Photo-expeditionsPhoto-expeditions

A Photographic tour of Iceland.

April 2014. Part IV - The South.

Núpsstaður (Nupsstadur), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

Saturday 12th April.

 We were left wondering overnight what to do about Núpsstaður.

Information online seemed to indicate that the site  should be  open all year round, but as I checked further a more complicated picture  emerged.

It seems that the small church there is owned by the National Museum's  buildings collection and should indeed be accessible to visitors.

The  farm however is privately owned.

 I can see how that could lead to all  sorts of issues...

Núpsstaður (Nupsstadur), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Núpsstaður (Nupsstadur), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

We decided to take another look in the morning and further up the track  we found signs confirming that the public could visit the church but  that the farm was indeed private property.

 

So, to avoid any confusion, let me be very clear that the pictures you  see here were all taken from the path leading to the church.

At no time  did we leave the path nor am I encouraging anyone else to do so either.

 This is potentially a delicate situation and it is hoped that negotiations may perhaps secure improved visiting rights in the future, please do  not do anything that might jeopardise such negotiations.

Núpsstaður, Iceland (Nupsstadur) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Núpsstaður (Nupsstadur), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

It is not clear how fast it happened but the early settlers soon  stripped Iceland of the trees that they found here.

Some were used for  building and many of them were burnt as fuel. Now we would call it an  ecological disaster, back then it was just the sort of thing that  happened.

Efforts are now under way to repair some of this damage with replanting in many areas and of course nature has it’s own hand to play as well.

Stone and turf were at least building materials that there was no  shortage of, so it was not long before this kind of structure became  commonplace here.

Núpsstaður, Iceland (Nupsstadur) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Núpsstaður (Nupsstadur), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

In many ways they are very practical. The low profile  keeps them out of the wind and the thick turf walls are well insulated  against the cold.

I wished It was possible to take a look inside the  buildings to see more of their construction, but at least I could get  some photos outside in this beautiful location.

Another icon of the South is Svartifoss.

Falling 20m over a hanging gallery of basalt columns, this is one of the this is one of the most popular waterfalls in Skaftafell National Park.

That meant getting there before it got too busy.

It was a fairly energetic walk on well marked paths although there is a short cut if you want to drive part of the way and conditions allow.

Svartifoss, Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Svartifoss, Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved Svartifoss, Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

Svartifoss literally means “Black Falls” in obvious reference to the dark rock face but when it is dry you can see that it is full of colours, almost none of them really “Black”

We saw a lot of bird life in this area including a very bold pair of Ptarmigan, who were so convinced that their snow white camouflage was perfect, that they sat perfectly still in the greenery at the side of the path and did not move off until we were within 5 feet of them.

Svartifoss, Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

Now the weather had improved we returned Eastward to Jökulsárlón.

I’ve said all I need to say about this location already so I’ll just leave you to enjoy the photographs.

I could have taken many more, in fact Debs almost had to drag me away from the place.

Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jokulsarlon, Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jokulsarlon) - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Svínafell (Svinafell), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

Sunday 13th April.

There were dozens of scenes we saw along the road that were worthy of a photograph. Many are recorded just in our memories but this one made it into the camera simply because we had pulled over to get a drink.

I have genuinely never seen such an extraordinary landscape.

you could set somebody down almost anywhere and chain them to a rock but there would still be shots to be taken in just about every direction.

The shore around Vik is another area full of photographic potential.

This is one of the smaller basalt arches at Dyrhólaey, a tricky angle to get.

As you can see, I actually set up a safety line for this shot... 

For the camera of course, not for me.

Wayland at Dyrholaey, Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Dyrhólaey (Dyrholaey), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

According to Debs I attracted a bit of a crowd while doing this, although I was much more interested in where I was standing so I didn’t notice.

It’s amazing what people will choose to watch isn’t it. “We’re all standing in a fantastic landscape but let’s see if the photographer falls off the cliff...”

At the other end of the beach stand Reynisdrangar.

Petrified Trolls again of course. This time dragging a three masted ship to shore when the light caught them.

I wanted a shot from further round the shore but the sea was too high on this occasion.

Reynisdrangar, Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Dyrhólaey (Dyrholaey), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

We settled for the night not far from Dyrhólaey because I wanted shots from both evening and early morning.

Shooting long after the sun has set. Again, it is the wonderful black sand found in so many places here, contrasting so well with the surf that makes the shoreline so interesting in Iceland.

Monday 14th April.

Returning in the morning, the wind had freshened and the waves were throwing spray up into the air all along the foreshore. Lit by the rising sun it glowed like a fine mist.

Arnardrangur (Eagle rock), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

The light was fantastic and as I was setting up five other vehicles arrived and started disgorging people, tripods and cameras. My first thought was that it was a photographic tour or course of some sort but when a man clad in a wet suit climbed out of a van with a surf board, it soon became apparent that it was actually a film crew  with it’s entourage of directors and producers.

From the dark looks and muttering conversations, they didn’t look very happy to see me there though.

It would seem that they wanted to film him surfing in this amazing location.

But I could tell there was an obvious clash of cultures going on.

The surfer wanted to ride the best waves and they were further out.

The film crew just wanted him to hit his marks and they were closer in to the rock.

Every time the surfer tried to catch a wave in the right place he wiped out and had to swim back out against the current to try again.

Surfer, Dyrhólaey (Dyrholaey), Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved
Surfer, Arnardrangur, Iceland - Photo Expeditions - © Gary Waidson - All Rights Reserved

Eventually he made his run, to the satisfaction of the film crew at any rate, but he must have been exhausted by that point.

Of course, film crews being what they are, they asked him to do it all over again...

I had the shots I wanted so we left them to it and started back towards the West.

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