Patricia Temples Photography

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My Iceland Adventure, Part 4

The Westfjords or West Fjords is a large peninsula in northwestern Iceland. The Westfjords are very mountainous; the coastline is heavily indented by dozens of fjords surrounded by steep hills. These indentations make roads very circuitous and communications by land difficult. In addition many of the roads are closed by ice and snow for several months of the year. The cliffs at Látrabjarg comprise the longest bird cliff in the northern Atlantic Ocean and are at the westernmost point in Iceland.We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Latrabjarg, after traversing a winding, narrow gravel road into the middle of nowhere.

Drive in van

Across the water we could see a small community, but when we arrived at our hotel, we were the only ones for miles.  It was great.  The hotel was so comfortable, with large rooms, wonderful showers, a dining room that had old wooden tables and chairs and was more like the dining room of a home than a hotel.  We stayed three nights and did a variety of things while we were there. 

The beach was a a short walk below the hotel and that was our first shooting location. We were photographing arctic terns, because when the sun was behind the cliffs, a black background was perfect for the white terns.  But, alas, I am not a great bird photographer, especially when they are in flight.  I found the terns to be difficult because they flew fast, darted around in every direction, and they were generally pretty far away from me.  I preferred photographing the Eurasian Oystercatcher, a larger bird whose flight was slower.  Anyway, here are a few bird photos, since that first day that was what it was all about.

Beach near hotel

The beach near our hotel.

The second day at Hotel Latrabjarg, we drove a few miles to Raudasandsbugur, the Red Sand Beach.  What a special location this was.  As we approached the beach, there was a terrific vantage point from on high, but alas, there was no parking for the vans.  However, later, when we returned, the light had improved and we walked a bit to get higher shots.  Wow. 

Red sand beach 1Red sand beach 4Red Sand beach bestRed sand beach with light

In between the two visits to the beach, we stopped at a church. Churches are plentiful in Iceland because property owners know that if they have a church on their land, their taxes are lower.  Churches are frequently painted black with white trim and red roofs, as this one was, and I found them to be beautiful.  I wonder what they would look like in the snow.  In winter when it is dark for 23 out of 24 hours, and there is snow on the ground, it must be amazing.  Someone told us that the snow is very white because there is no pollution, and that what little light is available is reflected on the white snow and gives the appearance of more light in the sky. I’d love to see that.

We stopped sometime along the way at an old house, built in 1907 and vacant since 1962. We photographed there, and I’ll share those another time. Across the road from that house was an old barn, a spring house, who knows?  It was built into a mound so that part of it was underground, with the side with a door above ground.  Here are some views of that interesting building.  Look at that landscape!

Sunken structure 1Sunken structure 2Sunken structure 3

My Iceland Adventure, Part 3

On our long travel day, I took photos from the van, while moving, and we stopped along the way where I got some shots of the landscape.  It varied from mountain scenes and poppies to scenes along the shore line as we approached our destination on the West Fjords.  Enjoy.

Landscape 3 with church and horsesLandscape 2Landscape 4Poppies 2Landscape 5Landscape 6 with horsesLandscape 8Poppies 3Poppies

My Iceland Adventure, Part 2

We spent three days in the area of Lake Myvatn which was created by a large lava eruption 2300 years ago.  On the east side of the lake we visited the Namafjall geothermal field, also known as Hverir.  This was the part of the trip that I found most interesting. The boiling mud pots, the colors of the earth, the steam vents through rock-covered boreholes were fascinating and new to me.  There is a lot of hot steam there, so areas are roped off, but there were plenty of places to photograph activity and to walk for good views.  There is a hiking trail into the mountain, which I used for a few higher shots, but the steepness and the rockiness of the terrain discouraged me from following the trail all the way over the mountain.

Mtn view 1

Fumaroles 1Fumaroles 2Larger view 1Larger view 2

TerrainBlue and tan earth 2Blue and tan earth 1

The mud pots are formed in geothermal area where there is little water.  The water that is available rises to the surface of the soil which is rich in volcanic ash, clay and fine particulates.  The blue color of the water is probably due to silica, and the surrounding tan color of the rock is a wonderful color contrast.

Mudpots 1

This terrain gave us the opportunity to learn about the geothermal energy of Iceland, and one of our outings included a trip to see the fifth largest power plant in the country, Krafla.  The five major geothermal power plants in Iceland produce about 26% of the nation’s electricity.  Geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements of 87% of the buildings in Iceland.  Apart from geothermal energy, 73% of the their electricity is generated by hydro power, and .1% from fossil fuels.  The goal of Iceland is to completely eliminate fossil fuels for power generation, and that will be accomplished in the near future.

Power plant 1Power plant 2Steam plant 2Steam plant

One way that geothermal hot water was demonstrated to me most clearly was with the hot tub at one of the cabins where we stayed.  Our photographer instructor was testing the water for use in a few hours and found it to be cold.  Having had a hot tub at my home, I knew he couldn’t get the temperature high enough for possibly a day by my method.  His solution was to empty the hot tub, refill it with water from underground, and voila, instant hot water!  No chemicals required because the water doesn’t sit in the hot tub for days or weeks as it does here.  In Reykjavik there are underground pipes that carry hot water for heating the streets and sidewalks in winter to melt the snow!

The next post will take us to the western parts of Iceland, a thirteen-hour drive from Myvatn to the area near Latrabarg, the west fjords.

 

 

 

 

My Iceland Adventure, Part I

I had the thrill of a lifetime going to Iceland for a thirteen day adventure.  The major focus of the trip was a Birding and Landscape Photography Tour.  We did so many different things and stayed in such a variety of places that I am having difficulty organizing the trip for this blog.  But, I am going to jump in, posting in several stages.

Today I am going to tell you about our first stop, Myvatn (Me-vah’-tin).  We spent three nights in this beautiful area, exploring along the river Laxa, Lake Myvatn, and at the geothermal areas near Krafla.  The lake is known for its abundance of birds, and thirteen species of ducks nest there.  Many of them are migratory.  The harlequin duck is the duck everyone wanted to see and photograph, and they didn’t disappoint us.  They played on the bank of the river and swam in the bubbles of a small waterfall.
Harlequin ducks

Harlequin Duck

The phalarope is the first bird I photographed in Iceland, and probably the bird I saw the most in every location.  Many other birds were on the river and at Lake Myvatn.

Phalarope

Phalarope

In the photos above, clockwise from top left, are Tufted Ducks, Long-tailed Ducks, a Merganser, a Barrow’s Goldeneye, and a Horned Grebe.

But, of course, I am a landscape photographer, and I had the best opportunities on this trip for beautiful and unusual landscapes.  At the river, snow-capped mountains were the backdrop for beautiful farm buildings.

Lake Myvatn was a small lake that we could walk around in about 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace while stopping to photograph.  Of course, we met sheep along the way.

Lake scene 1Lake scene 2

Read more…

Fishing Memories

It’s Saturday, April 1.  April Fool’s Day to most of us, and opening day of Trout Fishing in Virginia to some of us.  That is, when I was a kid.  This day brings fond memories for me.  When I was about six years old, my dad started taking my brother and me along on his fishing expedition on “Opening Day.”  It didn’t result in much fishing for him, but we kids had a great time.  At home the preparations began with getting the gear together.  The fishing poles had to be reassembled after being put away for the winter.  My dad did all that and I watched.  One curious thing that he did was run the tip of a piece of the pole on the side of his nose, right in the crease near his cheek.  “Daddy, why did you do that?”  He told me that he was getting natural oils off his face to lubricate the part of the pole that slipped into the next piece.  I thought he was the smartest person alive.  After getting the poles ready, digging some worms, and packing our lunch we were ready.  Lunch consisted of cans of Vienna Sausages, Sardines, some crackers and, of course, Pepsi in bottles.   The best.

Off we went to the river bank.  We got set up, Dad helped us bait our hooks at first when we were young, but he quickly taught us how to do it ourselves.  I was never afraid of worms, and saw them as the means to an end…..eating trout!  The factory whistle blew at noon in our small town and everyone started fishing.  Fishermen and women were everywhere.  Sometimes our friends Bob and Mott Martin were with us.  Mott was one of those women who was ahead of her time.  At least I thought so then.  She wore waders and got in the water to do her fishing!!  I didn’t know women did those things and it made an impression that has lasted a lifetime.  She was also my seventh grade teacher for a brief time, but left mid-year to have her first child.  Anyway, here we were, throwing our lines in the water, snagging them on tree branches, losing the hook, tangling the line on every conceivable weed, and my dad was patiently helping us recover, get the line prepared and back in the water.  But, when we caught a fish….it was magic!!  Generally we managed to catch enough to have a meal.  To this day, trout are my favorite fish food.

Today at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County, VA they celebrate Heritage Day.  The streams are stocked with fairly large trout and only the kids are allowed to fish.  The look on those kids’ faces when they pull a ten-inch trout out of the water is very special.  There is no whistle denoting the time to start fishing, and they get started about 9am.  It’s a fun day, full of good food and fish.  Nothing can beat those Vienna Sausages, Sardines and Pepsi Colas,  but memories are being made.

 

 

Wind Turbines

The first time I saw wind turbines was in 1992. While driving from Claremont CA to Palm Springs my friend and I happened upon a Wind Farm with hundreds of turbines. The land was down below the level of the road, in a valley. We bravely drove down among the turbines and it was magical. Today I believe there are guided tours in this same area so people can see what we saw 24 years ago up close and personal.

The next time I saw wind turbines it was from the air, Sept 2015 on a flight in a small plane over West Virginia. This time I got photos. Again, it was magical.

West VA WT.jpg

In May of this year my husband and I drove across the United States to visit some of the western national parks. When we were in Kansas and then Colorado, and later in New Mexico and Texas, we saw wind turbines.  I was excited.  I took a lot of photos from the car, repetitive and full of window glare, but I wanted to capture them all.  I think they look like sculptures! In the photo below you can see a crop-duster who was flying among the turbines.

With a planeLast September when I posted a photo of the West Virginia ridge full of wind turbines, I got several comments about them, some pro, some con.  So today as I write this, I want to present some facts, some interesting, and some enlightening, at least to me.

My initial thoughts about wind turbines are that they are a beautiful and safe alternative to fossil fuels for energy.  When we drove through Kentucky, we saw in the distance a huge energy installation which included 3 nuclear reactors and 4-5 smoke stacks billowing smoke.  It was ugly and scary to me.  When I saw the wind turbines, it was a pleasant and peaceful sight.  So, I decided to do a little research on them.

WT 2

There are 48,800 utility-scale turbines (larger than 100 kilowatts for significant power generation) in 40 states and Puerto Rico.  The amount of energy generated in a year is the equivalent of energy used in 20 million homes. There are 88,000 wind-related jobs across the US.

WT 1The steel tower is over 300 feet tall,and the blades are 116 feet long.  The optimum wind speed for rotating the blades is 25-35 mph, creating a rotation of 14 rpm and a speed of 105 mph at the tip of the blade.  The blades rotate automatically into the face of the wind, and the pitch of the blades also changes as needed to optimize the capture of the wind energy.

The majority of wind farms are on private land, which is leased by the developer for the expected life span of the turbines of 20-30 years.  The current estimate of potential energy from wind farms is 10 times the energy consumption for the United States.

Now, to the concerns.  One friend mentioned that many birds get killed flying into the turbines.  Yes, 214,000 – 368,000 is the estimate. That’s too bad, isn’t it?  Estimates about bird deaths from other “obstacles” are:  cell and radio towers – 6-8 million;  windows on buildings – 1 billion;  cats – 1.4 – 3.7 billion.  Birds don’t have it easy.

WT 4

I read online that people are worried about having wind turbines near where they live because of the electrical charges in the air. One fellow said that his cell phone charges automatically without being plugged in! Out west the wind farms are in open areas, away from towns and cities, and to me that is the ideal location. There are often animals grazing under them, or crops growing among them. The land is still useful, there is no run-off of chemicals or toxic materials.  The electricity that is generated is of course “captured” and sent via power lines to where it is needed.  I have a new respect for power lines after my trip out west because they are the lifeline of the people there. Many, many miles can be traveled without seeing civilization, but you will see power lines making sure the next community has power.

WT 6 transmission lines

Finding ways to satisfy our ever-growing need for energy that is safe, clean and efficient is a worthy endeavor.  I vote for wind turbines.

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