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

Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

9 thoughts on “A Peaceful Greenlandic Sunrise”

  1. Amy- these pictures leave me speechless. What a wonderful opportunity for you and a great treat for all of us lucky enough to see your incredibly beautiful pictures!!
    Pat Orlando

    Liked by 1 person

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