Ed Briggs

Feb 252020
 

Continuing my drone photography of Iceland, this installment features episodes titled “Remote Lakes on a Windy Day,” “Iceland’s Westfjords Region,” “Dark, Remote Landscape in Iceland,” “Village by Lake Myvatn,” and “The Town of Eskifjordur and its Pool.” 

On the subject of swimming pools, every Icelandic child is required to learn to swim before graduating from school. Because of this, every village seems to have a pool. Most pools are outdoor pools with heated water. Most pool water is heated by mixing Iceland’s abundant geo-thermal heated water to obtain a comfortable temperature. Outdoor hot tubs are also very popular in connection with the swimming. During our recent two weeks in Iceland, we swam in six different pools, including  Eskifjordur.

Feb 182020
 

As someone who used to fly small airplanes – I have over 500 hours as a pilot – it is similar but unique to fly a small drone and use it to photograph the landscape. My drone has a nice five inch screen on the controller that lets me see what the onboard camera sees. But you are pretty busy flying to follow the screen in detail, and five inches isn’t very much for detail anyway. So when I get home and load the files on my computer and begin viewing them on a 27 inch screen, it is almost like flying with the drone myself. This is especially true with high resolution video. And the ability to slow things down or speed things up or zoom in close adds more. So the editing is a lot about discovery, and the following is some of the results.

Jan 172020
 

I spent the first two weeks of September 2019 traveling in Iceland and flying my drone. I flew at every opportunity, accumulating many hours of footage. Iceland is a great place for drone photography, partly because it is so scenic and also because you can fly almost anywhere except in the national parks. My drone is a DJI Mavic 2 Pro with Hasselblad camera, shooting 4k video. I hope you will enjoy flying with me!

Jan 132020
 

A second group of videos from Iceland, made from flights with my camera drone. This was done in September 2019, my third visit to the country. However, this trip lasted over two weeks and included driving the “Ring Road” all the way around the island, plus many side trips as well.

Talk of War

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Jan 102020
 

Now again in early January 2080 we hear the talk of war: threats, grievances, incidents, mobilizings, bombings, murders, and always the justifications.

With all this from today’s news in mind, I was listening to “The Green Fields of France” by the Celtic Thunder. I decided to share. I suggest you listen to the music first, then review the words below.

 

Oh how do you do, young Willy McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside,
And rest for a while in the warm summer sun,
I’ve been walking all day, and I’m nearly done.
And I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen,
When you joined the great fallen in 1916,
Well I hope you died quick,
And I hope you died clean,
Oh Willy McBride, was is it slow and obscene.
Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did the play the fife lowly,
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down,
Did the band play the last post and chorus,
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest.
And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind,
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined,
And though you died back in 1916,
To that loyal heart you’re forever nineteen.
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some old glass pane,
In an old photograph torn, tattered, and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame.
Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did the play the fife lowly,
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down,
Did the band play the last post and chorus,
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest.
The sun shining down on these green fields of France,
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance,
The trenches have vanished long under the plow,
No gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing down.
But here in this graveyard that’s still no mans land,
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand,
Till’ man’s blind indifference to his fellow man,
And a whole generation were butchered and damned.
Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did the play the fife lowly,
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down,
Did the band play the last post and chorus,
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest.
And I can’t help but wonder oh Willy McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died,
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause,
Did you really believe that this war would end wars.
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing and dying it was all done in vain,
Oh Willy McBride it all happened again,
and again, and again, and again, and again.
Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did the play the fife lowly,
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down,
Did the band play the last post and chorus,
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest.

Jan 092020
 

We made our third trip to Iceland the first two weeks of September, 2019. This time we drove all the way around the island and more. This time I took my new camera drone and flew many times each day. I learned a lot on these flights, and even more in editing the video footage after returning. I will be posting portions of this video as I have them ready, about 8-10 minutes worth at a time. These represent selected highlights from literally hours and hours of source footage. I still get absorbed in the wonder of this strange land. A land where every turn of the road presents something new and different.

Dec 252019
 

I live in Montgomery County, Maryland. Over a million people live in our county, distributed around in just over 500 square miles. By contrast, the island nation of Iceland covers some 40,000 square miles but has a population one third the size of Montgomery County – some 360,000. Our county averages about 2,000 people per square mile, but Iceland averages one person for every 10 square miles.

Then there’s the matter of sheep. There are 2,280 sheep farms in Iceland. That means there is a sheep farm for every 150 people in the country. There are more sheep than people in Iceland by a long shot. 

The sheep population jumps up every year in May when the new lambs are born. Soon afterward, most sheep are released to roam the wild hills and valleys and high mountains. All summer they feed and fatten and grow their wool. The lands they roam are public, so the grazing is free food for all.

In the summertime, the farmers work their fields gathering up hay for the coming winter. Then in September, all the farmers in various communities work to gather the sheep into one place where they have a sorting facility built. This process is called RĂ©ttir (corral) and can take up to a week, since the sheep are scattered all over. The sheep are fast on their feet and widely disbursed. They are rounded up by people riding horses and assisted by sheepdogs, with others on foot where the terrain doesn’t allow riding.

Finally gathered down from the hills,  you have them all in one place: fat happy lambs, ewes and rams. In the sorting corral, they’re identified by their earmarks and sorted to their owners’ pens off to the side. The owner then decides, which sheep are going to be sold and which are going back to the stables for the winter. 

It’s a hard but happy time in Iceland. A time of meeting and kidding and dogs and music and drinking and children playing and young men competing and young women working hard but looking good at the same time. It’s a community event, everyone helping, no one slacking or cheating.

I was fortunate enough to witness one of these events in one small Icelandic community in 2019. The following are some of the sights and sounds I recorded. 

Dec 232019
 

In May of 2019 I met with eleven other swimmers in Hurghada, Egypt. We boarded a yacht which would be our home for the next seven days. I have done such swims in Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Spain, and other places. But the Red Sea was different. The waves and currents and challenges of swimming were the same, but the sea life was beyond my experience. The five minute video which follows provides an in-water look.