Birds in a Blur

Fort DeSoto North Beach egret 5680 September 27, 2018

Image: Great Egret flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 270 mm, f/5.6, 1/13 sec, ISO 2500, hand-held.

It has been a busy week with almost no downtime to process photos, let alone post a blog.  Last weekend and most of the week were spent at Fort De Soto Park along the western coast of Florida with Artie and two of his clients on his IPT.  I then joined my friends Leslie and Albert in Sarasota for some more wildlife and landscape photography for the past couple days.

While at Fort De Soto Park last week, we photographed birds from sunrise into mid-morning and then again in the afternoon until sunset or the arrival of a storm. When we had conditions of low light around sunrise, I practiced photographing birds as a blur. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach heron blur 6004 September 27, 2018

Image: Great Blue Heron flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 410 mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO 160, hand-held.

I had learned this artistic technique a couple years ago with landscapes when photographing trees whose leaves had changed in autumn, but I had not tried it with wildlife until recently. It is a hard technique to master and takes a lot of practice to get a feel for it. I practiced one time a month ago on shorebirds in New York with Artie, but I was determined to play with it more at Fort De Soto Park each morning.

 Fort DeSoto North Beach gull blur 5861 September 27, 2018

Image: Gull flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 310 mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO 640, hand-held.

During the first couple mornings at the park, there were thousands of birds along the shore enjoying a feeding frenzy of fish dying from the red algae bloom that has been plaguing the Florida coast over the past two months. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 0051 September 24, 2018

Image: Gulls flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/16, 1/40 sec, ISO 2000, hand-held.

We had several blast-offs of flocks of gulls and when I used a slower shutter speed, I was able to capture the movement of the birds through the blur of their wings. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 5689 September 27, 2018

Image: Blast off of gulls flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 270 mm, f/5.6, 1/13 sec, ISO 2500, hand-held.

At times I was able to isolate a small flock of the gulls and capture them flying in one direction. I tried to match my panning with the camera to the speed of the bird so I could get the bird’s head and body slightly in focus while the rest of the image was blurred. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 7381 September 23, 2018

Image: Laughing Gulls flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 310 mm, f/16, 1/30 sec, ISO 1600, hand-held.

I found it easier to do this with larger birds like the Brown Pelican. They tended to fly parallel to the shore over a sand bar in the sea. I was able to track them easier and caught several images of them. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 6079 September 27, 2018

Image: Brown Pelican flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO 160, hand-held.

They also tended to fly in small flocks so I spent time trying to capture the flock in a image blur. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 3718 September 26, 2018

Image: Brown Pelicans flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 380 mm, f/6.3, 1/30 sec, ISO 100, hand-held.

As the light and colors of the sky changed each morning, the background also became an important consideration when composing images. During some moments of the mornings, there was a pink hue on the water due to reflections from the pink clouds so I tried to capture birds flying over this area. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 5778 September 27, 2018

Image: Gull flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 350 mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO 1250, hand-held.

After the sun rose, the color of the water turned the bright blue which also created a beautiful peaceful background, especially when it contrasted with the white Great Egret. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach pelican blur 5683 September 27, 2018

Image: Great Egret flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 270 mm, f/5.6, 1/13 sec, ISO 2500, hand-held.

The sand bar that was a couple hundred yards off shore had a few plants so I tried capturing birds as they flew along it so it added more scenery to some images. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 5848 September 27, 2018

Image: Gull flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 290 mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO 640, hand-held.

When I exhausted all the possible landscape combinations, I watched for various bird species, especially the bigger birds. The last morning, I was lucky enough to see a Great Blue Heron fly over the sea in front of me and land close by. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 5935 September 27, 2018

Image: Great Blue Heron flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 360 mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Many images did not turn out well and were tossed. The ones in which I could discern the bird species and see parts of the head in focus were the most appealing to me. Sometimes I didn’t mind more abstract photos. In the image below, the tern is flying to the left with its wings flapping in front of its head. The angle of the wings makes it harder to view the bird’s head and body, but I enjoyed the lines created by the wings. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 7213 September 23, 2018

Image: Royal Tern flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 270 mm, f/22, 1/20 sec, ISO 1600, hand-held.

After practicing this technique for a couple days in a row, I found settings that allowed me to capture images that I enjoyed. Initially, I played around with various shutter speeds, apertures, shooting modes, and ISO.  I preferred shooting in manual mode with a shutter speed around 1/30 second. When there was less light, I had to drop the shutter speed to avoid going over an ISO of 2500. With my current camera, I don’t like the amount noise in the image with an ISO higher than 2500. I came to prefer an aperture at the widest opening of f/5.6 to allow in the most light to the sensor. 

Fort DeSoto North Beach blur 5871 September 27, 2018

Image: Gull flying at Fort De Soto Park, Florida. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 310 mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO 500, hand-held.

I am still playing catch-up on image processing and responding to comments and emails. We are getting close to leaving for Argentina and Antarctica on October 15, but I will post as much as I can before then.

To see these images individually and more that were not included here, please visit my gallery here: Amy’s Impressions

Kayaking among icebergs

Iceberg Bay kayaking 7827 August 19, 2018

Image: Icebergs while kayaking in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 45 mm, f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

Our third adventure of the day began after we arrived in Tasiusaq, Greenland and enjoyed a short break for a late lunch.  We then dressed up in full kayaking gear with boots, pants, jackets, lifejackets, skirts and gloves and walked a mile down the path to the bay where we paired up and learned the correct paddling technique for kayaking.  By now, the group was accustomed to my camera gear and was very accepting of it.  Our guide allowed me to bring some of it in the kayak and helped me get it situated safely.  Troy was kind enough to be my unfortunate partner.  🙂

Iceberg Bay kayaking 7752 August 19, 2018

Image: Kayaking among icebergs in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 58 mm, f/13, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

We started off in a section of the bay where there were no icebergs but had calm waters.  As soon as everyone was in the water, we passed through a small corridor into the main part of Iceberg Bay!  As you can see in the image above, the icebergs were huge!  We dealt with strong winds for the first part of the experience and I wasn’t able to take my camera out much, except for 1 or 2 shots.  Each time I tried pulling it out of the dry bags (multiple ones due to my fear of losing my camera into the water or getting it wet), the winds were so strong that I needed to help paddle us away from an iceberg.  It continually blew us close to the them, which pleased me, but it was too dangerous for us to remain there.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 7866 August 19, 2018

Image: Icebergs while kayaking in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 48 mm, f/10, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

As if on cue, we were 15-25 ft away from one iceberg and part of it broke off and created a small wave right next to us.  Unfortunately I didn’t capture a shot of it as we were already trying to move away to a safer area.  We paddled far down one side of Iceberg Bay against the winds and took a rest along one of the rock faces before venturing out into the center of the bay.  We then headed back towards all the large icebergs shown below with the wind at our backs.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 7792 August 19, 2018

Image: Icebergs while kayaking in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 34 mm, f/13, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

As we got closer to some of the large icebergs, the winds died down slightly and I was able to get a few shots of them up close.  The clouds and stormy skies were a great background against the blue ice.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 7992 August 19, 2018

Image: Icebergs while kayaking in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 26 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

I even captured a few shots with some of our fellow kayakers to show perspective and give a sense of the enormity of these icebergs.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 8054 August 19, 2018

Image: Icebergs while kayaking in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 55 mm, f/13, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

As we maneuvered around the icebergs (with poor Troy doing most of the paddling), we were able to get fairly close to them since the winds were calmer and it was easier to steer the kayak.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 8094 August 19, 2018

Image: Icebergs while kayaking in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 52 mm, f/16, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

We saw just a few birds perched on the icebergs and I managed to capture my one bird photo of the trip in the image below with the gull on the iceberg on the left.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 8014 square August 19, 2018

Image: Icebergs while kayaking in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

I was captivated by the purity and cleanliness of the ice and glacial water.  It was mesmerizing and very inviting.  I enjoyed capturing images of all the shapes, lines and curves in such a beautiful and temporary structure.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 8016 August 19, 2018

Image: Icebergs while kayaking in Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

After 2.5 hours on the water, we had to head into the shore, much to Troy’s and my dismay.  We could have stayed out there playing for hours.  I was, and still am, forever grateful to Troy for all his help paddling.  I could not have gotten any of the above shots without his help.

My camera settings were not the best as I could have used a much faster shutter speed than 1/125 second to get sharper images, but I am happy under the circumstances.  It was very chaotic trying to get the camera out of the dry bags quickly, not dropping the camera in the water, avoiding splashing water on the camera and trying to get the correct exposure knowing that I had to put the camera away in a matter of seconds or less.  Had it not been so windy, it would have been much easier.

On our walk back to the house, I saw that the sunset was potentially going to be spectacular.  When we got there, I grabbed my tripod and took off running with my camera and me still in full kayaking gear back out to the overlook of the bay.  I set up my camera and tripod as quickly as possible.  This was the first shot I got.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 8159 August 19, 2018

Image: Iceberg Bay at sunset, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 62 mm, f/16, 1/25 sec, ISO 100, on tripod.

As I calmed down and kept shooting, the sun dipped lower behind the mountains and the sky began to light up, allowing me to capture this scene.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 8167 August 19, 2018

Image: Iceberg Bay at sunset, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 28 mm, f/22, 1/6 sec, ISO 100, on tripod.

I stayed out for awhile to watch the clouds change colors all around me.  The light began to reflect onto Iceberg Bay where we were just kayaking and gave me one final memorable shot.

Iceberg Bay kayaking 8206 August 19, 2018

Image: Iceberg Bay at sunset, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 55 mm, f/16, 1/8 sec, ISO 100, on tripod.

To see these images individually and more that were not included here, please visit my gallery here: Amy’s Impressions

Hike to Tasiusaq

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7598 August 19, 2018

Image: View of Iceberg Bay, Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/16, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

When we finished our tour of Brattahlid in Qassiarsuk, Greenland, we had a new destination 7km away–Tasiasuq!  We had our overnight packs on our backs (including camera gear in my case) and began our hike into the mountains to cross over into the next fjord, Sermilik fjord.

Tasiusaq map

Dark clouds filled the skies, but the rain came and went in drizzles.  We knew that the weather changed quickly on this island so we were always prepared with rain gear.  The scenery was spectacular as we hiked a narrow path over small hills and through valleys, catching views of various streams, sheep and lakes.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7472 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike across the mountains to Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/160 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

As we climbed higher into the mountains, we enjoyed the fog that engulfed us.  It created such a moody atmosphere for photography, although I had to keep wiping down my lens.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7500 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike across the mountains to Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 66 mm, f/16, 1/160 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

We made it to the top of one peak and got a view of a beautiful valley with its lake.  Off in the distance, we could see a stack of rocks (on the right side of the image) that would soon be our snack break location.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7532 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike across the mountains to Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 44 mm, f/13, 1/160 sec, ISO 640, hand-held.

When we got to that marker, we had a view of another lake that had curves that followed the gentle slopes of the land in all different directions.  With the fog hovering over the lake and obscuring the mountain tops, it was a photographer’s dream!

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7525 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike across the mountains to Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 44 mm, f/13, 1/160 sec, ISO 640, hand-held.

I took advantage of the break to take as many photos as possible of the different angles and shapes of the perimeter of the lake.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7516 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike across the mountains to Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 48 mm, f/16, 1/160 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

We then headed down the slope and began hiking towards more mountains, dutifully following our guide since we were no longer on a trail.  We trusted her fully and enjoyed the scenery around us as we made our way over several more low lying mountains.  We came to a small pond that had beautiful grasses growing in it.  I could have played here for awhile, but I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a photography trip.  🙂

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7541 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike across the mountains to Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 62 mm, f/11, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

We crested the final peak and were astounded by the beauty that lay before us.  Off in the distance was a little yellow house–our destination.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7568 August 19, 2018

Image: Iceberg Bay,  Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 40 mm, f/16, 1/160 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

Our group began descending into the valley enjoying the view of Iceberg Bay off in the distance to the right.  To our excitement, we learned that this bay was our kayaking destination later that day.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7583 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike across the mountains to Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 40 mm, f/16, 1/160 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

As we got closer to the water, we were amazed at the beautiful wildflowers spreading out throughout the land.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7667 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike across the mountains to Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 31 mm, f/16, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

We arrived in Tasiusaq and were told to stay on the roads and be respectful of the grass and dogs.  The dogs in this village played an important role as working dogs, and understandably, the farmers did not want them disturbed.  There were 3 sheep farms in this area, the house of one of the farmers shown below.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7678 August 19, 2018

Image: Farmer’s home in Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 42 mm, f/16, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

As we made our way to our accommodations for the night,  I stopped to take a few shots of one of the sheep farms since they played such a prominent role in both this community and Qassiarsuk.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7674 August 19, 2018

Image: Sheep farm in Tasiusaq, Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 48 mm, f/16, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

It was a beautiful hike with typical Greenlandic weather that allowed for nice daytime photography.  With the overcast, and at times, dark skies, my ISO was higher and ranged between 640 and 1000 to accommodate a shutter speed between 1/160 and 1/200.  I wanted an aperture around f/11-f/16 depending how far away I was from my subject and if there were foreground elements, necessitating a greater depth of field.   After a nice lunch in our home (with no electricity!), we rested up a bit before our next adventure…kayaking in Iceberg Bay!

Qassiarsuk and Viking Ruins

Qassiusak 7358 August 19, 2018

Image: Qassiarsuk, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 35 mm, f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, hand-held.

The morning after the Greenland marathon, we had an informative tour of Qassiarsuk, Greenland by our guide Ester.  We learned a lot about this village of 89 inhabitants that also hosts a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The buildings of the town were painted a variety of the primary colors and signified the function of the building (hospitals were yellow).

Qassiusak 7355 August 19, 2018

Image: Leif Ericsson statue and Qassiarsuk, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 35 mm, f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, hand-held.

We climbed up a hill to visit this statue of Leif Eriksson (Erik the Red’s son) that overlooks the village and Eriksfjord, or Tunulliarfik fjord, as it is known nowadays.  We descended the hill behind the statue to visit the Brattahlid viking ruins that make up the World Heritage site.  Here we saw actual ruins from buildings built when Erik the Red set up the first settlement in Greenland in 985.  Below are the remains of his house that appear as boulders in the land.Qassiusak 7385 August 19, 2018

Image: Viking ruins of Erik the Red’s house, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 26 mm, f/11, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, hand-held.

While Erik the Red is credited to have discovered Greenland during his exile from Iceland, there are reports that other Norseman from Iceland arrived earlier.  It is not disputed, however, that Erik the Red landed in this area in 982 and then returned in 985 with 14 boats of colonists, losing 11 of his original 25 boats at sea.  His wife, Thjodhildr, is known for bringing Christianity to the island and had the first church built in the settlement.  Below is a reconstruction of her church.

Qassiusak 7429 August 19, 2018

Image: Viking reconstruction of a Norse church, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

The land in this area of Greenland was suitable for farming that allowed the Viking colonies to flourish and survive the harsh conditions.  Another building that was popular during that time was the Norse longhouse where the colonists lived and shared space with their livestock.  Below is a reconstruction of this house in Brattahlid.

Qassiusak 7426 August 19, 2018

Image: Viking reconstruction of a Norse longhouse, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

In contrast to the Viking dwellings above, we also visited a reconstruction of an Inuit home shown below.  This home was lower to the ground with thick walls that gave greater warmth to the inside for surviving the harsh cold winters.

Qassiusak 7436 August 19, 2018

Image: Inuit dwelling, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 31 mm, f/18, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

We were able to visit the current church of the Qassiarsuk and get a feel for the important features of Greenlandic churches in this day and age.  As you can see in the image below, the churches were bright red and although this is considered “modern” by Greenland’s standards for this region, the roads were dirt and accommodations were basic.

Qassiusak 7390 August 19, 2018

Image: Qassiarsuk church, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 44 mm, f/11, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, hand-held.

Inside the church, the pews and decorations were simple but interesting.  The bright colors of the exteriors of the buildings continued to the inside of the church as well.

Qassiusak 7409 August 19, 2018

Image: Qassiarsuk church, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 6400, hand-held.

We enjoyed the visit of Qassiarsuk and learning about its history.  It is still known nowadays for its sheep farming in contrast to many of the surrounding villages that rely on the fishing industry.  We left this village that same morning with an overnight pack on our backs for the hills to the west and began our march towards the next fjord and its village, Tasiusaq.

Qassiusak to Tasiusaq hike 7467 August 19, 2018

Image: Hike to Tasermiut Fjord, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

Stay tuned for our next adventure…

 

 

 

A World of Ice

Greenland Zodiac 6345 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 38 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

For these last set of images of the wilderness surrounding Qaleriq camp in South Greenland, I’ll focus on what we saw while taking a zodiac ride around the glaciers.  We had started out the morning with that beautiful sunrise that I described in a previous blog post (A Peaceful Greenlandic Sunrise).  The clouds rolled in after that and by the time we boarded the zodiac around 10:30am, the clouds had spread throughout the sky and created a beautiful filtered light across the waters and on the glacier in this image below.

Greenland Zodiac 6119 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/11, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Our driver took us to several fronts of the glacier and explained to us how climate change and global warming are causing rapid melting of these glaciers.  Where there used to be nunataks (a mountain or rocky peak surrounded by a glacier), is now just a mountain with a glacial front on either side.  Some of these changes have occurred in just the previous year.  As we approached one of the glacial fronts, we slowed down to navigate among the icebergs.

Greenland Zodiac 6143 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we got closer to this glacial front, our guide explained to us that this was a more active glacier in that it created many icebergs.  This process of ice chunks breaking off the edges of the glacier is also known as “calving.”

Greenland Zodiac 6212 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/13, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We enjoyed being so close to such an enormous pristine structure. I learned that the blue ice occurs when the snow is compressed into ice crystals that pushes air out. Since water absorbs less blue light than air does, we see the blue light that is reflected in the areas where the water or ice crystals are more dense.

Greenland Zodiac 6643 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 58 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Our driver cautioned us that he had to keep us far enough away from the glacier since it was more active and pointed out that the blue coloring also indicated that the glacier was calving.  As if on cue, we heard a large cracking sound, and luckily, I caught images of the calving process as ice broke off into the waters.

Greenland Zodiac 6251 August 17, 2018Greenland Zodiac 6260 August 17, 2018Greenland Zodiac 6264 August 17, 2018

Image: Series of images showing the “calving” process of an iceberg breaking off the Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 50 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We toured around some more, taking our time weaving in and out of the icebergs so that we all got a chance to take pictures of the scenes around us.  There were times that we came across black ice that is difficult to spot for drivers, as you can see on the left in the image below.

Greenland Zodiac 6313 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 29 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As the sky cleared out and the waters calmed down, we explored another glacial front and had some nice reflections on the water.

Greenland Zodiac 6382 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 28 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

When we got closer, I took more images zoomed in on the glacier to capture the lines and shapes of the ice formations.  The patterns of the peaks in the ice look as though they could tell a story of this foreign world.

Greenland Zodiac 6359 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we moved further down the glacier to where the land was now exposed, the contrast of the blue and white of the ice against the browns of the land further brought to our attention the drastic changes that can happen in a year.  The land shown on the right was once covered by a glacier in the recent past.

Greenland Zodiac 6389 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 52 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We continued to float along the glacial front and came to an area where there were larger icebergs and thinner layers of the glacier covering the land.

Greenland Zodiac 6723 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 52 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We backed up for a bigger panoramic view of the area as well.  This scene also gives you and idea of where we had to climb on land before ice trekking on the glacier as described in my previous post (A Glacial Hike to Remember).

Greenland Zodiac 6548 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 60 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we finished up our tour, we came across an area with the sound of rushing water.  As we got closer, we could see a river gushing out from the glacier.  It was incredible in its sound, magnitude and power.

Greenland Zodiac 6778 August 17, 2018

Image: A river flowing out of Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 56 mm, f/14, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Luckily, I took a video with my iPhone of this amazing phenomenon, although it is a bit shaky from standing in a zodiac.

As we finished up the tour, we came across a sheet of ice forming a glacial wall.  This last image that I leave you with is a bit flatter than the rest, but the longer I looked at it, the more I saw.  I could imagine climbing up the side of this glacier using the switchbacks and crawling over boulders of ice.  It was inviting yet terrifying.  This truly was another world.

Greenland Zodiac 6788 August 17, 2018

Image: A wall of the Qaleragdlit Glacier, South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 66 mm, f/14, 1/640 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

To see these images individually and more that were not included here, please visit my gallery here: Amy’s Impressions

A Glacial Hike to Remember

Greenland Glacier Hike 7087 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

One of the draws of Greenland was knowing I would be going out of my comfort zone a little and facing new challenges in a land completely foreign to me.  Each day in Greenland fulfilled this goal, especially the second day when we went ice trekking up a glacier, something I had never done before.  We took a zodiac from our camp across the water of the fjord to an area that looked safe enough to dock.  We climbed ashore and headed for higher ground.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7307 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

After a short picnic lunch, we climbed up the mountain a short distance until we approached the end of the Qaleragdlit glacier.  At the time, we didn’t know that we would be heading up towards the peaks just to the left of the center of this image below.  It was hard to capture the incline that we were facing, as this image does not do it justice.

Greenland Glacier Hike 6932 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Before climbing the glacier above, our attentive guides gave us some instruction on ice trekking.  We donned harnesses and crampons to allow us to trek on the ice and scale the glacier.  We practiced walking at the bottom of the glacier, and even before I stepped one foot with the crampons, I learned a good lesson about them–don’t spend too much time walking on rocks.  Troy had a good laugh at the rock stuck in my crampons and was even kind enough to take this photo and share it with me. 🙂

Greenland Glacier Hike 5153 August 17, 2018

Image: Amy with a large rock stuck in her crampons.  Photo courtesy Troy, iPhone.

We began heading up the glacier in a single file line, trying to follow the instructions of our guides on technique and foot placement as we climbed higher and higher.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7053 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 32 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

I brought up the rear since I wanted to be able to take photos of both our group and of the landscape. I stopped often to look behind me and capture the undulating landscape and ice.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7108 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

At times, a stream of water where the ice was melting made its way down the glacier, carving a path in the ice as it flowed towards the sea.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7105 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/22, 1/250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we climbed higher, our guides educated us on various aspects of the glacier.  We saw many cracks and crevasses that broke up the white and grey waves of ice and dotted the landscape in blue pockets.  Hugo, our main guide, assessed the stability of the ice before allowing us to get a closer look at each little crevasse.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7175 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 60 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Some were linear and formed a crack in the glacier for several meters such as the one above but others were circular in shape called moulins.  As we got closer to them, we could see that these were formed by ice melting somewhere high above and creating a stream of water that was hitting the glacier in front of us.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7043 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 48 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

I was even able to take a short video of this phenomenon.  Please click below to see how the water flows into this crevasse.

As we got higher, I paused even more to take a look at my surroundings and to take it all in.   From this view, we were able to see the end of the fjord.  It was true wilderness with no other humans or infrastructure around for miles on end.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7075 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We came to a spot where there was nice water flow and even took a drink in the little stream of blue water.  The water tasted so fresh and pure with no hint of chemicals or other flavor.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7160 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we made it to our final destination, it felt as if we were within reach of the tops of the beautiful ice peaks.  The shapes and lines in the ice were mesmerizing as I snapped one photo after another.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7253 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 26 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

After taking a wider angled landscape image, I wanted to capture the detail of the peaks and zoomed in.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7278 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 62 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

After two hours of climbing uphill, we began our descent straight down.  The view continued to impress as we climbed down various slopes in the glacier.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7268 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The group descended quickly and within 20 minutes, we were climbing out of our harnesses and crampons at the base of the glacier.  It was a beautiful day and we were grateful for the muted sun to make the trek even more enjoyable.Greenland Glacier Hike 7285 group August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

For all of the above images, I shot them hand-held with an ISO at 400 since I was unable to take a tripod with me.  I typically used an aperture of f/16 since I needed a large depth of field to capture both the foreground and background in focus.  Since these two settings were constant, I adjusted my shutter speed between 1/320 and 1/500 for the grander scenes and dropped it to 1/125 when photographing the crevices were I had both light and shadows.

Although I sound like a broken record, the beauty of this land continued to amaze me. Even if we had not climbed the glacier, the potential for photography in the surrounding landscapes was never ending.

To see these images individually and additional ones not posted here, please visit my gallery: Amy’s Impressions

 

 

 

 

A Peaceful Greenlandic Sunrise

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 5710 August 17, 2018

Image: Sunrise across the water of a fjord in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/22, 1/25 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

It will be hard to show images that can compete with the grandeur of the aurora borealis. However, after enjoying that northern lights show into the morning hours, I caught a few hours of sleep and rose early for sunrise at Qaleraliq Camp, South Greenland.  I saw that the clouds that had come in to obscure the aurora in the middle of the night had left again, giving me a chance at some sunrise photography.  I knew I should be resting to prepare for the upcoming marathon, but I didn’t know when I might see sunrise again in Greenland, as the weather changed hourly.  It was quiet in camp as everyone else stayed asleep in their bunks.  I made it down by the water to enjoy a little orange hue in the sky and the reflection on the water.  I felt peace.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 5640 August 17, 2018

Image: Sunrise across the water of a fjord in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 31 mm, f/22, 1/8 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

As the sun rose, I was able to catch the sunburst in between the clouds as shown in the top image.  I then enjoyed photographing various angles of the fjord from the water’s edge.  This was the first time I had had a chance to view the whole area since we had arrived so late the previous night.  Throughout the night and even during these morning hours, we heard sounds like an avalanche as the glacier across the water “calved” or broke off into icebergs.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 5919 August 17, 2018

Image: The glacier and an iceberg across the water of a fjord in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 70-200 mm at 70 mm, f/11, 1/40 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

There was a slight breeze in the air and as I watched the water for a couple hours, I saw little icebergs float by and then return as the winds reversed directions.  The cloud formations changed drastically over that time period as well, initially disappearing except for a few puffs.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 5839 August 17, 2018

Image: The mountains and glacier across the water of a fjord in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 55 mm, f/16, 1/13 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

Then as the sun rose higher over the mountains and began to light up the landscape, more clouds rolled in.  I captured scene after scene, experimenting with the reflections, clouds and shapes of the landscape.  The light changed constantly as the sun peeked in and out of the clouds so I was never bored with the fjord and its beauty.Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 5882 August 17, 2018

Image: The mountains and glacier across the water of a fjord in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

I even documented our transportation that allowed us to get to this remote location.  It is still amazing to me that this is the main mode of transportation between areas or villages in South Greenland.  I was told that helicopters were also used at one time between villages, but that it was too costly so zodiacs are more commonplace.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 5846 August 17, 2018

Image: Our zodiac in the waters of a fjord in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 44 mm, f/16, 1/13 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

As the camp began to stir, Troy joined me and we walked up a little mountain to get a view of the camp and the surroundings.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 5977 August 17, 2018

Image: Camp in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/50 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

We also found a little pond that stopped me in my tracks for another hour because of the photographic potential.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 6014 August 17, 2018

Image: A pond near the waters of a fjord in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 35 mm, f/16, 1/40 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

I went closer to it and played with various compositions with the rocks in the foreground and enjoyed this scene.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 6027 August 17, 2018

Image: A pond near the waters of a fjord in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 58 mm, f/16, 1/40 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

There were also some reeds in the pond that had beautiful reflections in the still water.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 6041 August 17, 2018

Image: Reeds reflecting in a pond in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 70 mm, f/16, 1/40 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

I spent every moment out there photographing until the call of breakfast forced me to join the group to prepare for the activities of the day. 😊 My last set of images at this camp focused on the arctic cotton plants that we saw in various places around South Greenland.  The plants had already bloomed and left behind seeds surrounded by the soft white cotton fibers.

Greenland Qaleraliq Camp 6055 August 17, 2018

Image: Arctic Cotton surrounding a pond in South Greenland. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 48 mm, f/16, 1/60 sec, ISO 100, on tripod

For all of the landscape images above, I kept my ISO at 100 since I stabilized the camera and lens on a tripod and could have lower shutter speeds without blurring the focus.  When I wanted a greater depth of field in focus (the foreground rocks or plants and the background mountains), I typically used a higher f-stop of f/16.  When I was trying to capture the sunburst, I increased the aperture to f/22.  When most of the subject in my image was farther away (across the water and less depth of field), I lowered the f-stop to f/11.  I adjusted the shutter speed accordingly in these situations to capture the correct exposure.

Soon, I’ll be sharing images from our ice trekking on the glacier.  Stay tuned!

To see these images individually, please visit my gallery here: Amy’s Impressions