Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reykjavík Culture Night 2011, bonus photo: Street theatre

I missed the performance this colourful performer was part of but was able to snap a photo when the troupe passed me by in the street:

Need a cheap ego boost?

Post a reasonably good photo to an award group on flickr. Then give out awards to all and sundry in the group, leaving nice comments with the awards and favouriting some of them to increase the likelihood of reciprocal awarding.

Then settle back and watch the accolades roll in and the faves and comments pile up. It will (probably) not get you into Explore (which is the dream of many flickrerites), but it feels good...

Reykjavík Culture Night 2011: Singing

This small choir, the Bartones (Bartónar), joined a band that was performing in Hjartatorg, a small square situated between Hverfisgata and Laugarvegur:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Aerial ballet no. 2

Another tern photo. The birds in this one seem to be executing a complicated dance in the air.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Coast Guard ships in the twilight

Icelandic coast guard ships docked near the Harpa concert hall. I was getting ready to photograph the Harpa (photos posted yesterday and the day before) when I spotted them and thought they would make excellent subjects for low-light photography. It wasn't quite dark out yet, but darker than the photo suggests - you get that when shooting long exposures in the twilight hours. I plan on going back some night when it's completely dark to take some shots for comparison.

Camera: Nikon D7000, 30-second exposure at f/29.

Harpa from the inside

A couple of interior shots of the Harpa, both taken during the Culture Night celebrations in August, when there was an open house:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Harpa at night

These were taken late one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, just as the sky was about to turn from dark indigo to black. LED lights are installed in the glass casing and they blink slowly on and off in no particular sequence during the hours of darkness. Since these are all 30-second exposures, I captured quite a number of these lights.

Harpa in close-up

The angles and geometry of the Harpa can be an endless source of subjects for photographers:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Two faces of Harpa

The name Harpa means "harp", but is also an Icelandic female name and the name of one of the old lunar months, and the people in charge of the place want it treated grammatically as such. Thus you would not say "I am going to a concert in the Harpa" (Ég ætla á tónleika í Hörpunni), but simply "I am going to a concert in Harpa" (Ég ætla á tónleika í Hörpu).

This has offended language purists, as by leaving out the definite article the building is being spoken of as if it were a human being and not a thing. Personally, I think people should refer to it whichever way they choose.

Here you can see "her" by day and night, photos taken from almost the same spot:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Harpa, glowing in the light of the setting sun

I have heard the Harpa concert hall and conference centre called "the world's largest piece of glass art". The glittering facade was designed by artist Ólafur Elíasson. Here it is seen bathed in the golden rays of the setting sun, across the building area.

There is still a huge pit beside the building and various uses have been suggested for the area, from a parking garage to a hotel to a public park.


Before Harpa, the new concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavík, could be built, first another building had to be torn down. It took months.

Here a digger is being used to break down the graffiti-covered wall enclosing the top of the building, which used to be a parking lot:

Support columns with reinforcing bars sticking out of them, looking like surreal stork nests:

A digger at work:
Digital photos, Canon PowerShot A430, the last one altered by tonemapping in Photomatix

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aerial ballet no. 1

Arctic terns straight overhead. Bird photographers are divided on whether overlap in bird photos is good or bad, but I must say I like the way this one came out.

Camera: Nikon D7000

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Long dead

A bovine skull. Some Icelandic cows have horns that get quite as large as those of bulls.
It's impossible for anyone but a trained specialist to tell whether this skull came from a cow or a bull, 
but clearly someone thought it made a nice decorative touch.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hvalfjörður, 5

The final photos from my Hvalfjörður trip last Sunday. This small stream is situated right by the road and descends down from the mountains in a series of small waterfalls. I had my tripod with me and decided to shoot some cotton-candy photos of it. I ended up doing a series of exposures, but liked these misty ones best. First the whole thing:

And then the lowest part alone:

The old house and church at Þingvellir

The sepia effect offered by the Canon PowerShot A430 is not very subtle, but a little Photoshop work made this image look like a genuine old photo (except I have never seen an old photo so smooth and blemish-free). The sepia gives it a timeless feel, and in fact it could easily have been taken many years ago since there is nothing in it that can date it except the buildings themselves and the height of the trees.

Digital photo, Canon PowerShot A430, altered using in-camera effect and Photoshop post-processing

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hvalfjörður, 4

I wasn't sure whether the tide was coming in or going out when I started on my beach hike, so I kept a close eye on the sea. When I saw that it was coming in I turned back, as I had no intention of having to wade. I did have a bit of a hard time with this rock face, as the sea was already ankle deep next to it when I reached it. The barnacles gave me a good grip on the otherwise smooth surface - you can see from them how high the water usually reaches at high tide - and I was able to step on submerged rocks to get past it and only had to put each foot once in the water. However, I had laced my hiking boots on so tight that only my ankles got wet and not my feet.

Bus reflection

A Reykjavík bus, reflected in a puddle by the Hlemmur bus depot. 
Digital photo, Canon PowerShot A430

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hvalfjörður, 3

After I rounded the rock stack I posted a photo of yesterday, I spotted three waterfalls, dispersed along the cliff face and looking very romantic in the warm, golden light of the sun. I went as far as the first fall. You can only just see it, but it has stained the cliff reddish with iron deposits:

Reykjavík Culture Night 2011: The Chief of Police meeting the people

Geir Jón Þórisson, the Reykjavík Chief of Police, is a well-known figure in Iceland. His level-headedness and calm demeanour has been credited with preventing actual rioting during the anti-government demonstrations of 2008 and 2009.

He is now retiring from policing, but on Culture Night he was downtown in Lækjartorg, meeting the people of Reykjavík. Several people posed for photos with him for the short time I was there. He is very tall, almost 2 metres, I think, and his son, who is also a policeman, is even taller.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hvalfjörður, 2

You find all sorts of nice surprises on nature hikes. In Hvalfjörður a lot of the shoreline is made up of cliffs with small beaches at their base, so you don't see the actual beach when driving past. The last time I did this particular hike (going in the other direction) I was about 12, and the only thing I remembered about it was an incident and not the landscape itself.

My grandmother had taken me on a "Mountain and Beach" hike with a local travel club, and they clearly either hadn't planned things right or we were running late. Either way, we found the tide coming in as we were walking along the beach and at one point we needed to pass a cliff that jutted out into the rising sea. I went first, and waded across into the next cove, arriving with my rubber boots full of sea water, and my grandmother followed, furious with me for doing it, because the rest of the group had decided to turn back and climb up and finish the hike up on drier land. I think gran was embarrassed more than frightened for my safety, to tell the truth. In any case, we made it safely to Hvalfjarðarnes and met the rest of the group.

The rock stack in the photo below was one of the things I didn't remember from that long-ago hike, and so took me by surprise. Here it has taken on an orange tint from the settling sun:

Swan, close up

From my scanned photos

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hvalfjörður, 1

Yesterday afternoon I suddenly had a yearning to go out for a hike. Since the weather was lovely and the light perfect I took my camera along and drove up into Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord). Stopping at Hvalfjarðarnes, a nature reserve where you can get down onto the beach, I went for a walk along the shore and took some photos. This is the first, taken from where I parked my car. I didn't drive any further for fear of getting stuck in mud - the road is that bad.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Yellow flower explosion

Digital photo, Canon PowerShot A430, altered in Photoshop

Digital photo, Canon PowerShot A430, altered in Photoshop

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mummified crab

These little crabs can often be found, dead and dried up, along the shoreline. 
When I was a kid, we used to have contests to see who could collect the biggest number of them during one trip to the beach.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Church and hay-rolls

Churches similar or identical to this one can be seen all over Iceland. The church is built on land belonging to a farm, and the farmers are its caretakers. The marshmallow-like things are huge, round bales of hay, wrapped  in plastic for protection. This church is located between Skagaströnd and Blönduós in northern Iceland.

Technical  information: I cropped it to balance it and take advantage of the rule of thirds. Otherwise it has not been tampered with.

Because the fence is on an incline and tilts down to the left it creates the optical illusion that the church is leaning to the left, while it is in fact straight.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Decaying fishing boat

I photographed this sad, old boat in Akureyri some years ago. I was on my way to a wedding, but felt compelled to stop and photograph it.

Digital photos, Canon PowerShot A430. fd's flickr toys mosaic.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Reykjavík Culture Night 2011: Downtown

Reykjavík Culture Night is a popular annual event that has stopped being just a night event and now goes on from around noon until early the next morning. This year it was held on August 20th.

I posted photos of the fireworks display right after I got home from watching it, but I think it's high time I posted some of the other photos I took. This first one shows the intersection of Lækjargata, Austurstræti and Bankastræti right in the heart of the city, taken from Bankastræti. It was pretty  crowded, but the large number of events going on prevented the crowds from ever getting uncomfortably dense in any given place. The rest of the Culture Night photos will appear over the next 3 Wednesdays.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Soaring bird

One of my early attempts at photographing a bird in flight:
From my scanned photos.

No one can realize how substantial the air is, until he feels its supporting power beneath him. 
It inspires confidence at once.
- Otto Lilienthal

Monday, November 07, 2011

Blue snow in Þingvellir (tonemapped)

Have you ever been out in the snow in bright sunshine and noticed the shadows? They don't look gray, but rather blue or purple. I was able to pull out the blue tint of the shadows by tonemapping this image.

This is a five image merge, exposed -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, to get a wide range of lighting to work with.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A burst of pink

The Orton technique makes photographs resemble paintings - or at least it's supposed to. I don't think this looks much like a painting, but I like the way it made the colours really deep and bright and gave it soft focus with luminosity and increased depth. The treatment makes the original look a bit dull by comparison.

Digital photo, Canon PowerShot A430, altered in Photoshop

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Icelandic sheep

The Icelandic sheep are released into the wilds of the highlands over the summer, to fatten up and acquire the distinctive "wild game" flavour that makes the meat so tasty. I came across these on a hiking trip in in Borgarfjörður. The lambs have grown almost as large as the ewes.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

I wonder where it is going?

Atmospheric conditions over Iceland frequently allow the formation of contrails that can be seen for hours after the aeroplane has disappeared from sight. They often make me dream of travelling.

Digital photo, Canon PowerShot A430

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Dumpr: Eye see you

While fd's flicker toys is my favourite photo gadget website, I also think dumpr is pretty cool. This is one of the things you can do on their website: see how your photos would look like hanging in a gallery. Here used on the photo of my eye that I posted last Wednesday.