Our last full day in Iceland and we hooked up again with our guide, Villi Godi, and headed north on the west side of Iceland to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The Peninsula is very Iceland, with lots of coastline, snow capped mountains, some waterfalls, and some small Icebergs. We had the most amazing Fish Soup, an Iceland staple, at a guest house on the Peninsula that Villi took us to. Here are some shots of what we saw today.
and the rest:
Today was a crisp blue sky day in Reykjavik with strong winds as the fight between winter and spring continued. We saw the Voiths off today and so it is just the three of us remaining. We spent the day strolling in the wind around the capital city before tomorrow’s adventure up the western coastline. Here are some of the sites of Reykjavik:
you can probably figure this one out, although the Icelandic troll may throw you a bit:
Our new apartment on the harbor:
some of the structures of Reykjavik:
Winter and spring:
The Canadian embassy:
Scenes from the city lake, looking back, an inhabitant, and with ice on the lake that appears as broken glass:
Icelandic Cooking Class Saturday
Sun and bursts of rain and then sun again in Reykjavik as the winter and the spring fight it out for supremacy. They say they only have 2 seasons here, but it seems like there is some spring in the air even as it is periodically cold and windy.
We have developed a tradition of finding a cooking class when we travel and learning about the food of our host. Today, we headed off to Salt Eldhús and an Icelandic cooking class from Matti.
On the menu: A sautéed fennel salad
with twice smoked lamb carpaccio (smoked over beechwood and sheep poop – no lie – those Vikings were a hardy and innovative bunch)
with radish sprouts
and home made mayonnaise seasoned with Arctic thyme.
The main course was pan seared salmon with more Arctic thyme,
northern cracked peppers
and lava salt (salt from the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökul along the south coast of Iceland which brought worldwide air traffic to a halt), barley risotto (because of the long, cold winter here, they rely on barley as their grain staple, rather than rice, wheat, or corn) with a delicious Icelandic Auður cheese melted into the barley.
And for desert, an Icelandic dish called Skyrr Mouse similar to Panna Cotta but made with legendary Skyr Yogurt with fresh picked Icelandic blueberries. Icelandic Yogurt in the Skyr tradition is made in New York by Siggi’s Dairy and can be found in many supermarkets. The Skyr Mousse was flavored with home made vanilla extract that Matti makes by soaking vanilla bean pods in Icelandic Vodka for 6 months. Gotta try that when we get back.
Our class was 2 Shaikens from KC, 1 Shaiken from Washington, 3 Voiths from Philadelphia, a Parisian, and a family also from Philadelphia (small world).
Here are some shots of the action:
A really amazing meal!
Golden Circle Day
It is hard to describe the scale and beauty of the sites to see on the Golden Circle to the north of Reykjavik. The size of the natural wonders in such a small island nation is extraordinary. Even the pictures do not explain how gigantic the waterfalls are, or just how big the volcanic crater and the geyser are. The Golden Circle is remarkable and we were treated to a mostly sunny day. Therefore, I will just post the pics without commentary, except for the first picture. The left cliff is the edge of the American tectonic plate and the right cliff is the edge of the European tectonic plate. These two continental geological plates meet in Iceland and are pulling apart at the rate of 4 cm’s per year. The rest is self explanatory except for the scale.
Last, I made mention in a prior post that the Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik was designed to replicate cliffs on black volcanic beaches in Iceland. Here is the church again and the cliffs.
Next Two Days
The past two days, the weather was very unpredictable. Yesterday, it rained, we had very gray skies, and the wind whipped up to 40 mph (here, they measure their wind in meters per second, and it was a lot of meters per second). So, we hopped around Reykjavik looking for things to see and for me, things to photograph. We went back to the Hallgrimskirkja Church to walk up to the clock tower and see the view:
and then back down to the church for another view of it. It is designed to reflect some of the cliffs on the southern Iceland coast that overlook the Atlantic:
We also visited the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center on the wharf. It was quite a walk to get to the building with the wind whipping off of the bay. The building is made of glass of different colors with a very unusual roof, all geometric, and it was sponsoring a chess match.
Today, we headed out to the Blue Lagoon, about 50 kilometers from Reykjavik on the way to the international airport. It is a geothermal spa and the water gets its hue from silica and other minerals. It is surrounded by lava fields covered with moss. It rained 0n us while we bathed in the spa, which was a little weird to be sitting in water over 100 degrees fahrenheit while water barely above freezing fell on us. But, it was a fun experience and the sun broke through and treated us to a rainbow over a lava field, Iceland style.
Day Two – Northern Lights
We drove through hail, sleet and snow to get to the international airport at 6:45 a.m. to pick up the Voiths who arrived on their flight from Newark. And, now we are six. Despite this morning’s hideous weather, it cleared, and there were solar flares today. Clear and flares – a great combination for Northern Lights near the Arctic Circle. So, we decided to go out tonite at 10 p.m. with our guide, Stephan, in search of the Northern Lights and we were not disappointed. It was quite a show for a couple of hours just outside of Reykjavik.
First Full Day
Today was our first full day in Iceland. We employed a guide – Villi – to sherpa us along the southern coast of the island. And, here he is by a glacier he took us to:
Wed rove along Ring Road going east of Reykjavik and came upon a farm owned by a couple whose land sits at the foot of the volcano that erupted twice and caused worldwide airline interruption in 2010. The family did not abandon the farm and their story of saving their animals and their farm is remarkable. Here is Villi and the wife who was gracious enough to talk with us extensively about how the eruption affected her family and their lives.
We saw thatched roof dwellings, old churches (at the foot of mountains), walked to a glacier, and a huge waterfall and made friends with some horses, an Iceland breed that is friendly and beautiful as the manes blow in the wind.
Great day with Villi. Thanks so much! Next up – the Voiths arrive at 6:30 a.m.
Fight Over and Arrival
All told, it is about a 7.5 hour journey from Denver north to Eastern Canada, across to Greenland, and then down to Iceland and the airport at Reykjavik near the Arctic Circle. We arrived in Reykjavik at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday and with wifi in the airport while we waited to clear customs and get bags and rental car, here is what we saw on the laptop:
Just like home. Then, into the diesel engine manual transmission VW bus with studded tires for the frozen roads, and then the 40 minute trip to Reykjavik.
We confined ourselves to a walk around Iceland’s principal city waiting for check-in time at our apartment rental. It was a gray, wet day in Reykjavik but the temperature was above freezing so not too bad at all. We visited the Hallgrimskirkja Church and were treated to an organ recital. Very cool church:
And, we took in some of the city until we ran out of steam.
A quick update and a note to check back from time to time to follow our adventure to Iceland, the land of fire and ice. Loren and I meet Zac in Denver and then take off on Icelandic Air non-stop to Reykjavik where we occupy an apartment for 12 days, meeting up with the Voiths of Philadelphia, and traversing the island in a Volkswagen bus. Like my blog entries of our adventure to New Zealand, I will add to this blog periodically with images of our “near-the-arctic -circle” expedition – posted in reverse chronological order so the most recent posts will always be on top. Follow us as we seek out glaciers, volcanoes, icebergs, a blue lagoon, geysers, puffins, the people of Iceland, and everything else this northern tiny island country has to offer. Cheers – Mark
We find ourselves halfway around the world in a different country, time zone, hemisphere, and day. Welcome to New Zealand, and my occasional blog of our adventure. There will likely be no sports images for a couple of weeks as we take in this far away land and meet up with Zac for the first time in over 4 months as soon as he finishes finals at the University of Otago in Dunedin, NZ, on the south island. The posts will be in reverse order, with the latest one at the top so you will not have to re-read each time I post. Hope that helps.
The end – Our Return
After Milford, we stayed for one evening in Queenstown, and then back to the Claremont in Dunedin before heading home. Queenstown is adrenaline-town to me — jump off a bridge; jump out of a plane; fly off a mountain. I must confess to being just old enough to feel that I am not jumping off or out, or flying except in a plane. It is beautiful and our B&B – the Queenstown House – was exceptional, but I think I am several decades too old for the true Queenstown experience. We dropped Zac at the bus station for his last two weeks in NZ, a trek with his mates on the Kepler Track, a swim with Dolphins, and then his flight back to the states.
Loren and I made it up the coast south of Dunedin to the Claremont and our last night with Gunn. A fabulous victorian B&B that she runs. We are in the tower – three floors up and high atop Dunedin. Beautiful. We ate at a little neighborhood Italian restaurant on the beach in Dunedin tonight watching surfers brave large storm waves in the Pacific, with only South America as the next land mass to the east.
Tomorrow, we do our 28 hour trip back to KC. I should be quite the sight to see on Monday morning at my desk as we arrive late in the evening on Sunday night in KC.
So, goodbye New Zealand and all of the Kiwi people we have met. What a wonderful adventure and to our new Kiwi friends, thanks for the great experience. you are all wonderful. Goodbye furry friends . . .
and coastlines like no other.
Day 9- Milford Sound
We headed off through Fiordland (or Fjordland) National Park over a small windy road, through breathtaking valleys, past mirror lakes, and soaring snow capped mountains, with our destination Milford Sound, which is misnamed a “sound” we are told as it is really a large series of fjords. It was all quite breathtaking. Here is what some of it looked like:
Then, while Zac and Loren hiked for a bit, I had a spot of tea with our guide Albert of Trips and Tramps,
and then back to Te Anau for our last night with Janice and Lindsay of the Cats Whisker and a wonderful dinner at the Redcliff cafe – rabbit, venison, NZ Salmon, and of course, lamb and Sauvignon Blanc and Emerson’s Pilsner. Ahh, life is good.
Day 7-8 – Fjordland | Te Anau
We drove 3 hours south west of Dunedin to Te Anau in the Fjordland region of the South Island of New Zealand. We are staying at the Cats Whisker B & B; no cat – it died sadly. Now the cat is a cute little Maltese mix dog. Very friendly. Our hosts are great. Te Anau sits on Lake Te Anau, reported to be the largest fresh water lake in this part of the world. It has snow capped mountains that frame it on each side.
On Day 8, we are headed over those mountains for the fjords and the coast — Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound – discovered and charted by Captain Cook in the late 1700s. To get there, you can backpack for 7 days, boat, or fly. We chose to get there by float plane.
Our trip is touch and go due to weather but the rain and hail break for a couple of hours, the sun peaks out, and our pilot Alan decides to make a go of it. And off we go. We flew across the fjords to the sounds, often at what appeared to be eye level with snow capped mountains – the Southern Alps – dusted by cold weather and snow last night. Again, the best way to describe what we saw is by images:
We touched down in the bay at Dusky Sound in search of dolphins and found some, playful around the plane as we floated in the water, although I was unable to get a great shot:
then back to Te Anau before the rains hit again.
Tomorrow, Milford Sound.
Day 6 – Otago
Day 6 was all about nature on the wild coastline of the Otago Peninsula just a short drive from the center of Dunedin. Nature on the Pacific coast is all about birds, seals and sea lions. Here are some of the wildlife we saw today during our 8 hours on the shoreline, the journey courtesy of our guide, John. He knew all the places to find wildlife and give me (and Zac) a chance to shoot images of the birds. It was quite a remarkable day discovering exotic looking birds including the rare Yellow Eyed Penguin as they finished their day at sea and came out of the water, walked across the beach where we sat, and made their way to their nests on the hillsides. I am afraid I don’t remember the names of all the birds that follow, but they all have personality.
Yellow Eyed Penguin:
Seals and Sea Lions:
Assorted other birds:
Travel day tomorrow to the Southwest portion of the South Island – Te Anau.
Day 5 Kia Ora in Rotorua
A full day of geothermal wonders followed by an evening with the Maori, the native people of New Zealand. Kia Ora means hello, good health and several other sentiments.
The geothermal activity here is substantial with geysers and active volcanoes about, boiling mud pits, hot springs of all colors reflecting the interaction of elements at the surface and below the earth, and craters from an 1880s eruption that turned a small lake into a huge lake. The best way to describe what we saw is in pictures (no photoshopping of the colors).
And, the distant hole in this next shot is one of 5 craters from the 1880s eruption. Under the lake that now sits below the mountain was another:
We then spent our evening with the Maori, learned about their culture, dined on food they cooked for hours in a pit in the ground on white hot rocks. Here are some of our hosts:
On our drive back from their village, the bus had representatives of the US, New Zealand, Australia, China, Taiwan, Korea, the UK, French, German, and one or two other countries. We had all spent our evening with the Maori. Each country was asked to sing a song — kind of corny, harkening back to summer camp and The Wheels on the Bus. The US contingent sang She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain. The Australians sang Waltzing Matilda, etc. Somehow it worked. Maori magic I guess. For that short bus ride, the world and its many conflicts seemed to melt away and everything made sense and was balanced.
November 9 NZ (November 8 US) is a travel today to Dunedin, the South Island and the meet up with Zac for the next part of the adventure.
Long drive today as we leave the Bay of Islands behind
and drive through the countryside for 6 1/2 hours (actually, Loren has mastered the left side of the road thing, so she did all the driving)
south, past Auckland to Rotorua. Outside Rotorua, Loren met a friend – may have practiced some medicine without a New Zealand license – sheep in the background wanted no part of her but the horse was looking for love.
We ended the day at the Blue Lake in Rotorua, a spiritual place we are told.
Tomorrow, some geothermal activity and a dinner with the Maoris.
Day 2-3 Bay of Islands
Day 2 had us helicoptering our way around the bay for 45 minutes. We tried to get on the copter in between rain squalls but failed in our quest. Nevertheless, the sun broke through at times to reveal a series of rocks and islands with almost a golden glow to them. Some are privately owned, such as by Tom Cruise, we are told.
As well, we headed for a rock called the “Hole in the Rock” and the copter landed on the top (the furthest right dash of rock on the top of the island). The landing was not as scary as I expected.
We had great views from there even as squalls were coming past.
Today (day 3), we ferried our way from Paihia across the bay to Russell. Russell from the air:
In the 1800s, Russell was a hotbed of brothels and liquor and earned the name the Hell Hole. Not so any more. Now it is older homes, gardens, beaches, and shops.
It has a church where the pews are lined with embroidered pillows – wonderful idea:
The wind was quite substantial so we just toured on foot and did not take a boat trip around the bay (other than the ferry).
We also toured a glow worm cave. The insects adhere to the cave ceiling and glow to attract their prey – it is like looking at the milky way – but no cameras allowed. Travel day tomorrow.
Day 1 and 2
We started our adventure on the north island. After a 12 hour flight from LA, we landed in Auckland, went through customs and drove north the the Bay of Islands and Paihia. As we drove north, we inched closer to the equator as NZ is in the southern hemisphere.
The trip out of Auckland quickly turned from big city to very rural.
It is the beginnings of spring here.
Once in the Bay of Islands, we of course had mussels for dinner. NZ is home to the world famous Green Lipped Mussel, a giant among mussels, with a wonderful sweet taste like no other in the world.
We visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the British and the native Maori signed a treaty of equality that governed their relationship, not perfectly at times, but it seems to mostly work. The grounds are not only historical but show a bit of the Maori culture and art. We have more Maori exploration in the coming days.
We have been above NZ in a helicopter (more later) and oh by the way, this is truly a beautiful land.
from our room at the Allegra Bed and Breakfast:
Off for more green lips. Check back!
do :: or :: diso is officially 8 months old. I am very proud of the reception the online magazine has gotten from photographers and others and the subscription rate has remained constant. True, Sports Illustrated has not yet called to inquire about an acquisition of my publication, but maybe, I am not selling just yet! In any case, here are the most recent four covers of do :: or :: diso. Visit, read the articles, catch up on the archives, and subscribe at: disports.com.
read the magazine, and thanks for visiting my blog — Mark
August 3, the Kansas City T-Bones sponsored a home run derby featuring Jose Canseco, formerly one of the two bash brothers of the Oakland A’s, author of Juiced (a tell all book about steroids in baseball and his personal use). The T-Bones are Kansas City’s independent minor league baseball team playing out of Kansas City, Kansas, with a slogan – “Fun … Well Done,” apt for the land of beef. Jose appeared just after a celebrity softball game and just before the T-Bones game began.
He strolled onto the field, bigger than life and almost as buff as when he played big league ball
He talked to the media,
warmed up a bit,
and then got serious – hitting a softball some 450 feet over the left field wall and into the nearby parking lot. Are you serious – a 450 foot softball blast?
He mingled with some dignitaries:
Former major league pitcher Diego Segui, who, like Jose, is of Cuban descent, and Frank White, former Kansas City Royal and currently the first base coach for the T-Bones:
Then, after the T-Bones game ended, Jose came back for his home run derby for charity – Harvesters. He took his swings as well as a group of guys who volunteered to take their shots as it got dark.
Afterward, he checked the scoreboard.
For me, a great chance to sit 7 feet from Jose with my D4 and a 70-200mm lens and capture some of the man. After all, he was a 40 home run, 40 stolen bases champ, a slugger for the A’s, who loved and still loves baseball and still sounds like a kid playing stick ball in the street when he talks about the game; a guy who can still hit the ball, hard or soft, a mile, a guy who is still a physical specimen and as a result, fields legitimate questions about continued juicing; a grown up big kid who is funny, warm, engaging, and who also did things and promoted a lifestyle that came to dominate baseball for more than a decade in ways that still challenge the veracity and propriety of our national past time.
And then, he strolled off into the night, and off to the next barnstorming stop on the minor league circuit. The dichotomy that is Jose.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Mark
do : : or : : diso, my monthly sports photography ezine is now 4 months old. It has been a labor of love . . . mostly love. Thanks to Jason Lillie for all the help in making the ezine so simple to create each month that even I can do it without too many hitches. True, I had to re-learn some basic html code and master ftp for the covers each month, but it is live, and hopefully interesting. Next month, I will cover the process of shooting the 2 Rs of summer – Rugby and Roller Derby. In the meantime, here are the covers for the first 4 months:
Visit the site at http://disosports.com, subscribe for free, enjoy, and get out and shoot some sports shots.
My goal is to offer a monthly, short, to the point, on-line magazine of sports photography, post processing techniques for sports photos, insight, and the occasional interview. Each month, if you subscribe, you will get an email to your inbox of the magazine cover advising that the new issue is out. Just click on the cover and you are transported to the article. This month’s article is about three post processing techniques to add light back to the image to better reflect what your eye really saw at the match, game, or event.
As it turns out, there are so many moving parts to launch this kind of project: (a) how to make it look less like a blog; (b) how to keep it relevant and informative; (c) who is the target audience: (d) how to send out a mailing ( I settled on Mail Chimp ) ; and my favorite (e) how to pick a logo. Here is the evolution of the logo:
cool, but too dark:
creative, but a little bulky
loved it, but . . .
. . . here was the winner, by my buddy Alex Peak
The first post is up and after all the planning, the copy was easy. Now for the hard part – creating content every month! I am taking guest author pieces ( :
thanks for stopping by my blog. . . Mark
The wonderful thing about making images is that I can decide to shoot sports and I can decide not to. When I decide not to, I call those moments temporary diversions. A diversion might be a trip or an idea or a model or an assignment. Fulfilling a dream, my family and I spent 11 days, including New Years, in Japan. By day and night we walked and road the trains, soaking in the city, the culture and the people. I found the people there fascinating and returned with many images of the Japanese people living their lives. In particular, New Years (this year the year of the Horse) is a time of great celebration. I shot no sports, but came away from the trip with the belief that in Tokyo, people compete for space, love to shop, and during the holiday time, they dress up, hit the streets, and thoroughly enjoy seeing and being seen. Mostly, I did the street photography “shoot and scoot” thing, as we tried to see as much as possible. Here are a selection of Tokyo folks on New Years day and January 2 browsing, keeping order, shopping, touring, interacting, and relishing life. And now, back to sports!
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Mark
The time fast approaches when we remind ourselves each year of our desire to achieve the long shot of peace on earth and goodwill toward each other. I am just a lowly sports photographer in Kansas City and have come to believe I can affect this long shot goal in only minimal ways. So, I choose to use my camera as a reminder that sports can be a forum to compete without politics, where victors and vanquished can coexist without loss of life,
and where differences can be resolved by finite measurements of skill,
and a little luck.
My camera offers no insights into mayhem and insanity and filibusters and politics, but rather just glimpses into the human spirit.
Somewhere, mayhem and insanity and politics each purport to intersect with something as fundamental as the human spirit in ways that make no sense. But in sports, understanding and appreciating that spirit is so much less confusing and images of the spirit are so much more sincere and genuine than the evening news images, and at least in the moment of competition, it all makes sense.
For me, sports is the plan; roll out and throw the pass into the flat; trust your teammates; follow the plan. Make it so.
If you follow the plan, just maybe, they (who are also we) will too.
Ok — enough of my deep thoughts. The tree has now arrived at Rockefeller Center,
and from a distance the world below seems so peaceful . . .
So, thanks for visiting my blog today and this year. Hopefully you have enjoyed my images. Have a very satisfying December. Look for new things from this blog in 2014… something that I hope to call “Do or DISO”
Be safe. Mark
As Labor Day winds to a conclusion, my blog looks back over a busy summer of photographic exploration. My goal this summer was to add different sports to the portfolio, and add I did: along with the stalwarts of soccer and softball, I added roller derby, boxing, skateboarding, swimming, track and field, gymnastics, triathlon, and a little dance fantasy. Here is a sampling:
Colorado state championship tournament in Colorado Springs:
swimming at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs:
Product shoot for Combat Brands, LLC, owner of Ringside Boxing brand boxing, MMA, and fitness gear:
Roller Derby, Kansas City:
Rugby 7s (an Olympic Sport at the next summer games):
The Kansas Relays Track and Field Invitational at the University of Kansas in Lawrence:
The Kansas City Triathlon just before the rain and lightning started:
University of Missouri – Kansas City Ladies’ Softball (Bobby Knight calls it the most exciting game in college sports):
A little dance magic courtesy of Taylor Barber:
The Ringside 13th Annual Amateur Boxing Tournament in Independence, Missouri (1200 boxers from all over North America descend on the Kansas City metro and compete for 4 days) thanks to John Brown, founder of Ringside Boxing:
A little late night practice for one of Kansas City’s budding gymnasts:
and, soccer, soccer, soccer:
. . . and some of the loyal fans at Sporting Park here in Kansas City:
take care, have a good fall, and thanks for stopping by my blog . . . Mark
Rugby has not been featured at the Olympics since the 1924 summers games. But, the seven-a-side version will be played in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. “7s” (as it is called) is played with 7 players per side instead of 15 and features shorter matches. 7s tournaments are traditionally summertime events (sometimes called festivals) and are known for having more of a relaxed atmosphere than fifteen-a-side games.
Here in Kansas City, the Kansas City Blues (and of late, the University of Missouri- Kansas City club team) – sponsor 7s tournaments. The Blues are an interesting example of Rugby in the states. The team is made up of men from all walks of life. The active roster boasts a range in player’s ages from 19 – 41, consisting of students, doctors, lawyers, sales professionals, corporate executives, teachers, and more. The Blues lead a very demanding lifestyle, adding 2 practices a week and outside training to their busy work schedules and families.
The 7s competition is spirited with teams ranging from organized (like the Blues or UMKC) to college rugby clubs, to employer-, or bar-, sponsored teams. Several photography challenges are presented in shooting summertime rugby.
The field is large so it is hard to cover all the action from one end zone or the other, even with my 500mm f / 4 lens. That lens is great to cover half the field, is very fast and the focus is sharp and precise.
That lens, however, is too big when the action gets close so I usually have a second body with my 70-200mm (either the f / 4 or the 2.8 should be wonderful). The 70-200mm is also good to roam the sidelines and shoot across the width of the field into the action rather than navigate length of field shots. The Rugby action is fast enough at times that it warrants shutter speeds of at least 1/1000th second and the glare is substantial enough, that care should be taken to shoot with the sun behind and consider use of a polarizer filter, or adjust for glare in post processing (I like the polarization filter in Nik Color Efex Pro). I usually shoot shutter priority, no slower than 1/1000th second, and ISO 400 to 640 depending on the light to achieve f stops in the 6.3 to 9.0 range.
Like most sports, for me, shooting the action is great, but capturing the emotion is better. For emphasis, I love the new radial filter in Lightroom 5 to provide a highlight on the primary subject in the shot and a slight vignette to the rest of the framed shot.
Google Rugby in your town and go out and give it (photographing a tournament) a try!
Thanks for reading my blog . . . . Mark