A photographic moment from a tour of Iceland

Breidamerkursandur Beach

I was standing on Breidamerkursandur beach also known by the locals as Diamond Ice Beach.

The glacier created hundreds of thousands of years ago had given up chunks of ice of varying sizes some of which I thought of as icebergs, although iceberg was probably an exaggeration for the hundreds of chunks of ice that sparkled on that oh so black volcanic sand, I was entranced.

The hole in the ice drew my eye

A large chunk of almost clear ice on the water’s edge that reached chest height with a hole in in the top third drew my eye, through the hole it was possible to see in the middle distance a lot of opaque ice that had come from the glacier, floating free as it headed out to sea with one larger more dominant piece providing a point of focus.  My excitement was growing with a possible title for the finished image already developing ‘a window on our melting world’ and it seemed so apt that the scene was framed by clear ice, so there was no hiding behind misinformation and fake news the effect of human intervention.

It all seemed so simple, I just needed to align the camera with the hole and keep the mini-iceberg in the centre of said hole, after all the best images I have captured since my teenage years included a suitable subject; a perceived story; the right light; and in street parlance – the decisive moment.

However, with no wellington boots, it was too risky from my perspective to set up the tripod as the sea was continually washing in past my window on the world.  I chose instead to hand hold the camera bending over to get the right perspective, several images later I realised I could not get the photograph I had hoped to take with the relatively heavy camera and lens and my window of opportunity was running out as the sea bound ice was not going to be in place much longer.

Our melting world

Fortunately, the solution was to hand, instead of using the camera in my hand I would use my smartphone.  This would not only permit an easier alignment but also allow me to keep an eye on the eb and flow of the water enabling a speedy withdrawal should there be a risk of wet feet.  After several attempts I believed that I had captured a successful image and even better I still had dry feet.

Our melting world

Since the early days of photography, photographers had to wait for the wet processing of film to be completed before they could see the results of their endeavours.  With digital images you have instant feedback but only at the size of your display.  It would be a good ten days later as the home computer came to life and the required application loaded that I would realise my efforts would exceed my expectations.   In the centre of my ice window looking out at the sea with its drifting ice, in a split second of time a small round drip of water had been captured.

Was this drip reflecting life draining from our incredible planet, or a moment in time as our world melts?

David Pottinger