Friday, June 5, 2009
Hubbard Glacier Calving - My Vision
(Click on photos to see a larger image.)
The calving sequence only lasted a few seconds. A park ranger, standing nearby, told me it was the largest calving he had ever seen.
About the Glacier: Hubbard is the longest tidewater glacier in Alaska, and its open calving face is over ten kilometers (6 miles) wide. The face rises an average of about 200 meters (600 feet) above the water (Disenchantment Bay). The ice chuck that just fell and produced this splash was over 100 meters (300 feet) high, or the height of a 25-story building. The glacier routinely calves off icebergs the size of a ten-story building.
Photography Tip: There were hundreds of people on the deck of the cruise ship (almost all with cameras), but I don't think anyone got this sequence, or even the climax. Most people put their cameras away when it's raining (read more below). I've found that you have to concentrate your attention in one general direction, and ready your equipment. Little chunks of ice will usually start crumbling and falling just before a big 'berg is calved. As soon as you see any falling ice or splashes in the water, you need to quickly compose onto that area (it takes about 2-3 seconds for the cracking and splashing sounds to travel from the glacier to the ship). If you wait until you hear the crack or the splash, it's too late to position your camera and lens for the big one.
The Blue Color & the Rain: This is the actual color of the glacial ice (centuries of compression drive out the oxygen, changing the ice to this color). The color might be a little more saturated than normal, because it was raining (a constant, light drizzle). In fact, my Canon EOS 40D quit working after this calving sequence (I'd been out in the rain for two hours). It took about an hour with a hair dryer to get it working again! (The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens functioned flawlessly, because it has more weatherproofing seals -- should have used my Canon EOS 1Ds body because it also has more weatherproofing. ;-)
You can also view my Flickr Photostream to see more of "My Vision."