The Ice Lagoon

February 19, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Jökulsárlón, the lagoon at the end of one of the large glaciers that descend towards the sea along Iceland's southeast coast, has become wildly popular with tourists over the last decade or so. It is without a doubt a beautiful and unique spot, easy to reach and made famous by a number of high-profile movies, by social media, and by Lonely Planet. As with all such spots, overcrowding by loud and intrusive humans is rapidly making it harder for the minority of us who love pristine nature, and who respect the right of other individuals to silence and solitude, to absorb the spirit of the place. Its sights and sounds and smells and cold humid wind. But I won't rant about that here (I will somewhere else). I prefer to celebrate the beauty of the world, which is what this website is all about.

It is difficult to photograph the beach at Jökulsárlón without falling into the cliché of stranded ice pebbles. There are those among my photographs, but I have tried to make the ice just one more element among depictions of the open ocean and of the North Atlantic sky. I have attempted to capture the rapidly changing colors and textures of an early winter subarctic sunset. To have the drama in the sky be the central element in my images, with the ice blocks and the basalt pebbles added to give a strong sense of place. You can, hopefully, see this in the photographs of the beach at Jökulsárlón, and also in the images of the lagoon, a few hundred meters inland. Some of these show a sun-star near the horizon. In others, faint clouds that mimic an aurora are a strong element in the composition. And in every case, there are the reflections that are such an important part of this unique place. Reflections of icebergs, mountains and sky on the smooth surface of the lagoon, and also of the colors of the sky on the dark basaltic beach.

A few of the photographs (it is easy to see which ones) come from a previous visit, during a foggy summer day. These images are imbued of a very dark mood, which is exactly how I perceived the place on that, my first trip to Jökulsárlón. The icebergs barely showing in the dark fog made me think of the River Styx and of Charon, its lugubrious ferryman. And do Titan's methane shores resemble, perhaps, Iceland's Atlantic shore on that dark summer day?

I mourn for the solitude that Jökulsárlón will never again see. And I have tried, with my photographs, to rescue the essence of a place as it may have existed in a more genteel and quiet world. 


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Photos, commentary and opinions by  Alberto Patiño Douce

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