Friday, December 07, 2012

Stranded container ship

This container ship, the Wilson Muuga, stranded in Hvalsnes, a short way from the town of Sandgerði, in December 2006. She was towed from the site and turned out no to be very badly damaged.
Sadly, a Danish coast guard officer was drowned during attempts to board the ship.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Boiling mud

Lake Kleifarvatn rises and falls in connection with geological activity in the area. Earthquakes are frequent and sometimes they open up fissures that drain away some of the water. In the summer of 2011 the lake surface fell low enough to expose some bubbling mud pools in the lake bed. They were fascinating but difficult to photograph because of the steam. I did get a few good "freeze" shots of boiling mud/clay getting flung into the air:

The temperature must be fierce to cause this amount of bubbling:

I didn't notice it when I shot it, but when I uploaded the images from my camera to the computer and started looking at them, this hair-raising character appeared on the screen:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Places to visit in Iceland: The Old Cemetery in Reykjavík - Kirkjugarðurinn við Suðurgötu

The old cemetery in Reykjavík is an interesting place if you have an hour or so free for wandering around. Apart from graves with a variety of headstones and crosses, you can find trees and plants there that are rare or non-existent elsewhere in Iceland. A good place to start is in the centre of the yard, where there are several information signs in three or four languages, covering various aspects of the yard, along with an exhibition of different styles of headstones.

The cemetery is no longer in use for burials, except in plots that were reserved long ago. Urns containing cremation ashes can also be buried in existent graves.

The graveyard has its own micro-climate, or so it seems when you enter it and the weather feels different from what it is outside, but perhaps it's just the atmosphere that changes. The graveyard is situated near the centre of downtown Reykjavík and if you are not the type who fears graveyards or finds them creepy it is a perfect place for taking some time off from shopping or sightseeing to just enjoy the peace and quiet in there. It is also interesting to see how it changes from season to season. These photos were taken last autumn.

A typical unkempt autumn view. 
The grass hasn't been mown for some weeks and only the berries remain on the rowan trees.

A bit of frivolity among the graves: a shoe-tree.
Ferns thrive in the shady graveyard:

In close-up:

There are several of these private family plots within the graveyard, 
although not all of them have an actual wall around them:
This is what I call attention to detail: the back of this headstone is also decorated. 
This is a fairly modern design.

One of the old-style monument-type headstones:

Below you can see a fairly unusual headstone for this graveyard.
The verse on it comes from a famous poem by one of Iceland's famous romantic poets,
Jónas Hallgrímsson, and reads, loosely translated: 
The heavens part
the far planets in space
the blade parts the back and edge
but two spirits who love one another
can never be parted
through eternity.


This is a very popular type of plaque that can be seen on many headstones. 
It is by sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen and I think it is called Day or Dawn.

Another popular headstone decoration:

According to the information sign in the graveyard, it is the only place in Iceland where this fungus, Phallus impudicus (common stinkhorn), is found. It looked rather obscene growing out of one of the graves, but may also be seen as a firm, if vulgar, declaration that life goes on.

Monday, September 03, 2012


Laufás is one of Iceland's few remaining old sod houses. Other notable ones include Burstarfell, Glaumbær, Núpsstaður, Árbær, Grenjaðarstaður, Víðimýrarkirkja and Grafarkirkja

 The current house was built over several decades, starting around 1840, but people have lived on the site since settlement times. The church is still in use, but the sod house is a museum. This is an unusually grand and large example of an Icelandic sod building.

This old horse-drawn hay rake was standing abandoned in a corner of the garden. 

Here is a list of Icelandic sod houses that have been nominated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


An Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) hovers, evaluating the threat from me and my camera before dive-bombing me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Orton poppy

After a Photoshop treatment, the pollen inside this poppy appears to glow.
I started by using Auto Levels, which creates strange colour shifts when used on a photo with a narrow colour range. I then Ortonised it in the same way as Geometry.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mountain panorama

I think, without being absolutely sure, that this is the east side of Ingólfsfjall in southern Iceland, seen from the road from Geysir to Þingvellir. The photos making up this panorama were definitely taken from that road, whatever the mountain may be called.

This was one of my first attempts to use the Canon PhotoStitch software to stitch together photos taken on a DSLR rather than a compact camera. It was a bit tricky, as you have to put in the focal length of the lens and are only given a limited number of choices. I used three photos and you can clearly see one stitch and the other of you look closely. I'll probably fix them in Photoshop when I have the time and inclination. Until then, enjoy the clouds and the landscape:

Monday, August 13, 2012

A day at the beach, part 3

You can find various beautiful rocks on the beach without looking too hard.
Here is one with the view across the Húna bay in the background:

A tiny bit of seaweed clings to this one:

This one shows a beautiful marble-like pattern:

This strange offering was left by a sandworm:

And this pattern was left by a wave that deposited some sand on top of dry sand:

This concludes the series.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A day at the beach, part 2

A footprint in the sand looks like it has been embossed there because of the angle the photo was taken at:

Various types of seaweed and kelp wash up on the shore.
The colours range from green to red to brown and yellow:

These bladders of dried-up seaweed (genus: Fucus) look like stranded Zeppelins in the sand when shot in macro:

Part 3 of this series will appear tomorrow.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A day at the beach, part 1

When I was growing up, this beach was mostly rock and coarse gravel and the sand only appeared at low tide, but now so much sand has been washed up on the beach that it reaches above the tide-line and there is very little gravel to be seen. The black sand is typical for Iceland's beaches, although you will also find a handful of beaches with golden sand.

The Spákonufellsborg is close by (link will open in new window):

And now for the main subject: The little stuff on the beach that often goes unnoticed. 
Broken barnacles on the end of a stem of kelp:

Live barnacles uncovered by high tide, looking like a cluster of strange buildings:

In close-up:

Part 2 of this series will appear tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"My, what a big hose you have!"

A fireman preparing the playing field for a swamp-soccer tournament. The European Swamp Soccer Championships take place every year during the Verslunarmannahelgi - the first Monday in August and the weekend leading up to it. I was able to watch the junior competition in 2010, but missed the adults. If you follow the link to the official website, you can click on any of the links under "Myndir" (right sidebar) to see some photos from past championships.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Church of the month: Stykkishólmur

This unusual church, which was consecrated in 1990, looks like something out of Star Trek. 
You can't deny it is striking:

You can't complain about the location, alone on a promontory, with no other buildings to crowd it: