Iceland 2012 Trip

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Iceland 2012 Trip

Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Saturday, May 26

A quaint farmhouse and chapel - there are lots of them in Iceland.

One thing I quickly realised about Iceland was that I was very unlikely to pronounce any of the place names correctly. The rain had been relentless all night and looking out the window, there was not much to see in Stykkisholmur. The distant islets in the bay beyond the golf course were mere shadows. I wondered how often the locals managed to play a full round.

The view from my hotel window - before the rain set in!

 

We bundled into the cars and set off around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The forecast had been for an overcast morning followed by rain in the afternoon, but the rain had remained. And it was particularly wet rain, by which I mean you didn’t stand out in it for too long before your clothes were well and truly drenched. My lightweight ‘water resistant’ trousers were quickly saturated and I borrowed a pair of North Face waterproof pants from Daniel. Mental note: I need a pair like this for New Zealand the following month.

Phase One's Kevin Raber leans into the wind.

 

In terms of jackets, I had two. The first was a ZXU courtesy of Hamilton Island and brilliantly windproof. While the outside isn’t like a raincoat, it does shed the water and kept me dry. However, it isn’t thickly padded (it doesn’t get that cold on Hammo), so I also had a North Face Summit Series. Also brilliantly windproof, it didn’t shed the water as well, but was much thicker and warmer. I found it the superior jacket for the cold because it is much softer and lighter to wear, while the ZXU is great as a protective jacket, but stiffer in fabric and heavier to wear.

In terms of clothing, Iceland is so variable you have to be ready for everything. Temperatures ranged from -10C to +17C. I wore an Icebreaker t-shirt, an Icebreaker long sleeve skivvy, and then on top of that a Patagonia (the brand) Capilene (polar fleece). If it was a bit colder, I’d also put on a large black woollen jumper I bought in Patagonia (the place) several years ago (for the princely price of US$10 and the best value piece of clothing I own). Then it was one of the jackets depending on the likelihood of precipitation, or if very cold, both jackets. When dressing for extreme climates like Iceland, it’s simply a matter of taking lots of layers. I thought that my two jackets were overkill at first, but there’s nothing better than being toasty warm in a cold environment.

On the road in Iceland, camera in hand. Well, one of them! I shot with both the Phase One IQ180 and the little Fujifilm XPro-1.

There wasn’t much we could see as we snaked our way around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, just a shiny strip of road leading into a misty distance with lots of small farms on the edges. However, we could see steep cliffs climbing into the clouds and could only guess what lay hidden up above.

It didn’t take too long to reach the southern coast of the Peninsula and a few kilometres along we spotted the silhouette of a church. This was to be our first destination, the black walled church of Budir.

Budir Church

 

Located on a lava field, there’s a quaint hotel a few hundred metres away and a rocky shoreline another hundred metres distant. The original Budir church was built in 1703, but in 1816 the parish was abolished and the church dismantled. However, it appears one of the locals was unhappy about this situation and applied for royal permission to build a new one in 1848. The church that is there today was reconstructed in 1987, explaining its excellent upkeep, although inside is a bell dating back to 1672.

The location has been made famous by many photographers, including Michael Reichmann on his Luminous Landscape website, and we could all see why: it is delightful architecture in a picture perfect location. And as we would find out the next day, even more picturesque with the mountains and glaciers in the background.

 

A regular pattern for the day. Get out of the car, get wet, get back in the car!

But it wasn’t to be. The rain was so heavy that all we did was jump out to take a few shots. I used my Fujifilm X-Pro1 with its 18mm wide-angle lens to shoot the church and the other photographers in the rain, but it was incredibly disappointing not to be able to do the church justice.

 

We drove west along the southern edge of the Peninsula until we reached Arnarstapi, a tiny fishing hamlet at the foot of Mount Stapafell. Braving the rain, we ran from the car park to the cliffs where we were greeted by the most amazing cliffs formed as lava from the land met the sea. The shapes and rough texture over the rocks was incredible, and so was the driving rain. Again a few shots with the X-Pro1 (it really was great to have a little camera with a decent sensor) and back to the vehicles.

The rock arch at Arnarstapi - the weather could have been better.

Suffice to say, two great locations and no sign of the weather improving was testing for all of us, but it got worse as we continued our circumnavigation of the Peninsula. In fact, I was so frustrated I started shooting photos out of the car window, something I rarely do, and yet I was very pleased with the results. The moody, blurry images were a perfect reflection of our experience in Iceland to date. However, all was not lost.

I like it as a photo, but maybe it's because I was there! The low cloud and green tint through the window seem to give it lots of Icelandic mood! But fear not, the weather would improve!

Daniel announced that the weather would improve and that the storm should have passed us over by sunrise the following morning. The new plan was to get an early night’s sleep and drive back to the black church for the early morning light.

This sounded like a great plan, except it was late May in Iceland and sunrise was around 3.00 a.m.!

Next: Snaefellsnes to Seljalandsfoss

Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses
AIPP

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