Overland Track Day 4: Pelion Rainforest

23 August 2017, Overland Track (Pelion Plains to Kia Ora Hut), Tasmania

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The conditions had eased from the previous three days and there was less far to walk so I was able to pause more frequently to take photographs.  Consequently, this is the first of two posts for this day.
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This is Douglas Creek Cascade, a short walk off the track.  There’s a lot of water flowing through.

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What impressed me more, though, was the view up a side channel, with this magnificent boulder in the middle.

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We walked through a grove with many pandani.

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Pandani (richea pandanifolia) are an endemic Tasmanian semi-alpine plant, unrelated to the similar-looking Pandanus of the tropical Pacific and South-East Asia.

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So they look tropical but they’re a cold climate plant.

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Apparently they can grow as high as 12 metres.

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It takes a consistently wet environment for the trees to be covered in moss and lichen.

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This tree is a natural hybrid between a King Billy Pine and a Pencil Pine.  The two are both ancient slow-growing Tasmanian trees in their own genus but related to junipers and the Californian redwood.  Some suggest the hybrid is actually a separate species.

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The one on the left is I think a King Billy Pine and the other the hybrid.

I had assumed King Billy was a reference to William IV (1830-1837) but it is to William Lanne, who died in 1869.  He was Truganini’s third husband and purportedly the last “full-blooded” male Tasmanian aborigine.  After he died, his skull was stolen by surgeon William Crowther (who later became Premier of Tasmania) and may have ended up in Edinburgh.  The scandal led to the Anatomy Act of 1869 which established that any “medical experiments” required prior permission of the deceased person or permission from their relatives.

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A family of Pandani.

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Rainforest with snow.

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Australia, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Pelion Plains, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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The Overland Track is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness area, that stretches from Cradle Mountain down to the south coast and the Maatsuyker Group.  It is a World Heritage area and has been since 1982.  One thousand and seven World Heritage sites are listed worldwide and nineteen in Australia.   There are ten criteria for World Heritage listing, six cultural and four natural.  The Tasmanian Wilderness satisfies seven of the ten criteria for listing.  At the time of its listing, it was the only one with so many qualifying categories.  Now there is one other with seven, Mount Taishan in China, which satisfies all six cultural criteria and one natural, whereas the Tasmanian Wilderness satisfies three cultural and all four natural.

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The cultural criteria for the Tasmanian Wilderness’s World Heritage listing relate to Tasmanian Aboriginal activity in the area over at least thirty five thousand years (until about 1831).  This includes caves in areas south of the Overland track with tools made from stone, bone and Darwin glass (formed in the heat of meteorite impact).  There are separate caves with red ochre stencils, some areas with rock incisions and many middens on the coast. There are remains of beehive-shaped huts on the west coast and one open campsite has been found.  They didn’t always live in caves or huts but campsites in what is now rainforest are understandably elusive.

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There were (at least) three or four different migrations to Tasmania, all when it was connected to the mainland.  At that time, there was a vast plain in what is now Bass Strait and a large lake in the middle.  14,000 years ago, rising sea levels caused the submersion of the land bridge (and around the same time, New Guinea would have separated from Queensland).  This was part of a process of withdrawal from the ice age and also led to the Alpine vegetation area over much of what is now Tasmania being replaced by rainforest.  The primary food source of the Aborigines was Bennett’s Wallaby.  They congregated in grasslands which in turn may have been partly created by aboriginal firestick farming.  They were scarce in rainforest and not easy to hunt and the Aborigines were unable to turn the rainforest back to alpine grassland.  Consequently, the Aborigines withdrew from the Tasmanian Wilderness area 12,000 years ago and did not start to reoccupy it until 4,000 years ago, initially from the coast.

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While Bennett’s Wallaby was the main food source, groups living in areas with more rainforest would also hunt other game such as pademelon (a kind of wallaby), possums and platypus.  Those on the coast also hunted fur seals, elephant seals, various bird species, crayfish and shellfish.  It was thought that they abandoned eating scaled fish many thousands of years ago, from a tentative finding in 1963 and perhaps a misquote from Captain Cook.  This is now thought unlikely though fish was always but a small part of their diet.

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The Tasmanian Wilderness area was also World Heritage listed for all four criteria.  It is an area of “exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance” as I hopefully demonstrate in the images in these posts.  It has outstanding examples of the geological history of the planet.  It provides outstanding examples of the development of ecosystems:  Here we are in this post walking through ancient rainforests that go back to the time of Gondwanaland.  And it is a haven for rare and threatened wildlife:  I showed a picture of a Bennett’s Wallaby earlier, other examples include Tasmanian devils, eastern quolls and the Tasmanian wedgetail eagle.

Further reading:

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Overland Track Day 3: Pine Forest Moor to Pelion Plains

22 August 2017, Overland Track, Tasmania

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Because I was the slowest in the group, I took off first in the morning and reached Pelion Creek with enough time to pull out my tripod and take a few shots of the torrent.

This image was the last shot with my wide angle zoom.  It was in a lens case hanging off one of my shoulder straps and I had forgotten to pull off and dry the lens case the previous night.  It got wetter during this day and dampness had got through the case and lining and the lens stopped working.  The lens is currently being repaired.

This was another day in which I took very few photographs because of the conditions.

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Pelion Creek.

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Misty trees through a break in the forest.

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I don’t know the name of this waterfall, I think beside the track.

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Frog Flats with Perrin’s Bluff in the background.

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Rainforest with a touch of snow.

Wet shoes were the order of the day on this trip.  The path was often under water.  There were many roots but they were not safe to walk on and bypassing the path was not responsible so the only option was to walk right on through the water.  This meant the water would come up above the top of the shoes which became very wet.  Not as much of an issue in practice as one might think.

I was expecting I’d be looking to get up before dawn to take photographs and to be out taking photographs late in the afternoon and the evening.  It wasn’t really possible, though.  Especially on rainy and snowy days like this, once I got my wet clothes and shoes off, had a shower and changed, I didn’t feel inclined to put the wet stuff back on and go out again.  And the exertions of the day meant I took all the sleep I could.

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I tried photographing the night sky from the hut.  It looks OK at this size on the page but it isn’t really in focus.  Manual focus wasn’t possible with the lens I was using and autofocus didn’t really work in the low light.

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Overland Track Day 1: Waldheim to Barn Bluff

20 August 2017, Overland Track, Tasmania

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After Liffey Falls in the last post, I travelled on to meet the rendezvous for the Overland Track walk.  The Overland Track is a 63 kilometre walk through Tasmania’s highland wilderness.  I had done the walk thirty years ago with large format photographic equipment and a pack of 24 kilograms (53 pounds).  I used the public huts then (and you can also camp), but this time I was undertaking a catered trip using private huts offered by the Tasmanian Walking Company.  This meant I didn’t need to carry food because meals are provided and all huts also offer hot showers and drying rooms.

I had opted for the winter tour because I wanted to capture Tasmania’s unique landscape in the snow.  This is much more demanding than the usual summer traverse because trekking through the snow can be harder and slower, and the days are shorter.  As we set off there were ten people in our group plus three guides, although one of our number turned back after an hour because she was feeling unwell.

My clothing weighed 4.5 kg (10lb) including walking poles, and the guidelines for the walk say your pack should weigh 12 to 16 kilograms (26 to 35 pounds).  But with 6.4 kg of camera equipment (14lb), I was carrying 22 kilograms (48 pounds).  This was more than I realised at the time and more than I bargained for.  Based on my previous experiences thirty years earlier, I had assumed I would have lots of time to stop, pull out my tripod and take photos.  However, that was in summer when days are much longer and walking conditions usually much easier (though it can snow here at any time of year).  As it was I generally had to press on with little time to stop for photographs and I was seldom able to use the tripod.  Because my pack was so heavy I was reluctant to take it off too often.  Just as well I had two cameras and four lenses in cases hanging off my shoulder straps and pack belt so I was able to take photographs without removing the pack.  Almost all these images in this and subsequent Overland Track posts are quickly taken on the fly.

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Here are some of the group taking off on the walk.  I am still in the carpark and taking this image from there.  We are heading off to the plateau on the snowline at the left.

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Crater Falls.

After climbing for three quarters of an hour we got to this small waterfall beside the track, with lots of water flowing through.  You can see it’s a longish exposure but I didn’t pull out my tripod, just braced against a railing.

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Boatshed, Crater Lake.

After climbing for an hour and twenty minutes, we stopped for a little while at Crater Lake.  The boatshed was built by the first ranger at Cradle Mountain, Lionell Connell, to ferry visitors around the lake.  There is a similar and better known one at Dove Lake, accessible by road.  Both were built of King Billy Pine, an ancient and slow growing conifer not available as a building material these days.  That’s ice you can see on the surface of the lake, though hardly solid enough to walk on.

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Crater Lake.

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Crater Lake and Boatshed.

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Crater Lake.

This one is looking back at Crater Lake as we continue climbing towards Marion’s Lookout.  Still a steep climb to go.

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Bennett’s Wallaby.

This is further on from the previous image, with Crater Lake out of sight down below the ridge.

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Towards the top, the weather closed in and there was heavy snow.  It had stopped snowing when we got to the top and we stopped for lunch.  According to the time stamps on the images it must have taken us about three hours.  We were close to Marion’s lookout but there was no point going there because there would have been nothing to see.  On a clearer day there would have been a magnificent vista of Dove Lake and the wild country beyond.

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Trees on Cradle Plateau.

The weather was clearing and the lack of a view from Marion’s Lookout was more than compensated by magnificent vistas around the Cradle Plateau.

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Looking west to Cradle Plateau.

A wonderful vista of distant eucalypts in snow.  Click on the image to see it in a larger size.  I would have liked to stop for an hour or so in this area and explore the possibilities but time was pressing and we had to move on.

In a way this is my Fred Williams image though I wasn’t aware of that Australian painter at that time.  When we got to Geelong, the art gallery had a wonderful exhibition of his semi-abstract landscapes looking down from the You Yang mountains to the arid plains below.  This image reminds me of that though it’s really only the central part with the distant trees in the snow.

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Looking east towards the Central Plateau with an angry sky.

Although the weather could be menacing at this point, it was clearing for the rest of the day.

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Barn Bluff.

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You might think this shows towering eucalypts beside a tarn but it’s tiny, more like a miniature landscape.

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Cradle Mountain.

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A distant view of Barn Bluff.  That’s where we’re headed.

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Cradle Mountain.

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Quick question:  on which side of a pole does moss grow?

This marker pole provides a metaphor for the weather.  Wind-driven snow is caked on one side of the pole while moss clings resolutely to the other.

Answer: It’s the south side here.  If you live in the northern hemisphere you probably got that wrong.

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Cradle Mountain.  We’re getting further away now.

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Snow piling up in a sheltered part of the trail in Waterfall Valley.

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Eucalypts in snow, still Waterfall Valley.

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Barn Bluff in the distance, framed by eucalypts.

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Mount Emmett in the late afternoon light.

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Mouth Emmett from Cradle Cirque.  Firth River valley in the distance.

At this stage there was only a kilometre or two to go but it was very rugged.  The problem for much of the day, and especially the last section, was the boardwalks.  Often they were two planks wide, say eighteen inches.  This would be fine in summer but they were covered in about two feet of snow (as with everything else).  It was impossible to stay on them all the time and if you missed them, you fell a couple of feet down into the snow.  I fell over dozens of times and probably so did everyone else.  It had taken nine hours before I got to the hut, starting with the brutal three hour climb to Marion’s Lookout and I was totally exhausted.  Totally worth it, though.  The scenery on the way exceeded my expectations.

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Liffey Falls

19 August 2017, Northern Tasmania

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This is the first of my posts on Tasmania.  I have updated the Itinerary post with likely posts and will update it with links as I make those posts.

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I had driven down from Canberra to the ferry in Melbourne the previous day and the ferry arrived in Devonport at 6:30am.  My destination was to link up with the Overland Track in Winter walk that I was about to undertake with the Tasmanian Walking Company but I did not have to turn up until 3pm.  This gave me a little time to explore so I went to Liffey Falls.

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The first three images are all of the main Liffey Falls cascade from below.

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There are two ways to get to Liffey Falls.  Google Maps sends you in from Bogan Road in the east, with an extra hour’s walk each way.  I didn’t see why I wanted to do that and went in from Riversdale Road to the west.  However, I discovered why Google Maps is set up this way.  There is a section of one-lane only road where someone is going to have to back up if you encounter another vehicle.  I did encounter about another three cars on the way out, but fortunately not in that stretch.

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Since it was winter, sunrise was rather late at 7am.  I was fortunate that because I travelled directly from the ferry, I got there before the sun had risen above the surrounding hills, so the light was low and even, without a great splash of light across half the waterfalls.

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The forest was worth admiring as well as the waterfalls.

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A view from atop an upper part of the falls.

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Water over the rocks above those falls.

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The flowing water contrasts nicely with the ferns and other foliage on the banks.

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Technical note: Because the light was low and the water flowing fast, I did not need to use a neutral density filter to smooth the water on any of these shots.

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Notley Fern Gorge.

I also visited Notley Fern Gorge, which has a short loop walk.  There is another anomaly with Google Maps here.  This time it puts the location in entirely the wrong place.

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Next: starting off on the Overland Track in winter.

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Reunion – South Coast

11th October 2015. Reunion.

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From Cilaos, I headed down the south coast in a counter-clockwise direction and after a while I came to this delightful series of cascades at Grand Galet.

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I had had an offer from a Frenchman where I was staying in Mauritius to stay with him at his house in Grand Galet and originally intended to travel my route for the day clockwise and end up at Grand Galet.  I had cancelled my intended accommodation for the night, when I checked my email before departing and discovered he had met up with a woman at the airport and would not be there.  Just as well I had a web connection.  So I sent another email cancelling my cancellation.  I hadn’t received a response from either email so I took off.  As it turned out, I don’t think either of them were received.

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This image and the next are at the village near the cascades where I had been expecting to stay.

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This is a point along the south coast where the road went beside the sea and where I stopped, probably near Saint-Phillipe.  On other journeys I had points of interest defined on routes I had created on my car GPS.  This time the download had not worked and I did not check it before I left.  Consequently, I drove past most of the places I had intended to visit and stopped at a few random ones instead.

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I saw a sign on a minor road showing a turnoff to Le Vieux Port or the Old Port.  That sounded interesting so I went to check it out.  I managed to park at the end of the road – with some difficulty because there were many cars and not many spaces.  Then it was on foot.  This is a flowering plant on the way.

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I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the port was used in the seventeenth century for a while before moving somewhere else.  It’s hard to imagine why there was ever any kind of a port here because it’s so rugged and exposed and with no easy route inland to anywhere.  Perhaps there was once a jetty here and maybe the water is deep offshore so ships could get close inshore in favourable conditions.

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Fishing was a popular activity here.

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Architecture, Grand Galet, Landscape, Macro, Photography, Piton Sainte Rose, Reunion, seascape, Travel, Vieux port, Waterfall .

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A little further on, this is the church Notre Dame des Laves (Our Lady of the Lava) at Piton Sainte Rose.  In 1977 in one of the many eruptions of Piton De La Fornaise, Reunion’s active volcano, a stream of lava crossed the road, stopped right at the front of the church, diverted into two streams on either side, then reunited behind the church and continued on to the coast.  Clearly a miracle.

The volcano was actually erupting while I was there but all I saw was a huge plume of smoke.  There was no point checking it out further because parking anywhere near was closed off.  I didn’t have the time to walk in and anyway, there was probably little point.

One thing I didn’t manage to see while I was there were little red shrines to St Expédit which are or perhaps were fairly common.  This saint is said to be particularly effective at placing curses on people, for which he then expects payment, hence the shrines.  The story goes that in the nineteenth century, Church officials in Reunion were anxious for some kind of holy relics to impress the credulous.  Eventually, a box of bones arrived with no label but the word Expédit (or express delivery).  The recipients concluded that these must be the remains of St Expédit.  This saint also has a different life as a Roman soldier in the Americas.  In 1905, Pope Pius X demanded that Expédit be struck of the list of martyrs and all images of him be destroyed.  No attention was paid to this in Reunion.

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The final image is at the back of a restaurant in Saint Benoit.  I went there at the invitation of someone who worked there who I sat next to on the plane.  He was leaving by the time I turned up but one of his co-workers gave me a drink and showed me around.

As well as not having routes on my GPS, I didn’t have any power for it from the car (because the car didn’t have a cigarette lighter) and I was having to use it off battery and powered off my laptop.  I was very close to running out of power from both sources when I found my accomodation for the night.  Then I was confronted by a locked gate and it took a while to attract any attention.  Then they told me they were closed and I would have to go away.  I pointed out I had a confirmed booking and had paid a deposit so after a while they relented and at least I had a bed for the night.

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Monochromes – Fjallabak Nature Reserve #2

14th to 18th September 2013: From in and around Fjallabak Nature Reserve to Reykjavik, Iceland, #2 of 2

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These images are monochrome conversions of images from Iceland posts (#7 of 7).

Links go to posts where you may find information on the images and colour versions. For images without links, use the previous link. Likewise for descriptions.

Many of these images were close to monochrome in full colour, yet converting to mono usually makes a profound difference, even if the colours were subtle.

Other monochrome posts were for distinct regions. Fjallabak #1 and #2 simply have a dividing point halfway through the images.

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From Jökulheimaleið.

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From F208.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

From F235 to Langisjór.

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Langisjór.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wildernesst

F235 from Langisjór.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

From F208 to Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Seljalandsfoss.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Probably Hekla in the distance.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Farms and clouds.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Reykjavik.

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So this has been the last post on Iceland.   There have been over 50 posts, over 1,000 images and 17,500 words of description.  There were some pretty stunning views along the way, in a variety of weather conditions.

Altogether for the 2013 North Atlantic Trip there have been 190 posts, 3,000 images and over 67,000 words of description.

Next will be eight posts of monochrome conversions of lighthouse images from 1987.  I overlooked this much earlier after I posted the colour images.  After that I’ll get to the Madagascar/ South Georgia trip from last year.

 

Monochromes – Fjallabak Nature Reserve #1

12th to 14th September 2013: In and around Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Central Iceland, #1 of 2

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These images are monochrome conversions of images from Iceland posts (#6 of 7).

Links go to posts where you may find information on the images and colour versions. For images without links, use the previous link. Likewise for descriptions.

Many of these images were close to monochrome in full colour, yet converting to mono usually makes a profound difference, even if the colours were subtle.

Previous monochrome posts for Iceland were for distinct regions.  Fjallabak #1 and #2 simply have a dividing point halfway through the images.

Feel free to click on an image to see it in a larger size.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Landmannalaugar.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

from Ljottipollur.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Tungnaá river from Ljottipollur.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

from Ljottipollur.

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Black .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

from Ljottipollur.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Landmannahellir.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Near Landmannahellir.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

From Landmannaleið or F225, between Landmannahellir and Landmannalaugar.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Landmannalaugar.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

Between Landmannalaugar and Hrauneyfoss.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness

From Jökulheimaleið.

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Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .

Black and White, Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Snow, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness .