Nature’s Sculpture, Iceland, 2013
Iceland is a place of many natural wonders, from ice caps to volcanoes to waterfalls. One such place is the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, which is located on the country’s southeast coast.
(Actually, calling Jokulsarlon a “glacier lagoon” is a bit redundant. Just as saying “the Sahara desert” is redundant in that ‘sahara’ is the Arabic word for ‘desert,’ so does ‘jokulsarlon’ mean ‘glacier lagoon’ in Icelandic.)
It’s a popular place on tourist itineraries, being located right along Iceland’s main road that circles the country. It’s also a place where I had hoped to get some nude photographs with my two models, but I couldn’t, as we were there when a lot of other people were around, and the weather wasn’t exactly cooperative, either.
Still, it is quite a place, so I decided to spend some time there walking around and photographing. Basically, icebergs from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier bordering the lagoon – one of the glaciers reaching out from the mighty Vatnajokull ice cap that covers a large percentage of the country – break off from the glacier and float in the lagoon before finally being carried out to sea through a narrow channel. I’ve read that the icebergs can float in the lagoon for as many as five years, and that the ice they hold can be several thousand years old.
You can get a bit of an idea of what the lagoon is like from some of my wider view photos, but there’s more to the lagoon than that. I think that people tend to think of icebergs as massive pieces of ice – and they would, of course, be correct – but smaller pieces of them can break off or be left behind when the rest of the berg has melted.
It was one of these smaller pieces that I happened to find floating near the shore. It looked really beautiful to me, so I picked it up and admired it. It was about ten inches high and looked like a leaf of some sort. An ice leaf – or an ice sculpture, an example of nature’s art.
I knew that eventually nature would take its course and that this lovely, natural objet d’art would be melted to a watery end. Still, one of the abilities of photography is to capture things the way are at that very moment, so I decided to try to preserve this beautiful piece on film the best I could. The shoreline there is comprised of small stones, so I found a good spot, placed the leaf down and made some photos with my 105mm normal lens.
Still, I really wasn’t too happy as the lens’s minimum focusing distance wouldn’t let me get close enough to it. So, I switched to the 135 mm macro lens that I had bought not too long ago. It was just for situations like this that I had brought it along, and I think it did the job well. You can see the image at the top here.
I also came across another interesting ice “sculpture” that you can see here in another photo. I believe that I found it where you see it here, but I’m not sure if it got there naturally through tidal movements (if there are any in the lagoon) or if someone else had put it there. (Is it me, or does anybody else think it looks a bit like a pig, or perhaps a dog, of some sort?)