Chasing Icebergs by Bob Neiman
I signed up for a photography trip to Greenland for September 2017 with Arctic Exposure, an Icelandic Tour company. I had been to Iceland in July 2016 with Skarpi, the tour leader, and loved photographing the icebergs in the Iceberg Lagoon there. This trip would be more rugged. We flew into Kulusuk, a small gravel airstrip in Southeast Greenland. From there we walked to the beach with our luggage and boarded two small motorboats for the hour and a half trip to Tassilaq, population 2,062, where we would be staying in a small guest house.
Over the next four days using the motorboats, we explored fiords, glaciers, and small Inuit settlements. To get to the main fiord, Sermilik we had to cross the open ocean each day which was very choppy due to the wind. The fiords were calmer due to the rock & ice nearby. The weather was pretty cold and we had to wear long underwear on the boats. Several times we stopped to photograph whales nearby. We were in small boats exposed to the elements we were not able to photograph during golden hour in the mornings or evenings. Overall, the trip was wonderful and I came away with many good images.
I use a tripod for landscape photography and set my ISO to 100. The tripod allows me time to compose in the viewfinder, look around the edges of the frame, and fine-tune my capture. On this trip, I had to shoot handheld since we spent most of the trip on the water. The boat was moving forward and often bouncing up and down. Composing images was a challenge and many images had crooked horizon lines. The icebergs were slowly moving as well. I had to raise my ISO and use a high shutter speed to stop any motion.
When I photograph the landscape, the sky is an important element in my images. If the sky lacks detail or is not interesting, I minimize it in my images or eliminate it completely. Over the four days, we experienced varied weather from high clouds, low clouds and fog, and clear blue sky. The fog was the highlight of the trip for me. Fog eliminates distracting backgrounds and allows the main subject to stand out.
I love exploring. I enjoy seeing what is around the next bend in the road or what is over the next hill. Some photographers plan their trips with an idea of the images they want to capture. I have a hard time doing that. I try not to have preconceived ideas of what I want to photograph at a particular location, and instead work with the conditions I am presented with. I find that my most successful images happen when I interact with a scene on an intuitive level without thinking.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 28mm, f/13, 1/1500 sec, ISO 1100
We were in our motorboats on our way to exploring the Knud Rasmussen Glacier. There was rain and fog when we found this iceberg. Slowly motoring around it in the narrow channel we were treated to various views. The calm water helped create the reflection.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 145mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 1600
The ice towered above our small motorboat as we approached the front wall of a glacier. Ice periodically calved off from the glacier with a loud roar and created waves in the still waters. There were small icebergs all around.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 68mm, f/13, 1/1000 sec, ISO 800
Ice from glaciers has wonderful details carved by water. In this image, I like the diamond shape created by the iceberg and reflection in the water.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 100mm, f/11, 1/1500 sec, ISO 800
The open ocean that we had to cross to get to the glaciers up the fiords was often rough. Trying to keep the horizon straight was a challenge in the bouncing boat. Thank goodness for software. Icebergs several hundred feet tall were floating out to sea. Their shapes varied tremendously.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 28mm, f/11, 1/750 sec, ISO 1600
Several icebergs had large holes in them. They all had unique shapes. In this image, the clouds in the sky seem to be radiating out from the iceberg.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 38mm, f/16, 1/1500 sec, ISO 560
This iceberg was as big as a city block. Fortunately, there was ice in the foreground to add interest to the scene. The sky had no clouds. I deliberately darkened the sky using a red filter to convert to black & white.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 28mm, f/16, 1/2000 sec, ISO 3200
We found this iceberg on the last evening out on the open ocean heading back to our base at Tasillaq. We spent an hour slowly motoring around it to capture all the interesting shapes. I particularly like the clouds in the sky that seem to radiate from the top of the iceberg. The foreground small icebergs add interest to the scene.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 28mm, f/9.5, 1/500 sec, ISO 800
Icebergs will sometimes suddenly roll over onto another side exposing smooth ice that was previously underwater. Off in the distance was another large iceberg out in the ocean.
Nikon D810, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 44mm, f/22, 1/750 sec, ISO 800
This huge iceberg had a large hole in the center. As we motored around I looked for a smaller iceberg for a foreground to this giant iceberg.
Bob Neiman has been photographing for over 40 years. His subjects include landscapes, abstracts, old abandoned buildings and trucks. He has won Merit Awards in several Black & White Magazine Portfolio Contests, most recently the 2019 contest in the June issue. He has also had images published in several Black & White Single Image Contests. Additionally, he has had numerous Nominee and Honorable mention awards in the Black & White Spider Awards and International Color Awards. He currently resides in Delray Beach Florida with his wife Geri & dog Jasper.