Friday, February 24, 2012

Fantastic blog

So why am I reposting one of my India photos? Well, I wanted to illustrate this entry with something, and what more suitable than a photo of a Delhi street market when the subject concerns that city?

For the last several weeks I have been following a really fantastic photoblog: 52 suburbs around the world. Blogger Louise Hawson originally set out to explore the suburbs of her home city of Sidney, Australia, and now she is taking one year to explore suburbs around the world. Today she posted the last of her Indian suburb stories and is heading to Istanbul.

Her photographs are really good and imaginatively presented, and unlike me she clearly has no problem approaching people to ask to take their photos. The outcome is a very interesting blog, full of good photographs that will give you a little bit of insight into the lives of suburbanites in several very different cities. Go visit it, especially if you like travelling and good photography.

Frost cracks

Here surface ice has fallen and cracked when the surface of the water beneath subsided:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Showing its age

Corrugated iron became a very popular covering for houses in Iceland soon after importing of it started in the late 19th century. While its popularity has waned with the advent of newer types of cladding, it is still the covering of choice for roofs. You can still see many older houses (and new outbuildings and sheds) that are clad in it.

This old house is typical of 1930's and 40's building styles and stands in Hverfisgata in the centre of Reykjavík. When the photo was taken it was sorely in need of painting (still may be - I haven't been in that part of the street in ages).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The little fisherman

I caught this young gentleman trying out his fishing pole on the banks of the pond in Reykjavík one sunny day:

Camera: Nikon D7000. The original was in colour, but I thought black-and-white suited it better. This is highly processed for increased contrast.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day to my foreign visitors

Icelanders in general don't celebrate Valentine's Day, although flower shops and chocolate manufacturers have been trying for many years to add it to our collection of celebratory days. The reason is simple: we already have two such days, Bóndadagur for the men and Konudagur for the women. On these days it is traditional for people in relationships to do something nice for their spouses or significant others, and we clearly don't see the point in adding a third such day.

From my scanned photos

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Blue Lagoon, part V

The final Blue Lagoon photos. 

First the photographer seen from closer up:

And part of the view from the rooftop viewing platform:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Water over rock

If you visit the Geysir area, don't neglect to look down. You never know what might be right under your feet. 

This rock is coloured by mineral deposits from the water that trickles over it.
Digital photo, Canon PowerShot A430

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Neo-gothic architecture

Landakotskirkja, the Catholic church in Reykjavík, is an imposing neo-gothic structure, designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, who also designed Hallgrímskirkja, Akureyrarkirkja, the original University building and the National Theatre.

I used a wide-angle lens setting to shoot this from relatively close up, which causes parallax error to make the tower look like it's just beginning to rear up and back. I tried several different white balance settings and all of them gave me a heavy colour cast, so I ended up by desaturating it to black-and-white.

Once I had uploaded it, I though of a possible crop that might be better for it and since I was at work and didn't want to forget what I wanted to try, I sacrificed a coffee break to do a bit of online editing. I went to Pixlr, a website that offers some basic online photo editing, and applied the crop. As may be seen from the cropped version (second photo), the process changed a little bit more than just the shape of the photo - some detail was also lost and the church took on a colder while tint and the sky took on an ever so slight grayish tinge, but not so that you would notice it if the photos weren't shown together.

What I would like is for you to tell me which crop you prefer. 

Technical information:
Camera: NIKON D7000
Date/Time: 2012:01:01 20:56:27

Focal Length: 18.0mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm)
Exposure Time: 3.000 s
Aperture: f/3.5

ISO Equiv.: 100

Whitebalance: Auto

Metering Mode: matrix
Exposure: shutter priority (semi-auto)

Friday, February 10, 2012


I was driving through the Hvassahraun summer house cluster when I spotted this rather decrepit structure, and of course I had to go check it out. I assumed it to have been partially burned down, but when I came closer I neither saw nor smelled any sign of fire, but as you'll know if you have explored a burned-down building, the smell of soot and ash can linger for months, even years, after the event.

No, there had been no fire in this house, but neither was this a sign of neglect. The pile of planks at the back told me that someone was in the process of tearing it down.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Blue Lagoon, part IV

If you want to visit the Blue Lagoon but don't feel like having a spa treatment or going for a soak in the pool, you can go for a walk instead. The photos I posted during the previous three days didn't cost me a single króna. You can enter the spa building and walk around, and I especially recommend the rooftop viewing platform from where I took some of the overview shots. It is accessed by going up the stairs by the lava wall in the restaurant and out the door on the left when you get to the top. There you will find an outside staircase that leads up to the roof.

There is also a path that leads along part of the pool. The pool is getting bigger every year and in fact sometimes threatens to flow over the road. Parts of it aren't used for swimming in, but you can walk along the banks and enjoy the view. The following photos were taken on a walk along this path. I'm planning to go back in the summer to take some shots for contrast.
There was another photographer there at the same time:

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Blue Lagoon, part III

The bathing area by night:

By night the inside of the restaurant gives the feel of a giant fish tank, but are you inside or outside it?

The pool is popular with both locals and tourists and bathers often spend several hours there, in and out of the water and inside the spa, getting treatments. The white mineral deposits are beneficial to the skin, especially for the treatment of psoriasis and eczema, and as a matter of fact they are used to produce skin-care products marketed under the Blue Lagoon trademark (and no, I'm not getting paid to tell you this).

The place is popular for promotional photography, especially for tourism and to illustrate magazine and newspaper articles about Iceland.
I don't know what this particular photo-shoot was for, but I got some nice shots of the photographer and the model:

Judging from the muscular look of the model, she is probably a fitness rather than a fashion or glamour model. 
She seemed to be having a fine time despite the cool outside temperature, which was round 8 °C (this was in November).

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Blue Lagoon, part II - Night and Day

The Blue Lagoon at night looks like a backdrop for a science fiction movie:
Exposure Time: 30.000 s
Aperture: f/25.0
ISO Equiv.: 100
Metering Mode: matrix
Focus: Manual

In the daytime it is revealed as a fusion between nature and architecture, and in fact the building and pool are built in such a way as to blur the dividing line between natural and artificial. One wall of the restaurant area, for example, is a natural lava wall.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Blue Lagoon, part I

The Blue Lagoon is an otherworldly place: a pool of apparently blue water, situated in the middle of a lava field. The steam-wreathed Svartsengi power station that looms above it might come as a shock to some, but it makes for a great contrast, and in fact without the power station there would be no Blue Lagoon. 

The power station turbines are driven by steam from boreholes which also produce a quantity of mineral-rich geothermal seawater which runs off into the lava field around the station. The original Blue Lagoon formed naturally when the run-off collected in holes and crevasses in the lava. This natural hot pool was discovered by power station staff and started attracting guests. Eventually it was fenced off, changing facilities were built and it  became a popular place for tourists to visit. 

Eventually the old pool was closed and a new and safer pool area was prepared farther away from the power station and the water was piped there. At the same time, a larger facility was built, comprising a spa, restaurant, café and conference rooms. There is also a shop selling Blue Lagoon cosmetics, souvenirs and Icelandic designer clothing.

At night the power station gives a fantastic science fiction feel to the scene:

Exposure Time: 30.000 s
Aperture: f/25.0
ISO Equiv.: 100
Metering Mode: matrix
Focus: Manual

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The lava settlement , part IV

Here we have a summer house:

This storage shed belongs to the summer house in the above photo. 
The wall appears to have been made with more enthusiasm than skill.

In close-up:

This concludes the lava settlement series. Next Friday I will continue with photos from the Hvassahraun summer house cluster further down the coast.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The lava settlement , part III

Some of the houses in the settlement were built from lava blocks. The roofs of most of them have fallen down long ago, but many of the walls still appear to be quite sound. Not so this one. I think it's only a matter of a few years before it gives in to gravity and weather and tumbles down. One well-placed kick could do it.

Series continues tomorrow.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The lava settlement , part II

This one-room hut seems to have been used for storage, but it might well have been someone's home once.

This is another building I would like to try doing HDR shots of. As you can see, I was not able to completely fix the blue cast, but I think in this case it actually rather suits the images.

Snow clings to the part that is in the shadow, but has melted into water where the sun heats the corrugated iron:

This tiny play hut close to the bigger hut it seems to indicate that perhaps the larger hut may once have been a small summer house.

Series continues tomorrow.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Cloudscape over Little Lava

Little Lava (Icelandic: Litla Hraun) is Iceland's largest prison. 
It is located on the southern coast, just outside the village of Eyrarbakki.
I was photographing the clouds and only noticed afterwards how nicely the prison buildings fit into the overall image.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

No fishing!

This guy was fishing in the harbour along with one or two others, despite the "no fishing" sign posted nearby. They may have been sport fishermen or more likely they were simply trying to catch some dinner. This small lighthouse is situated in Reykjavík harbour, at the end of a jetty that is accessed by going past the Harpa concert hall.