Thursday, 24 September 2015

Réttir, Joining the Annual Sheep Roundup in Blonduos

Sheep heading into the sorting pens at the Blonduos Réttir.
I created a sense of movement by shooting at 1/25s and panning the lens at (approximately) the same speed as the sheep.
It's a bit of a hit and miss because it depends on the light, the speed of the sheep and the (up and down) stability of the lens as you pan.

Every year in late September there's a sheep roundup in Iceland called Réttir. Farmers and their families spread out across the mountain ranges, with the help of sheepdogs and Icelandic horses, to bring in their sheep.
They've been out grazing since May but, sheep being sheep, most have have strayed far and wide  from home turf - as well as possibly being mixed up with many other farmer's sheep.
Once the sheep that can be found are rounded up into a large field somewhere the rest of the community turn up and herd the lot into the sorting pens - you see these pens dotted about the fjords as you drive through Iceland.
For two days the lost sheep are sorted by ear tags into each of the farmer's pens, then loaded into a truck, trailer, van or ute for the ride back to the farm where they will spend the colder winter months under cover. It's a very hectic two days and I guess, as a farmer, a tense time as you find out how many you might have lost, or gained since the Spring.
At the two roundups we visited we spotted at least one official who was there to record all the lost or yet to be claimed sheep - animals that had either strayed far too far off the farm or that had perhaps had lost their tags. These are then entered into a log for farmers to claim when they have the time. 

At a Réttir near Akureyri, Northern Iceland.

This is a sheep dog's best day of the year
Once a sheep was identified the best course is to straddle its neck and use the horns as a 'steering wheel'.
You than have to shuffle the struggling sheep across the melee to the allocated temporary holding pen before loading them into a vehicle.

All the kids join in.
Some help to read the tags while the slightly older ones try their skills at sheep wrangling

This kid was really getting stuck into the whole hauling the sheep off to the pen bit but ended up on his backside a couple of times because the sheep wasn't having any of it!

A sheep roundup is also a day to celebrate, catch up with the neighbours and generally have a bit of fun.
The event has a very friendly and fun atmosphere.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Black and White Icebergs off Greenland

I heard the story about an early settler in Iceland who, wanting the place for himself, named the island 'Iceland' but told later adventurers that there was a better place to live 400kms away called 'Greenland'.

They must have been very disappointed when they got there...

Over-the-top effects thanks to jixiPix software

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Greenlandic Icebergs off Amassalik Island

Here are a few quickly edited shots of the icebergs off the coast of Amassalik Island. It was hard to judge the size of these massive blocks of ice because the boat wouldn't go too near because of safety issues – a section breaking off one of these would seriously damage the boat, or swamp it.  They were mostly the size of a large ocean liner. Four or five stories high and a couple of hundred feet long. Small by some standards I've read about, but nevertheless, very big to us!

Kulusuk to Talisaq on Ammassalik Island, East Greenland

The flight to East Greenland takes just less than two hours from Reykjavik in a twin-engined Dash 8.
Kulusuk airport is tiny – it was built by the American Air force back in the fifties and looked like it hadn’t changed much in the way of renovations since then – although, to be fair, the arrivals hall was being painted when we arrived. We had to wait 40 mins for the Greenland Air connection to Tasilaq to be ready – then a quick dash out onto the landing strip and into the chopper for the 15 minute flight across King Olaf Sound to Tasilaq. Nine passengers and a load of luggage.
It’s an impressive sight choppering across a massive fjord surrounded by high mountains dotted with ice and snow. In the winter the bay would be full of icebergs. Today it had only a few – although you could see far larger icebergs in the open sea a few kilometres off the coast.
The helicopter pulls right into the fjord and makes a lazy turn into Tasilaq airport, a tiny helipad to the south side of the town. With a population of 2100, this is the capital and largest settlement in East Greenland. It’s quite a sight.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Iceland is Panorama Heaven

If you look at a world map, Iceland might appear to be a small country.  Of course, on paper it is, but when you consider its population is only 330,000,  the size of a small town in Europe, you can appreciate that it's thinly-populated.  Which makes it feel larger than life when driving through its almost deserted landscapes. Which makes it excellent for landscape photography, and of course, wide scene panoramas.

This is Hvalfjord, about 80kms from Reykjavik. Though it used to host a NATO submarine base (you can just see the old fuel tanks in this shot) it remains one of the most starkly beautiful spots in Iceland. It was very hard to stop shooting more than eight sections to this panorama...
It's pretty clear why Iceland is such a big favourite for so many film makers wanting a different landscape. This is a moonscape seen on the drive from Egilsstadir to Myvatn.
Extinct craters are everywhere alone the tectonic rift that runs through the centre of Iceland.
Here's one photographed from another at Bifrost on the road north of Reykjavik
Apart from stunning open country, Iceland has its share of beautiful little fishing villages.
This is the picture postcard village of Dalvik in the Northern Fjords.
Jokulsarlon lagoon, West Iceland.
While a wide shot of this berg might have sufficed, I'd have had to crop the foreground and sky heavily.
A simple two-frame panorama worked just as well.
Here's a quick five-frame panorama from the tiny hill at the entrance to the lagoon.
Not the best panorama I have ever made but one that sets the scene nicely.

Iceland Slide Night #3 in Borganes

A fantastic final slide night from Borganes, 100kms out of Reykjavik.

\Everyone had to submit 10 images for the slide night  - here's four of the best from each member of the group.  Enjoy.

At the sheep roundup by Liz Limbrickdottir
At the sheep roundup by Liz Limbrickdottir

At the sheep roundup by Liz Limbrickdottir

At the sheep roundup by Liz Limbrickdottir
At the sheep roundup by Sven Robinsson

After Jeffrey Smart, by Sven Robinsson

Sheep roundup by Sven Robinsson

Sheep roundup day by Sven Robinsson
Characters at the family-oriented sheep roundup day by Kerrie Murphydottir

Kids at the sheep roundup day by Kerrie Murphydottir

Kids at the sheep roundup day by Kerrie Murphydottir
Adults at the sheep roundup day by Kerrie Murphydottir
Northern lights by Kerrie Dixondottir

Godafoss waterfall by Kerrie Dixondottir

Northern lights by Kerrie Dixondottir

Kid at sheep roundup day by Kerrie Dixondottir
Godafoss by Tamara Kitsondottir

Child at the sheep roundup by Tamara Kitsondottir

Small fishing community in the fjords by Tamara Kitsondottir

Aurora Borealis by Tamara Kitsondottir
Aurora by Leo Gasparetsson

Mountain flowers by Leo Gasparetsson

Sky above lake Myvatn landscape by Leo Gasparetsson

Mountain flora by Leo Gasparetsson
Junior sheep appreciation class by Natalie Dotdottir

Kids at sheep roundup by Natalie Dotdottir

Secret women's business at the sheep roundup by Natalie Dotdottir

Blondes have all the fun by Natalie Dotdottir
Godafoss long exposure by Peta Blakedottir

Dot in the fjord by Peta Blakedottir
At the sheep show by Peta Blakedottir

Fuzzy foals by Peta Blakedottir