From my most recent trip to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and beyond. This is an aerial photo from above the Root Glacier, near Kennecott and McCarthy, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The small stream is made up largely of runoff water from Stairway Icefall, a massive 7000′ vertical wall of ice that effectively form the “headwaters” of the Root Glacier.
This is an image I’ve wanted to capture for sometime now; I’ve seen various similar images of this same stream from a few photographers, including my friend Ron Niebrugge, and often thought it would be a cool subject to shoot. Indeed it is.
The banding and ridge formations in the ice are a feature called “ogives”, created by icefalls, such as Stairway Icefall. The ice “bends” because the speed at which a glacier might advance is higher near the middle of the glacier rather than the outlying edges.
Shooting these kinds of images requires a fast shutter speed, and little depth of field; the lens will generally be focused at infinity, so a wide open aperture (or close to it) is best; shutter speed is the priority. Newer digital cameras also allow higher quality images at higher ISO’s than earlier models, and my new D700 was a great plus for this flight. I shot this at ISO 1000, and there is no discernible digital noise at all. That’s a nice feature to have.
I’ll write another post later with more info on shooting aerial photography; it’s a blast.