Greenland. The World’s Largest Island.

Day One. Leaving Iceland behind on a small commuter jet and heading westerly two time-zones and northerly up towards the arctic circle, we land at Kulusuk Airport. Miniscule by comparison to any other airport I’ve visited, it has a small gift shop where you can buy fur pelts and chocolate bars. Leaving the airport was another story; we landed on an island. Our next stop cannot be reached by car, there are no roads. Walking 10 minutes with our carry-on luggage to the rocky coast, we navigate the tide and slippery, sharp stones to climb down to a small skiff (boat) which is our ride to Tasiilaq, a small fishing village with a full-time population of about 2000 people.

iceberg

Yes, the ice really IS that blue. The view on the way from Kulusuk to Tasiilaq, just outside the village harbor.

The trip to Tasiilaq was cold and bumpy, a welcome change from the heat in Reykjavik. As soon as we pull away and get out into the ocean, we are greeted with a surreal seascape of floating monuments, ever changing icebergs as they make their way to the vast ocean between islands.

boat-wake-and-mountains

The view from the back our small boat as we make our way deeper into the ocean – shot in Infrared with my converted Sony RX100.

Then as we turn, we are greeted by a multi-sail ship positioned in front of a newly formed berg, wandering into the shallow coastal harbor.

sailing-ship-and-iceberg

This is an excellent example of how large these icebergs can be. That’s a 65-foot ship and it is barely half the size of the iceberg, knowing that icebergs show only 10% of their size above the water line.

As you can see, we are socked in with clouds, but the warm (mid-50’s) temperature is comfortable. We drop off our stuff and head back out for a little exploring. There’s so much to see and we are all anxious to get out there. Leaving the harbor, we can see several large icebergs quite easily.

Impossible to realize scale in a photo like this, but this is the size of several city blocks.

Impossible to realize scale in a photo like this, but this is the size of several city blocks.

Our destination is still 30 minutes away, but we don’t know where we are going. Only our Captain does as he moves through the ocean wilderness with the familiarity of a native. We turn into a cove, where an active Glacier is located and possibly the source of many of the icebergs we’ve observed on our 1st day in Greenland.

The water is dead still in this small cove, where the Glacier has created it's own environment.

The water is dead still in this small cove, where the Glacier has created its own environment.

I’ve seen Glaciers before, I feel lucky to witness how nature uses ice to shape and texture the landscape. I wonder if future generations will be able to see these as they slowly (or quickly) melt into the ocean. We are moving slowly, approaching the frozen coast. As we get closer, that “wall of ice” seems to be less solid than it looks from a distance.

These are the actual colors of the Glacier Wall up close.

These are the actual colors of the Glacier Wall up close.

We linger here and slowly move across the face of the glacier, watching as the colors and textures change every few hundred feet. It’s fascinating to watch but I notice an eerie lack of wildlife. No birds in sight. Below the surface, the ocean is teaming with life, but above it feels void.

Turning our back on the frozen glacier face, the sun desperately tries to break through, leaving only a shard of ice, beautifully illuminated.

Turning our back on the frozen glacier face, the sun desperately tries to break through, leaving only a shard of ice, beautifully illuminated.

We turn away and spot other floating ice but nothing of real interest, it was time to head back to Tasiilaq Village for some rest and some dinner. It was a long day, and we were about to get a welcome gift in the evening to come.

They say that Aurora Borealis never happens in the summer, not in Greenland, it certainly hasn’t been visible in past years. We were in for a shock as we enjoyed the dusk of evening when the sky started to glow.

Subtle at first, then the sky began to glow, exposing the cosmic rays dancing in the sky, just above our head.

Subtle at first, then the sky began to glow, exposing the cosmic rays dancing in the sky, just above our head.

As tired as we were, we are captivated by the natural explosion of mystic energy illuminating the now clear skies above us. It was the most perfect ending to our first day in Greenland. Our temporary residence, overlooking the harbor was the perfect place to be that night where for me, I witnessed one of the most beautiful natural forces in the universe, one that I had been pursuing for the last 10 years. Bucket List item. Check. But little did I know that much more was to come later in the week. Stay tuned for part 2.

Equipment Update:

For this trip, I am using three cameras. For infrared, I use a converted Sony RX100 which is permanently fixed at 680 NM for deep infrared black and white. On my Sony A7r body, I have my Zeiss/sony 24-240 zoom lens. On my Sony A7rII body, I alternate between my Zeiss/Sony 16-35mm zoom and my Sigma 15mm Horizontal Fisheye, using the Sony LA-EA4 adaptor to enable this lens with full functionality including autofocus.