Saturday, 28 March 2015

Iceland - Landscapes

Icelandic horses on the plains to the east of Reykjavik

I'm not going to say much about this series of landscape images from my recent visit to Iceland, only I hope you enjoy them and maybe it will whet your appetite to visit this land of stunning contrasts too. Several of these shots were taken on the move in an attempt to capture the images I would have so loved to have spent a little more time setting up. This is part of the frustrations of being a photographer with someone else in charge of the driving - be it in a jeep or a 56 seater coach. So I guess this visit I have treated as the 'city bus tour' to get the taster of where I would like to return to, and next time I will ensure that I am more in control of the wheels that are getting me around.
I weep at all the stunning missed shots during the 4 days but I'm delighted I was able to capture some images to remind me of this amazing place.

Rainbow over the snowfields on the way to the Langjokull glacier

View from Þingvellir across Þingvallavatn

The Sólheimajökull glacier

The church at Þingvellir

The church at Vik

The stack rocks as seen from Vik

The sea stack and black basalt sand at Reynisfjara

And of course, everyone was asking "Did you see the aurora?"
Well, yes we did but...

On our third evening, following a period of snowfall, we went way out of Reykjavic up into the National Park. However, it wasn't far enough to be able to exclude the lights of the city, being reflected in the low cloud. Coupled with the fact we only had a 10-15 minute 'light show' it was a challenge to commit anything to the memory card. In fact, I only managed to capture three images that night which were worth giving a second look. Considering I had hired a lens specifically suitable for photographing the aurora, it made the (not so spectacular) image below rather a valuable shot!

We found out later, that the aurora kicked off a couple of hours after we had returned to the city, and was also spectacular the following evening when we opted for an early night in readiness for our flight back to the UK next morning.

Being a wildlife photographer too, I understand more than most that you can't just 'turn up and see' any natural happening such as this. It is all down to a series of conditions all aligning and then being in the right place at that time. So despite being a little disappointed with my first ever sighting of the aurora, I remain philosophical that this won't be the first and last, and as always, strive to improve image on image...but I do have a record shot. That will suffice for now, until I return to Iceland for a complete photography indulgence.

Anyone up for a visit to Iceland?!!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Solar Eclipse 20.3.15 - An Alternative View

Here is a view of today's solar eclipse in a way you definintely won't have seen in all those shots which have flooded the media today! Foget the images of a perfect white crescent on a black background, this is an image captured from above the clouds just at the end of totality.

We just happened to be booked onto a flight from Manchester to Rekjavik at 7.45 this morning and it dawned on us that we woud be passing through the region of totality at about 9.30, high above the Atlantic and close to the Faroe Islands.

We left on flight EZY1805 under the command of Captain, Daniel Marshall (based at Gatwick) and First Officer, James Hope (based at Manchester) Unfortunately we had experienced a little unexpected turbulence during the early part of the flight which wasn't very promising. Sadly, the eclipse was happening right behind us, but a cheer went up when the captain announced that special permission had been given for just us and also the Luton Easyjet flight, to circle twice over Faroe Islands region during totality. The sky began to go dark and a daytime sunset spread across the horizon. Unfortunately, the 2x window seats that we had requested for our party of 4 had been booked as 1x and our daughter (the birthday girl) wogged the window seat, leaving me to lean across as best I could whilst the plane continued two circuits (and not forgetting bumps!) in an attempt to give all passengers a glimpse of the eclipse. I could only anticipate when it might come into oblique view.

Of course, I was after the perfect white crescent on a black background - who wouldn't? But with a moving target, a moving platform and a limited view, I woud have to content myself with with whatever I could get...and I got something that probably few others would ever get.

As the sun emerged from the short-lived totality, the bright sunlight burst at the camera (I was of course being careful not to look through the viewfinder).
The refracted tiny image above the sunburst revealing the eclipse status.

I only managed to fire off a couple of bounced-around shots before it all disappeared from my line of sight again. Unsure what I may or may not have captured, it was only when reviewing my images, I realised I had indeed captured the eclipse - albeit an indirect image. This sunburst had created a tiny image or two of the sun, refracted within the twin-skin windows, and clearly showing the crescent status. Whilst it will win no prizes, I can truly say that this was taken from a unique location and viewed in a way I will never see the like of again.

A special birthday show for our daughter - Happy birthday E!

"EasyJet passengers flying to Iceland from the UK on Friday are set to be amongst a select group people anywhere in the world to have a front row seat of one the most spectacular natural phenomenon’s - a total solar eclipse."