A Look Back

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Geysir — Iceland  © jj raia

Geysir — Iceland © jj raia

As I usually do from time to time, I go back over images from past trips to weed out files that will never see the light of day, removing them from the hard drive to limit the valuable space they occupy. And, as is usually the case, I linger over a few, and process them to see if any will avoid the trash heap. These few are the latest to be salvaged from my trip to Iceland eight months ago, so it’s been quite a while since I combed through them with fresh eyes.

Although my visits to Geysir, the thermal area just south of the famous waterfall Gulfoss, on the first two days of the trip was under miserable conditions, without much in the way of scenic majesty by the way, I photographed several eruptions since they occur about ten minutes apart. It seems just before the steam explodes into the air, (think Yellowstone’s Old Faithful), most times there is a large bubble of water immediately preceding the actual eruption. So capturing that phenomenon was the task I set for myself, mainly because the steam in the sky didn’t really stand out much against the clouds, and the bubble was a beautiful turquoise blue. It proved difficult to time perfectly, since it was similar to capturing a lightening strike. I set the camera to a high speed frame rate, eliminated the usual 2-second shutter delay, and rattled off several frames when I thought it would occur. But the water never reacted in the same way twice, so it was hit or miss, tripping the shutter too soon or too late, or just not getting the right amount of “bubble”. Thinking the conditions weren’t very good in the first place, I gave up trying after a while, but looking through them now, I found this one image was closest to having been timed right.

Highlands Through the Clouds — Iceland © jj raia

Highlands Through the Clouds — Iceland © jj raia

After that short time at Geysir, I headed toward Bruarfoss for the hike to the turquoise river and cascades (click here for that post), and then headed toward Haifoss, but missed a turn and never made it there. I traveled many miles along a dirt road that bordered the edge of the highlands, but only came close to seeing the mountaintops for a brief moment when the gloomy clouds parted just enough to see a bit of the mountains that had been hidden all day, and long enough to get the camera onto a tripod.

Moonscape — Iceland 2019-1

Moonscape — Iceland © jj raia

It was a strange landscape of what appeared almost like sand dunes, but in reality, was made up completely of tiny pebbles, with a few boulders sprinkled in, very similar to a groomed Japaneese Garden. Waterways were easily identified as lighter indentations, snaking down the flanks of the mountains, formed by the snowmelt from higher elevations. It was a very remote area, reminiscent of Death Valley, but without any other cars for the rest of the afternoon.

Erosional details, like these above, were plentiful throughout Iceland, and dragged me out of the car for photographs more often than intended until, like so many old farmhouses, I had to begin to ignore them, or I would never make any progress to the next destination. But the easily discernible debris designs down a mountainside, illustrate how individual rocks can accumulate into distinct patterns as they make their way so slowly toward the sea. And those patterns often created abstracts that can be isolated inside the frame with a telephoto lens. The greatest difficulty however, is to find a singular focal point among the mountainside chaos, as the alluvial fan here provides, without any other competing elements, and isolating them.

Volcanic Hillside — Iceland © jj raia

Volcanic Hillside — Iceland © jj raia

I even took a break from the landscape for a while, when I photographed some friendly Icelandic horses earlier in the day after a breakfast of oatmeal eaten in the car. They actually wandered over to where I was by the fence, and hung out there while I tried my hand at this “wildlife” thing, but didn’t enjoy it much since they didn’t stay still like rocks and trees. So to avoid worrying about positioning them in a pleasing arrangement with bad lighting (still cloudy/rainy), I simply zoomed in to try some abstracts of their thick hair.

Horse Hair — Iceland

Icelandic Horse Detail © jj raia

 

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