Hraunfossar is roughly translated to Icelandic as the children’s waterfall, or more accurately a series of little waterfalls that offer numerous plateaus and places for those Viking kids to play back in the days of yore. No doubt they’d be startled today by the battery of sophisticated gear aimed their direction from across the river. The water here veers from outright turquoise to this brooding blackened blue, depending on the skies and more particularly, on the angle you’re shooting it from. All around are the colors of a September fall in this stunning country, a farm on a green plain in the upper right, and relative quiet barring the whoosh of the passing water beneath our feet.
In the west of Iceland, a very Nordically named area of Bifrost-hmmm, sounds familiar–we mixed band of motley travelers climbed a winding set of wooden stairs until we hit the rim of Grábrók crater, whereby we were promptly greeted with a smashing gust of wind that literally bent some o’ the littler folk over, and the bigger of us became shaking kites in our parkas, leaning hard against the wind as we took one step, then another along the narrow rim. But the views speak for themselves, and loudly. This particular image above was taken from the gravel rim of the crater out to the surrounding area. Fall colors indeed…hellaciously beautiful. Then, of course, everyone dashed around and back down the steps lest they be blow into the depths of the crater. Spoilsports. Live a little!
Djúpivogur, the tiny fishing village and childhood home of our Ring Road tour guide Biggi. For this shot, he drove the fan up onto an overlook hill and we stared out at a quintessential Icelandic fishing village, pointing out the colorful buildings
the black one has bathrooms” and “there’s an antique shop where you can find stuff my grandma makes”. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet the local legend “Yan the Blacksmith” as his place was under construction, though we could see the sculptures outside his place. And we saw the row of rock bird egg sculptures on the harbor – top notch work. Must be interesting for Biggi to live in West Iceland and yet his work takes him repeatedly to the opposite side of the island to say hello to his Mom and family and friends he grew up with every few weeks Anyhow, jeez, lookit those insane clouds, will ya? Iceland, people. Get here.
Alliteration with -sh-. The irony wasn’t lost on us as we dined on the best lamb of my life in this tiny hotel in South Iceland, as we looked out the restaurant’s picture window at this spectacular sunrise the next morning. One of the sheep seemed to be saying, “‘Arold’s being eaten!” True, but he was delicious. There are more sheep than people in Iceland, so thinning the herds a bit isn’t the worst. Plus that sunrise!
The mighty Vatnajökull glacier is, in fact, SO mighty that it has a number of outlet glaciers that are themselves quite epic…miles across, in some cases. This white beast is the greatest glacier in all of Europe by volume and spans 9% of Iceland. Our minibus stopped in the middle of a gigantic glacial floodplain that had dropped miles of lava rock and ash and had mangled a nearby metal bridge into a twisted ruin. Light played on the far mountain tops and the epic landscape and broad colors of fall that dotted the floodplain enhanced the feeling of being a small dot on a vast planet which itself is a pale blue dot in a seemingly infinite universe. Thinking large as I chewed on dried fish jerky was admittedly not my most original moment. Get to Iceland, people. It’s purty.
We unloaded the minibus to 30-50 mph wind gust hammering rain sideways into our faces, and as we tromped a couple kilometers through a flat lava debris field, we could hear mighty Dettifoss of northeast Iceland, said by Icelanders to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. A waterfall that incidentally had a notable cameo in the opening of the movie Prometheus as the Engineer swallowed some bad alien juju that ate him from the inside out standing over Detti’s waters. The water was roaring beneath the gloomy canopy of clouds, and I took some super telephoto shots of people who made the trek down slippery rocks to get sheeted by the falls down on the cliff closest to them ; I chose to go the high-looking-down route. Wunnerful watery stuff, people. Get to Iceland.
More of the magical Isle of Skye, Scotland and the weather drops in a little bit of drama. The Black Cuillins are incredibly dramatic igneous mountains, and the stretch of empty road surrounded on both sides by fields of purple heather gives a nice perspective. The truth is, there isn’t a single image that can capture how magnificent the landscape on the Isle of Skye is, and what dynamic views it offers. Magical. Am I gushing too much? Probably.
First day of our Scotland tour, you may recall from an earlier photoblog post we climbed up to the Wallace Monument, then climbed up its ever skinnier turret steps to reach the top spire. Last day of Scotland, here we are at Stirling Castle, looking across at the very same monument, and really see how well it was positioned when it first opened in the mid 1800’s. The houses in the village below looks like little toys, the green mountains behind the perfect backdrop. So then, I say again, Scotland is lovely and polite and has wrangled its tragic history into a stunning and diverse geographic landscape. 4 weeks wouldn’t be enough to take it all in, so I got the Cliff Notes version. Better than nothing.
This 1890 red engineering marvel is the Forth Bridge at Queen’s Ferry in Scotland, the 2nd longest cantilever span in the world, still carrying a steady stream of rail traffic while two other bridges nearby handle the auto traffic. It doesn’t hurt much that it’s beautiful to look at–I feel reasonably qualified to say that coming from San Francisco, where we have both the beautiful Golden Gate and the LED art piece that is the Bay Bridge. In any case, the water is reflective glass, so it’s yet another point-and-shoot-and-get-great-pic opportunity in Scotland, which continues to be not boring in the least. Feast your eyes, friends. I know I did.
Morning, Isle of Skye, the bus rolls on and stops at Kilt Rock/Mealt Falls, but busdriver Dave leads us up to the edge and points the other way, down to the rocks below, where we see this epic view. “An episode of Game of Thrones was filmed here,” he says, pointing the opposite way of the falls. Several folks on the bus start freaking out and peppering him with questions, but not me. “I’ve read the books,” I say to one lady. “But never seen the series.” As soon as her voice rises “OMG, OMG, you have to see it!!”, I immediately phase out into my happy place and put my eye up to the viewfinder and see if I can capture the epic view.
But I can’t, or not with something as simple as an image. The views on Isle of Skye feel expansive, stunning land and seascapes built for movies that go beyond the farthest edge of your peripheral vision, and degrees of contrast no HDR can truly represent. With the sun out in force, purple carpets of heather are everywhere. Another day in Scotland, blowing through time like it doesn’t exist. 2.5 hours pass and it feels like we just got here, then we’re back on the bus and off down the road again.