Ilulissat, Greenland

Ilulissat is one of the most picturesque and fascinating places I’ve ever visited – a truly stunning part of the world. Seeing the giant icebergs floating in the Disko Bay around the town is mesmerising.

In the past few years I’ve visited Ilulissat twice; once in summer and once towards the end of winter. Each trip was very different. In the winter, walking through three feet of snow towards the icefjord, enduring a couple of snow storms, trying to see the Northern Lights and taking a dogsled trip was in stark contrast to wandering for hours through green hills, battling the mosquitos, and the perpetual daylight of the Midnight Sun.

Each time I have visited the town I’ve taken a boat trip to sail amongst the giant icebergs in the Disko Bay, and when I’m looking at photos from these trips I quite naturally go to those with the clear, blue sky. It shows an awesome contrast with the bright white of the icebergs.

However, during a bit of a photo clear out to reduce the number of duplicates from my more snap-happy days, I took a closer look at the photos from the winter boat trip. This was during a dull, cloudy day, and I had a couple of photos I like from there but many (many!) others that didn’t cut it against the icebergs on a nice day. But there are a few that I previously overlooked that I really like.

There’s an atmosphere about a slow boat trip amongst giant icebergs on a day like this that some of the photos do manage to capture. When the engine is off and the boat is floating amongst the ice, there’s hardly any noise but for the sound of the ice crackling and popping, distance calving. It’s beautiful.

These photos also reminded me how much I enjoyed taking photos with the older Olympus prime lenses I had. The combination of the E-M5 with the 12mm f2.0 or the 25mm f1.8 was fantastic – a powerful, compact little system that was great fun to shoot with. Ultimately, however, it was this trip when I was finally convinced to look at other lens options. Changing lenses during these conditions and potentially exposing the camera sensor to freezing wind is just daft, and I ended up swapping out the prime trio for the excellent 12-40mm f2.8. But in doing so lost some of the compact nature of the system that I liked.

Here are some of my favourite photos from that boat trip on a cloudy day. The grey sky is a great contrast to the brilliant white and glowing blue of the giant icebergs.

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