East Greenland Part 4 – Aerial Glacier Photos (Podcast 542)

East Greenland Part 4 – Aerial Glacier Photos (Podcast 542)

This is the concluding episode of a four part series to share my experiences and ten more images from my recent East Greenland photography adventure, including what I think is some pretty special aerial glacier photos.

We finished part three after looking at a few aerial photographs from a chartered helicopter, and we’d landed in front of the Heim Glacier for 20 minutes, before taking off again, to do a swoop over the back of the glacier, giving us a view from above, as we can start to see in this first image for today (below).

The Heim Glacier from the Air

The Heim Glacier from the Air

As I mentioned at the end of last week’s episode, I had bumped my ISO to 800, and was shooting with between 1/1600 and 1/3200 of a second shutter speeds, to overcome the vibration of the helicopter. For this shot I was using my 24-70mm lens, at 31 mm, and was obviously attracted to the two pools of clear water in front of the glacier.

The other challenge when shooting from a helicopter is that you really have very little time to think about your composition, as the scene below you is changing all the time. I’m happy with these images, but I remember keeping every sense on high alert as I tried to decide on the next shot and capture each possible image with very little time.

Global Warming In Our Face

I got another few frames after this one as we climbed, but as I realized that we were soon going to be over the main Greenland glacier, I decided to switch to my 11-24mm lens, and boy am I glad I did. The detail from this next image might not come across in the Web version, but I believe these next few images (below) are some of the most important of my career so far.

The Greenland Main Glacial Shelf

The Greenland Main Glacial Shelf

I love the texture, and the relative simplicity of this shot, despite the detail that can be seen in each fissure when you look closely. The reason I think this is important though, is because Greenland is obviously very much in the spotlight when we talk about global warming, and unfortunately I don’t think this view is going to be there much longer.

Here is a screenshot from Google Maps (below) showing where I was over the glacier as I made the last image. This won’t mean much as it is, but note at this point how far down the fjord the glacier runs. Pretty much to the bottom, where the Johan Petersen Fjord meets the Sermilik Fjord.

Greenland Johan Petersen Fjord Glacier

Greenland Johan Petersen Fjord Glacier

As we swung around the back of the glacier though, I was even more happy to have switched to my 11-24mm lens, as it enabled me to shoot this photograph (below). This is looking down on the Heim and Kagtilerscorpia Glaciers. What I want to impress on you here though, is just how much the ice has receded.

Heim and Kagtilerscorpia Glaciers and Johan Petersen Fjords

Heim and Kagtilerscorpia Glaciers and Johan Petersen Fjords

I don’t know how old the satellite photos used by Google are for this part of the world, but I doubt they are all that old. Yet you can see that the glacier has now melted right up to the three pieces of land right next to the pin showing where I was when I made the previous photograph.

This to me is pretty shocking. I don’t know what lies further in land, beneath the main glacial shelf of Greenland, but at this rate, I don’t think we’ll have to wait many years to be able to see exactly what it looks like below there. I also hope that this kind of imagery will help people to realize that whatever the cause, global warming is real, and we are losing glaciers like this one at an alarming pace.

Berg from Above

The next photo I wanted to look at is as we flew over the Sermilik Fjord again, and I got a number of photographs of Icebergs that show their beautiful under water portions pretty well. There wasn’t time to use a polarizer filter, but as you can see from this image (below) there were some angles where there was no reflection on the surface of the water anyway, so we were afforded some beautiful views like this.

Iceberg from Above

Iceberg from Above

People often quote different ratios, but according to the laws of physics based on the density of ice, it is generally thought that only one-tenth of an iceberg is above water, leaving nine-tenths that are below the water. As we see this huge body of ice drawing down into the depths, it’s not hard to imagine just how much ice there is below the surface of the water.

Tiilerilaaq from the Air

In the previous episode, I talked about our visit to the settlement of Tillerilaaq, and this had taken us an entire morning to get to in our speedboat. By helicopter, it was less than 15 minutes away from Tasiilaq. In this photo, you can clearly see the tiny channel through which we’d traveled to get from the Ammassalik Fjord route we’d taken to Tiilerilaaq, and it was really nice to get this view of the settlement from above.

Tiilerilaaq from the Air - East Greenland

Tiilerilaaq from the Air – East Greenland

Blue Lake and Mountains Near Tasiilaq

Blue Lake and Mountains Near Tasiilaq

As we continued on, we passed over the mountains between the Sermilik Fjord and Tasiilaq, and got some great views of the mountains and lakes up there.

Here (right) is a lake that looks to have blue glacial meltwater as its source, almost iridescent in the sunlight shining on it between the broken cloud.

To keep my shutter speed high, I had been adjusting my aperture a lot, based on how high we were. Most of the previous images were shot at f/10 or f/11, and that gave me plenty of depth of field at the distance we were shooting from, and the wide aperture.

For this image, as we were even higher, I dropped down to f/8 at 24mm, for a 1/2000 of a second shutter speed, still at ISO 800. Everything from the nearest foreground to the distant mountains is in perfectly sharp focus.

A few minutes after this, we were over the bay at Tasiilaq, and before we knew it, landing at the heliport on the edge of town.

The helicopter is run by the brother of the owner of our hotel, and although they were a little reluctant at first to allow us to open and shoot through the windows, it all worked out really well.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I hadn’t flown in a helicopter until four years ago, when I had a whizz around Niagara Falls while I was in Canada for my 2012 Pixels 2 Pigment workshop, but since then, I’ve ridden in helicopters a few other times, over Tokyo at night, and then a total of three more times here in Greenland by the time we’d finished the tour. I think they are becoming more accessible as enterprising people build businesses around this sort of ride, and that’s a very welcome change, especially when we are allowed to open the windows etc.

After returning to the hotel, I quickly went through my photos, and was happy to see that they were all nice and sharp, and that I hadn’t wasted my money. I was also really happy with my decision to switch to the 11-24mm lens as we flew over the back of the glacier. In fact, I’m even happier that I decided to put it in my vest pocket, as I almost didn’t. Sometimes we make really bad decisions, and they sting like hell. The more we do this though, the more likely we are to make better decisions, and it’s great when they pay off like this.

Aurora Borealis

So, by this point, it was August 30, and we only had a couple more nights in Greenland. We had been keeping our eyes on the Aurora forecasts, and had a bit of a display the previous night, but with a better forecast for this night, we headed out again at about 11 pm, and were pretty happy to see some beautiful Aurora Borealis stretching across the entire sky. Here is a shot from a few minutes walk from the hotel (below).

Aurora Borealis Near Tasiilaq

Aurora Borealis Near Tasiilaq

For Aurora, as for most night sky photography I do, I generally set my lens to it’s widest aperture, f/4, and with an ISO of 3200, use a shutter speed of 20 seconds. If the Aurora gets brighter, I will try to reduce the shutter speed to 15 seconds, which ensures no movement in the stars, and then as it gets brighter still, I start to bring the ISO down. This shot was at my initial settings though, so f/4, 20 seconds at ISO 3200.

Unfortunately, it was really windy, so the lake nearby was not reflecting anything, and I honestly don’t think I could have scrambled down there in the dark anyway, but I’m happy enough with this shot. There were some beautiful patterns being made, and I like the touch of purple as well.

The next morning we headed out on a speedboat again, and spent a number of hours whale watching. I think we’d used up all of our luck by this point though, so although we saw a number of whales, we were not able to really get any good photos. Still, it was great to just be around them.

Afterwards, we headed over to the glacier that you can see in the distance in this next photograph (below), and then on to Kulusuk, which is the town near to the airport that we’d flown into from Reykjavik. The houses in Greenland seemed to follow pretty much the same pattern in the most part, which makes for nice photos I guess, as they are often either beautifully colored, or with the peeling paint, like the two in the foreground here.

Kulusuk

Kulusuk

This day was a bit of a mess logistically mind. The people that we’d organized the speed boat with forgot to buy our lunch, so they gave us money to buy something at Kulusuk. This means that we had to eat in the town, and one thing that doesn’t come across in my photos is that the towns are full of little flies that try to get into your eyes and ears, and are a real pain. It would have been much nicer if we could have eaten over by the glacier before coming to town.

The next hiccup was that when we got back to our boat, our driver had caught the propeller of the boat on the rocks in the bay, and broken the propeller clean off. He was a resourceful young chap though, and quickly organized a replacement boat and driver, who we would spend the rest of the day with.

We went back out into the open water south of Tasiilaq, and tried our luck at some whale photographs again. It didn’t work out photographically, but at one point a Fin Whale surfaced right near us, and actually called out. It was a magical moment. I couldn’t find any recordings on the Web that sounded like what we heard, but it was a long droning sound that we could feel through the water as much as audibly hear it.

I used to have a record of whale calls when I was a kid, and the hair on the back of my head would stand up when I listened to it. The memory of actually hearing a call like this in real life, bobbing around in a boat off the coast of Greenland, is one that will stay with me for the rest of my life, hopefully.

On our last night in Greenland, the Aurora gave us another display, which I captured this time with a nearby satellite dish, as I liked the space relationship (below). The dish was lit up by nearby lights, so I didn’t have to do any light painting or anything.

Aurora Borealis Near Tasiilaq

Aurora Borealis Near Tasiilaq

Again, the purple was beautiful, and more pronounced in this image, although I prefer the shape of my shot from the previous night over this one.

The following morning, as I opened the curtains in my room, there was a beautiful mist over the town of Tasiilaq and down into the bay, so I grabbed my camera, and went outside to get a few pre-breakfast images, before the mist cleared. The town isn’t as pretty from above as it is below, so here’s a shot of the bay with the few seemingly resident icebergs (below).

Icebergs in Mist at Tasiilaq

Icebergs in Mist at Tasiilaq

I shot this at 135 mm with my 100-400mm lens to isolate the mountain and bergs. As the sun made its way down into the bay, the mist quickly burned off, so I was happy to have got these last few images, as we were to leave for the heliport shortly after breakfast, to fly back to Iceland for one last dinner before we disbanded, completing the tour.

Greenland Portfolio

I am just completing putting together a portfolio of this Greenland work, which you will be able to see at https://mbp.ac/greenlandportfolio probably by the time I release this podcast post, so please do take a look if you have a minute. I’m also going to try to put together a slideshow video soon too, and I’ll let you know once that’s available.

Licensing My Greenland Images

If you would like to use any of my Greenland work commercially, you can license these and many more images from the trip from my OFFSET stock library.

Future Greenland Tours?

I’m sure you’re wondering if these Greenland tours are going to be a regular thing moving forward, but the answer right now is, I don’t know. We had an amazing time, but financially, this isn’t currently a viable tour, as we only had a few participants.

I went ahead with the tour, because I wanted to visit Greenland myself, but for basically seven days in Greenland it’s an expensive deal, and I don’t think people realized just how much they would be getting for their money, including of course flights from Iceland and the local helicopter from Kulusuk to Tasiilaq and speedboat transport on most days.

The other thing is that the speedboats were pretty rough some days. The boat we had for the first two days was the most comfortable, but that broke down, and we had one without any cushions on the seats the following day, and when you are slamming down on waves on a choppy sea, it was uncomfortable, bordering on dangerous, so I’d really like to see them get a better handle on the transport situation before organizing another trip.

Having said that, Greenland is an absolutely magical place, and I will go back. It has everything if not more in some ways than Antarctica, at a fraction of the price, so I don’t see how I’ll be able to stay away.

Let Us Know if You’d Like to Go!

If you would like to go to Greenland, drop me a line. I can certainly start to build a list of people that are interested, and set something up again if enough people are interested. You can contact me with our contact form which is linked to all pages on our web site. You can also subscribe to our Tour & Workshop Newsletters and we’ll let you know if we set up a future trip.

Opening for Complete Namibia Tour 2017

Before we finish, I’d also like to let you know that we have had one cancellation from our June 2017 Complete Namibia Tour, so if you would like to join me for that, take a look at the details here: https://mbp.ac/namibia

Complete Namibia Tour 2017

Complete Namibia Tour 2017

 


Show Notes

See Martin’s Greenland Portfolio here: https://mbp.ac/greenlandportfolio

License Martin’s Greenland images here: https://mbp.ac/offset

Music by Martin Bailey


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East Greenland Part 2 – Icebergs and Mountains (Podcast 540)

East Greenland Part 2 – Icebergs and Mountains (Podcast 540)

This week we continue with part two of a four part travelogue style series of episodes, to share my recent photography adventure in East Greenland with you.

On our third day in East Greenland, we headed west out of the bay at Tasiilaq, towards the Sermilik Fjord, which we would travel up around 20 kilometers, then hang a left into the Johan Petersen Fjord, to the Hann Glacier. The first photo that I wanted to take a look at today (below) was just south of the Ammassalik island, looking out towards open ocean.

Iceberg with Heavy Sky

Iceberg with Heavy Sky

I was attracted to this scene, first of course by the huge iceberg, but also by the heavy sky, in contrast to the brightly illuminated ice. I often like to go in close and show more detail in the berg, but here, I chose to go wide, to include more sky. As with the iceberg that we started part one of this series with, I still have a number of shots of this one in my final selection. An iceberg with character seems to almost demand more than one photograph.

Sermilik Fjord

The Sermilik Fjord is incredible. It’s very wide, and has lots of icebergs. You could spend a good day just shooting on this stretch of water. Here is one iceberg that we found with a nice archway in it (below). For this photograph, I used a circular polarizer filter to remove the reflection on the water, to make it look darker, but also to enable some of the blue of the base of the iceberg to show through.

Iceberg Archway

Iceberg Archway

Again, there’s that heavy sky still, which I like as a backdrop for these shots. We had clearer skies on some of the later days, which are good in their own way, but as with most of my photography, I generally prefer moody, heavy skies like this.

Here’s a somewhat self-indulgent shot next (below) to illustrate a point more than anything. This is me, drinking from a pool of water in the top of an iceberg, inside the Johan Petersen Fjord. This was a flat iceberg, that we could step onto from the front of our speedboat.

Martin Drinking Glacial Meltwater

Martin Drinking Glacial Meltwater

There was a thin film of ice over that pool of meltwater, which I broke to take a few mouthfuls, and I can tell you, that water tasted incredibly good. It was perhaps even thousands of years old, and totally pure. As for getting up on the iceberg, my partner for this tour Tim Vollmer assured me that when a native Inuit driver says it’s safe to walk on the ice, it’s safe to walk on the ice. 🙂

Just to the left of the scene in the previous photo, is the Hann Glacier, our goal for this day. In front of the Hann Glacier there is a little strip of rock that juts out into the fjord, and in that rock there are a few small crevices, such as the one you can see in this photo (below).

Greenlandic Slot Canyon

Greenlandic Slot Canyon

This was a fun shot, because it kind of resembles Slot Canyon, although I enhanced that feeling by shooting this at a very low angle with my 11-24mm f/4L lens, at 12mm. The glacier that you can see in the distance at the Bruckner Glacier, although it’s pretty small at 12mm.

The Hann Glacier is nice, but I don’t really have any photos that I’m happy to share. I actually have better ones from a helicopter ride later in the tour, which I’ll probably share later.

Stoklund Fjord

As we sped back down the Johan Petersen Fjord, heading home as we continued to photograph icebergs, we went past the mouth of the Stoklund Fjord, through which we got a beautiful view of the distant mountains, as you can see in this photograph (below).

The Stoklund Fjord and Distant Mountains

The Stoklund Fjord and Distant Mountains

As we tried to make good time, some of the images that we made were shot while going relatively fast on our speedboat, and I believe this was one of them. To ensure that my hand-held shots from a moving boat were sharp, most of the time I was using around 1/400 of a second shutter speed, as I did for this shot, and sometimes faster as necessary.

Something that always fascinates me, is how different an iceberg can look from various angles. I was initially attracted to this jagged iceberg (below) because of the slight similarity between the peaks of the iceberg, aligned with the peaks of the distant mountain.

Jagged Iceberg

Jagged Iceberg

Although you can see this texture in both images, I thought it was pretty interesting that from the side, this ‘berg took on a different appearance, and looked almost like a big blue swiss cheese, as we can see in the following image (below).

Swiss Cheese Iceberg

Swiss Cheese Iceberg

We also saw some icebergs that looked like a huge piece of ice shelf from one side, and when you go around the other side, they were completely hollowed out, with nothing in the middle but a blue pool. They can be a little bit deceptive these icebergs.

Back in the Sermilik Fjord, I shot this next photo (below) which I quite liked. This is one of those shots where I was trying to avoid showing the land either side, so I cropped in really tight on the left iceberg. I also like the reflection of the icebergs in this shot, and the repetition of the angle made by the left and center bergs.

Iceberg with Hole

Iceberg with Hole

Earlier that day, we’d hurried past an interesting iceberg, trying to make good time to our main goal for the day, but on the way back, with the light now actually much better, we stopped, and I was happy to have made this shot of what I consider to be a somewhat Monumental Iceberg (below).

Monumental Iceberg

Monumental Iceberg

This berg was big, but I accentuated its size by shooting with the 11-24mm lens at 21mm, making the closest part of the berg and those arches look bigger in comparison to the parts that are further away. The sun being just out of the frame to the right, also helped to bounce lots of blue-green light back up into the arches, which I thought added a nice touch.

Once we’d done a lap of the monumental iceberg, we really were out of time, although we were still a good 45 minutes from Tasiilaq, so our speedboat driver for the day took us at speed through a narrow gorge, which is a bit of a shortcut. We didn’t have time to stop, but I couldn’t resist shooting this last scene for today (below).

Ice Mountains - Rock Mountains

Ice Mountains – Rock Mountains

I loved the contrast between the cool ice and the warm colored mountains, also now with an almost totally clear blue sky. This is the blue that you could see creeping in to the top left of the previous image. In Japanese the word for iceberg is hyouzan (氷山) which literally means an ice mountain. I thought it was fun that these ice mountains were so close to their rocky cousins for this shot.

You could also be fooled into thinking that it was quite warm as we made this photograph, due to the warm tones of the rock. While the temperature ranges from around zero to 6°C, or 32 to 42°F, I’d estimate that the windchill from the speed that we travelled on our little speedboat, made it feel more like -10°C or 14°F. While we were stopped, even the low temperatures felt quite balmy, but at speed, it felt really cold.

OK, so we’ll wrap it up there for today. I’ll be back next week with part three, and another ten photos, and I hope you’ll join me again then.


Show Notes

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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East Greenland Part 1 – Tasiilaq, Glaciers & Icebergs (Podcast 539)

East Greenland Part 1 – Tasiilaq, Glaciers & Icebergs (Podcast 539)

Having just completed a 7 day tour of East Greenland, today I’m going to share some of my experiences and photos in the first of a travelogue style series of episodes.

East Greenland was so much more than I expected, and in many ways much different. I hadn’t, for example, expected the landscape to be so rugged, or as colorful, as it is. I guess the sheer number and size of the glaciers should have given me a hint as to the geology of Greenland, but I didn’t expect the rock to be mostly of a greenish-brown color, and I found that quite beautiful.

Tasiilaq

We spent six nights and seven days based in the town of Tasiilaq, on the Ammassalik island. We spent some time walking around the town, but mostly traveled out of town, via the nearby fjords, photographing the icebergs, the beautiful scenery, and on a few occasions, we had wonderful encounters with humpback and fin whales.

I shot some 3,300 images, an average of around 500 per day. This is high for a predominantly landscape trip, and that was partly because we did see some wildlife, which you tend to shoot in bursts, but also because we travelled mostly by boat, so I tended to shoot more because of the rocking of the boat and I was shooting handheld. It was also simply because the place was so beautiful, it was hard not to shoot.

I kept up with my selection process, marking all of the images that I wanted to process by the end of each day, and all but two days, I was able to get the majority of my processing done too. This was the first trip that I’ve processed exclusively in Phase One’s Capture One Pro 9, having switched recently. I’ll talk more about the processing in a future episode, but I just wanted to let you know that I found the experience really easy, and I was getting great results, as I expected.

After a day in Reykjavik after Greenland, working on my images, I was able to get my initial selection of photos down to 178, from which I’ve selected the first ten to share with you today. I’ll put together a portfolio of work from the trip, and probably a slideshow with some of the video I shot later as well, but for now, we’ll work through this first selection, and I’ll continue the series in blocks of ten images for a few weeks.

Helicopter Ride from Kulusuk to Tasiilaq

We flew in to East Greenland from Reykjavik, Iceland, to land on a dirt runway in the town of Kulusuk. We’d revisit Kulusuk by boat later in the trip, but with our luggage, on this first day, we started our time in Greenland with a nine minute helicopter ride to Tasiilaq.

This first photo (below) is really a documentary shot, to show you the view from the helicopter, as we entered the bay at Tasiilaq, just to the east of the southern tip of the Ammassalik island. As you can see, the rocks of the islands form almost sheer drops into the ocean, allowing icebergs, of which 70% is below the surface, to draw very close to the shore.

Entrance to Tasiilaq Bay

Entrance to Tasiilaq Bay

Just to the right of the scene in the first image, we stayed in the only actual hotel in Tasiilaq, that is situated almost at the highest point in the town, so the first thing we did was to grab our cameras, and document the town and bay, as you can see in this photo (below). This isn’t the prettiest angle to photograph the town from, but it does give you a good idea of the place, with the colorful houses, the large red fish processing plant down by the harbor, and the town football ground, in the right foreground.

The Town of Tasiilaq - East Greenland

The Town of Tasiilaq – East Greenland

The hotel owner proudly told us that construction of their new roads through the town had just been completed the previous week, and the roads were very nice, especially when you consider that they were just potholed dirt tracks until recently.

Hanging Fish in Tasiilaq

Hanging Fish in Tasiilaq

There are a few cars in town, which help with getting up and down the steep hills, but the furthest you can drive is around 2km. There are no roads out of town. The only way to get in or out of town is by boat, helicopter, or on foot.

Everyone Dries Fish

On our first afternoon, we went for a walk around town, to find our bearings. I’ll probably show more images of the town in a slideshow and portfolio later, but for now, here’s a shot of a fish, hanging from the eaves of one of the homes (right).

It seems that most homes have fish hanging under the eaves or from wooden racks. Most of the time the fish are gutted and opened up, but this guy looked pretty much like he did when he was swimming in the ocean, so I thought perhaps a little more appropriate to share here.

I like the contrast between the golden-brown of the fish, and the weathered green paint of the building.

Viking Warrior Iceberg

The iceberg in the foreground of the first photo we looked at today, was still sitting in the channel just outside the bay at Tasiilaq, on the following morning, as we ventured out by boat for our first trip out on to the ocean, and then down the Ammassalik Fjord. This was so multifaceted that I still have 17 photos of this one iceberg in my final selection, from various angles and focal lengths.

Viking Warrior Iceberg

Viking Warrior Iceberg

I couldn’t help thinking that the spike that we see here looks like the hat of a viking warrior, and below is half a face, with his eye socket, nose and a slight indentation for a mouth. I’d love to share more shots of this berg to show you why I ended up with so many still in my selection, but we’ll move on for now.

After heading south, out of the bay at Tasiilaq, we were greeted by a couple of pods of humpback whales, feeding. I got some nice minimalist shots of their flukes as they dived, but an encounter that I’ll share with you in a future episode trumped any and all whale encounters I’ve ever had, so we’ll save the whale shots until then too.

Afterwards, we hung a left, and headed north-east up the Ammassalik Fjord, and our first stop was definitely something that I had not expected, though pretty cool all the same. Apparently, during World War II, the US took responsibility for protecting Greenland.

Bluie East Two

Bluie East Two was a US air field and weather station, which was abandoned after the war. There are thousands of oil drums strewn across the landscape, which I didn’t photograph, but as we see here, there’s even a crane, abandoned on the beach (below).

Abandoned Crane at Bluie East Two

Abandoned Crane at Bluie East Two

This is a slightly forced perspective, as I wanted to exclude a large telegraph pole sticking out of the ground to the right of the frame here. I used a new Breakthrough Photography X4 10 stop neutral density filter coupled with my old ND8, for 13 stops of neutral density, giving me a shutter speed of two minutes.

Here’s another shot (below) of the abandoned air field, and here we see the old 1940s military trucks, and the hanger in the distance, which has collapsed under the weight of the snow that falls here shortly after their short summer has ended.

Abandoned Air Base - Bluie East Two

Abandoned Air Base – Bluie East Two

Because these are long exposure shots, I tried them in black and white as well, but this is one of the few occasions where the color of the rust in the trucks and oil drums was too important to the shot for me to take away. To the left of this scene there are literally thousands of oil drums strewn across the land. Apparently the local Inuit people appropriated most of the ones that still had oil in them, so it didn’t go to waste, or cause any pollution, as far as I can tell.

Knud Rasmussen Glacier

After an hour photographing the abandoned air base, we continued to sail along the Ikateq channel to enter the end of the Sermiligaaq Fjord and on to the Knud Rasmussen Glacier, where we stopped for lunch, before photographing the beautiful scenery there.

This is actually the furthest north that we went during this tour, and we are at this point actually inside the Arctic Circle. A first for me! Here is a photo of the glacier and its surroundings (below), shot a little way up the hill from the fjord.

The Knud Rasmussen Glacier

The Knud Rasmussen Glacier

Unfortunately, these glaciers in Greenland, like most glaciers worldwide, are receding at an alarming rate. The map that I used during this trip was published in 1991, and shows the face of this glacier a number of kilometers further forward compared to where it actually is now. Even the relatively frequently updated Google Maps show me past the face of the glacier at this point, and the satellite maps, which are the most recent, show me right on the edge of the glacier.

For this next photo (below) we almost were on the edge of the glacier, although it’s often deceiving just how close you are, because these things are so huge. The face of the glacier here is at a guess probably 50 meters high or more. Even what appear to by tiny blocks of ice dropping off the face of a glacier like this causes a huge noise and ensuing splash and wave.

Face of the Knud Rasmussen Glacier

Face of the Knud Rasmussen Glacier

I like to photograph just the face of the glacier like this, to showcase the fissures and beautiful colors, especially when there’s a nice reflection, but I also like to find an angle that shows the glacier more in it’s environment, but still powerful, and I think I’ve done that in this next image (below) with an iceberg and ice pillar just in front of it.

Ice Pillar Near Knud Rasmussen Glacier

Ice Pillar Near Knud Rasmussen Glacier

I shot this from our little boat as we started back after a break on land, before heading back down the fjord. I’ve enhanced all of these photos to a degree in Capture One Pro 9, to bring out the texture and the color of the ice and the sky etc. I didn’t do much, but I’ll share some of those techniques in a future workflow episode in the coming weeks.

Further back down the Sermiligaaq Fjord, just before the entrance to the Ikateq channel, we stopped to photograph this iceberg (below) which I thought was particularly beautiful. Of course, we stopped to photograph many more, but in trying to keep this to ten images per episode, and because this is one of the last images that I selected from our first day out on the boat, we’ll finish with this for today.

Iceberg on the Sermiligaaq Fjord

Iceberg on the Sermiligaaq Fjord

I’m always amazed by the blue color in some icebergs. It never gets old. This trip in many ways was as good, if not in some ways better than going to Antarctica. I love Antarctica, and I’ll definitely go back at some point, but it’s a long way down there and much more expensive. When you consider how much easier it is to get to Greenland, I think it’s going to become a very popular spot in the coming years.

Then, all of the ice will melt and there’ll be nothing left to see, but that goes for Antarctica as well, if we, and that’s a collective “we” meaning the human race, don’t change our selfish ways.

OK, so we’ll wrap it up there for this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed joining me on the first couple of days of my recent tour to East Greenland. I’ll be back next week, with part two of this series, so I hope you will join me again as I continue my adventure!


Show Notes

Breakthrough Photography’s X4 ND Filters: http://breakthrough.photography/product/x4-neutral-density/

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 494)

Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 4 (Podcast 494)

Today we conclude our four part series of travelogues to walk you through a total of 40 images from my 2015 Iceland Tour and Workshop with Tim Vollmer and our amazing group for this year.

We pick up the trail on September 29, as we headed over to Fjallsjökull. This is a glacier that you can get quite close to on a promontory on the other side of the lagoon. You may recall from a few weeks ago that I mentioned my decision to take my 100-400mm lens to Iceland instead of my 70-200mm lens. Although the 70-200mm lens is a great workhorse, I really enjoyed being able to zoom past 200mm, even for landscape work.

For this photo (below) I zoomed right in to 400mm to just capture the front edge of the glacier, and a slither of the water in the lagoon for context. Although the height of the pinnacles of ice are smaller, this really reminds me of Antarctica, which is amazing really when you consider how much cheaper it is to travel to Iceland.

Fjallsjökull Glacier

Fjallsjökull Glacier

My settings for this image were 1/80 of a second at f/11, ISO 400. As I mentioned last week, because we had a fair amount of wind, I was often choosing to increase my ISO to avoid low shutter speeds, so that I could reduce the risk of camera shake, even though I was using a good tripod. I didn’t do much to this image in post either. I just added +10 on the Clarity and Saturation sliders in Lightroom, to give the image a very slight boost.

The following day, September 30, we would drive all the way back to Reykjavik from Jökulsárlón, but I ensured that we had plenty of time to photograph two of my favourite waterfalls in Iceland, as we’ll see shortly. On the way though, we made another brief stop at Kálfafell, because there were some beautiful low clouds around the distinctive mountain, as we see in this photograph (below).

Kálfafell with Clouds

Kálfafell with Clouds

There was a good breeze on this day, so we didn’t have the mirror-like reflection that we saw in the image I shared in Part 3 of this series. Because of this, I decided to go a little wider, and include the near bank of the pond, and this of course enabled me to include more of the dramatic sky.

I was fairly undecided as to whether or not to go black and white with this image, but I finally decided on colour and brought out some of the detail and heavy sky with Color Efex Pro, because the original was a little bit flat. As we just jumped off the bus for a quick photo here, I was hand-holding for this shot, with a shutter speed of 1/100 of a second at f/14, ISO 200 and a focal length of 28mm.

After driving for a few more hours, we arrived at Skógafoss, which is the waterfall that probably played the largest part in me wanting to visit Iceland than any other location. Just looking at this photograph, it’s hard to believe that this is just  a few minutes from a car park, and we always have to wait for a break in the crowds of people that flock here each day to not be in the scene, but if you are patient, you can get photographs like this (below) without people in the foreground.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

On an overcast day like it was when we visited, if you put an ND8 neutral density filter on your lens, you can generally get a shutter speed of around half to one second with an aperture of f/14 at ISO 100. I shot this at 0.6 of a second. You always want to try to shoot waterfalls when it’s overcast, as direct sunlight on a waterfall makes it very contrasty, and in my opinion most of the beauty is lost then.

I converted this to black and white in Silver Efex Pro, and made the rock and green moss either side of the falls very dark, giving this look that I love for most of my Iceland waterfall images. The white specs that you can see on the cliff face are seagulls, which hopefully gives you a little bit of scale too. The falls are actually 25 metres (82 feet) wide with a drop of 60 m (200 ft), so they are quite a site to stand in front of.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

The second waterfall that we’d photograph on this day is Seljalandsfoss, which is just a 10 minute drive from Skógafoss.

As we can see in this photograph (right) although the drop is the same at 60m, this is a more slender waterfall. I always think of Skógafoss as the sumo wrestler and Seljalandsfoss as the lady in a kimono, although that’s my Japanese influence sneaking in there of course.

One of the things that I love about this waterfall is that the wind easily catches the streams of water as they fall, so you get these beautiful curves in the water as it moves in the wind.

For this image, again shot with the ND8 attached to my lens, my shutter speed was 0.8 seconds at f/14, ISO 100.

Once again, I’ve made the sides of the falls very dark, although they are green in reality. I just much prefer this look, as it enables me to reduce the scene to almost black with the beautiful delicate streams of water and the cloud of mist that raises up from the pool at the bottom of the falls.

While we’re talking about this waterfall, I’d like to mention that two of my Iceland images from 2014, including one of these falls, are currently in a collection of prints available from a company called West Elm, who have tied up with Offset, the stock agency that I license my work through. You can see the collection and buy reasonably priced prints of any of the images at mbp.ac/westelm if you are interested.

Seljalandsfoss from behind

Seljalandsfoss from behind

Although photographically I prefer the front view, you can actually walk behind Seljalandsfoss for a view like the one we see in this photograph (right).

Again, I shot a number of images because of the way the water moves in the wind, and chose this one for the patterns that the water make as they hit the pool below the falls.

Also, if you look in the bottom left of this image, you’ll see a bridge over the stream leading from the falls. That’s where I stand for my main shot of these falls. It’s always fun though, because if anyone walks on the bridge during your exposure, it moves, ruining your shot, so you have to ensure that no one moves, and time your images when no tourists are about to walk on the bridge.

I also waited a while for most of the people walking up the bank in the bottom right of this shot to move out of the photo.

It’s important to note too that you are basically photographing in a shower at this point, with the spray coming off the falls falling right onto your camera and your lens.

With light spray or rain, I usually use my air blower to blow the droplets of water to the edge of my filter, but in this much spray, you have to wipe it. I also hold a cloth over the front of the lens as I wipe it, to stop more spray hitting it as I wipe, and I leave the cloth over the front of the lens until I am ready to actually make the exposure. In fact, I use a 2 second timer, and remove the cloth a split second before the time elapses, and this enables me to get shots without droplets on the filter, as those droplets will usually ruin your photo.

After spending an hour at Seljalandsfoss we continued our drive back to Reykjavik, for two more nights. On October 1, the last shooting day of the tour, we travelled north east of Reykjavik, to the small but very wide waterfall at Hraunfossar (below). This photo actually only shows a small percentage of the 900m wide series of falls as water flows from ledges of less porous rock in the lava field.

Hraunfossar (Falls)

Hraunfossar (Falls)

I’ve never liked my photos here when I go really wide, trying to include all of the falls, as the details are lost in a wide shot, so this photo (above) is about as wide as I personally like to go, at 50mm focal length. I used an ND8 here too for a 2.0 second exposure at f/11, ISO 100. It was raining at this point, so the sky was very dark giving me a good long exposure, even just with the ND8.

As you can see, this is one of the few places where there are enough small trees to actually enable the fall color to play a part in the image. This is one of the reasons that I time these tours for September, as well as the fact that most tourists have left by September as well. 🙂

I also used my 100-400mm lens at 100mm to zoom in and shoot more details, such as the angel that Tim Vollmer often points out to the group here (below). The shape of the water just to the left of centre looks a little bit like an angel with its head and wings spread.

Hraunfossar Angel

Hraunfossar Angel

I actually changed my ISO to 200 here, and to counter that, changed my shutter speed to 1 second, as that’s plenty to get the beautiful silky look in the water, and it also helped me to reduce the movement in the trees as they caught the wind, although I don’t dislike capturing that movement in my images either. I think it adds to the dynamism of the shot.

A few minutes walk upstream take you to Barnafoss, which we can see in this image (below). I shot longer focal lengths here too, like in previous years, but here I used the new Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens at 12mm to capture the entire flow of the water that can be seen from this spot, from when it enters view in the top right, down to where it flows out of view on the left.

Barnafoss in Fall Color

Barnafoss in Fall Color

Going wide here also enabled me to capture almost equal amounts of colour in all four corners of the image as well, which I quite like. This spot is quite popular with day trippers and school trips at this time of year too, because of the beautiful colour, so we had to be patient here too, waiting for the tourists that walk along the rocks in the top left to leave. I think I ended up cloning out one person for this particular image. This was also shot with a 1 second exposure at f/14, ISO 200.

We keep our eyes out for some nice Icelandic horses throughout the trip, and Tim generally know where there are some that are more friendly, or less shy, and we stopped to photograph some of these on our way back to Reykjavik after photographing the falls, as we can see here (below).

Icelandic Horses

Icelandic Horses

The difficulty with ad-hoc horse shoots in Iceland is that they usually come over very close to the wire fence around their enclosure, so you have to frame your shots in such a way as to not include the fence. That’s partly what I was doing here too, but this one grey horse that lifted its head up above the others for a moment caught my eye, so I couldn’t resist shooting this. I’m not sure exactly why, but I quite like this, despite it being a little bit busy, and I’ve cropped the nose off the brown horse to the right. Maybe it’s the waves formed by the various heads, with just the grey horse sticking his head up above the rest that appeals to me.

We’ll finish our 40 images that we’ve looked at over these four episodes with this last somewhat humorous shot of the horses, with the grey one sticking its tongue out at us. This was actually just part of a yawn, but there was a moment when the tongue was sticking out, which kind of makes me smile. 🙂

Icelandic Horse Sticking Tongue Out

Icelandic Horse Sticking Tongue Out

Under the heavily overcast sky, both of these images were shot at ISO 1600 to give me a shutter speed of 1/400 of a second with an aperture of f/8.  I wanted a fast shutter speed as the horses were moving and their hair blowing around too, but also so that I could safely zoom in to 400mm if I needed to, without worry about camera movement as I was hand-holding.

This became our last shoot of the tour, so as is customary, on the bus on the way back to Reykjavik we recorded a brief message from each of the members of the group, which I’ll play you now. John, who starts off totally cracked us up reading his message from his iPhone screen. Take a listen…

[Listen to the recording with the player at the top of this post to hear what everyone said.]

What a brilliant group we had again this year!

Greenland 2016

Before we finish, I also wanted to mention that in addition to my 2016 Iceland Full Circle Tour, I have teamed up with Tim Vollmer for a new tour in Greenland, that promises to be pretty amazing!

We’ll be visiting the eastern side of Greenland with fjords and beautiful scenery, glaciers and huge icebergs which we’ll explore from boats and helicopters, and we’ll be on land too, shooting both the incredible scenery and a number of cultural experiences as we photograph the local people making kayaks and performing an Inuit Drum Dance. For details and to book your place, visit mbp.ac/greenland2016.

Greenland Tour & Workshop 2016

 


Show Notes

Details of our Greenland 2016 Tour and Workshop: https://mbp.ac/greenland2016

Details of Iceland 2016 Full Circle Tour and Workshop: https://mbp.ac/iceland2016

West Elm X Offset Print Collection: https://mbp.ac/westelm

Martin’s work on Offset: https://mbp.ac/offset

Martin’s Iceland Prints

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunesSubscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.

Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 3 (Podcast 493)

Iceland Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 3 (Podcast 493)

Welcome to part three of a four part series of travelogues to walk you through a total of 40 images from my 2015 Iceland Tour and Workshop with Tim Vollmer and a group amazing participants.

We pick up the trail after breakfast on September 27, as we made a stop in the town of Vik to photograph the church on the hill, that we see in this photograph (below). This is another photograph that is basically a retake of an earlier, similar image, now that I’m shooting with the ultra-high resolution Canon EOS 5Ds R. The conditions weren’t quite as good, because there was a more dramatic sky and better light, so I think I still prefer my 2013 version, but here this is anyway.

Church at Vík í Mýrdal

Church at Vík í Mýrdal

I rescued this image to a degree with Color Efex Pro to bring out a little more of the colour, restoring it to what I recall from the day, but there was a bit of mist in the air, that in reality was reducing the clarity of the image a little, and slightly muting the colours.

I forgot to mention in last week’s episode, that most of my Landmannalaugar images have also got a little bit of Color Efex Pro applied, to bring out the colour and detail a little more. those images are much more how I recall the scene, although they perhaps look a little bit too punchy for some peoples’ liking.

After a little shopping therapy at the Icewear store in Vik, we drove for a few hours towards Jökulsárlón, but stopped on the way at this wonderful spot where the Kálfafell mountain is often reflected beautiful into a pond, as we see here (below).

Kálfafell Reflection

Kálfafell Reflection

There was no wind at this point in time, so we got some great shots with an almost perfect reflection. I shot this at f/11 with a 1/250 of a second shutter speed at ISO 400, at 24mm. I don’t recall right now if there was a reason I didn’t drop the ISO down a little and use a longer shutter speed, but I could have done without the wind.

Shortly after lunch, we arrived at Jökulsárlón, the glacial lagoon that we’d spend a lot of time at over the following three days. You could plan a shorter amount of time here if you were just looking for a “hey, I was here” type of photograph, but weather conditions can be a bit tricky, so we take the time necessary to give us a chance to produce something a little more beautiful. Even so, we had challenging conditions for most of our three days, but it didn’t stop us making some beautiful photos. Probably the calmest weather was on this first afternoon, as we can see in this photo (below).

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

As much as I like details, I have found myself using the incredible new Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L lens quite a lot since buying it, and this was no exception. I shot this quite wide at 14mm, with a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second, at f/14, ISO 100. You do have to view it quite large to be able to appreciate the details, but we have the icebergs in the lagoon along the bottom, the glacier in the distance, and then that big Icelandic sky. I also like how the shape of the clouds from the centre to right side almost mirror the shape that the icebergs make below.

I also enjoy picking out details in the icebergs, and although I didn’t get that many of these photos this year, I kind of like this one, where I found a blue Jabawaki peering sneakily at me over the ice (below). I find it useful when looking for details to shoot to keep an eye out for things that we can identify as something else.

Jökulsárlón Icebergs - Jabawaki

Jökulsárlón Icebergs – Jabawaki

I shot this at f/14 for a 1/160 of a second at ISO 100, with my 100-400mm lens at 176mm. To enhance this a little, in Lightroom I decreased the Shadows and Blacks sliders to -36, which deepened the shadows increasing the contrast and drama. I also increased the Clarity to +60 and Vibrance to +15, and the Saturation slider to +30. This increases the blueness of the ice a little. The ice is already blue, but I sometimes like to give it a little bit of a boost like this, to bring the scene closer to how I recall it.

The following day, on September 28, the weather was forecast to go a little pear-shaped again, with rain and high winds. Another group at the same hotel decided to stay at the hotel, but I hate to do that when there is a chance that we can do something, so I took my group out, and we headed over to the next glacier along from the lagoon. As we crossed the bridge over the estuary from the lagoon though, the tide was going out, and some icebergs were trapped in the channel, with water gushing around their bases, so we stopped to shoot some images like this one (below).

Water and Ice

Water and Ice

This is a 1/4 of a second exposure at f/16, ISO 100, at 312mm with my 100-400mm lens. A quarter of a second is long enough to allow the water to blur, as we can see, so I was looking for details on the iceberg that would make a nice semi-abstract image with the flowing water. This deep blue glacial ice made the perfect subject, although it really is just a tip of the iceberg, as they say.

We went on to photograph the neighbouring glacier, and there are a couple of images from there in my final selection, but I won’t include them here, as I’ve prioritised other images to keep the numbers down to just forty for these four episodes.

The following morning, we did another dawn shoot, and there was still a full moon in the sky, the day after the super-moon, which we could not see by the way, as it was overcast. We were treated to some beautiful colour in the clouds though as the sun came up, so I went wide again to capture this image (below), mainly of the clouds, with the glacial lagoon below, and a somewhat tiny but almost full moon.

Moon and Clouds at Jökulsárlón

Moon and Clouds at Jökulsárlón

I love the detail in this cloud, and the way the morning clouds are enshrouding the glacier along the horizon, just below the moon. I’m not a fan of the choppy water in this photo, along the bottom, but it was very windy again, so there wasn’t much we could do about that.

When we were at this spot, one of the icebergs flipped, taking about 20 to 30 seconds, crunching and churning, and creating a bit of a wave that washed up the beach on which we were standing. It was an amazing sight, but the entire group, including me of course, just stood and watched it in awe. Of course, a photograph wouldn’t have done it justice without capturing the movement, but I do wish I’d thought to get my iPhone out to video it. That’s one unrecorded event that will haunt me for a while, but it is a very cool memory from the trip. I’ve seen icebergs flip in Antarctica as well, and this was equally as dramatic because of the close proximity of the surround bergs–all of them cracking and crunching together, it was quite amazing to see.

After the sun had come up, we walked across to the beach where there is usually a lot of ice from the lagoon washed up. The high tide along with very strong winds had actually dumped a ridiculously large amount of ice on the beach, making it quite difficult to single out isolated pieces, like the one we see in this next image (below).

Ice on Beach

Ice on Beach

You can see just how strong the wind was here, with the spray blowing off the crest of the wave shortly before it breaks on the beach. I was playing with long exposures as well, but with the amount of movement, you get a very different look to the usual smoothed over water, as we’ll see shortly. Here I think the shutter speed of 1/100 of a second that I chose freezes the wave enough to show the dynamic nature of the scene, which I tended to prefer for some of these photographs. I set the aperture to f/16, with an ISO of 100 at 70mm, the long end of my 24-70mm lens.

We returned to the beach later in the day, actually after the tide had gone out, leaving a lot of large pieces of ice on the beach and just off shore, as we can see here (below). These car-sized pieces of ice are technically known as growlers, because of the sound that they make as the rattle along the hull of ships at sea. You can also see here what I mean about long exposures with rough seas. This is a 5 second exposure, which leaves the rough sea looking like candy floss or cotton candy instead of the usual smooth water that you get.

Growlers in Sea

Growlers in Sea

I exposed quite a few frames at this location, because the force of the sea often moves the ice a little bit during the exposure, and although that can look quite effective, generally it just looks messy, so I wanted to give myself some frames where nothing moved other than the water. You might also notice that I composed this not only with the small chunk of ice on the beach and growlers to the left of the frame, but there is also a line of ice leading out into the sea to one last distant piece in the top right of the frame.

I was shooting this image (above) with my 24-70mm lens on a tripod, of course, but I had my 100-400mm on a second 5Ds R slung over my shoulder, which I was very happy to have as I looked up and saw this iceberg (below) looking almost like a Viking ship, and it was just storming out of the channel from the lagoon, with the tidal waters, almost as though it had an outboard motor on it.

Iceberg from Vatnajökull

Iceberg from Vatnajökull

I zoomed in to 400mm and shot this at f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second at ISO 100. I love this shot for how it depicts the power and dynamism of the rough sea, and yet the blue of the iceberg and other splashes of blue make beautiful accents in the chaos.

Thirty minutes later, as I continued to shoot long exposures, I saw another largish iceberg come out of the channel, and once again swung my 100-400mm lens up from over my shoulder, to capture this image (below). Again, I like the dynamism and splashes of blue, as well as that bit of green from the backlit wave running across the centre of the frame.

Iceberg and Growlers from Vatnajökull

Iceberg and Growlers from Vatnajökull

You can also see the crazy amount of ice that was washed up on the beach in this shot. I’d honestly prefer less ice, but with nature you do what you can with what you have, and I think these images are nice bonus photographs under the circumstances. I shot this at f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/640 of a second at ISO 200, again at 400mm.

After this, we headed over to Fjallsjökull for one last glacier shot of this series, but we’ll wrap this up now for today, and take a look at that at the beginning of the fourth episode next week, before we go on to look at some waterfalls and Icelandic horse photos to conclude this travelogue series.

Greenland 2016

Before we finish, I also wanted to mention that in addition to my 2016 Iceland Full Circle Tour, I have teamed up with Tim Vollmer for a new tour in Greenland, that promises to be pretty amazing!

We’ll be visiting the eastern side of Greenland with fjords and beautiful scenery, glaciers and huge icebergs which we’ll explore from boats and helicopters, and we’ll be on land too, shooting both the incredible scenery and a number of cultural experiences as we photograph the local people making kayaks and performing an Inuit Drum Dance. For details and to book your place, visit mbp.ac/greenland2016.

Greenland Tour & Workshop 2016

 


Show Notes

Details of our Greenland 2016 Tour and Workshop: https://mbp.ac/greenland2016

Details of Iceland 2016 Full Circle Tour and Workshop: https://mbp.ac/iceland2016

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunesSubscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.