I've got some new photos to share of one of my favourite subjects; ice. So I thought I'd make it a proper blog post and throw in some old favourites too.
I think since I first fell in love with the landscapes of the north of the planet, ice has been an enduring muse. I like the way its form can vary so greatly, and its appearance can change almost instantly, depending on the light. On damp, overcast days, glaciers will glow blue. In sunrise & sunset light it will reflect the golden hues. And the direction of the light makes a huge difference too. We can see the same piece of ice from two angles, and get a strikingly different perspective on it, depending on how the light is sweeping over and through it. This post contains a set of photos from several trips over the years, in many different conditions, to show ice in its varied forms.
Glaciers are huge stores of ice, formed by annual snowfall compacting under its own weight, after centuries of build-up. It's hard to imagine them flowing like rivers, but that's what they do. And this shot illustrates why. The front wall of the glacier stands 20-50 meters out of the water, and the glacier rises several hundred meters behind it. The weight of all that ice behind powers the movement of the glacier forwards.
I like this photo because it shows the height and the depth of the glacier, with each layer experiencing different light and weather conditions.
This is an aerial photo of a glacier in Greenland, in the evening sun. What I like here is the contrast in colours between those surfaces blanketed in sunlight and those that are in the shade. It also illustrates the interesting geological process of shifting layers and crevasses within the glacier.
Those crevasses and layers are even more starkly illustrated in this wider shot, looking out from the glacier itself, and down the ice fjord which ultimately takes the ice out to sea
The direction of the light is crucial. From most angles this meltwater pool on the Greenland Ice sheet glows azure blue, but with the bright summer sun in the sky behind, every patch of mist and water in view is painted gold, in contrast to the blue of the shaded ice.
Some close-ups of glaciers now, and the classic misty, overcast Icelandic weather creates some of the best conditions to see the deep blues of a glacier. Icelandic glaciers often feature layers of volcanic ash mixed in with the ice, from eruptions of centuries past. I used to dislike that, but now I enjoy the extra dimension it adds, and the story of the landscape that is woven into its appearance.
This is a close-up of the same glacier as the first photo in this post, taken 5 years prior. On this occasion the fog was rolling in, obscuring the higher layers, so I focussed on the front, where the light seemed to be highlighting the giant ice lollies which form the lower regions, ready to collapse into the lagoon at any time.
Once those building-sized 'ice lollies' are eroded from the front of the glacier, they drift out to sea, creating all kinds of abstract shapes as they go. I took each of these ice berg photos on a trip to Greenland, in 2019.
I took this one in 2013, the first time I visited Iceland. I've never known whether to describe it as 'minimalist', or 'abstract', but neither seem quite right, so I didn't include it in either of those recent blog posts. But I like it. I suppose it could be called a 'study'. I don't know. I guess that's why I take photos. I'd rather show something than try to explain it. It's best viewed large, if that's an option to you. You get a real sparkle from the bright specs amongst the largely black volcanic sand.
This one's the oldest photo in this post, and I took it near home, on a cold morning when I was out looking for deer. Needless to say the deer hadn't read the script, but there were a few long strands of grass which had collected hoar frost like this, and I set my attention to capturing a close-up of that.
From the oldest to the newest. I took these photos last year. The attraction of visiting this popular ice cave in Breiðamerkurjökull, Iceland, is the combination of abstract shapes and changing light. Every visit is different, and indeed the ice cave itself collapses every summer and reforms every winter, so it's entirely unique each year. I just love the play of light on these surfaces.
Here, the sun shines through the wall of the cave, illuminating the sculpted surface and the varied thickness as the ice.
This one looks like the sea, to me.
The last one is a rare people-photo, and features my wife gallantly posing like a boss at the opening of the cave, as a curtain of meltwater falls behind. This wasn't one of those photo tour set-up shots, where someone poses for five minutes in a predefined spot, and everyone takes the same photo. We had literally seconds to take this, unplanned, after the rest of our guide group had moved on, so I'm really thrilled to have got all the settings and timings right.
Speaking of ice, the good news here is there's currently a price freeze on all wall prints from my website. I tend to revaluate my print prices at the end of each year, as I plan for the next. This year, despite ridiculous inflation and rising printing/shipping costs, I'm keeping prices the same as last year. They're not cheap, by any measure, but it's important to me to keep my prints affordable, so I'm going to absorb those cost increases for the time being. If there's a photo in this post, or my main image galleries that you'd like on your wall, you can buy online or get in touch for more info.