Iceland, 2012, Phase One 645DF, Phase One IQ180 back, Schneider Kreuznach LS 55mm f2.8 lens
1.3 seconds @ f11, ISO 35, tripod-mounted, no filter
I felt a little guilty about taking this photograph. I was on a PODAS – a Phase One Digital Artist Series – and my role was to help the dozen photographers accompanying us. There were three guides, Daniel Bergmann, Steve Gosling and me, plus Kevin Raber and Drew Altdoerffer from Phase One, so there were plenty of instructors around. And I had been helping for quite a few hours, but to be honest, everyone was pretty self-contained.
We were planning to be out all night! By the time the sun set completely, it would be rising up again and we planned to head over to the nearby beach and hope for icebergs being washed up by the waves. However, there was a problem. There weren’t many icebergs on the ocean beach, but quite a few down the far end of the glacial lake, Jökulsárlón. I figured this was going to be my best chance for photos of small icebergs.
I asked a few of the photographers if they wanted to walk down the lake’s edge with me, but no one was particularly interested, so I set off on my own. The further I went, the better it looked a little further along. I ended up walking a couple of kilometres until the coast turned around into a small bay and it was here I found these small icebergs. We might call them growlers.
It was a perfect night. The sun had set, but in May it doesn’t really get completely dark and you have this incredibly extended twilight. No need to rush, the light is amazing for hours on end.
I wasn’t brave enough to walk into the freezing water with my shoes off, so I perched myself as close as I could and chose a medium wide-angle. Too wide and the icebergs looked insignificant; too close and I lost the senses of place and space. The 55mm (similar to 35mm on a full-frame DSLR) seemed just about right.
In addition to a perfect night, there was also a nearly full moon. Add in the perfect reflections and the perfect light and I felt I couldn’t go wrong. Still, it was a challenge to work out exactly the right composition and I took lots of different angles, with and without the full moon.
At it turns out, simple is best. While the inclusion of the moon might seem to be the obvious choice, I found it complicated the scene. It was additional eye candy which wasn’t really necessary. After all, this scene is simply amazing as it is.
A couple of nights later, we were back and by then the group had seen my initial edits of this scene. They all wanted to walk down the lake with me this time, but the wind had changed and the bergs were nowhere to be seen.
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