Antarctica in Abstract
Words and Photos by: Kaisa Siren
I live at the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland in a town called Rovaniemi. You might think that I would spend my holiday somewhere south and sunny, and you would be half right - I did go south - but I prefer ice and snow to sunshine and I have always been drawn to cold places.
Visiting the Antarctic Peninsula was a life-long dream come true and my expectations were massive, both on an emotional level as well as a photographic level. I was not only excited to see the ancient glacier ice and rare animal and bird species, I was drawn south by a desire to document these environments that are so rapidly changing.
The proportions of glaciers and icebergs cannot be described, all I could do was gasp as icebergs the size of skyscrapers floated by. The landscape lends itself to photography and I found it easy to capture on camera, but I wanted to go deeper and further from my comfort zone. I wanted to find the abstract shapes, lines, and forms of Antarctica.
Antarctica is so awesome and so large that it cannot be comprehended. I had to focus on the small things: cracks on an iceberg, the blue colors of the ice, and the pink of the setting sun.
After taking the souvenir shots, I wanted to concentrate on what I do at home - look for the abstract scenes in nature and use intentional camera movements to make an image. It was quite difficult to focus on the abstract while I was surrounded by such beauty.
As the days went by I got thousands of photos - textured snow, turquoise icebergs, leopard seals, whales, penguins, ice, and snow. Each encounter was meaningful, exciting, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I had taken many pictures, but my gut told me that nothing great had been accomplished yet.
One evening we passed a massive iceberg. It was 30 km wide and had broken off of an ice shelf. That iceberg opened my eyes. Antarctica is so awesome and so large that it cannot be comprehended. I had to focus on the small things: cracks on an iceberg, the blue colors of the ice, and the pink of the setting sun. I stayed on deck until the very last light, moving my camera with intention.
As is always the case, the trip ended too soon and I felt that there was so much more that could be photographed. Antarctica was more than I imagined and I now know what to concentrate on for my next trip south.
These last three images were taken at Deception Island of the South Shetland Islands. Here I found the graphic lines I had been looking for. The glacier is covered with volcanic ash and gravel, and the color of the exposed soil is rusty due to high iron content. This is Antarctica for me - hidden colors underneath the ice.