Tag Archives: Photoshop

Blue Ice and Photoshop

Thanks for your comments. For some reason, comments do not show up on my iMac in the studio, only on my iPad, which I rarely look at when I’m not traveling. I just discovered them last night.

To respond to some questions and comments, no, nothing is “photoshopped,” and those are the actual colors of the ice down there. That said, each image is taken into Photoshop and worked to bring the values in balance and to ensure that the colors are as true and neutral as possible.

A photograph can be merely a record of what’s in front of the camera or it can be an object that stands alone, independent of the subject. All photographers have always burned and dodged (You think Ansel Adams subjects actually looked like that in real life?) and that is what Photoshop is really for. Gabriella and I worked for an hour with each image, on average, which is comparable to my experience printing in the wet lab back in the day. (And thanks for checking out her work.)

So why is the ice blue? When snow falls, it is airy so when light strikes it, all the wavelengths are reflected back to our eyes. As the snow piles up, it compresses forcing the air out and transforming the snow into solid ice. Over hundreds of years in a glacier, that ice sinks deeper and endures huge pressure, forcing all the air from the ice. Once the air is out of the ice, the longer wave lengths of light, the light on the red end of the spectrum, are absorbed, reflecting the shorter wave lengths on the blue and green end of the spectrum.

Then a berg is calved off from a glacier exposing that ancient and highly compressed blue ice.


You can see the fresher, white snow lying
on the older, compressed blue ice.

Also, bergs reflect the shorter wavelengths of incidental light giving a blue cast, which is the same phenomena that makes the sky look blue. In certain areas in the Antarctic and Arctic, microorganisms can also color glaciers, not unlike a famous green glacier further to the east in Antarctica.

When we arrived on the Antarctic Peninsula, we were all amazed at the amount of color in the landscape. Initially, I thought I’d work in black and white down there, but once I arrived at Deception Island, I quickly realized that working in color was what it was all about. We had also wondered what made the ice blue, so Wyatt did some serious research in the extensive Pelagic Australis library to answer our question.

I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog and the photos. Thanks. Stay tuned, since much is happening.

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