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Iceland #43961
01/01/24 02:31 PM
01/01/24 02:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
I
James Morrissey  Offline OP
I
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey shares the experience of going to Iceland in February.

Article Link:
http://www.nwpphotoforum.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=43961

[Linked Image]
Kirkjufellsfoss - The most photographed mountain in the country.

Iceland [Re: James Morrissey] #43962
01/01/24 05:43 PM
01/01/24 05:43 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
I
James Morrissey  Offline OP
I
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
Seeing the Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights) has been a lifelong 'bucket list' item. I live in a region that will statistically never see them - if only because of the light pollution around New York City as the lights can sometimes be seen as far down as our longitude. So, when my niece asked if I was interested in going with her to Iceland, I absolutely jumped at the opportunity!

OK, so I am going to start this on a bit of a tear about Icelandic Air. I don't want to cast a pall on what is supposed to be a fun article, so if you want to keep it positive, please skip to the next paragraph.........................................OK. That gave everyone a chance to avoid the negativity. smile Now that is over - let us get this show on. It was a terrible experience boarding the plane in New Jersey. I had pulled out my back a few weeks earlier and I was taking prescription medications in order to keep myself upright and moving. I pride myself on being incredibly fit, and I am used to hiking with heavy weights. However, I was just dragging - so when the staff asked if anyone need accommodations for boarding, I took them up on it. The boarding agent took one look at me and my prescription bottle and said, "No." My niece, who is in medical school, was appalled - and was about to make a stink, but I told her to call off the horses and that we would get through it. I wrote two emails to the company about it after the fact, but they never replied. It was such a negative customer experience that I have decided that I will do anything I can to never fly Icelandic Air again. I do want to go back to Iceland, so I may not be able to keep that promise. However...if I can find alternative transportation I will. I also recommend you do too. Besides the obnoxiousness of the gate staff and the terrible (lack) corporate response, my experience with them was that they nickle and dimed everything - and I did not skimp out on my seating to begin with. OK - RANT OVER. From here on end, it will be only positivity.

Coming out of the airport to get our rental car, we were hit by a blast of bitter cold. I was told that it was uncharacteristically cold for Iceland at this time of year - but it was brutal. There were several mornings where the temperature was 12 below freezing. We had a diesel Nissan that was a pleasant surprise to drive and got amazing gas mileage - even with Four Wheel Drive. Don't get me wrong, I would have much preferred almost anything else here in the States, but given the cost of petrol, it was just perfect...also, we honestly were not going off road anywhere. I just wanted something with enough traction that we could get around the loop roads in inclement weather. The city of Reykjavik is really quite walkable with some lovely buildings. A word of warning for those of you who may be vegetarian. Options are quite limited and what does exist is very expensive. I lived on cheese for the entire week as that was what was available...and skyr. Oh my, so much skyr!!! I have never seen so many different types of varieties of skyr!! Refrigerators filled with skyr in every flavor you could possibly imagine. Skyr!! Skyr!!! Skyr!!!!


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Reykjavik, Iceland

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Coffee Shop in Reykjavik, Iceland

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Rainbow Street, Reykjavik, Iceland

The first three photographs were paired intentionally to give you a sense of what the city is like. It is small and intimate. The city of Reykjavik is nothing short of cool -n ot only because of the temperature, but because it is a thriving and fun seaside community with lots of small shops and arts. It is my understanding that nearly 90% of the energy used comes from GeoThermal. It is also very socially liberal and accepting of other people's differences. I can get down with any place that does not interfere with other people's personal lives. What is more, this amazing den of inequity has almost a zero murder rate. Add to that there was an abundance of coffee shops, and the sky has no limit!! It is also an incredibly safe city that was picked as a destination by my niece specifically because of its low crime rate. Just as importantly, they have a huge colony of puffins not far from town, which unfortunately I was unable to go to. It is my understanding that they have upwards of 20,000 breeding pairs. In comparison, Machias Seal Island, where I have done all of my puffin photographing has only 3,000 at the height of the season.

This coming second set of photographs were paired together because I think it nicely shows how cold it was. One night, while I was photographing images of the Sun Voyager during the aurora (I will show that in a different article), it was so cold that I dropped three glass neutral density cards. That image cost me about $600 to take. frown The wind at the glaciers were also incredibly powerful and overwhelming.

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Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier

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Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier - Diamond Beach

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The Sun Voyager, Reykjavik, Iceland

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Ytri Tunga Beach

For convenience, we based ourselves in Reykjavík. Each day, we traveled the various loop roads that put us out a maximum of about 3 hours out from town. The more comfortable we got with the terrain, the further out we went each day. My niece planned out our activities as I only cared about sunrise and sunset - so I was happy to play tourist the rest of the day. As my dear friend, Richard Strange would say, I was acting pretty much as a 'drive by photographer.' I had such a lovely time. It is nice to go somewhere on vacation with someone who vacations compatibly. Vacation with me has been described as being "like going to work." The days are usually very - very - long. This was no different, but it is nice to spend your time with someone who wants the same experience. This was perhaps one of the best vacations I have ever had.

Words really don't give the stark landscape its due. I feel the need to first dispel the myth that there are no trees in Iceland. There are apparently many of them. OK. Now for the second time I use stark in a sentence in this paragraph. The stark truth (third) is that I never saw one the entire time I was there. It is truly a land of extremes - with sweeping vistas and mountains of ice.

The third set of images coming below show some of the amazing landscape scenery that seems to lurk behind every corner. It is only little exaggeration to say that one turn leads to another amazing turn...and I saw only a fraction of what was there.

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Somewhere Along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

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Also Somewhere Along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

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The Other Side of Kirkjufellsfoss

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Kirkjufellsfoss - The most photographed mountain in the country.


On the third night we were there, my niece pointed out the window on our way back to Reykjavik and said, "Is that the aurora???" I took a good long look, looked at her and said...."Em...It is someone's headlights." However, about 45 minutes later, we started to see dancing of green across the sky. I learned very quickly as to why it is that most people's photos of the Aurora don't really tell the story. It is because they are driving somewhere, see them shining over head, and slam on the breaks to a dead halt in the middle of the road. Even the competent photographers are usually so over-awed that they just focus on the treeline and start shooting. It is that amazing an experience. We were so fortunate that we were able to watch the aurora for two straight nights - and the last night they were so bright and lasted so long that we got multiple setups with some beautiful foregrounds to make some lovely compositions. Those images will come in a separate story, but i am going to share what I think is probably the best of the lot of them below. What an amazing experience - and I am glad that we decided to go drive and attempt to create some real compositions that included the aurora.

[Linked Image]
The Grotta Island Lighthouse

Our short time in Iceland left me with a real hankering for more. It is such an amazing place that I cannot give justice to with words. I hope that I get a second opportunity to go there. The next time, I would like to do two things different. The first would be go spend two weeks instead of 6 days. The second thing I would do is take a ring around the island and stay in some of the iconic locations and hope for an aurora with some of those amazing landscapes. Probably not in 2024 - but hopefully in 2025......


[Linked Image]
For the Life of Me, I Cannot Remember Where This Was Taken, Iceland. It was about 1/2 hour out on our last morning.

If you are new to our website, please feel free to look around and read our many articles and artist showcase interviews.

http://www.nwpphotoforum.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=cfrm

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Just a friendly reminder - all of these images in this article (and original images on this website) are copyright James Morrissey and the NWP Photo Forum. Two of the images in this article were taken by my niece, Emily Tovar. Those she owns, but were licensed to our forum for the purpose of this article.



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