Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Of few Words

Now that I have become a photographer I have begun to take a camera with me on my trips and other endeavors. This past weekend I was lucky enough to accompany a British journalist and book reviewer, Jake Kerridge, to the Westmann Islands to show him the premise of my third Thora novel, Ashes to Dust, which is out soon in the UK. The camera was put to good use and the photos that follow provide a good, visual diary of what we saw and did on the trip.

Before I start captioning the photos I would like to mention that it is not only the novelty of holding a camera that resulted in my emphasizing photos over words this time around. To be truthful it is because I have now officially entered the hectic writing stage which occurs every year at around the same time, when the looming deadline begins looming for real. I will be using the photos to replace words which take longer to arrange and line up than pictures. But before I leave the written word almost all together (aside from captions) I must mention that this easy way out (pictures for words) reminds me of the many saying regarding words. All seem a bit derogatory when it comes to them however: a picture is worth a thousand words, sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me, actions speak louder than words etc. Of course there are other sayings in which words are shown in a better light but these have not caught on in the same way to my knowledge. As I writer and a reader I wonder why, I have read so many wonderful, powerful passages that outreach by miles the limits a photograph provides its maker. Words also last longer, the photographs from my past have begun to fade and lose their clarity while the few letters I acquired and saved are still as crystal clear as the day they were written.

The remnants of a house engulfed by the lava flow during the eruption in 1973, for most part it is inside the wall of rock behind it, as are the houses that once neighbored it.

Another house, this one lucky enough to be swallowed by ash not lava 37 years ago and now being excavated from underneath it for a project named Pompeii of the North.

The part of the town which was spared and the rough harsh cemetery of the part that was not.

The view of some of the islands sprinkled into the sea around Heimaey taken from a boat inside one of the many caves around the island’s coastline.

One of the islands, note the white speck left of the middle – this is a puffin hunting lodge, there is one on each of the bigger islands and they are only open to members of the hunting club owning the lodge. Membership is only open to men but despite being rather equal opportunity oriented this does not bother me at all and only seems appropriate somehow.

In the bottom left corner you can see a boy about to swing from a rope hanging from the top of the cliff. This is a favorite pastime on Heimaey, the purpose of this is to advance in height with each swing and it used to be practice for collecting eggs from cliffs.

One of many interesting rock formations and one of many wonderful shades that the sea adorns.

If you are ever in Iceland – go to the Westmann Islands.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. Yrsa, these pictures are breath-taking. Some are of sites that are so beautiful and others are such testimony to the spirit of the people who manage to create a life in such difficult terrain.

    Your captions are certainly evocative - "...the rough, harsh cemetery of the part that was not." How do they have the courage to live so closely to that part of their town that disappeared so quickly?

    How about combining words and pictures in a book that shows all aspects of life in Finland. Your words would make the pictures unforgettable.