Memorable Experiences – Ice Caves at Spitsbergen

Recently I got the opportunity to visit two ice caves at Spitsbergen/ Norway, the Scott Turner cave and the Longyear Glacier cave. Really, that isn’t an everyday experience! The approach can be done either with skiing, a dog-sled or snow scooter. The outside temperature was about minus 10 degree, but when entering the caves I felt a comfortable temperature of only a few minus degree and no wind. Here it was possible to stay for hours without freezing. The silence was aweful! And the light very special for a photographer. While the Scott Turner cave has some low light at some places, coming from some openings, the Longyear Glacier cave is totally dark. First through the light of my headlight the incredible ice formations appeared. I felt a never ending AWE and WOW as I discovered new amazing structures and shapes with every new step into the cave. I learned from my guide how the different shapes and layers has emerged during many years. Every year the cave lookes totally different as the water in summer is washing out new shapes. This are some of the most exciting facts about ice: it seems to be solid and strong, but at the same time changes quickly and can disappear. A fragile and fading beauty.

To be at this place and feel it with all my senses was a great experience. It is challanging to create photographs that express this powerful experience.

I used my headlight and sometimes an additional light, both with options for different brightness. Sometimes the guide lighted up an ice structure from the backside. To could decide about the lightning, I needed to observe a motive properly. Which part should be light, how much, which part should be darker? Many decisions to make. By using a tripod it was easy to vary the lightconditions, but to let the composition unchanged. Photographing in a cave, whether of stone or ice, is challanging, but really exciting.

I hope my pictures will express a bit of these memorable experiences!

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