Photographing an Ice Cave

If you ever find yourself shooting inside an ice cave, as I have, and Craig S Smith from the New York Times has too, here are a few tips.

Because of the difference in temperature under the ice, our lenses fogged and then froze.

My lenses fogged, froze, and I blew through batteries; especially with video. Bring hand or foot warmers with you and stick them on the camera. For the glass, you want to use a cleaning tissue, like the ones from Zeiss to get any oils off the lens and that includes the viewfinder. Because when a lens cold fogs like that (near instantaneously), you’ll just smear the oils with a cloth and make it worse.  I also kept the camera as close to my body as possible—warning your camera is gonna get wet, if not soaked.

Sigma: The wait is over. Shop e-mount primes.

Writing about collecting mussels in the Artic, Craig S. Smith shared his behind the scenes story because the shoot was so unusual and extreme.

My shoot was not. 

It was a spectacular experience just the same and I traveled many a long mile to get there, but I was just a tourist in Iceland. Not on an assignment.

Craig observed

The ice was curved and smooth and glowed in places from aquamarine to cerulean blue. In darker passages, it sparkled in the lamplight. The air was heavy and salty. Sounds were muffled except for the unnerving gurgle of running water, a reminder that this was a temporary space.

Read the rest of his story. I’ve still got to write mine, even if the models (actually, our wives) were cold and uncooperative. Here’s what I noted

The loftier walls of the ice cave seemed to vibrate and tremble as the diamond blue light pulsated every few seconds.

Entrance to the cave.

And, of all the things you can do in Iceland, cause it seems like everyone is going there, make sure to see the glaciers.

As for a trip to another side of the arctic with the Inuits, that’s best left to a reporter and a notion for a story.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim was with Craig on the assignment. Find his portfolio here.

My daily shooter is Sony a9 with a vertical grip and various Sigma lenses attached like the 14mm 1.4 Art. Find more gear recommendations in our shop.