me begin by saying that this is a
real iceberg. It was not photographed through a blue filter. It
has not been enhanced in any way!!!
All the features, shapes, colors and penguins are real. Each shot of
this magnificent iceberg that I display is
a unique shot, photographed with a different lens from a different
None of these shots are "cropped" images from larger shots. An iceberg like this is extremely rare!
We found this iceberg totally by
accident. It is certainly not something that you would be able to locate
intentionally, though many have tried. I was on board a large Russian
icebreaker on a trip to the Emperor Penguin colonies on the sea ice of
the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Part of the voyage took the ship to islands
in the Scotia Sea, just north of the Antarctic circle. Icebergs were a
common site while crossing the several hundred miles of open ocean on
our way to these islands. Most appeared as bright white dots on the
horizon. They were often visible from eight or more miles away. Then,
"out of the blue", a dark dot appeared on the horizon. The
captain was asked to take the ship in that direction. Although it was
several miles out of our way, he obliged us. Many of us knew that old
glacial ice appeared dark instead of white. But none of us was prepared
for what we were about to see.
the ship got closer and closer to the
iceberg, it just got better and better. We approached the iceberg from
the side with a beautifully carved archway. It was early afternoon and
the sky was overcast. Most everyone was in the dining room enjoying
their lunch. My table was by a window that overlooked the bow so I could
see this magnificent iceberg as we approached. When it was still several
miles away, I excused myself from the table and went to my cabin to
grabbed my cameras and plenty of film. I had a feeling that this was going to be a
grabbing my gear, I first went up to
the bridge, some 90 feet above the ocean's surface. As we closed in on
the iceberg I quickly realized that a lower vantage point might offer
better angles. I grabbed my gear and headed down the stairs to the open deck,
only 30 feet above the ocean. This location was perfect.
arrived at the iceberg to see a
beautiful blue, wave-carved archway. The captain brought the ship very
close. He turned the ship to starboard (right) and began to circle the
iceberg. As we progressed, it just got better and better. As the ice
archway disappeared behind us, beautifully carved ice sculptures emerged
in front of us. Then, just when you thought it couldn't get any better,
a small colony of Chinstrap penguins came into view to make it perfect.
was so magnificent that it was almost
overwhelming. I photographed the iceberg using several different lenses ranging from a 28mm
wide angle to a 400mm telephoto. Each different lens offered a unique,
but equally magnificent composition of the iceberg. This is one of the
few situations where handholding the camera is better than using a
tripod. Through the pitching and rolling of 20 foot swells, the human
body automatically compensates in order to maintain balance. A tripod
used under these circumstances would be useless.
warning, the ship began to move away from
the iceberg. We had only gone around it one time. Unfortunately, it was
necessary for us to get back on course to get to our destination before
nightfall. The entire experience lasted only about 20 minutes. But the
memory will last forever. The area where we found this iceberg is not
heavily traveled. This iceberg had never been seen before or since. The
only people in the world to ever see it were the people on our ship. And
it was an experience that none of us will ever forget.
was not only a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity, it was a once-in-several-lifetimes opportunity. Even the
scientists on board the ship were in awe of this iceberg. None had ever
seen anything like it.
is this iceberg blue?
The short answer: This ice has
been under extreme pressure from deep within a glacier for thousands of years. The interesting shapes are caused
from wave action below and wind erosion above, where the waves cannot
reach. When viewing one of the wider angle shots of this iceberg, it is
easy to see where the high point of the wave action is (where the
iceberg is no longer smooth).
The more detailed answer: To understand
why this iceberg is blue, it might be helpful to learn a little bit
about where icebergs come from and why most appear to be white.
Most icebergs come from glaciers, which are huge, slowly moving
fields of ice and snow. They are formed through the continual
accumulation of falling snow. Glaciers are influenced by gravity
in two ways. Gravity causes
the glacier to move in a downhill direction and it is also responsible
for the compression of the snow that is deeper inside the glacier. If a glacier is near a coastal area, gravity usually causes it to
move in the direction of the sea. Where the glacier meets the sea, huge
chunks of ice continually break off from the face of the glacier in a process known
as "calving." This is where icebergs are born. Once adrift,
icebergs are at the mercy of the ocean currents and the winds.
The vast majority of icebergs familiar to most people appear as huge
chunks of white ice. So why is this one blue? Remember, icebergs come
from glaciers and glaciers are formed as a result of snowfall. As water
freezes into snow, it becomes crystallized. A close examination of a
snowflake reveals a many-faceted crystal, not unlike a cut diamond.
These facets, or surfaces are capable of reflecting light. Snow appears
white for this very reason. As snow accumulates, the structure of
snowflakes trap a great deal of air. This is easily seen if you fill a
glass to the top with snow, then bring it inside and allow it to melt.
You quickly notice that most of what you thought was frozen water, was
actually air. Because snow contains a lot of trapped air, light hitting it is able
to reflect off the many internal surfaces and we see this as white.
So why do most icebergs look white but this one is brilliant
Now that we know a little bit about why snow looks white, we can
tackle this question. Most icebergs look white for the exact same reason
that snow looks white, and for a very good reason. Icebergs are made
from snow. Icebergs that come from relatively shallow or young glaciers
have not undergone very much compression. Therefore, there is still a
great deal of air trapped within them and they reflect back much of the
light that hits them as white light.
color occurs mostly in
very old ice from a very deep glacier and is the result hundreds or even
thousands of years of compression and ongoing thawing and refreezing of
the ice. Over time, these processes release much of the air that was originally trapped by the
falling snow. As this happens, the reflective surfaces of
our "snowflakes" disappear. The ability to reflect light
exists only when there is air between the surfaces of the ice
crystals. This very, very old, and very, very dense ice is no longer capable
of reflecting light. So it no longer appears white.
That explains why it is not white, but that still doesn't explain
why it looks blue?
To understand this phenomenon, simply look into the deep end of a
swimming pool. Doesn't the water look blue? But if you fill a glass with this
same pool water, it isn't blue at all. It's clear. What gives?
First, daylight or "white light," is not actually white at
all. If you have ever seen a rainbow then you know this to be true.
Light that is visible to us is actually a combination of many different
wavelengths of light. Each different wavelength has a different amount
of energy associated with it. If light is refracted through a prism, such as
raindrops, all the colors of our visible spectrum can be seen (a
rainbow). These colors always appear in the same order,
ORANGE YELLOW GREEN
BLUE INDIGO VIOLET
in direct relation to the energy associated with each
wavelength. The red end of the spectrum contains lower energy
wavelengths while the blue end contains higher energy wavelengths.
As light travels through water,
which is much denser than air, the weaker wavelengths of light, from
the red end of the spectrum, quickly filter out while those from the
blue end penetrate the deepest. This phenomenon is very familiar to
SCUBA divers. At the surface, all the colors are visible. But as the
diver goes deeper, the colors start to disappear. First red disappears,
then orange, then yellow, right down the spectrum. Finally, at the limit
of most divers, everything appears as some shade of blue. The water
above the diver has filtered out most of the sunlight. Eventually, if
one goes deep enough into the ocean, even the blues disappear and you
are left in total blackness.
iceberg is blue for this exact same reason. Since this ice
has been under enormous pressure for eons, most of the air, and
therefore, most of the reflective surfaces within this iceberg have been
eliminated. Light hitting this iceberg no longer "bounces" off
of it. Instead, it is absorbed into it. The weaker wavelengths of light
are quickly filtered out. The blue wavelength, however, has enough
energy to penetrate deep enough to either find some internal surface to
reflect back from or penetrate all the way through this dense iceberg.
Thus giving it its blue color.
It may appear that this iceberg is
emitting light. This is
definitely not the case. Emitted light is produced light. Like that from
a light bulb, or a firefly's abdomen. The blue you see with this iceberg
is not being produced by the iceberg. It is actually being produced by
the sun as daylight. This iceberg is simply capturing the sun's emitted
light and only allowing the high-energy blue wavelengths to escape.