Last week I showed some pictures from my first day in Iceland. After two nights at a charming guest house, seeing some of the sights of Reykjavik, I got a rental car and headed out. I went to visit a friend’s cousin, who lives on the highway to Thingvellir (where the continental plates collide – quite visibly) and enjoyed her hospitalityand her beautiful Icelandic horses. Then I headed north toward Snaefellsness peninsula and West Iceland. I immediately noticed the one and only thing that annoyed me about Iceland. The country is so beautiful and about every kilometer I would see something I wanted to photograph but there are NO SHOULDERS on the roads and virtually no turnouts, unless you pull into the private road to someone’s farm. As a result I have far fewer photos than I would like. Next time maybe I need a companion to drive while I concentrate on photography. One of the unexpected perils of traveling alone.
I’m going to post photos from two rolls here that document part of the journey through West Iceland. Both films were not the greatest choice. The Lomo 200 XPro looks like it was cross processed but wasn’t. I’m not thrilled with the look – maybe you’re meant to actually cross process it because it’s some kind of weird emulsion. But I did get some shots I liked. These were taken on the drive to Borgarnes, and at the Settlement Center museum there. They have quite an elaborate display with self guided audio tour describing all the early settlers and settlements of Iceland. The town itself is quite pretty. This is the junction point where you either turn west or continue north on the Rim Road.
I turned west into West Iceland and the Snaefellsness peninsula. Below are some typical scenes. I couldn’t resist the lovely church and graveyard (especially since I have a fondness for photographing in cemeteries) bur I had to risk my life pulling a u turn to go back because by the time I realized I’d seen it, I was already past.
Okay there was another thing that annoyed me about Iceland. The signage is less than outstanding by my demanding US standards. Often a tiny sign 50 meters from a turnoff is your only clue. In areas where there actually were scenic turnouts as in the drive around Hvallfjordur (to be featured in a later post) where there were actual signs describing the history, there was no notice whatsoever before you got to the turnout. Again, my sudden screeching stops and u turns were near disaster only forestalled by the small number of cars on the road. But I digress. The next roll was the wildly inappropriate Fujichrome T64 which I pushed one stop and then did NOT cross process. As a result everything has a strong blue cast which I quite like. Not everything has to look just like you remember it. Below is the approach to the magnificent Snaefellsnessjokull glacier which dominates the peninsula. There is a road to drive up but it wasn’t yet open when I was there.
One of the stops my local informant tipped me off to was Budir. It’s a tiny spot just off the main road where there are beautiful sand dunes and a lovely little church. There is also a very modern, ultra luxe looking boutique hotel which she apparently didn’t know about. I looked around inside and it seemed very posh, totally unexpected in this isolated spot. Anyway the church looks old and quaint sitting atop the dunes, and has its own cemetery (bonus!). I did not get to see inside the church because while I was there a couple was staging wedding photographs (also bonus). They didn’t appear to be actually getting married, as no one was there except them and a photographer, and they may have been doing a magazine shoot. No idea since I don’t speak Chinese.
As I continued around the peninsula I encountered a huge variety of terrain, from weird volcanic formations as these below, to sand dunes, to huge rock outcroppings. Truly the land seemed alive.
There were also lots of completely random things like this boat sitting by the roadside on the way to Olafsvik, complete with turnout (unbelievably) and a large placard which on approach turned out to be detailed plans of the boat, each level and deck beautifully drawn. No idea why, as I can’t read Icelandic. My linguistic database needs to be expanded it seems.
Eventually I arrived at Stykkisholmur, the terminus for the ferry which crosses the fjord to arrive at the Westfjords. It looks like a sleepy fishing town and, except for the elevated prices in the few local restaurants, did not seem touristy as some books had indicated. I really like the look this film gives these harbor scenes.
Next up in Week 23, one of the most beautiful spots I’ve visited ever, period.