Jim Friesen - Photography

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I woke up in an almost empty parking lot, in a cold car. My body told me I was a 64 year old man who should be home in bed but it also felt like a post-party morning back in my late teens or early twenties. I kind of liked it. The sky was grey and a light rain was falling. I found a washroom then went into the cafeteria for a quick breakfast. Soon I was headed back to the glacier lagoon. 


Before I started in on the ice floes I snapped a picture of someone walking across the bridge that spans the river going out to sea. Every photo is a self portrait. 

I became captivated by the miniature icebergs in the lagoon and could have spent the day trying to find just the right angles and patterns.

As I said, I became captivated. Take my word, there were plenty more pictures and I don't think I ever captured what I was hoping to. I took one more shot of the bridge and the floes drifting out to sea, got back in my car and headed to the Glacier National Park to see if Yullia wanted a ride back to Reykjavik.

I had lunch but was unable to reach Yullia on the cell phone. I found out later that the hike was longer than she expected, the weather worse and that she had no reception for her phone. But she survived and eventually made it back to the airport on her own. We are still facebook friends.


I was grateful for her company but it felt somehow right that I should finish the journey on my own.


The weather had turned. It was now less hospitable and there was a very different mood to my final days in Iceland. There is no use talking about the pictures I didn't take or the reasons I didn't find a way to take them but the drive back west on the Ring Road left me with many memories and reasons to go back, if ever the opportunity comes again. 

As I drove I became more aware of what the landscape and climate might do to an individual and I let myself get less inhibited about what I wanted to explore there as a photographer. 


I started experimenting with extreme motion blur and felt they somehow captured the sense of my experience there and were, maybe to me alone, beautiful portraits of one small aspect of Iceland. 

By the time I returned to Vik, the weather, the place, and my own somehow pleasant sense of alienation took control.

I kept driving until I got to a very small town about two hours outside of Reykjavik. I decided that I would spend one more sleep in the car and then I made reservations to spend the next night, the last night of my stay, back at the Old Bicycle Shop.

The town was small but I had to stop at a pizza restaurant to get directions to the campsite. I had heard that the Icelandic police were loved by the population and were very friendly but that they don't like people sleeping in cars just anywhere. So I got my directions and as I left the pizza place I saw the only police car that I saw on the entire trip. I also saw the scene below which I think has relevance later.


I made the short drive to the campsite parking lot and walked in to pay for my stay. I went to what looked like the campground office to find someone in authority. There were two men in there who were charging their cell phones and folding laundry. I asked who I should pay for my visit and one of them pointed to a large event tent and said I should talk to the man sitting by its entrance. I got to the tent. There seemed to be a party in progress. The man sitting closest to the door told me to talk to a man half way across the tent who, in turn, pointed me towards a woman at the far end of the tent. When I told her I was hoping to spend the night in my car in the parking lot and could she tell me what I needed to pay, she looked me up and down with a frown and asked, "How long are you going to stay?" I told her that I would stay till at least sunrise but it might be longer if I slept well. She once again looked me up and down with a severe stare and after a long pause said, "How about we say it's on the house ... this time." and finally smiled. I thanked her, for some reason feeling like a character from a Dickens novel, and made my way back to the car. 


Once again I made myself as comfortable as possible in the passenger seat, put my headlamp on and pulled out my novel as the rain and wind continued to do what rain and wind do. As the darkness fell I could hear the voices in the event tent get louder, with more and more laughter. At some point an accordian started to play and men's voices, Slavic or Nordic, began to sing. Soon the long evening slipped into night. Just as I was starting to get sleepy I heard small pops and bangs. I threw on my boots and parka, got out of the car and stood in the cold rain and wind. Not far away, approximately where the purple balloons and bicycle might have been, fireworks were lighting the night sky. I stood in the campground parking lot and watched until they were done. They weren't Vancouver's Festival of Lights but with the accordian and singers backing them up they were pretty damn good.







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