Behind The Shot: Arctic Breeze

Tasermiut Fjord near Nanortalik, Greenland
Tasermiut Fjord near Nanortalik, Greenland

Photo By Max Foster

Greenland is an autonomous country that’s part of the Kingdom of Denmark and is considered the world’s largest island. To put its massive size into perspective, it’s larger than the state of Alaska and is over 1,600 miles from north to south. Despite the enormous area, only 57,000 people live there.

When people think of Greenland, they often visualize huge icebergs, an expansive ice sheet (second only to Antarctica in size) and lots of polar bears. However, in many coastal areas you’ll find deep fjords, jagged mountains and arctic tundra typical of the far north. This environment is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts looking to break their own trail and photograph in complete solitude.

Summer months are an excellent time to visit Greenland due to the mild temperatures and beautiful green valleys. In late August 2018, I led an adventure photography trip through the fjords and valleys in the area just outside Nanortalik. We sailed deep into the Tasermiut fjord, visited glaciers and climbed mountainsides to gain a bird’s eye view. Halfway through the trip, we hiked to the middle of a valley and camped beneath the incredible peak you see here.

On this particular morning, we were surrounded by fog for several hours, barely able to see 300 feet away. We decided to break camp and head for our next destination, but just before we left, the fog began to lift. We quickly ran to a spot close by that was filled with an abundance of arctic cotton.

Wanting to bring the viewer into the midst of the cotton balls, I set up my tripod as low as possible (around 4 inches off the ground). There was a strong breeze, so a fast shutter speed was necessary, and since my lens was very close to the cotton balls, I needed significant depth of field. Focusing manually on the nearest cotton ball, I used a 2-second delay to initiate the shutter, repeating with several additional focus points. I waited until the fog broke just enough to show the tip of the mountain and captured a shot for the sky and background.

Each exposure was reviewed afterward to ensure there was no motion blur in the foreground and that my highlights weren’t overexposed. The moment was fleeting, and just minutes later the entire valley of fog was swept away with the wind. We celebrated our good fortune and then began the hike toward our next incredible destination.

Although Greenland is very remote and difficult to travel in, it’s easily one of my favorite places for photography. The variety of landscapes, true wilderness experience and dynamic weather conditions all make it a world-class photography destination. OP

Nikon D810, Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD at 15mm, Feisol CT-3442 tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-30 ballhead. Exposure: 1/200 sec., ƒ/16, ISO 320.

See more of Max Foster’s work at maxfosterphotography.com.

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