Icebergs – Working a Composition

Icebergs and ice are an increasingly important topic in recent years, as climate change is becoming more of a resounding, everyday issue. On a recent trip to Antarctica I developed a personal project of capturing the ice in as artistic of a way as possible. During the day, cruise ship passengers disembarked in Zodiacs to go ashore and view penguins. I have photographed a lot of penguins, so my mission became the ice that was floating in the vicinity. On this particular trip I asked a Zodiac driver to take me over to a distant iceberg that I could see towering over all of the other icebergs. It looked almost like a cathedral, standing out there over a 150 feet above its surrounding neighbors.

iceberg image 1

This first image shows the dramatic angle of the pinnacle of ice as it’s surrounded by smaller icebergs. As usual I circled my subject and look at it from all angles before settling on an image.

iceberg image 2

As we travel around the iceberg it takes on a slightly different shape. This new vantage point allows me to incorporate more of the surrounding icebergs in the foreground.

iceberg image 3

With image number three I am able to incorporate a foreground “bergie bit” (little piece of iceberg) that is found floating around its larger cousins. I am using a 16-35mm wide angle zoom lens and a polarizer to compose this image. My main objective is to balance the foreground ice with the iceberg in the distance.

iceberg image 4

I put on my 70-200mm zoom and circled back around to the location where I captured my initial composition in image 1. I chose to shoot a vertical to emphasize the vertical sweep of this dramatic iceberg.

iceberg image 5

I noticed a distant iceberg with an arch and directed the Zodiac to it. As we headed over to it I put my wide angle zoom back on. I circled this iceberg looking for a point of view in which to include with my initial perspective.

iceberg image 6

This composition reveals the first iceberg in a very beautiful way. I also love the way the green arch surrounds the distant blue icebergs, and how the wide angle gives the image a nice perspective by incorporating some of the blue green ice just below the surface.

iceberg image 7

I decided to go back to my 70-200 to try to pull in that distant iceberg. This lens allowed me to compress the scene while still keeping the strong foreground element of the arched iceberg in my composition. However, because I am further away now, you can see the blue sky above the arched iceberg. I have lost the drama that I had with the last image.

iceberg image 8

I zoomed in to try and eliminate the sky from the previous shot,but in doing so I have lost the top of the distant iceberg.

iceberg image 9

This is my favorite image in the series. It conveys the drama of the arch, it frames the iceberg in the distance perfectly, and it has a nice sense of color with the blues and greens.

The result is 3 or 4 distinctly different compositions of the same iceberg, which demonstrates how perseverance and a change of perspective can yield a stronger set of images.

Learn these and other techniques in our upcoming spring seminar tour to seven major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information visit the Art Wolfe Workshop Website.



20 Responses to “Icebergs – Working a Composition”

  1. Carole says:

    I love those photographs. The colors are fantastic. The two that really catch my eye are #5 and #7.

  2. Janous Aldroun says:

    Great post! I like the way you went from idea to multiple stages of execution in this post. The shots are great, but lesson much greater IMO.

  3. Jany KLEIN says:

    Hi Art,
    the picture #9 is my favorite too, very beautiful.
    Thank’s for sharing, very interesting approach.

  4. Art Wolfe says:

    Icebergs – Working a Composition: Icebergs and ice are an increasingly important topic in recent years, as climate… http://bit.ly/9109FD

  5. RT @artwolfe: Icebergs – Working a Composition: Icebergs and ice are an increasingly important topic in recent years, as climate… http://bit.ly/9109FD

  6. Sobre composição, com lindas fotos – RT @artwolfe: Icebergs – Working a Composition http://bit.ly/9109FD

  7. Beate Dalbec says:

    RT @artwolfe: Icebergs – Working a Composition: Icebergs and ice are an increasingly important topic in recent years… http://bit.ly/9109FD

  8. Mark says:

    You have a gorgeous set there – thank you for sharing them with us.

  9. Karla says:

    I love them all! Wonderful eyes and wonderful idea to circle around and find other view…love the way you take multiple shots….thanks!

  10. Chris Paduan says:

    RT @artwolfe: Icebergs – Working a Composition: Icebergs and ice are an increasingly important topic… http://bit.ly/9109FD

  11. RT @artwolfe: Icebergs – Working a Composition: Icebergs and ice are an increasingly important topic in recent years, as climate… http://bit.ly/9109FD

  12. Christian says:

    I think no. 4 is perfect aesthetic composition, classic opposing lines. Looks like a city from Lord of the Rings.

    5 is impressive, but the stuff in the background is distracting IMHO. I think it might have been perfect going a bit closer and even more wide angel, but I can’t judge if that was even possible.

    9 is obviously great in framing and composition, but I somehow don’t feel overwhelmed with it. Probably because the picture is showing two big things, a big arch and a big ice mountain of sorts. It might be that I find compositions of (seemingly) small arch vs big mountain or vast arch vs small, distant ice berg more effective.

    Just some thoughts ;)

    Great series and kudos for sharing the process!

  13. Jon Holtz says:

    These step by step series are very helpful.
    We don’t often get to see an artists process. We just see the final work in a gallery.
    Thanks!

  14. […] Working the Composition with Art Wolfe | blog.artwolfe.com […]

  15. Wayne Nelson says:

    A great and informative series!! If image five had shown a full view of the distant iceberg it would be my favorite. As it is I love the spacial relationship in image six!!

  16. […] Working the Composition with Art Wolfe | blog.artwolfe.com […]

  17. Reading Icebergs Working a Composition from @artwolfe http://bit.ly/cuoLtH

  18. John says:

    Amazing how much different the minor spatial shifts of the icebergs can appear from one photograph to the next.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>