Act Two. Center Stage.

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Inspiration / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography

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January 28, 2020, 11:29 p.m. — Jökulsárlón, South Coast, Iceland

As the plot thickened, the action moved to center stage.

ISO sensitivity now down to 400. This was Kp index 3.3. I can’t imagine how bright the top of the scale — 9 — is. Maybe you really do need sunglasses.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 15–30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. f/2.8, 10 sec, ISO 400. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Let the Show Begin. Act One.

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Landscape / Photo Log / Photography

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January 28, 2020, 11:26 p.m. — Jökulsárlón, South Coast, Iceland

Things remained as they were for a while. Taking advantage of the lull, I walked about fifty meters off from the rest of the group for a quiet moment, and as I gazed off the east, Thor hit the light switch. It wasn’t a fade up. It was snap and full-on. I was transfixed by the slow weaving of the sheets of light. Riveted. Mesmerized. Motionless.

Shaking myself out of my reverie, I went galumphing back to my camera as fast as the crampons on my feet would allow. Regaining my breath and composure, I recomposed my frame, dialed the ISO sensitivity down to 1250, clicked, and waited out the ten-second exposure, which took forever.

The first shot was a perfectly exposed glob of green blob blur. I’d been leaning on my tripod — obviously not having fully regained my composure — and it slipped. This is the second shot.

As a side note, here is an example of Mother Nature doing things her own way: In most dramatic productions, the curtain rises at the start of the show; with the Aurora Borealis, the curtain falls.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 15–30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. f/2.8, 10 sec, ISO 1250. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Overture

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Iceland / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography

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January 28, 2020, 11:11 p.m. — Jökulsárlón, South Coast, Iceland

The later it got, the colder it got. But somehow no one minded.

The mood had shifted from “is anything really going to happen?” to “what’s going to happen next?”

ISO sensitivity bumped down from 4000 to 2500.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 15–30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. f/2.8, 10 sec, ISO 2500. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Tease

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Iceland / Inspiration / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography

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January 28, 2020, 10:48 p.m. — Jökulsárlón, South Coast, Iceland

When we returned from Vestrahorn, Óli, our Icelandic guide, checked the Kp index, which was heading toward three. He called a number of his contacts to see what things were like in other locations, and then announced at dinner that we were going to try for the Northern Lights.

We returned to Jökulsárlón at about 9 p.m., put on our crampons, and ventured into the night. She and I and a few others followed Gary to try a location right next to the lagoon but it turned out to be less than satisfactory. Don was on the hill above us and called down that the view was great, so we trudged up to find him with the rest of our group and about thirty others. A very quiet party.

We set up our tripods, worked out compositions — fun in the dark — tried some test exposures, and waited.

The sky was a tease. Was that a bit of green on the horizon? A bit of red? Nope, it’s gone. Green again. Bah! Faded. Too many clouds! And those #@%# headlights! Well, the Milky Way is nice…

We waited.

There’s some green…

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 15–30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. f/2.8, 10 sec, ISO 4000. Raw processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Vestrahorn Blue Hour

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Iceland / Landscape / Monochrome / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes

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January 28, 2020 — Vestrahorn, South Coast, Iceland

One of the iconic vistas in a land full of iconic vistas. Ignoring advice, I didn’t put on my wellies, preferring my waterproof insulated boots. The wellies, being higher, would’ve allowed me to go further into the water, which would’ve changed the angle, which would’ve afforded better reflections. My solution was to go out as far as I could and try more shots. I stayed long after the others had gone to higher ground, leaving me alone on one of the most breathtaking beaches on the world. I kept shooting long after sunset — well into blue hour.

And for all that, I went away thinking the shoot was a wash. Once and twice through the frames in the selection process, it still seemed to be a wash. Blah reflections. Blue hour not blue enough. It was only upon going through a third time that this one showed potential. A starting point. It took a fair amount of work in post-processing to transform it from a potential to what I had been hoping to see in the first place.

Meanwhile, the Kp index had been messing with us. In the morning it was 1. Midday, 2. Now approaching 3, but as with weather forecasts, it’s no sure thing. And will the clouds go away?

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Obscured by Clouds

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Iceland / Impressionism / Inspiration / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography

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January 27, 2020 — Jökulsárlón, South Coast, Iceland

What was the photographer ruminating on while creating such an image — made of two different treatments of one shot combined with part of another shot? What might he think? It could be a question of two ages:

Would JMW Turner have liked Pink Floyd?

Discuss. I’m verklempt.

PS: Not looking good for Northern Lights tonight. Kp Index is 1.

(Nikon D850, Nikon 24-120mm f/4G VR. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

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Iceland / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes

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January 28, 2020 — Diamond Beach, South Coast, Iceland

About a half a mile from where the photo in the last post was taken, the lagoon empties into the North Atlantic. Miniature bergy-bits flow out and then are washed back ashore by the tide and the surf. There they sit, shining on the beach awaiting their inevitable trip back into the sea. They look like diamonds. This one seems to be sniffing the air, contemplating its fate.

(Just so you know, during the trip there was the constant subtext of checking the Aurora app on our phones and the Icelandic weather site in the web, hoping for a Kp index of at least three and a relatively cloudless night. So far, no joy.)

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Lagoon

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Iceland / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography

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January 27, 2020 — Jökulsárlón, South Coast, Iceland

When you think of a lagoon, don’t you think of white sand, blue water, and palm trees? This is different: black sand, blue water, and icebergs. The ’bergs have been shed by one of the largest glaciers in Iceland. Things happen fast in Iceland: This lagoon didn’t exist sixty years ago and in the foreseeable future, it’ll be a fjord.

(Nikon D850, Nikon 24-120mm f/4G VR. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Sentinel

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Impressionism / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes / Sunrise

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January 26, 2020 — Reynisfjara (Black Sand) Beach, Iceland

It was a dark and stormy morning. The wind-whipped weather was a fierce opponent. The barely risen sun cowered behind the clouds. Photographer and camera were covered in sleet and snow. This emerged from the mist.

From this angle, most photographs of this scene appear to show two sea stacks. Actually, in those shots the one on the left (the one you see here) appears to be one, but is actually two — you can see the other one peeking from behind the right edge. In the interest of simplicity, I decided that three’s a crowd and cropped out the third sea stack that would be on the right.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. Post processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

This Shot Was a Gift

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Iceland / Photo Log / Photography / Sunset

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January 25, 2020 — Route 1, East of Reykjavik, Iceland

This shot should not have worked. It was shot through the window of an off-road bus (think rock-hard suspension) going 90 km/h on a not terribly smooth highway. The window was dirty from two days of being splashed with road slush. But it was the first time we’d seen the sun since our arrival. The colors were otherworldly and the land was an Icelandic combination of bleak and beautiful, complete with puffs of geothermal steam.

I had to at least try to record it—more for documentation than art. I clicked off about five shots with no real hope of anything useful and then I immediately shoved them out of my mind. Didn’t give them another thought.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was going through my images a week-and-a-half later and this appeared. I didn’t even recognize the shots at first. Then it came back to me. The other four shots in the series were a complete waste of electrons: horrible reflections, window-dirt blobs, motion blur. Useless.

But this… This was a gift.

(Canon G5X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Londranger View Point, Take Two: True Colors*

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Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes

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January 24, 2020 — Londranger View Point, Snaefellsjökull Peninsula, Iceland

Taken a few minutes earlier than the one in the post before last, this shows the unaltered colors that the camera recorded. I had previously thought the color was a distortion of reality and blamed it on a brand of filter I’d never used before, but no — the water really is that color.*

The next post will move us forward.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. ISO 64, 30 sec at f/16; 6-stop neutral density filter. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

* At least it’s as close as WordPress will allow, because the color I see here is a bit more muted than what I see in DxO and Photoshop. Sigh.

Foss Means Waterfall

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Landscape / Monochrome / Photo Log / Photography / Waterfall

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January 25, 2020 — Kirkjufellsfoss and Kirkjufell Mountain, Snaefellsjökull Peninsula, Iceland

It was a dark and stormy morning. Sun would rise in another fifteen minutes. The wind was… impressive.

Posted from the departure lounge at Keflavik International Airport.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 15–30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)