Jim Friesen - Photography

If you are planning on visiting Iceland I want to recommend a guest house.You might consider staying in The Old Bicycle Shop. The above photo was taken in the main house where most of the party stayed. 


The main house was jumping and felt almost like a frat house, only one that was full of really smart sociable young adults as opposed to John Belushi (all respect to Animal House). The pancake olympics (won by Sweden - only because Michael's bottle of maple syrup exploded in his suitcase somewhere over the Atlantic) was a highlight. 


The photos below were taken at the smaller satellite house where Katherine, her brother Paul, his partner Heather, Dan and Kerstin (Christel's parents) and I were staying. Both guest houses were warm and comfortable in every sense. They were also very reasonably priced. The two houses are within blocks of each other and are in the heart of Reykjavik.

Here Kerstin (on the left) and Heather demonstrate the difference between a typical Swedish breakfast (Kerstin) and the North American breakfast (Heather).


Below are a couple of still lifes and some shots taken from the windows of the small house over the duration of our stay.


Gudrun and Fergus, who run The Old Bicycle Shop, made us feel welcome and kept everything tidy. I spent an extra day at the big house after Katherine left and another after my road trip. It gave me a chance to get to know some very nice people from all around the world who were also staying there. I also got to meet two of Fergus and Gudrun's children, who help keep the place clean, and their two wonderful pets.




We arrived in Reykjavik on the morning of Iceland's annual cultural festival. The weather was sunny and comfortable, even if it was a little cooler than back home, and the streets were full of locals and tourists enjoying the sun.


Over the next two or three days we would find the city easy to walk around and full of small pleasures and surprises. Its architectural centre would be the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja church, seen in the above shot. It is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland and turned out to be an easily visible landmark that helped me navigate the city. The place we stayed at (more about that later) was a short block from the church so I got to see it from various angles and in different lights. But, as I said, there were many small pleasures to be had in the streets of Reykjavik.


We took a walking tour of the historical heart of the city and got a sense of the personal scale that envelopes the country's history and present identity. They are a well educated, literate and friendly population and almost everyone we encountered spoke very good English. 

Here is Katherine, Sally and Heather with our guide (can you spot the Icelander?). Some of the interesting facts we learned were: that Iceland had the first Parliament; that the man who wrote the first letter to the Danish Government requesting autonamy for Iceland was called President, because he was the president of a local book club; and my favorite, every year, one tree in Iceland is named 'Tree of the Year'. They don't have a lot of trees in Iceland.






One of the other features of the city is a small body of water that is known simply as 'The Pond'.


As I said, I got to see the church many times. I even went into it once with Dan, Christel's father. We watched, and listened to, two young musicians perform an atmospheric jam. The pipe organ was really impressive and beautiful.

Along with the various events we saw, and slept through (the jet lag finally caught up to us), Reykjavik was a very comfortable city to land in. It was quite different from the overwhelming size and bustle of Tokyo from several years ago.



... to the beautiful, charming and talented Christel. Everything went perfectly and I expect it will remain one of the happiest memories of my life.


A young woman from Toronto, whose pictures you will see eventually, was the official photographer but I snuck this shot in just after the cermony, which took place on the shore of a lake outside of Reykjavik. There will be more pictures to come. I know I will not be able to do justice, either to the wonderful people who were there, the great times we shared together or the amazing country that is Iceland, but I will do my best. I will sort my way through the hundreds of photos I took to try and find a few that might give you an idea of those few unforgettable days in Iceland. It just might take a bit.

Neighborhood walks when I only had my iphone.


The post processing in photoshop creates the same enthusiasm in me, when I like a picture, as a darkroom would for traditional photographers. But I often wish I could watch the image emerge in a bath. Somehow that process is like seeing your own soul appear slowly before you. Digital editing is more like an archeologist brushing away dust, a sculptor chipping away marble or a carpenter building a desk. 

Katherine enjoys a quote that goes, roughly, "All art aspires to music".


Her brother, Paul Headrick, wrote a short story, "The Studies Of Fernando Sor", in which the great eighteenth century guitarist and composer tries to explain to his landlady that his guitar studies do not need descriptive titles because they are meant to be appreciated solely for their form and structure. 


Claude Debussy, on the other hand, gave his beautiful compositions very specific descriptive titles.


I don't know if there is an anthropomorphic metaphor lurking in this photograph or if it is merely line, light and composition that makes me feel it is worth printing and sharing.  Either way, it aspires to music

I could have said Katherine and Dusty but I like the universality of the anonymous. There seems to be something epic and spiritual in this small moment in such a grand setting. At least to me.

Having been forced to spend a lot of time at home recently, it allowed the time (between too many computer games, books and television) to go through old photos. 

Photography allows me the luxury of taking second looks and revisiting pieces I had earlier dismissed as unworthy. There's a metaphor in there somewhere.

This is my first effort at stitching together two photos from my iphone in order to create a panorama. I almost always alter the colour - desaturating ... changing ... saturating - until I get something that triggers a feeling that is similar to actually being there, only, hopefully, heightened or given specific mood by the choices I've made. 


I can't help but look at photographs almost like scraps of dream, images created by memory and imagination, rather than captured moments.


The iphone images do not have the same crispness of detail as my larger cameras but, in this case, their texture seemed appropriate to the personality of the scene. 



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