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Ambassadors Programme

Explorer

Joel Santos

May21

Joel Santos: Witnessing the Colossus of Ancient Ice

By Joel Santos, Wednesday May 21, 2014
Iceland is often described as the "land of fire and ice", here represented in a different way within Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 10 seconds at f/11, ISO 100.

Iceland is often described as the "land of fire and ice", here represented in a different way within Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 10 seconds at f/11, ISO 100. © Joel Santos - www.joelsantos.net

Glimpsed in the distance there was the Vatnajökull glacier, a colossus of ancient ice that grew bolder as we approached, until a slit began to appear on its face – it was a door to its bowels; a translucent ice palace, backlit by the outside world. Inside, all adjectives froze along with our breath.

Glacier caves like this one in Iceland are formed by water passing from the top of glacier to the bedrock, producing tubular cavities that may extend horizontally or vertically. Although they may remain unchanged for long periods, such caves are very unstable and can disappear or change configuration rather quickly.

The conical shapes that can be seen on the background are rare and formed by snow that slips through the cracks on the glacier, the only link with the outside world.

Please visit www.joelsantos.net to learn more about my work around the world.

[Many thanks to Helen María Björnsdóttir, seen in two of the photos]

Exploring an ice cave at Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 4 seconds at f/9, ISO 800.

Exploring an ice cave at Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 4 seconds at f/9, ISO 800. © Joel Santos - www.joelsantos.net

Ice cave crack at Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1 second at f/11, ISO 200.

Ice cave crack at Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1 second at f/11, ISO 200. © Joel Santos - www.joelsantos.net