Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Still traipsing through Iceland

I'm still wandering around Iceland and will be for a couple more days. It has been a bit of a roller coaster of a trip. The first five days were some of the best five days of my life. I got to go back to Akureyri. Myvatn was AMAZING. We hiked into a large crater, did another large hike in the area, photographed Harlequin ducks, and saw the Northern Lights three nights in a row. We had dinner one evneing in the Cowshed, a restaurant on a dairy farm where you watch the cows while you eat. Afterwards you can go meet the cows (which I absolutely did, because why not?). It was a dream.

Then we drove from Myvatn in the North to Eskifjordur in the East Fjords.

I had rented a Suzuki Jimmy (nicknamed James Thorsson) for the trip. James feels like he is going to tip over at the slightest gust of wind, and after we left the protected shelter of Myvatn, we encountered wind that decided it no longer wanted us on the road. The drive from Myvatn to Eskifjodur isn't terribly long; I had planned it so that none of our drives would be longer than three hours. This one really didn't take us any longer than it should have, but we were tense the whole time, my husband had white knuckled the drive and was exhausted. We stayed the night in a guest house that I had been so looking forward to staying in. It was on a peninsula in the middle of a fjord and just looked spectacular. However, with a foot of rain in a day and hurricane worthy wind gusts, the little peninsula was rocked all night and the weather never did clear up.

The drive from Eskifjordur to Hofn was worse. The road hugged fjords and cliffs for most of the way and the wind gusts were still pushing above the 60 mph range. It was absolutely terrifying, but we saw a small respite by helping a farmer herd his sheep off the road. The wind began to die down a bit, the rain mostly eased up, and the rest of the drive was great.

I'll write several more detailed posts over the coming week or so, I really should have been writing one every night, but with hiking all day and chasing the northern lights well past midnight for at least five of the days here, I've been just exhausted with everything.

So for now I'll leave you with a few of my favorite photos from Myvatn and the drive to Eskifjordur that I was able to photograph.

Godafoss at sunset, Myvatn Region. If you look in the upper right corner, you'll see the start of the Northern Lights

Harlequin ducks on the Laxa River, Myvatn region

Me, meeting cows :D
First night of seeing the Northern Lights over Myvatn

Our Eskifjordur guesthouse

Our Eskifjordur guesthouse

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Iceland, I'm back!!

I first came to Iceland five years ago. It was the kick off of my around the world (sort of) tour. It was in November and I made the trip alone. I landed in the middle of one of the worst snow storms Iceland had seen in a decade, and I was snowed in my hotel room for the first three days or so of my visit.

This go around, I'm not alone. My husband is venturing around the country with me. It is late September, so the temperatures aren't freezing. Iceland is still largely green in a lot of areas, fall colors are taking hold in other places.

We also decided to rent a car this go around and drive the Ring Road around the island. Last time I flew straight from Reykjavik to Akureyri after landing. In fact, I spent less than 12 hours in Reykjavik and spent the majority of my Iceland time bumming around Akureyri. It became one of my absolute most favorite places, and it was our first stop on our Iceland tour.

The drive from Reykjavik to Akureyri is about 5.5 hours, but since I feel the need to stop every time the landscape changes (i.e. ALL THE TIME), it probably took us closer to seven hours. I've read that this part of the Ring Road is the most boring, but I thought it was beautiful. After living in an area that is highly populated for the last three years, being alone in total isolation was LOVELY.

We saw waterfall after waterfall, thousands of fluffy sheep, and several of the famous Icelandic horses.

After arriving to Akureyri, we walked around a bit. A lot of the town has changed and a lot has stayed the same. Since I was last here, Akureyri has experienced a tourist boom and new guesthouses and hotels have popped up. I'm writing this from our flat that overlooks Eyjafjordur and construction on what looks like a new hotel on the water is happening below our balcony. I'm honestly not sure how I really feel about that, but I guess it's not really my place to have feelings about it. I wonder what the people who live in Akureyri think about it.

Anyway, enough introspection for the morning. After my coffee is finished, we will be heading out to a bakery and onward to Myvatn. I'm sad we are spending so little time in one of my favorite towns, but I'm also excited to experience more of Iceland that I didn't get to see last time.

So I leave you with my favorites from yesterday!


"Downtown" Akureyri

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Working for the News

As many of you know, I've been working for a newspaper on Fort Bragg for the last year and a half (incidentally, it's a very large reason why my blog has been on hold for what feels like forever).

I spend most of my time doing graphic design, laying out the paper. But of course, my love and my life is photography, so whenever I get the chance to get out from behind my dual screens, I take it.

I've gotten to do some pretty cool things over the last year. I got to go up in an airplane with Golden Knights, the Army parachute demonstration team with the then Undersecretary of the Army, Patrick Murphy. The first ever professional sports game on an Army instillation was played here in July 2016, and I was lucky enough to spend 20 hours photographing members of the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball teams as they toured Fort Bragg before squaring off against each other.

Air Force One has landed once since I've been working here, and I photographed President Obama making his way off the giant airplane. Last week I got to photograph members of 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) while they demonstrated various weapons on a range.

I've gotten to photograph soldiers doing soldiers things, and I've had a great time doing it. And finally, FINALLY, after a year and a half, I have put my portfolio up on my website of what I've been doing with my time. You can find it all here.

Here are some of my favorites from my photojournalism journey:

The Golden Knights exiting an aircraft.

Patrick Murphy, center, with members of the Golden Knights.

An example of one of the layouts I've done for the paper. Cutting out parts of images and wrapping text is one of my favorite things to do, and this particular page turned out pretty well.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Update on life and Portraits of the Planet

Hello all!
Well it's been a hot minute since I've blogged, and quite a lot has happened.
I started working at a newspaper about a year and a half ago, and I'm also coaching figure skating at my local rink. Both endeavors have opened up some pretty cool doors for me, but it has left me with very little time to blog about and post photos.


Welcome to Blog Post Wednesdays, my new push to attempt to blog more frequently. I don't always get to go photograph what I want to, working for a newspaper. But I do get to cover some pretty cool events and see some interesting things. And on my free time, I do travel around the East Coast to explore and take more portraits of the planet.

So this week's blog post is going to be about Boone, North Carolina. I headed that direction this past weekend in an attempt to get away from people and experience nature a bit. I was thwarted a little in my efforts to get away from people, but I had a good time nonetheless.

On Saturday, I loaded up my Old English Sheepdog and my husband and drove the three hours to the "mountains." (I say mountains loosely here because I'm a mountain snob, being from the western United States).

We drove around the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked up Linville Gorge to see waterfalls. I was mostly excited to try out my new camera, a Canon 5DS R and my new neutral density filter. We ordered pizza and took it to a lookout on the Blue Ridge Parkway and watched the sunset while eating our dinner. It was a peaceful evening full of the sounds of birds and bugs and my camera shutter.

The tests were a success. The 5DS R (named KiKi) performed admirably during low light tests, and the ND filter will be super awesome for my next adventure to Iceland.

An after dark test, testing the noise of my camera and low light performance. Overall, pretty impressed. This was a three second exposure.

Elke, the Old English Sheepdog adventure pup

Blue Ridge Parkway at sunset

Blue Ridge Parkway at Sunset

Messing around with the ND filter. It adds two stops to my lens so I can get motion blur during the day.