Looking Closer, Seeing Further

I am finally done with school for 2017 and looking forward to the year ahead. There are a lot of changes going on here, in life, and at work. Also, a few months ago, I enrolled in a photography class and had a blast. Our instructor took us around Seattle to photograph popular landmarks and taught us some techniques to get the hang of finally using the manual mode on our fancy DSLRs. This one is a close-up shot of one of the barnacle laden rocks up in Discovery Park by the light house.

Our first lesson was done at the Seattle Arboretum. A week later, we were at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Week 3 was at the Seattle Public Library, and the last session was in Discovery Park. Not only did I learn a lot of tips with finding my “photographic voice”, I also felt more justified for burning through thousands of dollars buying photography equipment. I had so much fun practicing, figuring settings out on my camera, and learning the rudiments of composition. The public library was a treasure trove of lines and geometric patterns for abstract images. Discovery Park is an interesting place especially with the old military buildings. Also, it’s a great place to just sit by the water and watch the waves. There was a bit more walking than I expected that day and in hindsight, I should’ve worn comfier shoes but I still had a good time.

I’m looking forward to displaying my photos here as well as physically at home. I’m also excited to do more shoots around Seattle especially downtown. Maybe doing some people photography can help me out of my shell.

While You Weren’t Looking

Well, hello again!!! I’m finally on a break from school for the next two weeks and now it’s (waaaay past) time to update the blog and the website. I have not been idle, however. Not counting the weekly homework, I have also been taking online photography classes, getting back to hiking, met some new friends, went to Iceland… Yep! I went to Iceland last February with some work friends and had a blast. Some people do girls’ night out. These ladies do girls’ night waaaay out.

In the meantime, I tagged along with my little camera and some choice lenses and snapped away.

Day 1:

We left on the day of a big snow storm in Seattle. Despite our flight boarding on schedule, we sat on the tarmac for about an hour (or two) while waiting for our plane’s wings to get de-iced. We got to Keflavik airport about 2 hours behind schedule and took the flybus to our hotel. Me and my roomie opted to take a little nap while the other ladies went to the Icelandic Phallological Museum. It happened to be extraordinarily rainy that day and I figured it was not going to be worth getting myself and my precious camera equipment wet for some badly lit photos. Besides, there was a 4 hour city tour after lunch, so I caught a few zzz’s before it was time to go.

After our quick nap, we waited for the shuttle to take us to the tour bus terminal. The four hour tour took us around Reykjavik and the surrounding areas. We had a few minutes here and there to take photos and explore. We were supposed to go on a boat trip to the middle of the bay to see the Northern Lights in the evening but it got cancelled due to inclement weather. Towards the end of our tour we decided to ditch at the next stop and walk to the Harpa Concert Hall to go exploring on our own. Afterwards, we walked uphill towards the Hallgrimskirkja church have dinner at Cafe Loki. I had my first taste of fermented shark, a local delicacy. It felt like a urinal blew up in my nose. Definitely a once (and only once) in a lifetime experience. We took the cab back to our hotel, had a few drinks, and went to bed.

Day 2

Another day of soul-sucking wind and rain. All tours got cancelled all over the city. After breakfast, I decided to do some quick school work while everyone else decided what they wanted to do. We finally settled with having lunch at the Matur og Drykkur. I tried some trout smoked in sheep’s dung (yes, dung!). It was surprisingly tasty. I also had the pleasure of watching one of the staff plating our meals with his bare hands (insert incredulous emoji here). The ladies decided he was quite tasty. Unfortunately, he was not on the menu.

After lunch, we went to the Saga Museum next door and went on a little history tour. The displays were quite fascinating. The details were so eerily realistic even down to the bulgy hand veins (can you tell I’m a nurse?). I could swear there was at least one character that looked like it was breathing. The whole history narrative reminded me so much of the Vikings TV series. I decided to get some trinkets for presents at their gift store. We also had a lot of fun dressing as vikings and playing with props while getting photographs.

After the viking history tour, we went to the Northern Lights Exhibition next door. The sign said they can help you figure out your camera settings to take Aurora Borealis pictures. Luckily, I had brought my camera with me so I was excited to go. The photo exhibit was amazing. There was also a room where you can sit and watch photos of the Northern Lights set to a really soothing background. Towards the end of the display, there was a little darkened booth with little windows to put your camera in and take test shots of a simulated image of the Northern Lights so you can adjust your camera settings. I and one of the ladies afterwards decided to get some snacks for tomorrow’s bus tour from the local grocery store before we all had dinner at the Vietnamese restaurant down the street from our hotel. After a few shots of Brennivin and some cocktails, we went to bed.

Day 3

We spent the whole day on a 10-hour tour of the southern section of Iceland and went to see waterfalls, a glacier, the quaint little town of Vik, and a museum of antiques and ancient maritime artifacts. The entire time, I was making mental notes of places to go back to on my next visit. There were plenty of amazing photo opportunities and I had fun playing with my new camera lenses.

The tour took long enough that we had just enough time to grab a quick snack before having to leave for the Northern Lights boat trip. The boat was pretty crowded and hanging out on the deck meant we had to contend with the freezing cold. The whole time, there was a guy on the PA system prattling on about the Northern Lights while we were waiting for a sighting. Unfortunately, with the bad weather and the almost full moon, we had minimal luck. I managed to snap a tiny little blip of it on my phone as we were heading back to the dock. By the time we got back to our hotel, it was already bed time.

Day 4

Our last day in Iceland! We decided to take the relaxing route. Our flight back didn’t leave until 4 pm so we spent the morning at the Blue Lagoon Spa. The relaxing hot springs and the silica facials were just the thing to help me recover from the three adventure-filled days. I also managed to get some more presents for the folks at home from the spa’s store as well as some treats for myself. After spending the day at the spa, we took the cab to the airport to catch the flight back home.

I have to say, Iceland sure knows how to capitalize on the tourism business. They did a lot of things right, in my observation. The whole tour bus system was pretty well organized. They have scheduled buses to pick up the tourists from their hotels to the central bus station where the different buses and shuttles heading to specific destinations and tours were parked. Everyone spoke English very well and signs were pretty easy to read. I’m excited to go back with the hubby and go on an adventure to try all the other fun things like a glacier walk, dog sledding, and a “superjeep” tour inland to spend the night taking pictures of the Aurora Borealis.

I am still catching up with life at the moment and will be posting links once my photo gallery is set up.