• Landscape,  Travel

    High above sea level

    In autumn in South Tyrol, the changeable weather is a series of photographic opportunities. On mountains above 2200m there is already a loose layer of snow. A little below that, autumn shows itself after a hot summer.

    Autumn starts at Alpe di Siusi © Julian Köpke

    The changeability unfolds a grandiose spectacle of clouds and peaks on the Dolomites around the Alpe di Siusi. All you need is a good seat in the café by the cable car to comfortably watch the light change and react to it.

    If it really does rain during the day, a visit to the archaeological museum in Bolzano is a good alternative to board games in the holiday flat. Digital registration is worthwhile, but less significant in autumn.

    The poor man who died 5300 years ago from a painful arrowhead in his left shoulder, probably in shock due to the rupture of the arteria subclavia, is a treasure trove or stroke of luck for science, which has made many research opinions have to be reconsidered.

    The artistic reconstruction of the body by Adrie and Alfons Kennis from the Netherlands does not reflect the finding situation of the glacier mummy. It appears fragile and vulnerable, almost old and tired. One should not be deceived by the physical impression of the fictitious reconstruction. His last ascent from the valley over extremely rough terrain up to the Tiesenjoch at 3210m within about 6 hours was a physical challenge and probably a masterstroke.

    Photography was allowed in the Museum of Bolzano if it was not organic material. This artistic representation made of silicone does not correspond to the finding situation. Ötzi's personal misfortune was a stroke of luck for science. © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Long time exposure,  Travel

    Snæfellsness peninsula

    In the meantime, 0.8TB of photo data has accumulated. It will be a challenge to process all these photos. Fortunately, I am concentrating on a few compositions, each of which will be studied in more detail. The themes of geometry, lines and planes stand alongside the theme of colour contrast, which is easy to focus on in Iceland.

    The basalt rocks of Arnarstapi are ideal for this. With moderately homogeneous cloud cover, they lend themselves to long-term studies. The Phase One camera is able to do without the grey filter through frame averaging, which otherwise often leads to slight shifts in the composition.

    Arnarstapi basalt cliff. 2s, Automated Frame Average. LTE © Julian Köpke

    I’m still not sure whether the basalt rocks of Lóndrangar look better in colour or in black and white. We had drizzle and fog again and again, but also very brief sunny moments. Icelandic weather has returned to normal.

    Lóndrangar basalt cliff. 10s, Frame Average; LTE © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    From Latrabjarg to Arnarstapi

    A low probability does not mean that something will not happen. For a brief moment, auroras could be observed at night at Hotel Latrabjarg. However, by the time the camera was set up, the phenomenon had already subsided. The night remained cloudless and starry, and the next morning the windows of our car were a little frozen.

    This very sunny day with cool air was the start of the return journey, which we shortened by taking a ferry in the evening from Brjánslækur to Stykkishólmur.

    The bird cliff at the headland of Latrabjarg was completely empty. Only a few seagulls were circling without landing anywhere. The puffins had already left for the Atlantic a week ago.

    Empty bird cliffs at Latrabjarg © Julian Köpke

    From this position you can see the rocks of the Westfjords of Iceland lined up one after the other.

    Westfjord cliffs seen from Latrabjarg

    Our lazy day ended in Brjánslækur. This is where the Vikings first wintered in the 9th or 10th century. A historical plaque refers to boathouses and storehouses that had been built. It must have been a Herculean task to dig depressions in this stony ground. A few tree trunks anchored in the ground are left this. In the background line up the mountains of Snæfellsnes peninsula.

    Landscape at Brjánslækur with a white house and historic poles © Julian Köpke

    Today there is a boathouse here again, with two old boats in it that nobody seems to want to use any more.

    Boat shed at Brjánslækur © Julian Köpke

    On a gentle hill, at the foot of a perhaps nameless mountain, stood another small church with a red roof. These buildings seem almost like a toy landscape when the mountains make them small.

    Waiting at Brjánslækur for the ferry boat to Stykkisholmur Brjánslækur. © Julian Köpke

    The ferry ride was sweetened by a multi-coloured sunset. We drove between the small islands via Flatey to Stykkisholmur. The clouds, however, were to prevent the Northern Lights from appearing when we arrived in Boudoir.

    On the ferry to Stykkishólmur © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    Westfjords

    A long drive of about 400 km covered this day, which continued with clouds and streaks of rain after a short dry spell. Brief moments of light were replaced by dark, low-hanging clouds. In Kollafjarðarnes, on the 68, we came across a small church, which must have belonged to a farm, along with a small cemetery. A cold sky with a warm, yellowish lawn contrasted with the red of the church roof.

    Kollafjarðarnes Kirkja © Julian Köpke

    Some roads were unpleasant to drive because, despite roadside boundaries, the sloping landscape could not be assessed. And sometimes there was thick fog on top of that. On a sloping gravel road, the fog dissipated and revealed a fjord in glorious turquoise.

    Ice Blue Westfjord in Iceland (Arnarfjord) © Julian Köpke

    In the late afternoon in full autumn light with clouds and haze we reach Dynjandi. Wikipedia reports: „Dynjandi or Fjallfoss is a waterfall of the river Dynjandisá in northwest Iceland. It is 100 m high and broadly fanned out. In summer, 2 to 8 m³/s plunge down here, and in winter about half that. The waterfall is 30 m wide at the top and 60 m wide at the bottom.“

    We approach quickly to get ahead of the impending darkening of the sun by the clouds. Due to the fanning out of the waterfall, we find an area with many small and medium-sized waterfalls, which extends over several floors and shines in magnificent colours.

    Waterfalls Dynjandi in autumn light © Julian Köpke
    We are like ants in this environment © Julian Köpke

    The combination of long time exposure (LTE) and normal exposure (STE) on a waterfall creates a special dynamic that makes it appear more alive. In this image, one shot was stacked at 1/750s and one at 1/15s. The post-processing in colour and black and white each has its own charm.

    Detail of Dynjandi waterfall. Combination of LTE and STE. © Julian Köpke
    Detail of Dynjandi waterfall. Combination of LTE and STE. © Julian Köpke

    After Dynjandi, we reached our accommodation, Holt’s Inn, via good roads. A lady from the southern Palatinate, who had not made herself at home in Cologne, worked in reception. It was so comfortable to talk to a native speaker. Outside it was slowly getting darker, clouds and haze settled over the nameless mountains.

    Evening at Holts Inn near Flateyri, Westfjords © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    Hvítserkur

    After a day of almost complete cloud cover, the day in Akureyri started with a clear night and an intense morning red. The fog in the valley below our hotel looked like a flood that kept rising and finally hid the morning red. This progression seemed to be a good sign.

    Akureyri sunrise © Julian Köpke
    Akureyri sunrise in the mist © Julian Köpke

    Our first stop was in Siglufjörður, a small harbour town whose heyday was in the 1930s. The beautiful houses had been renovated with great effort. I had to stop in front of this white house. Melodic piano notes came from the neighbouring house.

    The white house in Siglufjörður © Julian Köpke

    From Blönduos to Hvítserkur we drove as fast as possible. The tide was supposed to be at its lowest when we arrived. After a sunny day along the northern coasts, the clouds closed in again. The stone monument gives room for imagination.

    To me it looked like a grazing giant animal, similar to a water buffalo. The size and mass would be comparable to a dinosaur. Few rays of sunlight fell on the creature from time to time and made it shine.

    Hvítserkur with reflection at low tide © Julian Köpke

    The two interruptions of the figure become window and door on closer inspection. A kind of Mother of God niche. At some point the interruption will be too big to carry the whole load.

    Hvítserkur detail © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    Aldeyjarfoss

    Today was the day of forgetting. Super sunshine seduced us into relative inactivity bordering on planlessness. It was good for our exhaustion, because the last few days had been full of highlights and emotional highs. That is why we went whale watching.

    Two adult dolphins and a young, obviously at the swimming school © Julian Köpke
    Tail fin of a humpback whale © Julian Köpke

    We could have ended the day so calmly. In the early evening, shortly before nightfall, my friend Detlef remembered his most important waterfall: Aldeyjarfoss. He really wanted to go to Iceland for that. 50km of unpaved road lay ahead of us. When we arrived, it was not yet completely dark, the unsecured path high above the river valley was still passable.

    Aldeyjarfoss © Julian Köpke

    We had hoped for moonlight to shoot the waterfall, which was a 96% full moon. But it took its time and only rose when we had left the spot.

    Moonrise at Aldeyjarfoss © Julian Köpke

    The way back took us past the Godafoss car park. As if we hadn’t seen and photographed enough, a few sparse northern lights appeared. They were mixed with the clouds and the Big Dipper was in the middle.

    Polar light and clouds near Godafoss © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    Glaciers

    Long days in Iceland with a time difference of 2 hours to Germany. It’s light here, while at home those who stayed at home go to bed.
    Early in the morning we started our tour to the lagoon of Hoffellsjökull. There is no tourist infrastructure, the car has to have a lot of ground clearance and the tyres have to be well inflated to reach the lagoon.
    A harmonious light situation awaited us today, light cloud cover making the sunlight a little more diffuse. The contrasts of the icebergs were clear.

    The constantly changing light through the clouds made the icebergs alternately light and dark. The consistent structures were brought to life by the permanent change of light.

    Morning at Hoffellsjökull glacier lagoon © Julian Köpke

    Changing the lens is not a change of perspective. Nevertheless, the change is worthwhile, because the higher focal length has the effect of enlarging a section. The change of light does its part.

    Morning at Hoffellsjökull glacier lagoon © Julian Köpke

    The drive to Skalafellsjökull via the F985 pass road was somewhat adventurous. Although our Japanese car kept making very different beeps and noises, the meaning of which we could not always identify, the car was technically usable for this road.

    At the top we found a base camp for glacier tours with snowmobiles. A short walk over rocks of all shapes and sizes brought us to the edge of the glacier. A cool, almost constant wind blew around our ears. Gloves were great for working with the camera. With a rather dull light I created a panorama of the early glacier.

    Glacier Skalafellsjökull at the end of F985 © Julian Köpke

    The most impressive structures of the glacier are found crosswise and lengthwise to the flow and are called „ogives“ resp. „band ogives“. We had already admired their charm many times on the ascent. We devoted ourselves to them on the descent.

    Glacier Skalafellsjökull ogives and some band ogives © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    Eystrahorn

    Besides the Vestrahorn near Höfn, there is the Eystrahorn near Hvalnes, situated right next to a lighthouse. The bay at Hvalnes was windless, sunny and warm. Just as we turned east at the lighthouse, the weather abruptly changed to stormy, cloudy and cold. It took me 3/4 of an hour to safely photograph the mountain group, because clouds obstructed the view.

    Fragile clouds at Eystrahorn beneath Hvalnes Lighthouse © Julian Köpke

    The view to the west shows the peninsula, the sea and Vestrahorn in the distance. The fragility of the weather situation is not noticeable in this direction.

    Hvalnes beach and peninsula beneath Eystrahorn. Vestrahorn at the horizon. © Julian Köpke

    In the evening it became increasingly overcast and the prospects of seeing the abundantly announced auroras sank into the bottomless pit. The clouds were coloured by the evening glow. Hotel guests gathered on the terrace to greet the sunset with many photos.

    Evening at Fosshotel Vatnajökull © Julian Köpke
  • Iceland,  Landscape,  Travel

    Patterns and glacial flows

    This morning we were far from convinced to book a photographic sightseeing flight. Because the clouds were hanging 20m above the ground when we left our hotel. The closer we got to Skaftfell, the brighter it became, but still plenty cloudy. Only on the peaks of Vatnajökull was there plenty of sun.

    The experienced pilot was sure we would have fun. And so it came to pass. Because our pilot liked to take pictures from the air himself and knew exactly how to get the best light conditions in front of our lens in the clearing weather. How impressive it was may be understood by pointing out my rapidly aching hands, which from focusing, positioning the camera and releasing the shutter on both sides had me feeling the saddle joints after only half an hour.

    Our flight was a complete success thanks to this young pilot whose machine was more than twice his age. Only the engine was new, he said.

    Glacial flows and patterns on Iceland © Julian Köpke

    After crossing the first glacier flow, we reached the glacier itself. With the old Cessan we slowly crept up the glacier. I felt reminded of films where the altitude limit is reached and the hero has to dare to jump. The cold downdraft winds were hard on the plane, but the pilot still guided us safely up the slope.

    The sight of a glacier reminds me of frozen waves that take you up and down with power. The frozen glacier seems less dangerous, almost still.

    Flying up the glacier Vatnajökull © Julian Köpke

    We left the glacier area again to approach the glacier lagoon Jökullsarlon. From above, everything looks small, I didn’t even notice the many icebergs I would later find from the plane.

    Flight from Vatnajökull to Jökullsarlon © Julian Köpke

    In one hour I took 700 pictures, which is about 50 GBytes of data. At the end, the exhaustion of the hands and body was noticeable. We only had bananas and nuts for breakfast, as we had to leave the hotel before breakfast. Fortunately, we had gloves, scarf and hats to brave the cold that came in through the open plane windows.

    Glacial flows and patterns on Iceland © Julian Köpke

    Deep sleep had been indicated and possible before the evening excursion. With a small diversions via Hafnarnesviti lighthouse, we reached the Viking Café in Stocksness at 11 pm. Many cars took the same route. Northern lights at Vestrahorn were the final destination for all. For the first time I experienced polar lights with my cam under clear skies.

    Polarlights at Stocksness © Julian Köpke
    Polarlights at Stocksness © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Travel

    Skogafoss

    Our first stop is Skogafoss, which we had already visited last year. At that time we were almost alone. Today it is crowded like at the Oktoberfest. Along the outflow of the waterfall, I moved along the bank of the current with the tripod forward to somehow capture the overwhelming scale of this place.

    Skogafoss © Julian Köpke

    In front of each monument you may recognize people posing or acting. If you wait long enough, there is always an opportunity for a special picture that shows the scale of the force of nature and the relative tininess of human appearance.

    Skogafoss © Julian Köpke

    In Reynisfjara at Black Sand beach we find flow that has become stone. Basal columns and many variations of them, to be viewed from above and marvelled at from below. Frozen movement shows the past time of unbridled geological power.

    Reynisfjara basalt formation © Julian Köpke
    Reynisfjara basalt formation © Julian Köpke

    The basalt columns on Reynisfjara beach are a place of joy for all those who have made the long journey there. Is there anything more beautiful than climbing on the rocks and being photographed ?

    I experienced a moment of peace in the Verzasca Valley in Ticino. It was late afternoon and I had climbed down close to the stream to take a picture of the rocks and their reflection in the Verzasca in a pool of greenish light. What a joy this morning, because the picture was put into the explore stream of Flickr.