Glacier, Skaftafell, Iceland
Phase One XF 150MP, 80mm Schneider lens, f4 @ 1/2000 second, ISO 200
It's amazing the difference that light has on a landscape. Years ago, I did an aerial shoot from Skaftafel in Iceland and while it was a fantastic experience, I really struggled with the dull lighting. And I specifically remember how flat and boring the glaciers looked from the air.
Last month, we did a helicopter flight from Skaftafell and, after covering the river deltas along the coast, flew back towards the glaciers. I almost put my camera away, thinking this would be a little on the boring side. How wrong I was! We had light cloud cover that acted like a large, directional soft box and the glacier below looked sensational.
Towards the end of the flight, the pilot took us across a smaller glacier and then turned around for home with no time left on the clock - and what I saw blew my mind! The glacier (shown here) looked like a Cadbury Flake under intense lateral pressure, but I was looking straight through the curved glass of the helicopter windscreen. The pilot wasn't going to slow down or turn sideways (and yes, I did ask, plead, cry and beg), but all I had was a few seconds to shoot directly through the glass.
So I shot it and, as you can see, the result isn't half bad! When you get in super close to the image, there are little areas of softness which represent a water droplet or squashed bug on the windscreen, and the image isn't quite as sharp as shooting without glass, but I'm being very picky. This will still make a great one-metre print without any problems.
So, why don't we shoot through glass all the time? There are a number of reasons such as unwanted reflections, colour casts, optical distortions and, of course, dirt. An open window or door is much better, but if you can't arrange it, shoot what you can. You may be surprised at what you can achieve!
There's a little more work required on this image to fully resolve the tonality, but I'm thinking it's worth it!