Thursday, March 17, 2011

Complain and You Shall Receive

First, an ornithological lesson.
Today during a break in the snowclouds, I took another walk down to the beach and made several identification mistakes. I was feeling cocky being able to actually be outside without freezing or blowing away, and shutterbugging it up underneath Reynisfjall, with the pattering of soft hail accumulating in my coat collar, and the waves thundering onto the snow-covered rocks below me.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of white birds nesting on Reynisfjall rigth now. They can be seen from a great distance, somehow cutting through the sharp bursts of wind, completely exempt to the laws of physics and bad luck. After my lesson about fýll the other day, I hardly bothered to take a close look at them. White with a grey wing and of similar size, and sitting on the side of a cliff in pairs, they appeared to be the same at first glance. But these birds are called Rita (or Black-Legged Kittawake in English). They are a member of the gull family, which was obvious when I reviewed my photos later.

Rita (Rissa tridactyla)
I was also pleased to see the local flock of previously unidentified songbirds on the walk back to the hostel. They were neurotically zipping in a halted loop from someone´s front yard, up into the sky, and back down again. Every few seconds they would explode from the ground. It was a pleasing sound, and their white wings splashed snow up into the air in front of the colorful backdrop of the house. They are Snow Buntings, or Snjótittlingur. When they change color in the summer, their name changes to Sólskríkja.

When I mentioned them to Æsa today, she gasped that she forgot to put out corn for them, and that they visit the hostel every day to check for their treat.

In other bird news, I also had the pleasure of catching a fleeting glimpse of a Tjaldur (Eurasian Oystercatcher) in flight yesterday. It has a stout, black and white bullet-shaped body not unlike a puffin. I only took note of it because of it´s high-pitched peep-peeping sound, which I later used to confirm the sighting. Very exciting, if only for a moment. They are considered a first sign of spring here in Iceland. Peep! Peep!

Now onto the complaining. I was bemoaning my crummy camera on Facebook the other day after going out to shoot those photos of waves. I am using a FujiFilm HS-10, which has some really great features, but I´ve been terribly disappointed with the color and sharpness of the photos it produces. Everything looks completely flat, dull, and brownish to me. Maybe it´s just the preference of my eye, but I can´t stand it. It´s devastating to come home to a bunch of washed out photos when my brain is so fully saturated with the day. I don´t mind Photoshopping images back to where they should be (and who knows, maybe I am over-saturating or compensating for a sub-par screen) but it´s a pain to go through every single photo and not be able to use anything sooc (straight out of the camera).
I don´t think I´m much of a complainer, but this is really important. Sometimes taking photos feels like the only thing I´m good at, and it´s the one thing that keeps me going. So having a camera that I hate is a big deal.
However, I am one lucky kid, because seconds after registering my complaint into the vortex of Facebook and the waters of the open internet, my photographer friend, Bill Rhodes, send me a message asking if I would like to borrow his Nikon D70.
Would I?!
He shipped it within a couple of hours, and right now it´s cutting through the winds of the North Atlantic, crossing paths with white-winged seabirds, and I cannot explain how grateful and pleased I am to be so lucky and have such generous and forgiving friends (heck, Bill and I only hung out in person a handful of times!). And now I really owe myself some serious lessons in photography.

I will leave you now with a photo from today´s walk...of a rock with a tophat. It was probably some fancy troll on his way to a hot date when the sun came out and turned him to stone. ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment