Balance a Key Element in Composition

Iceberg at sunrise

Iceberg at sunrise

Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 IS L series lens @ 70mm. Exposure Details: 1/320 second @ f8 ISO 800

This photo was made on a midnight zodiac cruise I arranged for my photo buddy Joseph San Laureano and I in southern Iceland. Its a magnificent place and, due to the masses of ice that come off the glacier and drift towards the sea, less than a kilometer away, a great place for photography. And while the zodiac cruise is great fun and allows you to wiz around the bergs and photograph them from a range of angles and distances, there's still plenty of opportunities to make great photos standing on the bank and watching them pass by. And, due to the masses of ice on the move, the scene is ever changing.

Photography is at least as much about light as it is about subject. So to make great photos you need to try to be there when the light is right. Traditionally great landscape photos are made at the edges of the day: either side of sunrise or sunset when the light is softer, warmer and the edges of the shadows are less sharp. Its a recipe for success, weather permitting.

While big, the iceberg in the above photo is neither as attractive as some I photographed in Antarctica nor as huge as many near Illulissat in Greenland. It was also some distance away. I remember getting down as low as I could in the zodiac and positioned my camera in such a way so as to produce a mirror like image. You'll notice the repetition of the clouds, both warm and cool, and of the berg mirrored in the water. A 50/50 placement of the horizon added to the sense of calm and balance I was seeking to convey.

Its a very simple image. Not the best photo I've made of an iceberg, but well worth the effort. And its success is based on light, the application of a few basic elements of composition and the preparedness to be out and about when most folks would be snuggled up asleep. Actually I sleep way too much as it is but, when I have a camera in my hands, my energy is renewed and there's no stopping me.

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru