Flatey Island and Kirkjufell, 6/19/2022, National Geographic Resolution
National Geographic Resolution
It was windy and cold and really felt like an arctic expedition when we landed on remote and beautiful Flatey Island this morning. We visited the oldest and smallest library in Iceland as well as a church that dates back to 1926. I’ve been lucky to visit many times before, and it’s always a challenge to come up with new ideas, angles, and subject matter to photograph. For a change, I shot some in-camera double exposures today, sandwiching two frames of nearby scenes to create a final ‘surreal’ image that is hopefully still creative and interesting. I’ll let the viewers of the photos decide whether I succeeded with my goal!
With the wind howling at a sustained 35-40 knots, ocean conditions were, unfortunately, against us reaching the dock at Grundarfjordur this afternoon. Instead of a hike to a viewpoint below the iconic peak of Kirkjufell, we photographed it bathed in dramatic storm light from the ship as we sailed onward to our next destination.
Andrew was born in Adelaide, South Australia and (mis)spent his youth surfing and kayaking in the ocean, as is the case for many Aussies! After graduating from medical school, he spent a year working as a surgical resident in Santa Barbara, Californi...
As National Geographic Resolution approached Heimaey, we were met by the pilot who guided us into the narrow entrance to Heimaey Harbour. The entrance is very narrow because of the lava flow from the 1973 eruption of Eldfell, Fire Mountain. We watched with bated breath while our ship, with amazing agility, “turned on a dime” at the harbour entrance and backed into her berth at the dock. Today many of us enjoyed a tour of this amazing volcanic island while some climbed Eldfell, a cinder cone volcano. It was a steep climb, but we were rewarded by magnificent views and a strong wind at the summit where the hot breath of the volcano still, after 29 years is emitting hot steam in a few places. In the afternoon we headed out of the harbour to explore and see the other Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar); we circumnavigated the young island, Surtsey, that rose from the sea in 1963.
After a windy and rainy night sailing along the north of Iceland, we woke up to beautiful sunshine and blue skies in the Westfjords, or Vestfirðir. National Geographic Resolution came alongside the harbour in Ísafjörður, and our passengers parted for three different adventures in the morning. Some took a bus to the adjacent fjord, Álftafjörður, meaning the Swans’ Fjord. There they went on a hike along the beautiful canyon of Valagil and up to the waterfall of Valagilsfoss. The rock of the canyon is made of many layers, formed by multiple eruptions during the early stages of the formation of Iceland. Even though the outside temperature was only 11°C, it felt twice as high because of the absence of wind and the strong sunshine. The group later stopped at the Arctic Fox Centre in Súðavík, where they learned about Iceland’s only native mammal. Other guests enjoyed an adventurous mountain bike tour along the road Óshlíð by steep cliffs and mountains. The rest of our guests went on a coach tour to visit a botanical garden and a small fishing village before enjoying a concert in front of a church. In the afternoon, we were joined onboard by Icelandic geologist Sandra Snæbjörnsdóttir. She gave a presentation about her work at CarbFix on capturing and mineralising CO2 in basaltic rocks, giving us hope with new ways of reducing carbon in the atmosphere and fighting climate change. Straight after the end of the presentation, humpback whales started surrounding the ship. We spent time on deck 8 with these magnificent marine mammals. Later in the afternoon, we stopped by Vigur, the second largest island of Ísafjarðardjúp, where we observed many seabirds, including close encounters with arctic terns. Vigur is also home to 3,500 nests of common eider ducks in the summer. Eider hens were barely visible, camouflaged in their nests in the grass. A family owns the island, and they live off eiderdown farming, which they taught us a lot about. As we returned to National Geographic Resolution and continued our journey towards the southwest of Iceland, many blows of humpback whales were seen in the distance, adding to the nonstop wonders of this perfect day.