerteventura, out of the 23 days we were there, we had two really quite stormy days and rather than spend my time, as so many visitors appeared to be doing, wandering around shopping malls looking thoroughly miserable, of course for me as a photographer, this was an opportunity. I grabbed my camera and headed off into the mountains but not before catching one last photo of the sunshine on the beach before the clouds finally took over completely.
If you look closely, down in the bottom left, you can just see a tiny red flag on the beach indicating it was no longer safe to swim on what is normally a very safe beach indeed. Stormy weather indeed!
Such a wonderful backdrop to this tiny village in the heartland of Fuerteventura. This extinct volcano, its caldera so clearly defined
What was wonderful to see after the rain, just a couple of days remember, was the scrub and even the sand come alive with green plants and fresh green shoots. It was as if spring had arrived in the island though of course it was autumn.
Fuerteventura is a wonderful place to visit and I can recommend it to anyone. For me, in the off season, this is the very best time to visit even though you can’t be guaranteed that every day will be clear blue skies, that’s perfect for me and my camera.
And as you can imagine, missing Fuerteventura very much. I’ve attached a few pictures. This was my home for the last three and a half weeks, the squat white apartment bulding up in the dunes on the far left. There were 4 apartments in this building, all with terraces and fine views. Leaving Fuerteventura Airport with the temperatures hitting 27°C, arriving at Bristol Airport to temperatures of -3°, the shock to the system was considerable.
Staying on the Playa de Sotovento de Jandia at Risco el Passo, has been a real pleasure. This beach stretches for miles and miles and has to be one of the top beaches in the world. It is relatively sheltered here from the strong winds that tend to blow in the Canary Islands, however a very refreshing breeze is the norm keeping the temperatures for me off-season, quite bearable.
But, I’m back now and lots to get on with not least catching up with all of you which I’ll be doing in the coming days. Thank you for your patience. I didn’t think I could manage a day without the Internet let alone 3 weeks and more but it’s been a very refreshing change and one I can recommend every now and then. That said, coming home to nearly 1000 emails in my inbox means there’s a fair amount of catching up to do.
I didn’t do a whole lot of photography, I was needing a bit of a break for reasons I’m hopefully going to be sharing with you all very soon. However, when we had a couple of stormy days, I couldn’t resist getting up into the mountains with my camera! Those pictures will follow.. :-)
While driving towards Sete Cidades on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, a glance backwards may well reveal the island laid out before you. A glance forwards more often than not will reveal a bank of clouds obscuring the summit of the Sete Cidades volcano. As you drive into the mist, you wonder what you might possibly see.
14mm f/11 1/640 sec. ISO-100
Within the Caldera a community thrives shrouded in the clouds that form over the island as moist warm air from the Atlantic makes landfall and starts to condense. I’ve posted about Sete Cidades before here. These are a selection of pictures taken both on the caldera rim and down at the caldera lake. I hope you enjoy them.. :-)
Setting off at midnight from home to Heathrow, a flight to Lisbon and then flight from Lisbon, having been about to take off and then having our take off aborted due to a technical fault and then changing planes, I found myself, 26 hours after I set off, in São Miguel, the largest island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.
Known locally as the ‘Green Island’ I can fully understand why. Here, stuck out in the Atlantic, the islands get an awful lot of rain and weather but the result is a humid volcanic island cloaked in dense forest and verdant pasture. It’s simply beautiful.
On my first trip around the island I’ve seen manicured tea plantations (a subject I will return to) and turquoise volcano caldera lakes shrouded in mist. I cannot wait to explore more. Here’s just a taste of what’s to come..
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.
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
My blogging birthday is coming up so I’ll save my round-up of the year until then. For now I’d just like to wish all those who follow my blog, comment visit and who make my blog what it is, a very happy, prosperous new year.
I’m ending the year on a bit of a high as I made National Geographic Photo of the day on the last day of the year, couldn’t be better than that really. You can see my photo on the National Geograhpic website here.
It’s a photo that will be familiar to some of you, Iceland has been good to me this year. I posted the picture on my National Geographic ‘Your Shot’ page and thought no more of it. It generated quite a bit of interest however, was favourited by a couple of NG’s editors and chosen for the National Geographic Daily Dozen. A few weeks later, I received an email from one of the Editors asking me to write a bit more about the photograph as they’d like to make the photograph ‘Photograph of the Day’ on the last day of the year. Here it is again..
The following photograph was taken a couple of days ago at Tewkesbury Mill. The flooding in certain parts of the country in the last few weeks has been horrendous and my heart goes out to all those who’ve suffered loss. It can’t be denied that this temporary ‘water world’, in parts, can be very beautiful though..
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
The picture below is of Corfe Castle in Dorset, all lit up for the Christmas season. The castle is in ruins not so much because of its age but rather it was on the wrong side during the English Civil War. While much of Dorset was under Parlimentarian control, the castle, owned by Sir John Bankes, attorney general to Charles I and of course a Royalist, was held by Bankes’ men whilst he was away in London with Charles. Bankes’ wife, Lady Mary Bankes remained at the castle with her children.
Parliamentarian forces planned to infiltrate the castle’s garrison by joining a hunting party from the garrison on a May Day hunt, however they were unsuccessful. The Parliamentarians gave orders that anyone joining the garrison would have their house burned and that no supplies were to reach the castle. Initially defended by just five people, Lady Bankes was able to get food through and swell the garrison to 80. The Parliamentarian forces numbered between 500 and 600 and began a more thorough siege; it went on for six weeks until Lady Bankes was relieved by Royalist forces. During the siege the defenders suffered two casualties while there were at least 100 deaths among the besieging forces.
The Parliamentarians were in the ascendency so that by 1645 Corfe Castle was one of a few remaining strongholds in southern England that remained under royal control. Consequently it was besieged by a force under the command of a Colonel Bingham. One of the garrison’s officers, Colonel Pitman, colluded with Bingham. Pitman proposed that he should go to Somerset and bring back a hundred men as reinforcements, however the troops he returned with were Parliamentarians in disguise. Once inside, they waited until the besieging force attacked before making a move, so that the defenders were attacked from without and within at the same time. Corfe Castle was captured and Lady Bankes and the garrison were allowed to leave. In March that year, Parliament voted to slight (demolish) the castle, which involved bombarding the castle with a great deal of ordnance giving no chance that it might be a stronghold in any future conflict.
This is a much photographed landmark in the Dorset countryside as I’m sure you can imagine. The National Trust now floodlight the castle during the week before Christmas so this seemed a fitting image for this post. I had to provide my own floodlighting for the mile marker (which looks rather unfortunately like a gravestone) and surrounding foreground. I used a torch to ‘paint’ the area during the long exposure. A very useful technique.
The marker has advised travellers for hundreds of years that it is just a half mile to the village of Corfe. This information would seem a little superfluous as the village and castle can be clearly seen and it really is a big chunk of stone to have to haul up a hill. I can only assume this area was at one time, densely forested.
The slightly hazy appearance of the floodlighting around the castle’s main tower is due to smoke from traditional braziers used to give light and atmosphere for visitors at this time of year.
I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and all the best for the Christmas season. Whether you celebrate or not, enjoy the holiday! :-)
Please click on the image for a clearer sharper view..
I mentioned the Jurassic Coast and the fact that Dorset is famous for fossils in my last post. The picture below shows some fossils that were found on the beach at Lyme Regis last week. I’m grateful to a very good friend with a much sharper eye than me for finding them and, being a bit of an expert on fossils and geology in general for explaining what these are.
These are complete ammonites (not just impressions in rock) that would have been happily swimming in the ocean 150 million years ago or more. I find that quite difficult to get my head around but there it is, fossilised shellfish as well as some vertebrae from a squid-like creature the name of which I’ve forgotten. One of the ammonites you can see is encrusted with iron pyrite, otherwise known as fools gold. How nice it would have been if it were the real McCoy.. :-)
If you want a map with lots of detail, great if you enjoy hiking, cycling or just enjoy a nice gentle stroll, the map of choice in the UK is Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (OS) is the national mapping agency for Great Britain and is one of the world’s largest producers of maps. Since the first of April 2015 it has operated as Ordnance Survey Ltd, a government-owned company that is 100% publicly owned.
The agency’s name indicates its original military purpose, mapping Scotland in the wake of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. There was also a more general and nationwide need for maps in light of the potential threat of invasion during the Napoleonic Wars, reflected in the inclusion of the War Department’s broad arrow in the agency’s logo up until 2015.
Ordnance Survey mapping is usually classified as either “large-scale” (in other words, more detailed) or “small-scale”. The Survey’s large-scale mapping comprises maps at six inches to the mile or more (1:10,560, superseded by 1:10,000 in the 1950s) and was available as sheets until the 1980s, when it was digitised. Small-scale mapping comprises maps at less than six inches to the mile, such as the popular one inch to the mile “leisure” maps and their metric successors. These are still available in traditional sheet form.
This year Ordnance Survey decided to update their cover photos and I’m really pleased to say that one of my photographs will now adorn Map 204, Truro and Falmouth, part of the very popular 1:50,000 Landranger series. The picture was taken of Fowey from across the Fowey River on a footpath known as Hall Walk. You take the Bodinnick Ferry from Fowey and a little way up the road, the foot path begins on your right.
I’ve done a bit of cut and pasting to show how the map will look (roughly). The photograph was taken on one of the most glorious June Mornings I can remember. It was just a perfect day and to have that day immortalised (well nearly) on the cover of a map covering my area of Cornwall, that makes me happy. This is a walk that I couldn’t manage today so it’s extra special and it’ll be very nice keepsake to have. The new maps will be available from February next year. I hope many visitors to the area will enjoy days similar to that one, although it has to be said, over the last few years these days, weather wise have been rare.. :-)
Aldeyafoss is a waterfall that has eluded me on three separate trips to Iceland. This trip I finally made it and it was certainly worth the wait. On previous visits, we witnessed a car being rescued from the snow on the road ahead. The driver had been trying to get to Aldeyafoss too. We took the tow truck as a sign it probably wasn’t a good idea to try ourselves. On another occasion, the mountain F road was open, just, but when the road forked and with no sign posts to suggest which fork one should take, I took the wrong one. On a third occasion, we very nearly got there but the weather was so awful, I decided it was best to leave for another time.
This trip however, as I’ve said, I made it to the waterfall. It is a sight to behold. The water cascades into an amphitheatre of rock, beautifully decorated with basalt columns and swirls and twists in the rock that one would swear must have been created by a sculptor. It was dull and overcast but that didn’t seem to matter. We sat for hours just watching the water pour into this giant bowl where it was churned and mixed before being sent on its way, down the river to be churned and mixed once more at Godafoss, several miles back along the road and downstream.
This waterfall is fed by melt water from the Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest, and explains the beautiful clear blue colour of the water. In fact this is the first thing that strikes you when you see the falls.
Just as we were preparing to leave, the sun finally broke through. Not quite the right time of year for the sun to completely illuminate the amphitheatre but I wasn’t complaining. It was a beautiful sight nonetheless. I hope you enjoy the pictures.. :-)
I closed down the aperture here and decreased the shutter speed just enough to show the movement of the water and to create this pattern effect.
As the sunshine was creating very dark shadows, to get this image I blended two exposures using masks in Photoshop. One exposing for the dark shadows and one exposing for the sunlit parts of the picture.
For many, the autumn heralds the onset of winter, the end of summer, a season that engenders melancholy and sadness. For me, perhaps it’s because I was born in October, autumn is a time for new beginnings and it’s probably my favourite season. From a photographic point of view the opportunities are endless.
In keeping with my many new beginnings, new school years, new schools, that giant leap from school to university and being away from home for the first time, this autumn is no exception. I’ve taken the leap from teaching workshops in Cornwall to teaching week-long photography courses in Iceland. This has been in the planning for many months. I’ve made many friends in Iceland in the process. There hasn’t been so much time for photography or blogging but everything is now in place. I finished the website last night and we’re good to go.
The courses are aimed at photographers of all levels. For those that need it, we quickly cut through the unnecessary (in my opinion) complications and jargon that photo journalists regurgitate endlessly (well they’ve got to write about something I suppose) that keeps many new photographers floundering, to the fundamentals of exposure and the manual operation of your camera. From there, we get to what’s really important. The more esoteric aspects of photography that are perhaps harder to teach and for this reason, are overlooked by many of the photography courses and workshops out there.
We concentrate on unravelling the person behind the viewfinder, investigating their relationship with the camera and subject and exploring why this is so important in terms of developing photographically. In this process we take the photographer beyond the snapshot, beyond creating facsimiles of a scene to creating pieces of art that reflect the person making the pictures. In the process we develop that all important photographic voice that sets individual photographers and their work apart. Something that’s so important in a world awash with imagery.
To do this I’ve deliberately chosen a location that in my mind cannot fail to inspire, enthrall and contribute hugely to this process that I’m describing. For me Iceland has it all and I can’t think of a better place in which to teach photography. I’m sure that by the end of the course, those attending will be as smitten as I am and will no doubt return to continue their journey..
Some of you may have noticed the Iceland in Focus link in the footer of my blog. This widget links to my website where course details and dates can be found. I look forward to seeing some of you in Iceland. I’ll be there for the next couple of weeks. I have a few meetings to attend but for the most part, I’m looking forward to lots of photography! ;-)
About a year ago, I donated a framed photograph to a charity raffle. After the raffle had been drawn, a lady approached me saying how much she liked the photograph and how disappointed she was that she hadn’t won it. She was so nice, I endeavoured to find out who she was which I did. I then framed another copy of the photo and sent it to her. You can see the photo that the lady liked so much here.
We exchanged emails and I was made to promise that if I were ever to visit Iceland, I must get in touch. Visiting Iceland at the time was not something I had considered but I guess the seed was sown and when I finally decided to make the journey, I did get in touch. What followed were lots of suggestions of where to visit and several introductions to people, one of whom was a university friend who lived in Höfn.
I was delighted when I, along with Poppy, Poppy’s BB and my friend Chris were invited to dinner with Hulda and her partner Róbert. We had a traditional Sunday roast, a meal that Hulda explained she’d enjoyed every Sunday since she was a child; roast lamb with rosemary, roast potatoes and vegetables. There was one additional condiment from the UK that Hulda explained she bought from a specialist shop in Reykjavik and who can argue with how well mint jelly goes with lamb. I was surprised how similar the meal was to the Sunday roast that I’d grown up with. We had a wonderful evening and it was such a pleasure to make new friends.
During the course of the evening I asked Hulda where she would recommend we visit while we were in Höfn. Horn was the answer and these are the photographs that followed. It was a very wild day, the wind was roaring in our ears and bringing tears to our eyes but we had some sunshine as you can see along with some very heavy snow. Thank you Hulda and Róbert once again for a fabulous evening. This post is dedicated you.
Continuing on from my last post, we entered the tunnel under the mountain that would bring us to the next fjord along, in a real blizzard. As we emerged from the tunnel on the other side of the mountains, it was still snowing just as hard, if not harder and as we entered the town of Siglufjörður where we saw the northern lights on our previous visit , the snow was piled either side of the road, and outside the houses. It was difficult to see but we pulled in to the car park of a convenience store. People were scurrying in and out of the shop, bundled against the snow. It was clear what a difficult winter the people living in the north of Iceland were having. We picked up a few snacks and pressed on. It was late in the afternoon and we wanted to check in to our apartment before dark.
Entering the town of Akureyri we were faced with a new challenge. The roads were covered with a large amount of compacted snow and into that compacted snow, deep ruts had developed. As the red light changed to green at a set of traffic lights, I accelerated away gently, then hit ruts like solid concrete. The Jeep bucked causing me to step on the gas a little too hard. The effect of this was quite startling, the car went into a dramatic spin and before we knew it we were sat facing the oncoming traffic, which, thankfully anticipating what was happening, had waited patiently for me to stop playing around. They’d clearly seen it all before. I waived rather sheepishly to the cars in the two lanes of rush hour traffic I was facing like a mexican standoff and looked for a quick exit.
I could see that my quickest route away from this busy road and to allow the traffic to start flowing again was to turn immediately right which I did. I was tired and this was a dramatic reminder that, in these conditions, keeping the car on the road and in one piece meant not letting one’s concentration drop for a second. A small error could have fairly major and potentially life threatening consequences. I wonder if the angle of the lamp-post in the picture above is the result of a similar incident.
I was rapidly learning all the new skills required to drive on snow and ice, in town and out on the highway. As it turned out, the right turn conveniently brough us almost immediately to the doorstep of the Vínbúðin, one of a chain of government-run stores that sell alcohol for consumption off premises. The only stores licensed to do so. This was a store I know we’d have been looking for a little later and probably struggling to find and here we were, we’d been spun around and pointed in the right direction. Although I didn’t feel the need for a drink to calm my nerves after this salutary incident, my passenger did..
From the Vínbúðin, we listened to James (our ever-present GPS guide) and turned left and right until we pulled up outside the large house I recognised from the pictures when we booked and from Google Earth. This would be a base for the next five days, an apartment in the basement of a rather grand house in a leafy, well it would be leafy in summer, section of Akureyri. Bags unloaded, familiarisation with heating, wi-fi, kitchen, bedrooms complete, it was a case of grab a quick meal and sleep.
Waking up the next morning, relishing the underfloor heating, I took a peek out of the window, it was first light and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful sunrise. The winter wonderland was still there and we had waterfalls to visit. The first on the list was Godafoss. You’ve already seen some of my pictures taken at Godafoss. I’ve added a few more..
We had intended to visit Aldeyjarfoss, another very beautiful waterfall. The coordinates were loaded in the GPS and after visiting Godafoss we set off. The road to Aldeyjarfoss was little more than a dirt/ash track but it seemed to be pretty clear and we were enjoying the drive along the river. As we turned through a farm gate, the road dipped quite steeply toward the river and it was here we came across a low loader rescuing a 4×4 from a very deep snow drift. The chap being rescued was Icelandic, he said he visited the waterfall the previous winter without any problems but the snow this year had beaten him. I was quietly glad that he’d gone first. We reversed and set off back towards Akureyri. This can be an issue with visiting Iceland in the winter. You can’t necessarily get to see all you want to as roads, especially mountain roads are frequently impassable and if there are no dwellings along these roads, they won’t be cleared..