Thursday, August 31, 2023

Wonders and Mysteries of Iceland


"We say, 'Everything comes out of emptiness.'
One whole river or one whole mind is emptiness.
When we reach this understanding we
find the true meaning of our life.
When we reach this understanding we can
see the beauty of human life.
Before we realize this fact,
everything that we see is just delusion.
Sometimes we overestimate the beauty;
sometimes we underestimate or ignore
the beauty because our small mind
is not in accord with reality."

It has been a bit over two months since my last post. My muse certainly knows it, having been unceremoniously ushered into a backroom devoid of anything remotely aesthetic. My far-far-from-photography "day job" responsibilities have drowned me in seemingly infinite oceans of equations, computer code, memos, reports, and technical briefings; as I longingly gaze at my camera and whisper promises to my muse. But life, and time, is ever cyclical, and all one really ever needs is patience. Well that, and the "light at the end of the tunnel," otherwise known as the third - and finally, successful! - attempt to go on a family trip to Iceland ­čśŐ Our first try was in 2020 was quickly ixnayed by the pandemic. And our second try - last year - fell through because of a scheduling conflict (our youngest was starting his first year away at college). So, the third time proved to be the charm, albeit with an "added cost" of giving all of us (my wife, our kids, and myself) COVID during the last part of our two week trip. Indeed, as I write this, a week and half since coming home, my wife and I are both grudgingly accepting the onset of (a mild case?) of "long COVID." We can work for short stretches of an hour or two, but quickly succumb to a debilitating tiredness. Naps help, but the sad cycle just repeats itself. On the other hand, although we lost taste and smell at the tail end of the first week, recovery on that front was swift; taste and smell were both back within only a few days. I plan to blog about some of our adventures in Iceland in the coming days/weeks (as strength permits). 

The first image, shown above, is a view of the Sk├│gafoss waterfall located in the southeastern part of Iceland. It is transcendently beautiful, and almost "too easy" to get to; one literally drives into a parking lot that is half-a-mile from the main road and walks about a 1000 feet or so (perhaps pausing briefly to ingest another delicious cup of Icelandic coffee along the way!). Unfortunately, there is a steep price to be paid for this ease-of-entry, at least for photographers who prefer "pristine" (i.e., people-less) compositions. Expect to wait a long - long - time for any chance to get such shots. People are omnipresent, day to night; and the tent park sandwiched between the parking lot and waterfall ensures that people are always milling about. But this is a minor inconsequential complaint. The rewards - and sincere privilege - of spending quality Zen time with this magnificent falls far outstrip whatever modicum of angst the presence of likeminded people may induce in a photographer's mind! 

Postscript - on the vagaries of chance and aesthetic disposition. It took me two days - two hours the first day, and an hour after sunrise on the second - to "wait out" the presence of other people near the falls. Of course, I could "clone" them away - as I sometimes do when patience is not an answer - but I much prefer the purity of a special moment. Contrast this with the experience of our eldest son, who is a self-avowed "non photographer," and who rarely takes a shot of anything with his iPhone (and, even then, mostly confines his interest to "animals" and small critters). He causally walks up to the Sk├│gafoss waterfall, glances over his shoulder at his dad - who is undergoing his typical paroxysm of activity to set up his tripod in just the right place (and is no where close to attempting a bona fide composition) - fires off a quick but beautiful shot of the waterfall that is completely devoid of people, and nonchalantly walks back to the car to take a nap! True story.