A trip to Italy always has the whiff of a quest. We started across the Verzasca Valley, which is in the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland, close to Locarno. Harold couldn’t wait to see and photograph the Ponte dei Salti. There in Lavertezzo, the emerald green Verzasca creek crosses an area of streaky rocks with small depressions where the water collects and does not flow any further.
There was a moment on the day of arrival when seemingly golden light from the late afternoon sun made the hollows look like liquid gold. The next morning, time seemed to stand still, only the electric supply showing the arrival of modernity.
Stopover in Pavia, whose main dome shows a honeycomb-like structure, especially when using a focal length of 11mm in full frame. The river Ticino flows quietly and slowly, a counterpoint to the traffic noise of sporting Italians. The photo on the right was taken on the Ponte Coperto.
A short overnight stay in San Gimignano, the next morning still exploring the area at a distance from the old town. A large car park, a charging station for electrical energy in a multi-layered state of construction – in statu nascendi.
Arriving in Siena, we immediately studied the cathedral in the light of the afternoon sun. The contrast between inside and outside could not be greater.
Probably more famous than the cathedral is the Torre del Mangia of the Palazzo Communale. We could see it from the cathedral and from the Piazza del Campo, where the annual Equestrian Festival takes place.
In Assisi, the accommodation did not allow us to be creative because it was far too cold. The man who handed over the flat to us could not be described as sober at all.
We took up quarters in San Gemini, Umbria, and roamed the area from there. On the way there, we passed Trevi. The towns are situated on hills, which made them easier to defend in the past. Inside the old cities, you encounter a maze of alleys and bridges between the houses.
At the southernmost point of our journey, in Tivoli in Lazio, we began to feel the winter change. The light and the clouds were now becoming more dramatic, the garden of the Villa d’Este was devoid of blooming flowers, the visitors might be fewer than in summer, all the more eager to take a selfie everywhere. With a little patience, it was possible to take pictures without other visitors in them.
In Orvieto, in Umbria, north-east of Tivoli, we then found the perfect fog. The entrance with the car a bit tight on both sides, nevertheless we got away without any scratches. The sunset after the foggy day in the medieval quarter of Orvieto with a break in style because of the electric street lamps.
The front of the cathedral was for me of outstanding beauty, always accompanied by a demonstration of former power and wealth, yet also of simple beauty. Before sunrise, the building seems almost threatening, the outer splendour only coming to light in the morning.
On a foggy and rainy day, Orvieto was a good place to pass the time in the Pozzo di San Patrizio or the city’s underground economic spaces dating back 3 millennia. On the Torre del Moro there was fog at first without any view. We were also not really oriented about the points of the compass. We philosophised about Ed Weston and Ansel Adams, who also argued about whether one should hold out in a place or better moving on. Ed Weston was for staying, Ansel Adams for moving on. Harold, however, did not want to accept my suggestion to simply leave the tower on a trial basis, that the fog would have a chance to clear for me. After one and a half hours, the time had come. In just a few minutes, the sunlight broke through the fog of the old town and exposed magnificent compositions.
If a farewell is to be particularly difficult, one must leave Italy from Florence. A warm sun greeted us with the last of its summery strength, the arrival of winter already noticeable here.
The Icelanders‘ second season: „winter is coming“. In the Dolomites, the onset of winter is felt with the onset of autumn. The first snowfalls above 2500m are visible and the clouds also give it away.
In the course of a day, the light situation often changes fundamentally, which is what makes the Alpe di Siusi so special for photographers. Craggy rocks and autumnal pastures melt into an almost picturesque overall impression.
White clouds float light as a feather in the late afternoon sun over the pasture area. It was getting warm once again and our own clothing is not adequate for the second time in the course of the day. Once again, summer unfolds its power.
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.
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.
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.
From this position you can see the rocks of the Westfjords of Iceland lined up one after the other.
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.
Today there is a boathouse here again, with two old boats in it that nobody seems to want to use any more.
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.
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.
The drive from Flateyri to Latrabjarg is in sunshine with intermittent light cloud. Winter is coming: warm autumnal colours dominate. In Iceland, you walk at sea level and look at glaciers or year-round snowfields.
The cloud formations change more every day, appear dishevelled, a thin sun shines, the land no longer gets warm.
The second visit to Dynjandi made us stay down. The colours of the sea were strongly reminiscent of the Caribbean, still warmly outshone by the land in the late morning light around 11am.
After the short second visit to Dynjandi in the morning on the way through, we came across the well-known shipwreck of the whaling ship Garðar BA 64. The weather cleared incredibly quickly and we were able to capture the rusting material as HDR. With a fisheye lens, the wreck deformed slightly in an arc under the circularly arranged clouds.
Shortly before the turnoff to our accommodation at Hotel Latrabjarg, the path led us to a red sandy beach. There are at least two of these, the other is on the south coast near Vik with the grave of a young Viking around 18.
The red beach is called Rauðisandur in Icelandic. It lies far in front of the sea. Between the beach and the mountains is a marshland with farms, siels and cows.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the drive from Raufarhöfn via Husavik to Akureyri, we moved along the coast for a long time. The sky was completely overcast and small showers were falling.
Iceland’s public sculptures are always clearly visible along the roads . The colours blue and green created cool compositions. The image of the coastline with waves warmed up a little or harmonized by the cliffs.
After this hot year, it’s starting to get cool, although Iceland is also uncharacteristically warm at the moment. With twists and turns we finally reach the hotel in Raufarhöfn via the 870 with stops in Raudinupur, Skinnalón and the Arctic Henge.
To reach the lighthouse in Raudinupur we had to walk 6 km there and back. Just arrived, the sunny weather changed and a thick, icy fog surrounded us. We became unsure which would be the right way back. The chattering of the gannets did not stop.
My personal highlight of the day is the abandoned farm Skinnalón. It lies at 66 degrees and 31′ north latitude, which is only 1′ below the Arctic Circle, just a few steps from the Arctic Sea. The area was closed off to vehicles, the footpath uneven and a strange smell drifted over to me the closer I got to the former farm. My eyes quickly became irritated and a headache set in, as if an allergic reaction was taking place.
The Arctic Henge has been under construction as a work of art since 2002 and is unfinished. Somehow the goings-on at the construction site are reminiscent of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, perhaps because the stone arches are irregular, but geometrically very precisely arranged.
In the early evening, a fog began to settle over the place, so we went to Arctic Henge again at nightfall. For a long time I looked at the arch as a gate with a little moving person in the background. Only during post-processing did I recognise a stone.
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.
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.
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.