The Black Church at Búðir

Fujifilm GFX 50s, ISO 400, FL 40 mm, 1/250 sec @ f/11. Encaustic wax overlay.

In 1703, Bendt Lauridsen built the first church at Búðir, which was demolished later and rebuilt again.  In 1816, the parish at Búðir was abolished.  Steinunn Sveinsdottir, one of the ladies of the parish fought strongly for a new church, but the national church rejected her request.  Eventually, Steinunn received a royal permission to build a new one, which stood ready in 1848.  A quote on the door ring says “this church was built in 1848 without the support of the spiritual fathers”.  In memory of Steinunn’s achievement, this noble woman is buried in the churchyard in Búðir.  Between 1984-86, the church was reconstructed and consecrated in 1987.  Among the valuable possessions of the church are a bell from 1672, an altarpiece from 1750, an old silver chalice, two messing candlesticks from 1767, and a door ring from 1703.  The church is protected and one of the oldest wooden churches in Iceland.

The Black Church of Búðir has become a very popular spot for photographers visiting the Snaefellsness Peninsula.  The striking dark tones of the small church stands out in sharp contrast to the moody dark skies and the rugged Icelandic mountains surrounding it.

Reynisdrangar, Iceland

Fujifilm GFX 50s, ISO 100, FL 28 mm, 1/30 s @ f/20.

Reynisdrangar and the black beaches of Vik have got to be one of the most desolate places on earth.  Raging waves and winds whip across the seascape and even if you are with others, you feel vulnerable and alone, isolated by the extreme environment.  Vik is located in southern Iceland under the shadow of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, Reynisfjall mountain, and one of Iceland’s most dangerous volcanoes – Katla.  A population of around 300 brave souls call the town home.  The seascape is notable for basalt sea stacks as high as 60 meters and known as Reynisdrangar.  One area of  clustered, rocky stacks is iconic for the region and is known as ‘the trolls’.  Legend has it that 3 trolls – Skessudrangur, Laddrangur and Langhamar – were attempting to steal one of the village boats and were caught in the process at dawn and punished by being turned into rocks. Another legend (and the one I prefer) is that a husband caught his wife as she was being held captive by two trolls.  The trolls promised not to kill her but could not return her home.  So the love of this man’s life, whose free spirit he could not contain at home, lives out among the trolls, rocks, and seas at Reynisfiara.

It is a haunting landscape.  In 1991, the black sand beach of Vik was named as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world.

Ice Cave

Fujifilm x-100t, ISO 4000, FL 23 mm, 1/125 sec @ f/14

Fujifilm x-100t, ISO 4000, FL 23 mm, 1/125 sec @ f/14

I was fortunate enough on my trip to Iceland this winter to spend a few hours in an ice cave, sometimes called a crystal cave.  Ice caves often form at the melting front of glaciers but are only briefly stabilized and accessible in winter when the glacial lagoon is frozen sufficiently for you to walk on it and get to the summer ice/lagoon melting point.  Ice caves can be very dangerous because they are ever-changing and can collapse without warning, so a competent guide is imperative.  I was very glad to have Daniel Bergmann, a knowledgable and trusted guide and a highly skilled photographer and artist, to guide me through the ice cave in southern Iceland, in the region of the Jokulsarlon glacier and lagoon.  It was an incredible experience.  Layers of blue ice sculpted in waves formed the ceiling of the cave.  An ice channel undulated through sculptural forms of ice – black, crystalline, blue – that formed the walls.  If you looked close, you could see layers and layers of ice with different crevices, angles, bubbles throughout so you felt as though you were looking through frozen time itself.  There was enough light from the entrance of the cave to be reflected back and forth and so the air itself seemed to sparkle with light reflections.  But as you walked deeper into the cave, the passage became more narrow and darker so that by the time I got to the point where I could not stand upright, I was next to a glistening dark blue wave of ice and it was cold, dark, ominous.  Crystalline icicles hung from the walls in different patterns and there was black sand and larger black stones on the ground.  In some ways, the experience was very similar to seeing the slot canyons in Arizona.  You drop down a small passageway and into huge tunnels of limestone with different patterns and forms, sculptural waves of color whereas with an ice cave the colors are formed by different layers and forms of ice.  But both are experienced the same way –  it’s like being transported to another reality.

Ice Cave

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 80 mm, 1/15 sec @ f/9

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 80 mm, 1/15 sec @ f/9

Ice Cave

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 50 mm, 1 sec @ f/11

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 50 mm, 1 sec @ f/11

Ice Cave

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 50 mm, 1 sec @ f/5.6

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 50 mm, 1 sec @ f/5.6

Ice Cave

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 80 mm, 1/60 sec @ f/11

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 80 mm, 1/60 sec @ f/11

Ice Cave

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 80 mm, 1 sec @ f/10

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 80 mm, 1 sec @ f/10

Ice Cave

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 300 mm, 1/30 sec @ f/13

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 200, FL 300 mm, 1/30 sec @ f/13

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Iceland

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 300, FL 80 mm, 1/2 sec @ f/22

Fujifilm X-T1, ISO 300, FL 80 mm, 1/2 sec @ f/22