Sunday, June 24, 2012

Curly tail

This male mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) was sunning himself on the banks of the pond in Reykjavík, but in such a way as to be able to launch himself into the water at a moment's notice should danger approach.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Places to visit in Iceland: The Golden Waterfall

Gullfoss (The Golden Waterfall) is among Iceland's most popular and well-know sights and is considered a "must see" attraction for those visiting the south of the country. A stop on the Golden Circle tour, it is visited by thousands of tourists and locals each year. Unbelievably, there once were plans afoot to use the falls to generate electricity. There is an information centre up on the edge of the canyon above the upper falls where you can get information about the falls and buy food and overpriced souvenirs.

Here it is seen from the most photographed angle:

Looking down into the canyon from a cliff overhang beside the rapids at the top:

Looking down into the violently plunging lower falls:

For more photos see my previous Gullfoss posts.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Queen of the Alps attended by her humble servants

Eryngium alpinum or Queen of the Alps is a spectacular ornamental plant. 
Here the flowers (or properly, the inflorescences) are being visited by bumblebees:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Queen of the Alps

Queen of the Alps is a splendid name for a splendid flower. 
It's not native to Iceland, but grows well in flower gardens.
Here seen in full bloom:

And here dried up:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hidden wonders: Basalt columns in Hofsós

Hofsós is best known for the Icelandic Emigration Center, a museum and genealogy institution, but there are other attractions as well, including a swimming pool with a fantastic view and an infinity edge that makes you feel as if you were swimming in the sea. I plan to photograph that view with a water-proof camera when I get the chance.

To find these lovely, sea-polished basalt columns, go down onto the beach below the old warehouse (near the Emigration Center) and walk along the beach, away from the museum, for a minute or so.

In close-up:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy 17th of June!

Íslendingar heima og heiman: Njótið þjóðhátíðardagsins!

Photographed on June 17th, 1994, when Icelanders celebrated 50 years of independence. This was the first and only time I remember this day being celebrated in the village where I grew up. The biggest festival in that place was and still is Seamen's Day, celebrated on the first Sunday in June.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Swimming" clouds

I though these clouds looked like a pod of swimming whales or dolphins (although one looks more like a giant penguin) , so of course I took a photo (a series, actually):

3 digital photos, taken with a Canon PowerShot A430 and combined in PhotoStitch

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Westman Islands

The Westman Islands, seen from the new ferry harbour in Landeyjahöfn. You now have a longer drive, about 2 hours vs. 40 minutes previously, but the trip by sea now only takes 30 minutes, but took 3 hours previously. If the ferry is running, that is. The harbour is frequently unusable due to wave height or sometimes due to being blocked by sand carried across the mouth by the currents. On those days the ferry runs from the old harbour in Þorlákshöfn instead.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gljúfurárfoss aka Gljúfrabúi

This wonderful half-hidden waterfall is located just up the road from the more famous Seljalandsfoss. Contrast these motion-blur photos with the previous photos I posted of it. Both sets were taken under equally bad lighting conditions. I plan to go back there this summer to try to catch some photos of it in the late afternoon or evening when the light is less harsh. If the water level in the river is low enough, I will don my waders and try to get closer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Arrogant glance

I was sitting on a bench by the pond in Reykjavík, minding my own business when I heard a fluttering of wings and looked up at the wall behind me to see this lesser black-backed gull giving me the eye. It looked very disapproving, probably because I didn't have any bread to give it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Magnificent cloud formation

I thought it looked like a huge eagle or dragon with outstretched wings, perched on the mountain.
What can you see?

Monday, June 11, 2012


Boy learning to row on a pond in Álftanes.
In the background is Bessstaðir, the official residence of the President of Iceland. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A walk in the woods

There is a considerable wooded area on the shores of lake Álftavatn in southern Iceland, not far from Selfoss. It's a pleasant area to take walks in and on this particular day we were glad to enter the conifer forest and get out of the sun.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Geyser sequence

You need lightning reflexes to photograph the right moment of an eruption from a geyser with a single shot, which is why I recommend using the continuous setting (or whatever it is called on your camera). This setting  will make your camera continue to take photos while the shutter is pressed down. I also suggest using a tripod, as standing with the camera in the ready position while you wait for the geyser to oblige you with an eruption can be tiring for the arms and eyes.

Most people aim for the apex, but the progression of the eruption is interesting too. Here is a gorgeous photo of the beginning of an eruption.

On the day I shot the following sequence of Strokkur (The Churn), I shot several eruptions, but this was the biggest. 
My camera can shoot 5-6 frames per second, but I only chose the best of the sequence:

Friday, June 08, 2012

Cornflower gets a visit

Cornflowers make a wonderful splash of colour in the garden, and they blossom all summer long.
They are attractive by themselves:

Add a bee and you have something quite charming:

Monday, June 04, 2012

Brooding mountains in the West Fjords

If I remember correctly, this was taken on the road to Selárdalur in the West Fjords, but may have been taken on the route out to Látrabjarg. Both roads creep along the slopes of mountains and hug the coast line tightly. In bad weather these roads can seem endless, dipping in and out of fjord after fjord with no end in sight, the mountains looming over you like giant, threatening masses. In weather like this, the mountains look brooding rather than menacing.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Church of the month: Bessastaðir

There has been a church in this location since at least 1200 A.D., but possibly since 1000 A.D. The current church is built of stone blocks, one of the oldest stone buildings in the country. Building began in 1773 and the church was consecrated in 1796. The tower was completed in 1823. The church interior went through extensive restoration and alterations in 1945-47. 
The church stands close to the residency of the President of Iceland, the façade of which can be just glimpsed at the right edge of the photo. 

Incidentally, there will be a presidential election in Iceland on June 30. 
Several people are in the running, including the current incumbent, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.


Friday, June 01, 2012

Interesting Iceland blog

Here's an interesting blog about Icelandic language and culture I discovered recently. It contains useful information about daily life in Iceland and lessons in Icelandic: Icelandic Language Blog.