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Welcome to my Photo-Blog. I hope you will like what I collect here for you to look at, the things that have interested me over the years.

Enjoy :)

10 unknown waterfalls in Iceland

February 07, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I guess you have all seen pictures of Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Goðafoss and Dettifoss waterfalls, the most photographed in the country? Yes, I thought so. That is why I am bringing you some less known or even unknown waterfalls all around Iceland, waterfalls you can photograph with me on my 10 day photo tour around Iceland or the Highland adventure which is in late July.
 

Number one: The No-name waterfall

No-name waterfallSeljalandsá-160417_DSC3677 This one does not have a name but it is in the same river as one of Iceland's best known waterfalls, and hardly anyone goes there - ever! This is a good sunset location in late April until May and in late September, as the sun shines into the canyon and lights up the waterfall.

 

Number 2: Fagrifoss

FagrifossFagrifoss_20150906__MG_7240

 

His name is Fagrifoss, which means "Beautiful waterfall", and it sure is beautiful. The farmers who own the land must have run out of ideas for a name as they found this one, but that is ok. It is located near a popular highland route to Laki in the south-east highlands.

 

Number 3: Fossárfoss

FossárfossFossárfoss-160830_DSC3607
Travelling in the East-fjords you might find this waterfall if you look carefully. it is located in Berufjörður fjord in the river Fossá, which means "Waterfall river" and, you guessed it, his name is Fossárfoss, or "Waterfall-river waterfall". 

 

Number 4: Dynkur

DynkurDynkur-140818_MG_9151 Far up in the highlands of south Iceland, in Iceland's longest river you might find this one. Dynkur is it's name, which could translate as "Thunder". It is in the Þjórsá river, which is a glacial river originating in the center of Iceland.

 

Number 5: Flögufoss 

FlögufossFlögufoss-080613_MG_9587
In a gorge cutting into one of the widest valleys in Iceland, Breiðdalur in the East fjords you can hike up to this gorgeous waterfall, Flögufoss. It has made a hole through the basalt rock on the edge of the cliff where it falls down and the river trickles through the rocks in the canyon.

 

Number 6: Ægissíðufoss

ÆgissíðufossÆgissíðufoss-060413_MG_3709 This waterfall, Ægissíðufoss is in the flattest part of Iceland, right in the middle of the south, where you can see tens of kilometers in all directions, but still it is hidden from the view of most people who travel in the area. It is in one of Icelands great Salmon rivers, Ytri-Rangá which runs through the town of Hella.

 

Number 7: Gluggafoss Gluggafoss-Gluggafoss-091212_MG_6032 The Gluggafoss, or "Window waterfall" is out of plain sight and out of the ring-road number one. You might find it if you travel the road in Fljótshlíð towards the Syðra-Fjallabak highland area. He got his name because he falls out through a "window" in the cliffs.

 

Number 8: Bláfjallakvísl BláfjallakvíslBláfjallakvísl-160724_DSC7387 Surrounded by this luminous green moss you might find this waterfall in the river Bláfjallakvísl on the Syðra-Fjallabak highland route. It can not be seen from the road, and you must have a local knowledge in the area to locate it.
 

Number 9: Ófærufoss

Eldgjá-150728_MG_0036Eldgjá-150728_MG_0036 The Ófærufoss waterfall is near the Nyrðra-Fjallabak highland route in the river Syðri-ófæra. It falls into the Eldgjá canyon, which is the largest volcanic canyon in the world, approx. 40 km long, 270 m deep and 600 m wide at its greatest. The waterfall can be seen from two locations, up on the ridge where this photo is shot, or by hiking 2 km one way up the canyon to the waterfall.
 

Number 10: Axlarfoss

AxlarfossAxlarfoss-180813_MG_6876

The Axlarfoss waterfall is also in the highlands of south Iceland, near the Syðra-Fjallabak route. It is hard to find and get to, unless you know where to look, but it sure is worth visiting when you get there.

 

As you might think, there are a several other waterfalls that I could have shown you here, and you might guess that waterfalls are my favourite subjects. You are right about that too :-) and I love just sitting around and looking at them, listening to their different voices echoing in the canyons and cliffs. You should join me one day to see and hear for your self.

Thanks for reading, comments and thoughts are welcome.


Ice cave adventure in Iceland

February 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Ice cave.Ice caveThis cave is called the waterfall cave.

When traveling in the southern part of Iceland in the winter you have the option of visiting Ice caves in the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier at the Glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón. Ice caves are in many ways different from regular caves because they are formed under or inside glaciers by running water, and you can only visit them in the winter, because then the Ice is more stable due to the frost. With the decline of the glaciers in summer, they are constantly shifting and changing, and sometimes the ice retreats several hundred meters in one summer and the ice caves disappear. The Glacier guides must go and find the ice caves in the beginning of winter and make them accessible for their tours in the following winter. Talking about Glacier guides, I had the opportunity to visit one of the ice caves in January 2016 with two great guides, Haukur and Siggi from Glacieradventure.is. The tour started at Hali, which is a Restaurant and a Country Hotel 13 kilometers to the east of the Glacier lagoon. Haukur and Siggi gave us the necessary ice cave and glacier equipment, before getting into their truck in which we travelled for about 30 minutes before reaching the end of the track. We were visiting the Waterfall Ice Cave, which is suitable for those who want to visit a more isolated cave which is more difficult to reach. 

The walk

Preparing for the Ice cave.Preparing for the Ice cave.Getting ready to walk to the Ice Cave. In the distance you can see the Glacier. Snow was covering the ground and it was around -5°C at 10:00 in the morning, just before sunrise when we got out of the truck. Siggi and Haukur explaned everything we needed to know about the gear and the upcoming tour. They told us that a few years before, the glacier had reached to where we stopped and showed us the ruble and ridges that were left behind when the glacier retreated. On a tour like this the guides decide if it is safe enough to do the tour according to weather and safety conditions, but the total duration of the tour is 3,5 - 4 hours.

The walk to the ice cave can take 35-45 minutes in the pure and rough nature on gravel, snow and glacier, and it can get really cold in frost like that when the wind is blowing of the glacier.

Siggi, the Ice cave guide.Haukur showing the way to the Ice cave.The blue ice cap of the glacier is in front of us. Security line.Going down to the Ice cave.A security line was attached to the rocks which we followed.

As we got closer to the glacier itself and started climbing up the slope where the glacier met the mountain the ice cap was on our left and the mountain on our right. The guides stopped and told us to walk in one line and follow the footsteps of Siggi, who was in the front. They pointed out the cracks in the ice, partly covered with snow, which can be very dangerous and difficult to see. These crevices can be several meters deep and should not be approached. The group was 8 people with two guides and we reached the other end of this track safely. Standing on the edge of the glacier we had to walk down a gully down to the Ice cave, and we had a security rope bolted to the cliffs on the right, as we eased our way down.

We reached the bottom of the gully and way down there we could see the entrance to the Ice cave. Following the small river which we crossed over a timber bridge that the guides built before the season started. Some more climbing was required before reaching the cave itself with the help of ropes and stares. Siggi and Haukur were really helpful these final steps and assisted those who needed or were unsecure.

Safety first.Safety first.Walking down into the gully with a safety line attached to us. As we were inside the cave it took us a few minutes to adjust our eye sight to the darkness and the blue colors started to appear in the ice roof above us. The cave is not very big and everybody had a camera with a tripod which makes it more difficult to find the best position to photograph. The river is also running through the ice cave in a few waterfalls and disappearing under the ice wall at the bottom. The light was magical, as the daylight shone through the ice roof and into the cave. At the end there was an opening up through the ceiling where the daylight was flowing in. I had my Sony A7R2 camera with a Canon 16-35mm f/4 lens and a tripod. This was perfect for some long exposures with the waterfall and the river and I also did some bracketing to get the most out of this short period of time we stopped in the cave.

Ice cave photographyIce cave- photographyA group of photographers were working their way around the Ice cave.

Bottom of the Ice cave.Bottom of the Ice cave.The opening through the ceiling of the ice cave.   A view from the top.A view from the top of the Ice cave.Standing on the rocks near the entrance looking down to the bottom of the ice cave.

Ice cave view.Ice cave.I was one of the last persons out of the cave, which gave me this unobstructed view.

This was an experience to remember, being under the ice cap of Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull, witnessing the power of nature in this frozen world. It is difficult to imagine that the glaciers are constantly moving under their own weight, scraping and breaking down the rocks underneath it, like it is actually floating but not. 

One hour passes quickly

We spent approximately 1 hour inside the cave, but in my mind it was more like 10 minutes because of all the beauty and colors you were taking in while staying there. This tour offers great photo opportunities and an unforgettable experience, but the level of difficulty is medium/hard and should not be done if you are not in good physical health. You need to bring good hiking shoes and warm clothes and of course your camera and tripod.

View over the glacier.Sunset over the glacier.Heading back from the ice cave as the sun was about to go down.

Good to know

There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you are going on an ice cave tour.

  • Be at the meeting point 20 minutes before departure time
  • The participants should be in good hiking condition
  • Driving in Iceland in the winter can take much longer than during the summer. It is recommended that you stay somewhere close to Hali the night before the tour
  • You should check weather and road conditions before heading out.

 


10 best of 2015

December 26, 2015  •  1 Comment

Kýlingavatn lakeKýlingavatn lakeA small and beautiful lake in the Highlands of Iceland on a good summers day.

My 10 best photos of 2015

Iceland is a photographers dream come true! That is what I have been told by several of my customers these past three years. Maybe I did not quite realize that myself, because I am Icelandic and have lived and photographed here all my life. The ever changing landscape and conditions make such a variety of photo opportunities from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next. I had a good photography year in 2015, my photo-tours were productive and I met a lot of interesting people who traveled with me in Iceland and I could share my knowledge of the land. One of the things I noticed is that I did not shoot as many photos in 2015 as in 2014, and maybe it is because I am becoming more selective of my motives. The advantages of traveling with other photographers is that you learn some new tricks and methods that can be useful for your photography and make you grow as a photographer. Hopefully I have also been able to share some of mine to them at the same time.

It was not an easy task to choose these ten photos out of all my tours this year, and I have left out many gems that could have been here, but you have to start somewhere. 

Goðafoss waterfallGoðafoss waterfallThe waterfall of the Gods, Goðafoss, is in North Iceland just by the main road No. 1 around Iceland.

This location is on the east side of Goðafoss waterfall in the river Skjálfandafljót. You have to climb down to the water bed and from there it can be easily accessed. A long exposure (1-5 sec or more) works well here.

Icebergs at the Glacier Lagoon.IcebergsOn the beach at Jökulsárlón, the Glacier Lagoon, you can find Icebergs like these thrown up on the coast by the waves of the Atlantic.

The Icebergs rolling in the surf are a beautiful sight, but the waves can be dangerous if you come to close. Many photographers have got wet on this coast and some of them have lost their gear in the waves.

ReynisdrangarReynisdrangar sea stacksThe Reynisdrangar sea stacks are at the Black beach Reynisfjara in South Iceland. This location is sometimes difficult and dangerous to access, and impossible on high tide.

The Reynisdrangar sea stacks are one of my favorite locations on the south coast.

Fjallabak north.Fjallabak NorthThe road through Fjallabak north is winding through one of the most spectacular landscape in Iceland.

One of many beautiful vistas in the Highlands at Fjallabak north. This is called Illagil, or Evil gully.

ReynisdrangarReynisdrangar sea stacksOn a stormy winters day in South Iceland this is the view from Dyrhólaey peninsula. This is a 600 mm zoom.

Another angle of the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, this time from Dyrhólaey peninsula in a heavy winter storm.

ThingvellirThingvellir National ParkThe Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is both a historical and geological site, where the Eurasian- and American tectonic plates meet. In Thingvellir the first parliament was established 1000 years ago.

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is the site of the oldest parliament in the world, first established in the year 1000. and now a National Park. 

Aurora at Thingvellir.Aurora Borealis at Thingvellir.The Thingvellir area is a wonderful location to photograph the Northern lights.

Northern lights at Thingvellir, a great location to see them on a still night.

Emstrur at Fjallabak South.Emstrur at Fjallabak South.The mountains in the Fjallabak area are colorful and rough.

The Emstrur mountain range in Fjallabak south in the Highlands of Iceland. Green luminescent moss and old volcanoes are characteristic for this area.

Ófærufoss waterfall.Ófærufoss waterfallThis waterfall is in the Fjallabak area in the river Syðri-Ófæra. It falls into the Eldgjá volcanic crevice.

Ófærufoss waterfall in the river Syðri Ófæra falls into the volcanic rift Eldjá (Fire canyon) which was formed in a huge eruption. It is the largest volcanic canyon in the world, 270 m deep and 600 m wide at its greatest. In the year 934 was the largest flood basalt here in historic time. The areal extent of the lava is around 800 km2 and an estimated 18 km3 of magma poured out of the earth.

These ten photos are just a tip of the iceberg of my photography year, and I am sure that 2016 will be even more productive for me and my photo tour clients.

 

 

 

 


Bring the proof back home

December 16, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Finding the Northern lightsFinding the Northern LightsPáll Jökull assisting two photographers shooting the Northern Lights at the Glacier lagoon at full moon.

I guess your Bucket list includes among other things seeing the Northern lights, and you would like to do it on your next trip? If you are traveling in Iceland from end of August to end of March you have a chance to see the Northern Lights if weather permits. That is because at the end of August the nights are dark enough and long enough for you to be able to see them. For you to bring the memories of the Northern lights home, it is appropriate to talk a bit about how to prepare and how to photograph the Northern lights. 

Can I see the Northern lights at full moon?
Yes, you can see the aurora even if the moon is full, and actually it sometimes helps with bringing out details in the foreground which helps greatly in making a good photo of the northern lights. The photo above is a good example of that, as the moon lights up the glaciers and the mountains.

Why do I not always see the green color?
The eye does not see colors as clearly in darkness as in daylight, and when the aurora is not strong it sometimes appear as a faint, white glow on the horizon. On the other hand when the activity is higher and lights get stronger you will clearly see the green color, and sometimes even red, pink or purple colors. The modern DSLR cameras can capture the vivid colors of the night sky much better than the naked eye. Most of the time you can use Auto white balance to get good results. If you are familiar with the white balance settings on your camera, the optimum setting should be 3500K. Here is a visual explanation of the Kelvin scale .

"Humans use two different kinds of cells in their eyes to sense light. Cone cells, concentrated in the fovea in the central area of vision, are high resolution and detect color in bright light. These are the main cells we use for vision in the daytime. Rod cells, concentrated in the periphery around the outside of the fovea, can detect much fainter light at night, but only see in black and white and shades of gray." Catching the light, by Jerry Lodriguss

What should I bring?
You should bring warm clothes and good walking boots. Hat and warm gloves are essential when the wind blows and the temperature goes down to minus degrees Celsius. A flashlight is useful so you can see what you are doing when you set up your camera and fasten it on your tripod. Your smart phone can also be used as a flashlight. Bring your camera with fully charged battery's + a spare battery just in case. A sturdy tripod is necessary because you are doing long exposures and sometimes in some wind. A remote shutter release or using the timer for the shutter to decrease camera shake. If you have a lens with large aperture, (f/2.8 or f/2.0) and wide angle (14mm - 21mm) you should use it for getting best results. I recommend the Samyang 14mm f2.8 lens for the northern lights. It is a fully manual lens, inexpensive and can be bought with various mounts, such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Fujifilm and more.

Aurora at ThingvellirAurora at ThingvellirOn a still night at lake Þingvallavatn.

Can I use AUTO to shoot the Northern Lights.
No, the Auto setting is not suitable in these conditions, the Manual (M) setting should be used to get the best results. Be careful when focusing in the dark. It is best to focus manually on a distant light, a bright star or the moon for example, and then shut of the auto focus on the lens. If you are not used to photographing in the dark I recommend that you practice and get to know your camera and familiarize with the necessary settings before you come to Iceland for the real thing. The Northern lights are unpredictable and sometimes they appear suddenly and then maybe disappear again 10 minutes later. In these circumstances it is not good to be fumbling with your settings in the dark.

Aurora borealisAurora borealisAt the Glacier Lagoon in moonlight.

Practice makes perfect!
Set your camera to high ISO, (1200-3200) and switch to manual (M) for optimum control. New or relatively new DSLR cameras do have better ISO performance than earlier models. Choose the largest aperture (lowest f-stop) of the lens and start with 5-10 sec exposure. Review your shot and adjust your settings accordingly. The shorter your exposure you use, the more details you will get in the lights, because they tend to move quite fast.

ÞingvellirThingvellirThe church and old house at Þingvellir National park. Where should I go for the best experience?
To Iceland of course! By driving out of city lights you will increase your chances to see the Northern lights and by following the weather forecast you are often able to find the best location. Choose your location carefully, because when photographing the northern lights it is equally important to have a good foreground and other interests in your shots as in regular landscape photography. For example a mountain, a tree, an old deserted house or having a lake or a pond close by adds to the interest with some reflections on the water.

If you are in Iceland, and would like to get a professional guidance to shoot some aurora, you can contact me for a tour and guidance. In the blog post are some examples of my Northern lights shots. Happy shooting:)

Helpful links
The aurora activity can be seen on few web pages, such as http://www.gult.is  and  http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/pmap/pmapN.html. This plot shows the current extent and position of the auroral oval in the northern hemisphere, extrapolated from measurements taken during the most recent polar pass of the NOAA POES satellite. Of course the Northern lights can not always be seen, so you have to be prepared to fail for the first time. When traveling to Iceland your main goal should be to enjoy the country and what it has to offer, not just the Northern lights. Seeing them is like the icing on the cake :-)

More photos of Northern lights here.

 

 


Bring Nature closer to you

December 08, 2015  •  2 Comments

ReynisdrangarReynisdrangarA sunset at Reynisdrangar sea stacks at Vík in South Iceland.

INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @221mm, 1/5000 sec, ISO 400, f/5.6

Bring Nature closer to you

I have been a landscape photographer for many years, more than I actually care to remember, and have mainly used lenses from 14mm to 200mm to capture the greatness of Iceland. Roughly half of what I shoot is from 14-105mm with various lenses, like Canon EF 17-40mm f/4, Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 and Canon TS-E 24mm. The interesting thing is that I have used my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for about 30% of my photos and most of it is for landscape. Maybe it is because I am lazy, that I like to pull the landscape closer to me? No, it is because with a zoom lens you get a different perspective of distant mountains or whatever you are photographing, and that way you bring more details to the photos that you can not get with a wide angle lens.

From Landscape photography to Nature photography

Sony_Sigma_IMG_2979Sony and SigmaSony a7r2 + Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG Contemporary Through the years I have not photographed birds or animals in nature. This was mostly because I have not owned the right equipment, but this autumn that changed. I was at an Exhibition (NVPE2015) in USA and tested a Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG Contemporary lens on my Sony a7r2 camera. It was a lens with a Canon mount, and I used the Metabones EF-E mount T adapter and it works like magic! This was love at first click! The Sigma has not been introduced with the Sony E mount yet, but that might change with the growing popularity of Sony cameras.

Using the Sigma 150-600mm

I have had the opportunity for the past few weeks to get more acquainted to the Sony/Sigma combo with good results. This is not a highly technical pixel peeping test, but more my feeling of using this combo and realizing the capabilities it brings to my photography. You can read more of the actual facts, figures and testing in The Digital picture reviews.

Icy mountains.Mountains at Öræfajökull glacierThe mid day sun shining on the icy slopes of mountain peaks in South Iceland.

   INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @600mm, 1/1600 sec, ISO 800, f/6.3

The sharpness of the Sigma is good in landscapes like this and the details are well acceptable. The shot above is handheld, and the powerful image stabilation works well. Framing a subject properly at 600mm handheld requires steady arms, but OS reduces the steadiness requirement to include a much greater segment of the photographer population. This was shot at 1/1600, so there was little chance of it being shaken.

ReynisdrangarReynisdrangarOn a stormy winters day in South Iceland

   INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @600mm, 1/25 sec, ISO 800, f/6.3

Using the lens on a tripod is easy if you fasten a L-bracket or a lens plate on the tripod foot and then it is well balanced. The photo above was shoot in high wind and it was good that I have a sturdy Gitzo tripod with a Really right stuff ball head. 

Bombay Hook_DSC7976Bombay HookSnow geese at sunrise in Bombay Hook. INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @600mm, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, f/29

Birding

I had the chance to visit two Wildlife Refugies, Bombay Hook in Delawere and Chincoteague in Virginia where I could test the lens in real life bird photography. Two friends of mine, who are bird- and nature photographers, took me on the tour and showed me how to do it. Thanks Stephen Tabone and Ernie Sears! This kind of photography is relatively new to me and I was excited to try out my new lens. I did not bring my own tripod on this trip, because it is too big and heavy to travel with, so one of my friends loaned me a tripod. Most of the time the lens worked well with the tripod, but not all the time. Using this combo handheld can become strenuous because of the weight of the lens (1930g). However it is not always easy to use the tripod, because it can be impossible to follow the birds long enough to get the shot right. The image above was shot handheld. I was getting pretty good with the AF-C (Continuous autofocus) on the Sony a7r2 and the Sigma 150-600mm.

Snow GeeseSnow GeeseA great big flock of Snow geese was at Bombay Hook that morning.

   INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @600mm, 1/640 sec, ISO 6400, f/10

A tripod shot where I followed a part of the flock of Snow Geese when they took off with a thunderous noise shortly after sunrise 

Summary

If you are looking for a lens that will help you move mountains closer without spending lots of money, then this Sigma 150-600mm is for you, and it is not as heavy as some of the major brands. This lens has performed very well for me, both in landscape shooting and birds and the great range of focal lengths is very useful. 

American Bald EagleAmerican Bald EagleCatching a fish at Conowingo Dam. @600mm, 1/5000 sec, ISO 1600, f/8 American Bald Eagle_DSC7265American Bald EagleLoosing it catch. @600mm, 1/5000 sec, ISO 1600, f/8

Great White Egret_DSC8657Great White EgretSitting on a branch at Chincoteague National park. @600mm, 1/1000 sec, ISO 2000, f/8 Bombay HookBombay HookSnow geese coming in for landing. @600mm, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, f/6.3

Beach lifeBeach lifeOn the beach at the Glacier Lagoon, Jökulsárlón in Iceland. @283mm, 1/2500 sec, ISO 1000, f/5,6   MoonMoonIn the morning light the moon is setting behind the Reynisfjall mountain in Vík on the south coast of Iceland. @600mm, 1/500 sec, ISO 1600, f/6.3