I was excited to see my first ever puffins and photograph them while cruising the islands off the coast of Iceland. I knew my resultant travel photographs would never compete with professional nature photographers who sit on a hillside and wait for the perfect moment to capture a puffin. However, out of the many hundreds of photos taken from the moving, bouncing Zodiac boat, two photos were acceptable to show here.
Not knowing if I would be photographing that were flying of stationary, I practiced photographing seagulls flying around the ship. I needed to get reacquainted with the many camera settings for this fast paced photography. Positioned 10 stories high in the ocean gave me some abstract viewpoints of the seagulls I was using for practice.
The scene of the puffins I liked most was seeing them take off when our Zodiac approached. They would run along the water as fast as they could to help propel their chubby body into the air with their relatively short wings. The desired classic puffin photo shows their beak full of little sardine size looking fish, hanging out each side.
While still motoring about in the Zodiac, off in the distance we could see what appeared to be just another island. Using the 400mm lens brought along for the puffins, I was able to zoom in and explore the island in much more detail. There appeared to be a single home on this island.
Our guide confirmed that there was indeed one single family living on the island, a sheepherder. Knowing this only raised many questions, none of which got answered. Do they get TV or Internet reception? Do they own the entire island or lease the land? How does he buy ice cream? Where is the port for the supply boats, those cliffs look mighty steep. How does his daughter get picked up for prom night? The one advantage I can see is there would seem to be no need for fences and no troublesome coyotes. What is his address? Can they ski on those slopes in the winter?
We spotted another family which seemed to want to live alone.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are the two homes below. Cruising along on a foggy day we passed by a very long and desolate beach These two families could easily have spread out a bit on the very long, narrow strip of land. Instead, they chose to build as close together as possible, with a clear view of one another, even on this very foggy day. Maybe the share the same septic tank.
As you travel, a lot of questions never get answered.
Walk Around Reykjavík
In 2015 I went to Iceland for a couple weeks on a photography tour with a good friend, Seth Hamel. I met Seth while living in Zion, Utah. Click HH Iceland Photos to see photos from that Iceland photographic adventure. Click Seth to get in touch with Enlighten Photography for info on his next photographic trip to Iceland. Seth is a VERY energetic photographer who is always “super psyched” for any photographic adventure. On my trip with Seth to Iceland, I took one of my favorite photos of all time:
The loud roar of crashing waves after the storm could be heard just beyond the white snow line. This photo won ‘Best of Show’ at the Boise Camera Club annual event.
On the Seabourn Quest we did not opt for the early morning, 10 hour cruise bus ride to see the beautiful waterfalls and countryside of Iceland. I’m sure it would have been a fine trip, but we just explored Reykjavík. Oddly enough, we had a very good Vietnamese lunch. We also found brightly colored streets which seem to be everywhere in Iceland.
Icelandic Lunch, Heimaey Islands
Having a taste of the local food is an important part of my overall travel experience. We selected a spot near the harbor that seemed relatively busy. Some tourists, none that we noted from our ship and numerous locals. We ate out one the sidewalk with this view.
Our alternative would be to dine under a bunch of twisted baby doll photos. Not the good kind of twisted baby dolls. It reminded me of a photo assignment our camera club once had. Take a series of photos, many photos, of the same or similar related subject. This photographer apparently had access to over 50 baby dolls. Probably a story here, but there was a language barrier to find out more.
When dining out in a foreign country, I never look at the meal prices. I do not at all agree with the reasoning, or lack of reasoning from those travelers who complain at the cost of the entrée. The cost of any meal pales in comparison to the entire cost of the trip, so what does the cost of a single meal matter? If I fly from the US to Iceland and buy a hamburger and return, didn’t the hamburger really cost me about $5,000?
Regardless, we can still be shocked by prices. We didn’t pull out our calculators to calculate the cost of the meal we had ordered. What the heck is an ISK anyway? But later, our credit card company informed us we had just consumed a $108 meal. I did remark at the time it was one of the very best soups I had in a very long time. Yes, it was worth it.
Exploring Ísafjörður, Iceland
I’m reminding readers once again I’m not writing to give you ideas for what you should or should not do if you ever visit Ísafjörður. My hobby is travel photography, not writing travel guides. I’ll leave that to the widely followed Rick Steves. By the way, when we were traveling extensively, we would avoid the towns and restaurants recommended by Rick Steves. We opted instead to go the the less traveled and less known villages. Otherwise, you could see the Steve-Heads with their nose in his guide book trying to follow the exact path laid out for them. I’m betting money Ísafjörður is not on his list of places to visit according to Rick. In this case, that may be for a good reason.
While in Ísafjörður, we did our obligatory walk about town and stopped in a tavern for a local lunch. There are no regular restaurants in these towns. If you want a lunch, your option is generally to go to a tavern. By now were are seeing the same people from our cruise ship over and over again. Richard became very well known on the ship for leaving his wife behind and searching out local taverns to sample the beer. The small number of cruise guests were becoming a more and more close knit group.
The blue color of the mountain in the shade offered a simple, uncluttered background, matching the color of the home.
I’m confident there are no visitors to these towns in the winter. Bleak, long, hard winters seem like they would be the norm. However, they get to go hunting, likely travel by snowmobile and do not have to worry about pesky tourists wandering about. The longer and harder the winter, the more brightly they paint their homes. Well, that is just a theory.
Overview of Ísafjörður
The above photo shows you how small this town is. The residential part is in the foreground, town in the middle left and more industrial section near our cruise ship. So what might I have missed in this town? A website telling me the 15 best things to do here does list a beautiful waterfall that can be seen if I opt for a 4 hour bus ride to the country side. Upon returning to town there is a tavern for fish and chips and a visit to Hversdagssafn a shoe museum. Apparently they have an exhibit of old shoes accompanied by recordings of their former owners sharing memories of them. Why didn’t I think of that? Actually, it is somewhat reminiscent of the Museum of Broken Relationships we found in Croatia. As interesting as the shoe stories may sound, with a name like Hversdagssafn, it is doubtful the riveting stories of shoes would be in English. If YOU were asked to present a pair of shoes and a story, would you be able to contribute something interesting? After the shoe museum, we could then walk to Klæðakot that reportedly had an impressive selection of fine yarns. And THAT is no yarn…
Back to the Seaborn Quest
So, once again we return to the Seabourn Quest. We will have a couple days at sea as we head toward a Greenland fjord. We will skip all breakfasts, exercise daily, sit back and smoke and joke with the rest of the passengers. In Greenland, I took some of my favorite photos. That is what is called a tease to get you interested in following this riveting series of blogs a bit more.
My Faithful BLOG Readers
I would like to thank some of my very faithful blog readers over the years.
The very generous Lou Gambetta who can always be counted on for one of my very first blog comments. He is on the East Coast.
Ken Miracle who is a VERY accomplished nature photographer, AKA bird photographer.
Cynthia Rutledge who is tied down with a nursing job but says she travels vicariously through my posts.
Greg Stringham who is also a world traveler with over 10,000,000 Google hits for his world travel images.
And… especially Bonnie Carlton and her husband Dave who were so inspirational to me through their travel blog, vagabonandave.com . (their web page may be down temporarily) They literally enticed me through their travel blogs to travel from Utah to Romania to take one of my favorite photos. They are the most intrepid travelers I know. They have worn out multiple minivans traveling throughout Europe and the world. Their best years were seven years spent sailing the Mediterranean Sea on their 29 foot catamaran named Icarus. What adventures they have had. I’ve never met them in person but wish them the best. Here is the photo I traveled to Romania to take through their inspirational photos and travel blog:
Thanks to you all who have shown some interest in my travels. Please do not feel offended if I left someone out. I just looked at my most recent post and responded to some of them.