Saturday, September 23, 2006


Iceland is like no other place I have ever been to. From the moment I got off the plane I realised that this place on the edge of the world was a kind of 'lost world', a hyperborean landscape where the normal conditions of light, shadow, sky and earth are subtly transmuted. Although the island is largely a product of countless volcanic eruptions and large tracts are solidified lava fields, the place feels surprisingly light and radiant. The lava is covered by a thin layer of green moss that transforms the dark and amorphous rock into something alive and luminous. This is enhanced by the ethereal quality of the sunlight passing through the very thin atmosphere.

A day's exploring was not enough, and I could easily have spent weeks travelling the island contemplating its mysterious beauty. It was a deeply refreshing experience to feel so far away from Europe's big polluted cities and so close to nature, albeit a side of nature that I have never experienced before.

The near total absence of trees, due to the predominance of lava fields, combined with the many rivers, waterfalls, mountains glaciers and volcanoes makes for the feeling of being on a different planet, or perhaps Tolken's 'Middle Earth' (but without the orcs!)

In places the red earth made it feel like I was on Mars! I was not surprised to hear the the Apollo astronauts actually used a remote part of Iceland to train for the lunar landing.

The famous Gulfoss waterfall is truly astounding, with a large river crashing through a series of rapids and then literally disappearing into a deep crevice. The amazing thing is that as one stands beside this incredible marvel of nature, there are no touristic, comercial shops or kiosks peddling souveniers or anything to distract from the full presence of the falls. There weren't even any real safety barriers or warning signs beside the rushing water and deep crevice. This was a common feature of all the beautiful places we visited, suggesting a deep respect on behalf of the Icelandic people for their natural environment.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Prague: St Agnes's Convent

Prague is a fascinating city, and it far exceeded our expectations on this first visit. The diversity of architecture and the range of style is impressive, as is the cutural variety. The only down side was the masses of tourists that totally destroyed the moody bohemian atmosphere.

The overwhelming abundance of tourists as well as the cloudy weather made a bad combination for photography for most of the trip. The light just wasn't right for any nice cityscapes. This was disappointing, but we still loved evey minute of the weekend.

When we visited the St Agnes Convent, the atmosphere and light finally inspired me to take the lens cap off the Rollei.

Prague: Tram Stop

The streets of Prague are a photographer's ideal hunting grounds. They teem with really interesting characters of all kinds. Even the roadsigns have a Bohemian interpretation like, for example, the bicycle route signs are actually made up of little bicycle silhoutetes superimposed upon each other.
But the most essential part of Prague is the tram system. It is a fascinating place to watch the locals go about their everyday business. Though trams are frequent, there are numerous lines and people tend to mill around tram stops waiting for their specific tram. I I had more time I would haev spent a day riding the trams and especially milling about at the stops where all kinds of colourful characters appeared.

A boy on crutches was trying to figure out what I was doing with my camera. I don't think he realised that he was being photographed even though he was just in front of me.

The fellow below even had the time to clip his fingernails while waiting.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Prague: The Guide

Like on all our trips, I entrust Paula with the guide book while I occupy myself with the camera. She is much better at remembering small details than I, and after a few hours with the book she quickly learns her way around the town. All I have to do is follow her around and try to persuade her to stop when I need to change a roll of film.

I took this shot in Prague Castle. It looks like she is reading an ancient scripture!