Photographing Greenland From Above

A view over the Ilulissat Icefjord from my seat, as the aeroplane's landing gear comes down, prior to landing near the town of Ilulissat on the west coast of Greenland.

The Ilulissat Icefjord is a wild and beautiful place in western Greenland. I had a great time photographing and hiking around the town of Ilulissat, which is situated on the edge of the Ilulissat Icefjord. I even did an all night hike under the midnight sun, which was a truly amazing experience.

Touching Down In Ilulissat, Greenland

The images in this post were made near the end of my flight from Reykjavik to Ilulissat. As you can see the image at the top of this post is made from inside the plane just as the airplane’s landing gear had come down. I was fortunate that, as well as helping to frame the scene below, the warm yellow color of the undercarriage and landing gear of the plane producing a striking color contrast with the bluish color of the ice below.

I made the image with a Canon 5D Mark II camera and a Canon 24-105 mm f/4 L series lens at 24 mm. The exposure details were 1/800 second at f/8 with the camera’s sensitivity set to ISO 400.

This photo was made, from above, while flying over the ice near the town of Ilulissat on the west coast of Greenland.

It’s not easy photographing through glass or the hardened plastic associated with airplane windows. They’re rarely clean and their often dense, curved shape adversely affects image sharpness. Hopefully the unusual views that are produced from this birds eye perspective minimize any potential technical deficiencies in the image.

Challenging Perspective

The second image in this series is more abstract. Photographing from such an extreme viewpoint dramatically reduces the sense of three dimensional space in the image. That challenges our understanding and moves the image away from reality. Without any obvious sense of scale it’s impossible to gain any sense of distance in this particular landscape. How long would it take you to walk through a landscape like that? Days, probably longer. And then there’s the ice and crevices to manage. Yikes!

Despite the lack of critical sharpness in this image, it does exhibit an interesting abstract quality. And that’s why I’m publishing it here. The angle at which I’ve photographed the image at the top of this post, together with the definite foreground, mid ground and background elements within the frame, make for an easier to understand image. But photographing almost directly from above, as is the case with this image of the ice, is a much more visually challenging image. Not that that’s a bad thing.

I made this second, more abstract image, with my Canon 5D Mark II camera and a Canon 24-105 mm f/4 L series lens at 93 mm. Exposure details were 1/1000 second at f/7.1 with the camera’s sensitivity set to ISO 400.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru