Grábrók and testing some features of the LG G3 camera

I tested out the panorama feature in the LG G3 camera last weekend while coming home from a visit to northern Iceland. I stopped by the small volcano Grábrók (“gray pants”), near Bifröst in Borgarfjörður, and climbed it. It was easier to get up there now than the last time I did it, because now there are wooden steps all the way up, and down into the crater, and a wooden walkway with viewing platforms around part of the brim of the crater. It was more fun to scramble up there through the loose lava rocks, but it was inevitable that the stairs and platform would have to be built in order to protect the fragile vegetation and the loose volcanic material on the sides of the mountain. While the pale wood stands out like a sore thumb among the dark lava, it’s better than looking at the marks made in the landscape by feet trampling on and killing plants and tamping the volcanic gravel into scars on the mountain’s side.


I found the joining of the frames to be nearly invisible, which is fantastic compared with all the panorama stitching software I have tried out over the years. However, both of the photos needed additional sharpening. I found that when I tried to sharpen the one above (after reducing its width down to a manageable size) it seemed to be made up of a grid of tiny frames with pixellated sides, and in the end I gave up trying to sharpen it. (You can see the grid if you click on the photo to enlarge it and peer at it, especially the middle section). The one below also showed signs of this when I blew it up to 100% on the screen, but the effect seemed to disappear when I reduced the size and didn’t reappear when I sharpened it.


I have also found that using the digital zoom is not a good idea when I plan to post the photos online, because the zoomed photos only really look good when viewed on the small screen of the phone. On a larger computer screen the loss of detail is obvious and they come out blurry and/or pixellated (depending on the amount of zoom used), and the colours are off. This has only been made smaller, no other work:



And here is a sharpened version with colour correction (just auto levels and sharpen because I wasn’t in the mood for doing more work):




When I am heading north and I’m not in a hurry, I often take the Hvalfjörður road instead of the tunnel that goes under the mouth of the fjord. The tunnel is faster and cheaper, especially if you buy discount tickets or are a subscriber, but the route is very scenic and worth taking if the weather is good. It takes about 40 minutes longer to go around the fjord rather than under it, but there are compensations. For one thing, the road is fun to drive, especially the part that weaves and undulates like a roller-coaster. Also, the landscape is just fantastic. If you’re not in a hurry, you can birdwatch, or pick mussels, or take a walk (or a mountain hike). The area is also rich in history and of considerable interest to World War II enthusiasts.

There is also a Saga connected with the area,  Harðar saga og Hólmverja (The Saga of Hörður and the Islet-dwellers), and a number of places around the fjord take their names from it, including Harðarhólmi (an islet that is correctly called Geirshólmi), Helgusund and Helguskarð. In my opinion, this Saga should be titled Helgu saga hugrökku (The Saga of Helga the Brave), because Hörður was not much of a hero (by modern standards) while Helga (his wife, by the way) was as brave and noble as they come and saved her two sons through a heroic swim followed by a hike over a steep mountain and then used considerable cleverness to get sanctuary for them. Maybe one day I’ll retell that part of the Saga here, but first I’d need to get good photos of the locations where the story took place.


This is a view from the south side:



And here is a panorama.

I made the panorama with the free online panorama-maker Dermandar (click to see full size):


 This is not bad, considering the service is free, although the shoreline bulges somewhat in the middle.

As you can see, there was almost no wind that day, a rare occurrence in Iceland, a country that could very well have ended up being named Vindland (Windland).


Þyrill is a beautiful and striking mountain:


More from Hvalfjörður tomorrow.

Panoramas with lava field, volcano and cumulus clouds

Click on any photo to see it full size.


Stitched together from four images, using Canon PhotoStitch 3.1.

This gravel road branches off from the main highway between Keflavík and Reykjavík and leads to a small geothermal works in the middle of a lava field. Off this road there brances a track that leads to the picturesque volcano Keilir (The Cone), which can be seen in the next photo. I love the sense of openness in the landscape.

The following photos show the view immediately to the right and left of the above photo. Together the three show an approximately 300° panorama, but due to technical reasons they do not look good as one big panorama. I had intended them to form a 360° panorama, but the two photos taken in the direction of the sun turned out overexposed and nasty, and the stitching software made the joints between the three sections banana-shaped, so I gave it up.


Stitched together from three images, using Canon PhotoStitch 3.1.

Keilir is a small volcanic cone not far from Reykjavík. It can be reached by taking a very bad gravel road through the lava fields and then hiking up to the mountain along a path that winds through the lava field. The hike up the mountain is steep and gravelly but even out-of-shape persons like myself can do it without overstraining themselves.

I was actually photographing the clouds, but the feeling of emptiness issuing from the moss-covered lava field is incredible and I wanted to show that as well. One stitch is rather visible, but I felt it was necessary to put it together like this to show the lava field and the cloudscape in relation to the mountain. BTW, the horizon is this shape not because of the stitching but because I was standing on top of a small hill, higher than the lava flow.


Stitched together from three images, using Canon PhotoStitch 3.1.

Icelanders have an irresistible urge to build cairns. Sometimes they mark a road or path, sometimes (like here) an interesting place to stop, and occasionally it is considered good luck for travellers to place a rock on them before going on. Consequently, they can grow to huge proportions. This one is just a baby.