This is all about shooting in ice caves.

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Ice caves are like magical underground secrets, but of course they are not underground, they are under the glaciers. Ice-caves can take many different forms, some are deep and narrow, some are broad. Often there is a river or water source because this is what creates the cave in the first place. Because of the river, Ice-caves can be difficult to enter. When temperatures are above freezing, the glacier can move, making ice caves extremely hazardous. For these 2 reasons, it is advisable to always hire an experienced glacier guide who knows when it is safe to enter.

Camera Equipment A tripod is fairly important, Ice caves are quite dark and it is usually possible to get a 30 second exposure deep in an ice cave. A wide angle, fast lens will also be useful as well as a macro lens.

Other Equipment Safety gear for walking on Ice and head protection is very important. I would also suggest knee pads to get down into low positions. Waterproof clothes are important because there are often areas with dripping water.

Camera Technique There are many obstacles to Ice cave shooting. These issues are very similar to night photography. The main issues are composition and focus. Composition can be tough in any novel situation, but in Ice caves, the environment can be restrictive. The easiest way is to shoot wide angle and to follow the shape of the cave to create a balanced shot. There may be areas of extreme dynamic range, the photographer should be mindful of these areas and place them carefully in the shot. Auto-focus is not recommended for 2 reasons. The first is that there may not be enough light for the camera to focus, the other is that natural glacier ice has very few edges for the camera to focus on. For this reason, I would recommend using a manual focusing technique.

Magic Cloth The magic cloth technique can be used to control areas of high dynamic range. A typical patter would be to allow more exposure around the edges of the image and less in the center (such as the cave entrance). This is a kind of reverse cloth technique.

Scale This is the big issue, without something to show the scale, your ice cave shots will be abstract. Almost all the successful ice cave photographs have a human figure in the shot to show the scale. This works best if they are in a high luminosity position – such as the entrance of the cave.

Macro Why not get up close and find something interesting in the ice formations. Trapped air in little bubbles can be effective and of course try some shallow DOF work.

Most important is to have fun and relax. You will belong to an exclusive club once you have been inside an ice cave.

Stay safe and hire a local guide to run your trip.


Ice cave Entrance
It is only when you see the 2 people at the bottom, you realise the true scale.

Book an Ice cave tour

Book an Ice cave tour with our recommended local guides. These are the real deal. Caves carved by glacier melt-water. Tours usually run from Jökulsarlon.


ice cave photo tours

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