Technique Tuesday – Composing with Icebergs in Antarctica

Hot on the heels of my Greenland trip and the heavy focus on ice, it seemed like an appropriate time to revisit compositions utilizing icebergs, though in Antarctica for this particular shoot.

Related – New Photos from Greenland | Where’s Art? Episode 8 – Greenland

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.

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.

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.

Here 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

These unique perspectives are the kinds of things I’m always looking for in any location I visit. To learn more, check out my workshops page and explore them yourself! We have a couple exciting events coming up – join me next week in my home state of Washington and photograph the lush Olympic forest at the Lake Quinault Photography Retreat, and in November I will be leading a photography workshop to explore Hawaii from new and exciting perspectives. See you there!



3 Responses to “Technique Tuesday – Composing with Icebergs in Antarctica”

  1. Derek A Robertshaw says:

    Wow – I am going to Iceland in July 2018 on a cruise ship just given me some inspiration and yes I really like your favourite photo. Liked the advice of using the polarizer on the wide angle . I have have the Nikon 14-24 that cannot accept a polariser so use my 24-70 zoom when using a polariser. Maybe should buy a wide angle zoom capable of using a polariser.
    Thanks for your newsletter always an enjoyable read.
    BW to you Art.
    Derek.

  2. Johnzero says:

    Wow. Who took these great pictures?

  3. Constance Shannon says:

    This was the best article on composition that I’ve ever read. I’m a huge fan of yours and hope someday I can do one of your photography workshops! And last but not least, these photos are incredible!!

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