Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Photography Year in Review

This year was good year for photography for me even if Iceland was disappointing from a photography perspective.  So, at years end, I reviewed my photo statistics and found that I edited 2,871 images (that is the number of edited images sitting in LightRoom not the number of photos I took); my most used focal length is 28 mm, with a shutter speed of 1/125s at an f8 aperture, and ISO 400.

I also looked back at the photos I posted this year and determined my three favorite photos in Cosplay, Travel/Landscape, and Animals.  Then looked at my website and determined which photo was the most viewed. The photo really was not a surprise because overall, the cosplay was great and the photo turned out well.  It was Maleficent from Katsucon, it had over 1300 views.   

Cosplay



Travel/Landscape



Animals


Most Viewed Photo



That is my wrap up for the year. I am looking forward to a great 2016, working with awesome people, and traveling to amazing interesting places.   

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Star Wars Cosplay Photo Shoot

On December 6, I participated in Star Wars Cosplay Photo Shoot hosted by the DC Cosplay Group at the National Building Museum, which is a great location to shoot in, due to its grandeur.  The meet up consisted of several cosplayers and photographers.  The rules for the shoot were simple no blasters inside the museum, but light sabers were ok, and photographers could not use light stands or umbrellas.  Thus, this meet up was perfect for photographers practicing for Katsucon.

At the shoot, I used a Cannon 70D with an 18 - 200mm lens and an external 600EX-RT on a stick held by my assistant, who is also my husband.  Using an off camera flash, was good because it allowed me to get different angles of light.   I took over 200 photos, however only kept 136 photos mostly because several were repeats poses.  My camera was set ISO 400 with an f/8 aperture, which is the sweet spot form my lens.  My shutter speed varied between 1/20s to 1/200s, with the most common speed being 1/20s and 1/60s.  My focal length ranged between 28mm to 111mm with the most common being 28mm and 32mm.



I did post process several of the photos in Lightroom and then brought them in Photoshop CC to fix the color of the light sabers.  I fixed the light sabers either by using internal glow or by adjusting the vibrancy and saturation.   For several of the photos, especially of Sith Lords I went dark and moody, while for the light side of the Force I went warmer with more golden tones.  The golden tones were very complementary to the building because it has several large rich golden marble columns in the main atrium of the building. Overall, I am very happy with these photos.


You can see all the photos from the shoot here: Star Wars Photo Shoot

Sunday, November 29, 2015

What I Want

The Holiday season has officially kicked off.  As we leave Thanksgiving behind and make that mad dash to prepare for Christmas, by decking the halls, making cookies, shopping for gifts, and wrapping presents.  We make lists, check them twice, and stress out about all the little things.   

I took a moment today to think, because someone asked me what I want for Christmas. I thought, “What do I really want for Christmas?”  Sure, I could ask for world peace like a stereotypical pageant queen or something selfish like million dollars or a heated back massager. (Cannot lie all those would be nice.) But, honestly what I would like is a phone call from friends and family to just catch up and discuss things going on in the world. (If you are wondering why, I do not call; it is because I feel like I am interrupting when I call. If you are wondering, why I do not text instead, it is because I hate conversation by text message.) Alternatively, I would love people to come down and visit me at some point during the year.  Because I do not want things, I want memories, happiness, and laughter. Do not get me wrong things are nice but memories of happy moments are better.


I think now a days we get caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle, and forget the holidays are the time to slow down and spend some time with family and friends. It is not about the biggest tree, best cookies, or the prettiest or biggest presents.  It about sharing time with those you care about, even if they are a little strange or they could give the Griswolds a run for their money.  Therefore, while I may have decorated my tree and started shopping for gifts, I hope I can find the time to slow down and enjoy the moment and remember what the Season is all about, joy.  Therefore, I hope to get happy memories and experience joyous times and remember to slow down and enjoy the moment.  Because moments are fleeting and it is the little things that make the memory not the flashy ribbons and bows. Thus, I wish my family and friends happiness, health, joy and wealth for the season. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

AnimeUSA 2015 Wrap-up

I am considering this AnimeUSA 2015 a success.  I had ten photo shoots scheduled but only did eight due to cancellations.  Overall, I thought most of the shoots went well, however the construction going on at the venue limited some photo opportunities outside in the garden area.  I found that early Sunday morning is the best time to shoot in the “fancy” area of the venue including the long brick hallway.   Because the area was empty, I was able to get some nice reflection shots using the mirrored walls in that area of the venue.  Also the other area that I enjoyed shooting in was in the upper levels of the venue near the elevator bays, were they have a sitting area with curved couches.

Aurora by Cassimonee Cosplay
Daiya by Lina Lin Cosplay





















Now every year I have some lessons learned, and this year is no exception.  Again, pre-shoot questionnaire really helped with the shoots, allowing me to plan the shoot, select locations, and get a better understanding of the character.  I also determined ten shoots is about right for this convention, and I prefer if possible to shoot in the early morning and in the evening when there are fewer photographers jockeying for locations. Next year I may consider moving off site a bit for some of the shoots if the cosplayer is willing.  The other thing I will be doing is instituting a cancellation policy, due to people showing up late for shoots.  I understand being stuck in elevators or getting out of session late, but 15-minutes late is too late for a 45-minute shoot.   Thus, next year I will be instituting a 5-minute rule. In addition, I think I may be limiting people to two sessions during the convention. 

Now for the photo breakdown.  I was using a Cannon 70D with an 18-200 mm lens and 430EX II external flash unit.  (While this convention allows you to use tripods and light stands, I did not use any.) I took a little over 900 pictures and kept 598, which is approximately 66-percent.  Based on the analysis of the photo meta data (I love analyzing data) my shutter speed ranged from 1/400 to 2 seconds with the most common speed being 1/250 seconds.  My aperture ranged from 3.5f to 9f with the most common aperture being 4.5f.  The focal length statics I found most interesting, my focal length ranged from 28mm to 147mm with my most common focal length being 28mm.  

In conclusion, it was a good convention, even if I had to deal with construction. I look forward to next year.  You can see all the photos from AnimeUSA 2015here.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pixel Test

We got a Pixelstick about three weeks ago, thought it would be a fun thing to add to the gear collection and possibly use at anime conventions.  The pixelstick is a narrow 6-foot strip of colored LEDs that will go off in a pattern, and as you walk with the stick, it will form a light trail or picture based on the loaded program.  Most people use it to create abstract light art or do light painting; however, it can also be used to create a background for a photo or add effects like fireballs and ghosts.

Last night I did a few test shots with the stick.  I did some light painting first.  Which is interesting, but I think I need to have a specific pattern in my head or be working around interesting objects and/or people.  I also determined we might need to get the attachment for the stick, which bends and smooths the light to form better curves.   Overall, the light painting turned out okay. However, I need to work on my timing for the moon. But the lantern background turned out well. 



The next test was to have my husband stand in the picture and shoot fireballs.  When I informed him of this role, he told me he couldn’t shoot fireballs because he only knew the somatic component for magic missile.   To do the fireball test (since there were only two of us) I put the camera on a 10-second timer and the flash on back-curtain sync. After I hit the shutter button on the camera, I would run over to where my husband was standing, hit the fire button on the stick, and then walked away from him perpendicular to the camera.  This worked fairly well; I just needed to start closer to his hands.  The one thing that did significantly help was my camera fires a pre-flash right when the timer ends but before the shutter opens, which was my cue to hit the fire button on the stick.   This will take practice but I am fairly happy with the results.


We do need to practice a bit more with the stick but start integrating it into evening photo shoots. We will be taking it to Anime USA to possibly use in a few shots with some adventurous cosplayers.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Historical Snow White

In honor of my photography Facebook page reaching a 100 likes, I ran a contest to give away a 100-minute photo shoot with digital images and a 5x7 print.   The winner of the contest was chosen at random from those who commented on the contest post.   The winner of the contest was Sara Cosplay, who does historical versions of the Disney princesses. 

Snow White in the Wood
She choose to do a combined outdoor and studio shoot for her historical Snow White cosplay.  We did the outside shots in a local park, which had a waterfall feature and a trestle area covered in ivy.  For the shoot, I used my standard 18-200 mm lens, using an ISO 100 with a f5 and smaller aperture, with various shutter speed, and an external flash.  The flash was used because the waterfall photos were taken in a heavily shaded area and it allowed for the me light the subject properly and separate here from the background.  My husband used his 70-200 mm lens with an ISO 100 with an f2.8 aperture with various shutter speeds and off-camera flash on a light stand.  The same basic set up was used for the photos taken in the ivy.  The goal of the outdoor shots was to capture Snow White in the woods.

Studio Shot
For the indoor, studio portion we used two backdrops, off camera flashes on light stands with shoot-through umbrellas and the same basic camera setting as previously.  My husband switched lens to a prime 50mm and a prime 85mm lens for his shots.   He also did not use the two flash set up, but a single off camera flash on a light stand with a 60-inch reflective umbrella.   The first backdrop we used was a dappled blue with a white wood floordrop.  Sadly, I did not have a baseboard to tie the two drops together.  Then we switch to a close to neutral grey backdrop, which also covered the floor. The goal of the studio shots was to capture a regal Snow White.

We post processed all the shots using a combination of Lightroom and Photo Shop CC.  For the outdoor shots we did basic retouching. While for the studio shots, we smoothed out the backdrops, which were very wrinkly, by using lens blur.  I also add a texture layer on some of the shots to change the background from smooth gray to a flower/paisley like wallpaper.   

Overall the session went well, and she was happy with the final product. 

Akron Zoo and a Wedding

In September, we were up in Ohio to attend a wedding.  The weather that weekend was mostly dreary and rainy.  

Coyote in a barrel
The Friday we arrived, it was cloudy and looked as though it was going to rain any minute, but we went to the Akron Zoo anyway before dinner with family.  The Akron Zoo is a small zoo that makes you feel you are up close and personal with the animals in the zoo.  However, the zoo does feel like a bit of a maze.  Overall, it is a nice zoo. 

I have upgraded to a new camera, a 70D and my husband has upgraded to a 5D.  I used my typical 18-200mm lens while my husband used a 70 – 200mm with 1.4x converter.  I kept my aperture around 8f, since it is the most versatile for the environment, while my husband varied his f-stop.  We used various shutter speeds with ISO around 200 and up depending on the exhibit.    We got a couple nice shots, plus lucked out and got to see the snow leopard try to catch a bird in its enclosure. (Akron Zoo Gallery)

Leopard relaxing


 The Saturday of the wedding, it rained 90% of the day.  In the morning, we took a walk along the CuyahogaValley National Park Towpath Trail.  It was dreary and misty which gave a walk a calm and serene feeling.   I was able to capture a few photos of herons both a great blue and green heron.  Sadly, we did not see any of the beavers or otters that call that area home.  I used my 18 -200mm lens with and ISO of 200, f8 aperture, and a 1/50 shutter speed.  

Great Blue Heron

The lovely couple
We were not the photographers for the wedding, just guests but we had our cameras with us anyway to capture a family event.  The wedding was conducted inside a country club, it was supposed to be outside but it was raining heavily in the afternoon into the evening.  The ceremony took place inside the country club in a room with dark wood paneling and large windows, but due to the rain, very little light was coming in.   We took very few pictures of the ceremony, due to our seating location. We mostly took pictures during the reception.  Overall, the area was dimly lit so we were glad we brought our flashes, which we had diffusers (stofen omi-bounce) on.  We both had our ISO at 400 or higher and used an f4 to f8 aperture depending on the light.  Shutter speed varied depending on the situation. Overall, we got some nice shots. Out of the 145 photos I took only about 45 were keepers and my husband had about a similar number of keepers from the wedding.  (Wedding Photos)



On Sunday, we drove back to DC, and it was bright and sunny that day. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Iceland, Final Thoughts

Londrangar
Now that my trip to Iceland is over, and I had time to reflect on the experience and edit all my photos these are my final thoughts on the trip.  In general it was a good vacation, have I had better yes; was it an experience, definitely.   Over the course of the trip, we found Iceland is not ready for an influx of tourists, and in not a luxury destination. We found many of the accommodations outside the two major cities were basically bed and breakfasts, which backpackers would consider luxury accommodations. I’m sorry but having to squeegee the bathroom floor because there is no shower stall, does not say upscale or classy accommodation to me.  I’ll grant many of the rooms were nice, it was always just little things that would catch you off guard, like the squeegee.  I also recommend getting use to the smelling like sulfur after your shower, because most of the hot water in the smaller locations smells heavily of sulfur.  Also, be prepared to drive on gravel roads, even though you are on a main road.  The country is great if you have aspirations of becoming a rally car driver.  Finally, taking the following items: a windbreaker, hat/ear muffs, gloves, and wraparound sunglasses helped immensely on the trip just to stop the chill from the consent wind. Would I go again, possibly for a stopover on my way to Europe.

video
Driving on dirt road in Iceland


Hraunfossar
Now for the photography break down.  On this trip, I used a Canon 70D, with an 18 – 200mm lens. I also carried a few neutral density and graduated neutral density filters.  I also carried a lens cleaning kit, which was useful for cleaning sea spray from my lens. For most of the trip, the sky was cloud covered and stormy, it was not until the last few days did I have blue sky, thus I shot mostly at ISO 200.  I did change to ISO 1000 inside the ice cave.   My shutter and aperture varied depending on the subject, but I mostly stayed around an f/8 or higher aperture and 1/60 second shutter speed or higher for the shots.  While my husband used a tripod for some of his shots, it was difficult due to the strength of the wind. I’ll admit in some locations, it was just hard to shoot handheld due to the wind blowing me backward.  Iceland is an interesting place to photograph, if you have good light. Overall, I’m not happy with several of my shots, not because the location was bad but because the lighting was just not great.  Sadly, I cannot control the sun and clouds.  Was it as great a photography trip as I hoped; no.   Nevertheless, it was still a good experience. 

You can see all the edited photo galleries here:  http://munchkinphotos.smugmug.com/Vacation/Iceland

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Snowmobiling, on a glacier!


Today was our last day in Iceland, we fly home tomorrow.  We capped the trip off with an hour snowmobiling ride on a glacier.  We were picked up at the Gullfoss visitor center, by a Mercedes off road van, it had really big tires. Think jacked up pickup truck with monster tires. It was a thirty minute drive on an “F” road (mountain dirt road requiring 4 wheel drive, actual 4 wheel drive not AWD).  They are serious about the “F” roads, regular passenger cars on them can get fined, they don’t really plow them, and the snow can be several meters deep.  So after the bumpy thirty minute drive we arrived at the shack to suit up into snowsuits suits and get on the snowmobiles. We had new four stroke, bright red snowmobiles, the handle bars were even heated to keep your hands toasty.

When we started I was leading then was passed by my husband because I wasn’t going fast enough. It was interesting riding because there was a thin crust with snow underneath, very different then what I am used too.   I eventually started to speed up to about 50 km/hour. I did end up losing the leader briefly but the backup guy got me back on course and back with the rest of the group. It was windy up there and I lost the tracks a few times, but was mostly able to spot the bright orange suits we were wearing.  I was able to stay on my snowmobile and upright unlike my husband who ended up flipped his going over a hill, he was helped back up, and put back on course.  We stopped briefly for pictures then headed back.  I was right with the leader on the way back finally getting a feel for the snow.   It was a great hour long ride.   After that it was back to the visitor center to get our car and head back to Reykjavik.   We fly out tomorrow morning.


It will be nice to get back home. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Waterfalls heading South


Husafoss

Today we traveled from the northern area of Iceland past Reykjavik to the Golden Circle area.  It is about a 4 to 5 hour drive without stops, but we made several stops along the way.  Our first stop was at Husafoss to see two waterfalls. One of which comes out of lava rocks from underground rivers.  The second stop was at a point of interest which had a bunch of little cairns. The third stop was at Þingveller, which is a national park and was the location of the Viking Althing. We did a little bit of light hiking there, to a waterfall.  Then we headed up to Geysir, before heading to our hotel.  The Geysir was not as impressive as I hoped, especially after being at Yellowstone.  The Geysir area is small little cluster of geysers with one that erupts about every 10 to 15 minutes.  It was cute.

Little Cairs before Þingveller
Waterfall at Þingveller

Our hotel seems rather old; at least the furnishings make it feel that way. Thankfully we are here only one night. Tomorrow is snowmobiling on a glacier and then back to Reykjavik. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Killing Time and Icelandic Ponies

Today we slept in, if you call sleeping till 7:30 AM sleeping in, and took our time to eat breakfast and leave the hotel.  We still left by 9:30 AM that gave us several hours to kill before we could check into our next hotel or go horseback riding, which were only about an hour and half away.  We are determining the route could have been better spaced or activities better timed. So we to fill time we stopped at almost every information and point of interest point along the way.  We also tried to take a ferry out to one of the islands but they don’t run in the morning on Sunday.   

Some of the points of interest were good, others were busts. The most interesting one we stopped at was the sod homes at Glaumbær along route 75.  Those were interesting, but the two busloads of senior citizens on vacation overwhelmed the place.  We also stopped at a point of interest which had a statue of a fisherman looking out to sea, and another stop were there was an obelisk marker showing were an old Viking fortification was.


The horseback riding was fun.  Icelandic horses are about the size of ponies, but husky.  They are hardy little horses who have manes that should be on 80’s rockers.  The horses also do not understand personal space and like to huddle next to each other.  The ride was fun; we forded a small stream that was about 3 feet deep and did something that was between a trot and a cantor.  The guide said it is similar to pacing in a quarter horses.  The ride concluded our activities for the day. 



We checked into a nice bed and breakfast place, and have our own little cabin. This cabin is much larger and nicer then the first little cabin we had. However, we will still need to squeegee the bathroom floor after our showers to make sure all the water goes down the drain. 

Tomorrow we have four hour drive not including stops to the south of Iceland.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Cave and Waterfalls

Today we woke up to sunshine and blue sky, the first time we seen those on the trip.  We then grabbed a quick breakfast and headed down to Myvatn to go caving. 

Entrance to Cave
Our guide picked us and eight other people up at the Myvatn visitor center for the hour drive, on very rough terrine through the lava field to the cave site. Once we reached the cave site we had about a 30 minute hike across the lava field to the cave entrance. Once at the entrance we descended down some stairs and then put on the special cave boots and rain or waterproof pants.  The boots were basically those trendy galoshes people like to wear, except these had little metal studs in the bottom so you could walk on ice.  This was required because the whole floor of the cave is ice.   To enter the main section of the cave must climb up about 7 feet then crawl on your belly through an opening that is 1.5 feet tall and 6 feet wide, while executing a turn to flip your feet in front of you to slide down into the first cavern.  Then you walk in a crouched position to the next obstacle, where you climbed up the ice hill using a rope, and then once you got to the top you slid down the other end into a larger cavern.  The last obstacle required you to rappel up hill, using the wall of the cave, then when you reach the top slide down the other side into the last cavern, the largest reachable by the tour group.  To get out of the cave you reverse the process.  The cave was pretty and the ice inside formed stalactites and stalagmites.  The formations you could tell took several years to make, and went through several melting and refreezing stages.  It was an interesting outing.

Caving Group

After returning from the cave excursion we ate at the “Cow Café” were you could look at the cows or the lake while you ate.  From there we headed over to see some pseudo craters and some interesting lava rock structures.  Then we headed over to Dettifoss, on the road that was open.

Dettifoss
The trail that lead to Dettifoss and its sister waterfall was altered slightly.  There were still several patches of snow and parts of the trail were flooded so an alternate path was marked.  Dettifoss itself was large, but the vantage point was not what Jim was expecting.  While it is an impressive waterfall, there is a cliff shelf hiding part of it from the western viewing area.  (The eastern viewing area is still closed.)  After viewing Dettifoss we followed the path to its sister falls which were more picturesque. Those falls were just as impressive, in my opinion, as Dettifoss.   

Dettifoss Sister Falls

From there we headed back to Akureyri with a quick stop at Godafoss on the way.  Godafoss is basically right next to the side of the road, no hiking needed.  

Goddafoss

Today was a long day, we did not return to the hotel till after 8:00 PM and we left at 7:30 AM. Thankfully we have 20 hours of daylight.  Tomorrow will be a little less busy, and will involve Icelandic ponies.

Note: All photos are untouched JPEGs. Fully edited images will be posted to website once, we get back from our trip. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Follow the yellow sticks

Today we drove out to Asbyrgi to hike and then were supposed to drive down to Dettifoss, the largest waterfall in Iceland.  It was a two hour drive from Akureyri to Asbyrgi in overcast and cloudy weather.  The Asbyrgi visitor center, for the national park, is nice and is the trailhead for several trails of varying difficulty.  We took a red trail, which is medium difficulty and marked by sticks with yellow paint on them. The hike was about 7 or 8 km long.  We hiked to the top of the basalt wall, granting us a good view of Jokulsargljufur canyon below; we also hiked through some birch woods and moorland.  After lunch, we hiked down to a small waterfall and pond.   We then were supposed to travel down to Dettifoss and hike in that area, however the both roads leading from Asbyrgi to the falls were closed, thus we could not get there today.  We are hoping after tomorrow’s excursion through the lava tubes and caves near Myvatn, the road to Dettifoss will be open.

So that was our excitement for the day.  We are still not getting great weather in general; it is lousy for great pictures with things being very overcast, and very little useable light to create contrast.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Akureyri

Today we made the two hour drive to Akureyri.  When we left the hotel in the morning it was raining/snowing, which the hotel owner said was very unusual for this time of year.  She said they had a longer and colder winter then in the past and by now it is usually warmer and not as wet.    The journey to Akureyri was uneventful; however we encountered two unique tunnels.  The tunnels which were 4 kilometers and 7 kilometers long were one car wide with pull offs for cars going in the opposite direction.  We were going in the direction that had right of way.  It can be nerve racking watching for headlights and hoping they move over into a pull off before you get to them.  

Akureyri from the whale watching boat

We arrived in Akureyri around 11:00 AM, it is tiny for being a major city. So after checking into our hotel, where we will stay for a few nights, we went to find lunch.  We at a place called Serrano, which is Icelands version of Chipotle or Baja Fresh.  The food there was pretty good.  We then walked around a bit and decided to go on a whale watching tour.   The tour was three hours long, and we did not see any whales, thus we got a voucher to try again.  I’m sad we did not see any whales; I’m not doing well for large marine mammal wildlife viewing, no seals and now no whales. 

Tomorrow we head out to see geologic wonders and waterfalls. Maybe it won't be precipitating.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An eight hour drive with a gravel roads

Today we left Hellnar today and drove around the Snaefellsnes peninsula all the way to Lonkot, which is an eight hour drive.  We made very few stops along the way, and the few stops we did make were very short.  The first stop we made was in Hellissandur to get gas. Getting gas involved us going inside to figure out how the gas pump works because you have to prepay by guess how much gas you will need, but the system will only charge you for the amount used. The other hard part was estimating liters instead of gallons.  Our next stop was Kirkjufell, outside of Grundarfjordur to photograph a waterfall.  Several people were stopped at that water fall taking pictures. 

 

We ran out of paved road about 22 kilometers past Grundarfjordur, at that point it turned into a gravel and dirt road.  Yes it is still a main road and even indicates on the map it turns to gravel and dirt.  The gravel and dirt road lasted for approximately 66 kilometers.  We were on paved road again till we reached Budardalur where we stopped for lunch.  Then it was back on gravel and dirt road for another 36 kilometers. Our nice white SUV, ended up covered in mud, but what is interesting is it mostly stopped at ridgeline down the sides of the SUV.    We stopped at the seal center in Hvammstangi, but decided not to take the 90 minute boat tour to see if we could see seals. There were no seals at the seal center, and we opted not to drive around the Vatnsnes peninsula dirt road, which would have been an extra 76 kilometers. So we did not see seals and Jim did not see the interesting rock formation listed on the map.    We only made one more stop after the seal center and that was to take a quick picture of some mountains.  So today was mostly just driving.



Our hotel for the night is nice, it more along the lines of a B&B.  We are the first guest of the season and the room is one of the nicest we have stayed in so far.   Tomorrow we head to Akureyri, the capital of the north.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Snaefellsjokull

Today we picked up our rental car, an AWD Ford Kuga, and traveled from Reykjavik to Hellnar on the Snaefellsjokull peninsula.  The drive was a little over two hours including stops at a roadside café for lunch and at Yri-Tunga for seal view.   Lunch was vegetable soup with bread, fairly simple but tasty.  Unfortunately, the stop at Yri-Tunga did not yield any seal sighting, however there was lots of wind, beach, and crashing waves.  I was sad there were no seals but we have a second chance for seals later in the trip if we stop at the seal center.  After that we continued to, we’ll be nice and call it a town, Hellnar. 

The Hellnar hotel is located on a nature preserve and is fairly tiny. We are in a very tiny room (10 x 14 foot) which is part of four room cabin.  We will need to squeegee the floor after we take a shower, classy. The photo on the left is our room, taken at 16mm. There is a door on the bathroom it is just behind my husband who is taking the picture.  We will call the room cozy.




After we were all checked in and situated we headed out to Londrangar, which is a rock formation.  The sign said it would take 40 minutes to hike there but the walk to the lookout took about 3 minutes and we weren’t sure if there was a second train to get closer to the formation due to the lack of marked trail.  Thus we continued around the peninsula and started stopping at points of interest marked on the map, which was hit or miss.  We climbed a small volcano crater and would have had a beautiful view except the clouds coming in and hiding the mountains. We also stopped at a construction barrel orange light house at Ondverdarnes. Getting to light house involved a going on very rough narrow dirt/gravel road which had several blind hills and numerous twists and turns through the lava field. Was it worth it, possibly, was the road entertaining, yes.  

Rock Formation
Very Orange Light House

Overall the landscape in Iceland is very rocky and boarding on desolate, but can be interesting along the coast with the waves. However, I think if we would have waited a week the grassy moss like vegetative matter would be greener making the place seem a little more hospitable, but we would have lost the snowcapped mountains.  The trip is looking up.


Tomorrow we head out to Lonkot Resort. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Flight and Reykjavik

We dropped of our dear dog Teddy at the pet sitter early on Sunday morning. He was all excited; because he thought he was going with us, but sadly no.  He looked sad when we left him at the sitter, but at least he’ll have a friend to play with there, another lab mix.  After the drop off we headed out to Dulles Airport.  We arrived at the airport before the Iceland Air ticket counter opened, thus had to wait about a half hour, but we were first in line.   We then had time to kill in the airport, because the security line was unusually speedy, for Dulles.   We got lunch at Five Guys then sat around till boarding at 1:30 PM EST.  

The flight left on time and arrived in Reykjavik around 11:30 PM GMT.  We exited the airport in record time, because we were basically first in line for passport control, our luggage was already going around the conveyor when we got to baggage claim, and breezed through customs. So we gave the process a smiley face on the way out. (They have a machine that asks you to rate your service as you walk past by hitting smiley face button.) We met our taxi driver and had a 30 minute drive in twilight conditions to our hotel, and that was about as dark as it was going to get.  

Our hotel room is very basic, and we can’t tell if the hotel is situated in a nice area or not. It is hard because most of the city seems like it needs a good power washing.  After about four hours of sleep we were up for breakfast and to catch our city tour.  Overall I was unimpressed with breakfast. It was poorly organized and didn’t have a whole lot. I might be forced to eat porridge tomorrow, if I want some sustenance to last the day.  

View of Reykjavik from the Pearl
The city tour was standard bus tour fare. Not very exciting and the guide wasn’t very interesting.  I also probably doesn’t help that there really is only 5 or six really interesting items in the city.  We stopped at the famous church that looks like bell curve, and the pearl were we could see the whole city.  The tour lasted about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Then we wandered around city center, which is very tiny for a little bit and then headed back to the hotel, by way of the sea shore and stopping at the Solfar Voyager sculpture.

The Solfar Voyager sculpture
I’m now very tired. Tomorrow we get our rental car and head out into the country along the western portion of the ring road, toward the volcano featured in a “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. 

Trip to Acadia National Park

Stop along the Park Loop Road ISO 400, Focal Length 20mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/400s Last weekend my husband and I went up to Acadia N...