Thursday, September 07, 2023

Ice Mountains in Motion

"I’ve walked a lot in the mountains of Iceland.
And as you come to a new valley,
as you come to a new landscape,
you have a certain view.
If you stand still, the landscape doesn’t
necessarily tell you how big it is. It doesn't
really tell you what you’re looking at.
The moment you start to move
the mountain starts to move."

- Olafur Eliasson (1967 - )

On the advice of a local glacier guide that we met at the Skaftafell terminal before embarking on our "photo tour," my family and I took our car another 45 min east of the terminal to explore the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. For someone who has seen icebergs floating in ocean waters only two other times in his life (both times were in Alaska, and, even then, the icebergs presented themselves more as onesie and twosie "teasers" than sweeping panoramic clusters), Jokulsarlon is - and lives in - a world wholly its own. Icebergs, small and large, span one's view from wherever your feet happen to be planted on the shoreline to the vast ineffable infinity that defines Iceland's remote interior. A subtle but omnipresent hiss and crackle permeates the otherwise quiet air (save that for omnipresent chatter and soft shuffling of tourist's feet) as the ice breathes and slowly meanders about the lagoon. Occasionally, one hears a loud "pop" in the distance, followed by a splash as a chunk of ice falls into the water; or the whirring of engines powering the ubiquitous Zodiak boat tours. Photographically speaking, the glacier lagoon is an angst-filled delight. On the one hand, there are countless compositional opportunities that present themselves literally anywhere one looks; an obvious "delight." On the other hand, there is an accompanying and unsettling angst of knowing that it is simply impossible to do any sort of artistic justice to this breathtaking always-subtly-moving landscape of ice mountains in water; a lifetime would not suffice. While we didn't have a lifetime to spend at Jokulsarlon, we did take away a bit of the timeless awe of nature that this beautiful lagoon leaves all those who take the time to experience it. Thank you, Iceland 😊

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