How to Photograph Giant Icebergs

A giant iceberg photographed under the midnight sun on the  Ilulissat Icefjord  near the town of Iluliisat in  Western Greenland .

A giant iceberg photographed under the midnight sun on the Ilulissat Icefjord near the town of Iluliisat in Western Greenland.

Greenland is a truly amazing country. Like most folks who visit Greenland I’ve only seen a tiny part of this massive land. I based myself in the tourist town of Ilulissat on the western coast from where I undertook a few hikes and a wonderful cruise out onto the spectacular Ilulissat Icefjord under the midnight sun.

Photographing Under the Midnight Sun

Cruising on the Ilulissat Icefjord was a glorious experience and one that I’II long remember. I definitely want to return and spend an extended time exploring and photographing so much more of this region. And, in addition to doing the very same cruise, I’d also seek out a local fisherman to see if I could persuade them to take me out, in their tinny, and place me even closer to these majestic monoliths.

How Would You Choose to Experience Nature?

The cruise took me and around another 15 folks out into the Ilulissat Icefjord. We were on a fairly large fishing vessel which had been converted for the needs of tourists. The cruise lasted for an hour or so and most folks seemed to spend the majority of their time inside watching this magnificent landscape from behind glass.

I couldn’t understand it. Surely to experience nature you need to experience nature, by which I mean the elements. It was cool, and due to the breeze generated by the movement of the boat, at times quite cold. But so what? It was exhilarating and I just don’t understand why folks would choose to diminish such a powerful experience for the sake of comfort. Frankly there’s no way I could have made this photo from behind glass.

The Power of Shadows

From a photographer’s point of view this is an interesting image as it combines strong color, that of the golden light with the cool blue reflected from the sky behind me. I had no doubt this image was going to remain in color. However, photographing side on to the iceberg allowed me to emphasize the shape and texture within this gigantic structure.

Large areas of shadows generally don’t work in color photography. Folks seem more forgiving of them in a black and white photo. However, I think it’s the way the shadows bring out the shapes and textures within the iceberg that underpins the success of this photo. It is quite unique, at least from my experience, to have such large areas of shade that actually contribute to the success of a color photo.

If you’re even a little bit intrepid and you have the opportunity I’m confident you’d enjoy the magnificent photo opportunities Greenland offers the enthusiastic landscape photographer. I can’t wait till I return.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru