Since 2001, I have focused on water as a singular theme in my work. Having worked on five continents, I have attempted to catalogue through a variety of photographic mediums, the atmosphere, colors, lights, shapes and forms that comprise the world’s oceans, seas and shores.
During 2007 and into the spring of 2008, I made several long journeys to the upper and lower extremes of our planet to photograph the shorelines, monolithic ice forms and landscapes of Greenland, Icelandic and Antarctica. Most of these places are arduous to reach, beyond the borders of domestic transportation routes, accessible only by small aircraft or boat. All are endangered to some extent – threatened by tourism, climate change, industry and the hunt for oil.
This new series, Icebergs begins to explore what are currently the most geopolitical and geographically sensitive shorelines on earth.
Formally different than my previous work, but motivated by similar principals, these images attempt to encapsulate both the otherworldliness and the vital reality of the northern seas and oceans. I was drawn to the fragility and grace of the frozen landscape. For me, the work is both a celebration of nature’s survival and an elegy.
The majority of the images were made using a gyro stabilized medium format and a panoramic 6×17 handheld camera from the side of small open boats and large ice strengthened ship. Several were made from shore with a tripodmounted camera. Originally conceived of as a black and white monochrome project with the images shot in Greenland 2007, the unique and surreal color palate of these extreme latitudes compelled the addition of colour. It is a hint of what Norwegian Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen was alluding to when he wrote:
“Nothing is more wonderfully beautiful can exist than the arctic night. It is a dreamland, painted in the imagination’s most delicate tints: its colour etherealized. One shade melts into the other, so that you cannot tell where one ends and the other meets, and yet they are all there.”
By David Burdeny