Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road Part 3

Much of the story of my trip around Iceland can be told in the rows of images on my screen here as I type.  Time spent in the North.  Time spent in the East Fjords. Much time spent in and around Hofn, and from there to places like Jokulsarlon, the Ice Lagoon, or Stokksnes.  Then back to Hofn each night after sunset.  I had found a nice hotel in the town and craving a shower and solid bed, I stayed there for three nights.

One evening, I came out to find one of my tires flat.  I was irritated but grateful it wasn’t on some side road in the night, raining all around me.  I made some calls and found the local car shop which fixes tires.

Iceland Tire Repair Hofn

Iceland Tire Repair Hofn

Patched up, I visited a place called Stokksnes three time in the next few days.  I got ok weather, awful weather, and lastly amazing weather.  Stokksnes is the place where the landowner charges about 8$usd to visit his land.  Once you see the view from out along the beach, you’d pay almost any price.

Iceland Stokksnes Beach Sunrise

Iceland Stokksnes Beach Sunrise

Later on that morning, heading back to the camper and watching for great reflections in the smooth-as-glass tideflats.

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Dramatic Tideflats Reflection

Iceland Stokksnes Sunrise Dramatic Tideflats Reflection

All this while also watching for sunstar opportunities on the black sand dunes.

Iceland Stokksnes Black Sands Dunes Sunstar Sunrise

Iceland Stokksnes Black Sands Dunes Sunstar Sunrise

I had a great first visit to Stokksnes with the light and sunrise.  I knew I would be back on this visit, but didn’t know I would have to go through a weather apocalypse of sorts before I got another amazing sunrise.  Once done here each morning, I would head out east or west for as much good light as I could get.

Iceland Clouds on the Move

Iceland Clouds on the Move

Iceland seems to be a lot about the scenery but also about the wind.  It’s constantly going.  I got in the habit of opening the door, and holding onto it as it opened.  I was happy to have brought quite a bit of Windstopper gear. My camper was my travelling photo taking operation.  This was great not only to have everything you need with you, but also for impromptu napping.

GOCampers Iceland Mobile Photographer and Napping Space

GOCampers Iceland Mobile Photographer and Napping Space

Being based around Hofn, I had to stop in at Pakkhus for my one splurge meal.  Langoustine (lobster), fresh off the boat, baked in butter, garlic and other secret herbs and spices.  I had a nice pint of  a local beer called Wee Heavy, which reminded me of the old Hales Brewing Wee Heavy.

Iceland Pakkhus Hofn Lobster Langoustine Feast beer food travel

Iceland Pakkhus Hofn Lobster Langoustine Feast

Back on the road for more early morning scenery. Sunrise was about 330am, so it made for an early start this time in May.

Iceland Southeast Morning Symmetry

Iceland Southeast Morning Symmetry

More from Hofn here shortly, and then moving west again.

 

Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road Part 2

One of my highlights of this second trip of mine to Iceland was discovering Seydisfjordur along the Eastern Coast.  I had read about the photogenic Blue Church and decided to head there one morning since I was in the area on the Ring Road.   I descended into the town, nestled into a cozy fjord at sunrise:

Iceland Seydisfjordur at Sunrise

Iceland Seydisfjordur at Sunrise

The town reveals itself as you work your way down winding roads:

Iceland Seydisfjordur Morning

Iceland Seydisfjordur Morning

Iceland Seydisfjordur Blue Church

Iceland Seydisfjordur Blue Church

Morning light was kind to me and I captured the church in a nice reflection.  Sony a7r2 and Zeiss 100-300mm lens.  I also discovered great pizza and coffee in town and had the chance to take a nice nap. I ventured back here later on in my trip for sunset, to discover this is a better sunrise shot.

Navigating the road along the fjords takes time but is one beautiful revelation after another.  In the morning and evening, the birds come out and can be found nestling around the shallow parts of each fjord, or congregating on the meadows.

Iceland EastFjords Snow Capped Peaks Ring Road

Iceland EastFjords Snow Capped Peaks

Icelandic horses are out as well in the calm morning light.

Iceland Horses at Pasture Below Towering Peaks ring road

Iceland Horses at Pasture Below Towering Peaks

At this time of the year, May, there is still a bit of snow around in the East Fjords area.

Iceland Ring Road May Snow Remnants

Iceland Ring Road May Snow Remnants

So at this point, I am heading down the coast to my base at Hofn.  More to come soon.

Back to Iceland: Round the Ring Road

After last year’s revelations on my first trip to Iceland, it was a matter of time before I returned for another view.  Go Campers Gocampers.is had generously offered me a serious discount on one of their campers in exchange for a selection of my images, which helped considerably with costs.  The Photographers Ephemeris, TPE , and its SkyFire add-in suggested that the good weather, or at least not bad weather was to be found to the north so I headed out that way on the Ring Road.  After stopping at Costco of course 🙂 IMG_7513

Driving along the northern part of Iceland was a great choice.  It was gray and cloudy but the landscape of pastures, fjords and geothermal activity was a lot different than the southern route.

iceland, horses

The fjords spoke of an active fishing industry, as well as remnants.

Iceland Older Fishing Boat

Iceland Older Fishing Boat

I covered most of the northern part of the Ring Road in two days.  In early May, most of the snow was gone, with little ice in the lakes.  I really wanted to see the East Fjords and then the South, where TPE was telling me the weather was improving.

5 Days in Iceland – A Photographer’s Eden – Part Four

Time to finally check out Stokksnes.  I’d done some image research and decided to go around sunrise at 3:30am to see how the light looked. I arrived at the Viking Cafe, closed of course, and set about figuring out the self pay station.  The land owner charges a small fee to roam his land for photos.

stokksnes iceland

The Stokksnes Self Serve Pay Station. Took a few tries but it worked and only charged me once.

I headed north out of the parking lot, which I later learned was an error.  If you want the typical shot that most people get at Stokksnes, you need to head east towards the Radar Station.  I kind of regretted my error but then no because I got some unique vistas and was able to catch a great sunrise as well.

So I wandered across beautiful black and past the “Viking Village Movie Set along the massive peaks of Vesturhorn.  The beach was mostly dry, with a tiny pool of water showing at this point.  It would grow considerably later on on my way back.  I reached the bog around which I could see Brunnhorn peeking past Vesturhorn.

At this point, sunrise skies were on fire and I was backtracking all over the black sand getting shots. I was in my Salomon shoes, and getting soaked but didn’t care.

Looking back the other way was good too, as is often the case with burning sunrises.

DSC01743

Sunrise clouds above Vesturhorn on the beach in Stokksnes Iceland

I kept wandering back along the beach, while watching the sunrise.  I felt like I got some nice shots even though I didn’t make it out to the typical area.  I was thankful for the solitude, great light and calm smooth beach.

I got back to the pool of water on the black sand which was growing as I watched.  Looking back towards Brunnhorn, it looked like mercury reflecting the skies.

vesturhorn iceland

Vesturhorn sunrise skies reflected on a mercurial pool of water.

Vesturhorn iceland

Vesturhorn and sunrise reflected

I made it back to the van and napped for several hours.  My Salomons were pretty much soaked to the core so I was happy I had several other pairs of shoes with me.  Eventually I ended up back in Hofn for coffee.  Daytime was either sleeping or scouting time.  I did a lot of both.  Checking the weather, I realized that the next morning was to be another day of gray rain so I had to make tonight’s sunset and sunrise count.  I planned on focusing on Jokulsarlon partially because I knew there was more to be found there and the ice had certainly been re-arranging itself. But also because I truly enjoyed being there.

stokksnes iceland

One more view of the beach at Stokksnes

 

5 Days in Iceland – A Photographer’s Eden – Part One

iceland sheep photography

Some of the many sheep I would encounter on my Iceland adventure.

I think I had been resisting  a photography trip to Iceland.  It certainly was the “hot” place to go.  Photographers in a steady stream went and came back with spectacular images. Instead, I went off and did the Everest Base Camp Trek in February and visited Banff in June.  I was certainly more than than happy with the shots I came back with.  A non-photographer friend of mine did the layover in Reykjavik recently and reminded me how impressed he thought I would be with the country.

So I got a call from a client needing my services in London and requesting that I set up my own air and travel arrangements with about a week’s notice.  At that point the Iceland stopover option came up again.  I did some research and looked into renting a camper to go exploring for 5 days.  I gave myself 5 days, considering this a preliminary visit of sorts.  People pointed out to me that I needed weeks or a month even.  I went with 5 days and it felt right.  And at the end of those 5 days I knew I would be back soon.

Day 1

Arrived in Keflavik and gocampers.is, the rental company I had chosen, picked me up at the airport and took me to their office in Reykjavik.  They had a range of vehicles available, and I went with one of the most basic.  A panel van, 2wd, manual trans and a mattress in the back.  My new home for a few days also included cooking utensils, pots/pans, etc for camping.  They also had a nice collection of camping chairs, larger stoves, sleeping bags etc for rent.  I had brought my own bag, a 10 degree down bag I use regularly.  I signed all the paperwork and off I went.  I had brought quite the pile of snacks from home but was pleased to find a market around the corner for some fresh fruit and juice. An hour later I discovered my van had heated seats!

iceland camping van

This was my home away from home in Iceland for 5 days.

Driving out of town was easy, just find Highway 1 and head east.  Drivers were polite and courteous, something I found throughout the trip.  I decided my goal was to get to Jokulsarlon, the Ice Lagoon and then sleep.

The scenery down Highway 1 was a revelation.  I was struck by the broad expanse of it all.  The peaks, the coastline, the highway off into infinity.  The sheep! Everywhere! Along the side of the road, far off on the hillside.  They were a constant companion on my horizon.

iceland camping photography

Heading east on Highway 1 with vast expanses of lush green cliffs.

I continued driving, and eventually stopped at two well-known falls, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.  You can see both coming up from the highway so they are hard to miss.  I felt these were very well photographed by others so I didn’t stay long.  In between them on the highway is the parking lot for the crashed DC3 airplane site.  No signage, just a full parking lot and lots of people heading off to the beach.  I decided to catch that on the way back.

Seljalandsfoss falls iceland waterfall

Seljalandsfoss’s long drop into wildflowers

waterfall iceland skogafoss

Skogafoss doing its thing

Continuing towards my goal, there was this long stretch of road, lined with lupine and volcanic remnants.  The vastness of it struck me.  The wind struck me too as I opened to the van door to take a look having pulled off at one point.  I recalled the warning at the rental office about the wind being able to take your doors off.  They weren’t kidding.  On the road you see a lot of cyclists riding around the country.  Its on these windy days, and the car wash rainy ones that would come, that you really get a sense of their dedication.

iceland lava landscape

Lush lava fields off into the distance

iceland road travel photography lupine

Vast meadows of lupine along the road

I reached Jokularlon later that evening.  Sunset wouldn’t happen until 1130pm and even after that it never got dark.  Sunrise was at 330am.  There are two main parking lots at the lagoon.  The northern one has bathrooms but no camping is allowed.  Across the road and next to the beach is where you can sleep.  I parked my camper and pulled out my bag and crashed hard. The beauty created by chunks of glacier falling into the lagoon and washing out to sea and onto the beach would wait until morning.

First Visit to the Banff Area for Photography

I finally made a trip the Banff area for photos.  I think its hard to be a landscape photographer and not be aware of the beauty in this area.  June seemed to be a good time to go.  Lakes were melted out and the summer crowds had yet to hit hard.  We went for a week, flying into Calgary, renting a car and heading west.

Our first stop was a night in the Fairmont Lake Louise.  I was pleasantly surprised to be upgraded from our basic room to one of the 5 best rooms in the hotel .  Amazing views and it really set the bar high for our trip.

The weather, however, wasn’t as spectacular.  Clouds, rain, and wind were on the menu for the first few days.  This allowed a lot of scouting however and we drove all over figuring out compositions and how to get to certain places.

The remainder of our stay was in Canmore.  I learned not only is Banff mostly a sunrise location (to me) but also being in Canmore was a bit far from the spots I wanted to be at around sunrise.

A few highlights from the trip:

Moraine Lake Banff Sunrise Alpenglow Reflection

Moraine Lake Banff Sunrise Alpenglow Reflection

Peyto Lake 10mm Cloudscape

Peyto Lake 10mm Cloudscape

Banff Avenue and Snow Peak

Banff Avenue and Snow Peak

Mount Rundle and Vermillion Lakes

Mount Rundle and Vermillion Lakes

Fairmont Lake Louise

Fairmont Lake Louise

Peaks Above Moraine Lake at Sunrise

Peaks Above Moraine Lake at Sunrise

Everest Base Camp Trekking in Nepal – Part Three

These posts are reflections and images from my trek to Kalla Patthar in Nepal February 2017.

Like I said earlier, it was after leaving Namche that we started to lose touch with others we had met along the way.  Some groups fragmented, others took off in different directions.  Out next goal was Dingboche, about 6 hours away.  We would arrive in the afternoon easily.

Yak Train Along the Trail Past Ama Dablam Nepal Trekking to Everest Base Camp

Yak Train Along the Trail Past Ama Dablam Nepal

The tiny peek we were getting of Ama Dablam was to grow all day as we reached Dingboche.  The trail so far was a lot of gentle up and down but done during the midday sun so again with the sunscreen.  I was also drinking a lot of Endurox R4 workout drink which does a great job of rehydrating and replenishing for these long hikes.  Some of the wildlife we saw included these brown mountain goats keeping an eye on everyone.

Brown Mountain Goats Watching Over the Trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal

Brown Mountain Goats Watching Over the Trek to Everest Base Camp

We reached Dingboche in the late afternoon and set about finding a teahouse.  I vetoed the first place we checked into.  It was empty and seemed unkept.  We pressed on a bit farther and found something a bit nicer.  My porter also washed my trekking pants and two crewneck shirts.  So far my Arcteryx Rampart pants and a Motus top had been my daily wear, with some kind of down layer on top.  At this point they definitely needed some soap.  They would spend the evening air drying by the stove.  I also tried out my solar panel to charge camera batteries.  Towards dusk, I set up for a timelapse of Ama Dablam alpenglow and also captured a few shots around the village.

Yak Train Heading Through Dingboche at Dusk. Tabuche Peak Beyond

Yak Train Heading Through Dingboche at Dusk. Tabuche Peak Beyond

Badri had mentioned that the meals would be getting worse as we got farther from Namche.  Since everything came up on a  yak, the fresheness of ingredients was suspect.  Well I had to try the Chicken Curry.  The photo on the menu just called to me.  What arrived though was inedible.  I had to send it back and order oatmeal.  This became my new standard for the rest of the trip, with a side helping of jerky for protein.  There was also significant protein in the Endurox and my stash of protein bars.  Lots of tea of course to wash it all down with of course.  Evenings in the teahouse involved huddling around the stove and talking to other trekkers.  There were two, two singles that had paired up for companionship.  This was the norm of off season trekking.

One last note.  I had promised myself to wear my Invisilign retainer as much as possible on this trip.  Each day I soaked it in cleaner for as long as I could before bed.  Well this time it froze in the water.  I asked the guys in the kitchen for some warm water to thaw it out.  They came back with another cup with tea.  Uh…retainer?  Where did it end up?  I went in the kitchen and fished it out of the sink.  Whew!

Ok off to Lobuche the next morning!

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