Iceland Réttir

Domestic livestock in Iceland have an interesting life… during the harsh winters they spend their time safely sheltered in barns, but during the summer they are mainly left to wander around the countryside, fending for themselves.

As a result, you will find them everywhere… especially the sheep. Climb a volcano, there will be a sheep. Try crossing a single track bridge… you’ll find your way blocked by sheep. So, the obvious question is, how do farmers catch them at the end of the summer?

The answer is the Réttir – the gathering of the animals in late September. Every farmer goes out to scour their land and rounds up every sheep they can find, regardless of who it may belong to. They are then brought together on a given day in a huge pen, and the farmers and their families go in to find their own sheep and wrangle them into a separate pen dedicated for their own livestock.

sheep-gathering-6

We happened upon such a gathering by accident on the road to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, north of Reykjavik. There must have been a few dozen folk there, and hundreds of sheep. It was certainly a fun event, verging on the crazy at times, as the kids got involved to corral the sheep and the sheep tried to make a break for freedom wherever they could. Even the toddlers got involved, as their parents picked them up and plonked them on top of a protesting sheep, to learn how to identify it and walk it to where it needed to be. As you’ll see from the chap in blue in headline image, the standard technique is to straddle the sheep, grab its horns and lead it along. Of course, this sometimes doesn’t work (see below;-)

Sheep gathering 7.jpg

You will see the same approach used to gather the Icelandic horses around the same time –   so, if you are out in the Iceland countryside around September, take a look to see when the Réttir will be happening. It is a great event to see, even if you are not looking to photograph it!

The headline image for this post was taken using a Canon 5Dmk3 and 16-35mm lens, at 1/500th at F4. No special processing applied.

Skogafoss, Iceland

It has been a really long time since we made our last post on this site… so let’s start with a big apology for being absent without leave. Suffice it to say that life has just been far too hectic… indeed it still is! Thanks anyway for those of you who showed interest in the site when we first started it, and we’ll try to keep posting regularly so you have something new to take a look at!

Anyway, let’s start with this image (one of Christine’s) of the Skogafoss waterfall in Southern Iceland. Iceland has become somewhat of a landscape photographer’s cliche in recent years, so we won’t be attempting to match the quality of the many fantastic images that are already out there, but we will try to bring a slightly different take on Iceland if and when we post more of our images.

In this case, we arrived at Skogafoss on a pretty bleak day in September 2014 when the sky was flat and grey. The waterfall itself is truly spectacular – not the biggest in the world by any means,  but certainly one that lives up to your childhood dreams of what a waterfall should be. A rapid flowing river comes down from the glacier and tumbles over a two hundred foot sheer drop into a canyon of its’ own making. You can walk into the canyon, getting as close as you dare to the waterfall, or at least as close as you can before you are completely soaked. Like all of the large waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss creates huge plumes of spray and mist, making photography quite a challenge even when the weather is fine.

While Christine was taking life easy at the foot of the waterfall, I decided to climb to the viewing platform at the top, which you can just see in the main image for this post. It is a pretty steep climb, and by the time I reached the top, I was completely shattered – only feeling a little better when I saw that even the young guys were out of breath as well by the time they got to the platform. There is a great view down to the sea from there, though on this day it was gloomy and not very photogenic. However, near the top you can take a narrow path to see the waterfall from the side, in the lee of a curiously shaped rocky outcrop. The image below was stitched from a couple of shots taken with a Canon 5DMk3, 100th at F9, 24mm, ISO 100.

skogafoss-2

Image processing

The main image for this post was taken on a Sony A7R camera with a Zeiss 24-70 F4 lens, 125th at F8, ISO 100.

On this day, with the sky a steely grey with absolutely no detail at all, it seemed appropriate to be a bit creative with the image to emphasize the feeling of menace that was coming from the falls. In practice, we tried to recreate a gritty look that we had seen in a similar image used for an Apple screensaver. Since the sky has no detail, we did take a liberty and replace it with a ‘stock’ sky that we had captured at another location in Iceland, using a similar lens.

The only other manipulation involved was to remove one of the two people standing at the foot of the waterfall, leaving one sole figure to create more of a sense of mystery and solitude.

Infra-red

With the good weather of late, Ian and I have been doing the rounds of the National Trust Gardens again. It has been several years since we last visited Scotney Castle, so one fine spring weekend we loaded up the car with our photography gear and off we went.

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Serendipity

No matter how hard you work at your photography, sometimes the key to success is pure luck. The image in this post is a great example. I was on the touchline at a local football match (Brighton & Hove Albion, for those who are interested), and decided to grab a few shots of the crowd instead of the action on the pitch.

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Welcome to the street gallery!

Finally got around to launching another of the galleries – sorry for the delay as we have been pretty busy for the last couple of weeks!

The great things about street photography is that you can do it petty much anywhere that man has made a mark… the street, of course, but inside buildings, in parks, on a bus or in the underground. What is street photography? Well, a definition we might use is the interplay of people and the environment they have created. If you might consider that photography is comprised of four key elements – technique, composition, impact and meaning – then street photography really aims for the last two.

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Welcome to the landscape gallery!

Well, another week into the life of WoolyPig, and time for another gallery to come online! Landscape is a relatively new adventure for us, so please don’t set your expectations too high this time around! As you see, we have not visited many places yet, but hopefully this gallery will become more varied in time as we learn more and travel further afield…
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Nymans Gardens

The weekend was upon us again and the weather was looking very ‘iffy’. Rain most of Saturday but Sunday’s forecast said showers – so we packed our gear ready for the day to come. Morning a bit wet but by midday it had started to clear, so we had an early lunch then drove the short distance to Nymans Gardens.

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Impressions of Hastings

2013 was a difficult year for me for photography. The weather was awful (it didn’t stop raining, did it) and combined with the economic depression people looked quite miserable – so taking photos within my preferred genre (street) became quite a challenge. Yes, I know some photographers say they get their best images in bad weather – but all I seem to get is wet!

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