2014-08 Photo Opps with Icebergs

August 17, 2014

One of the “must do” things for any cruiser traveling to Greenland is to get some photos of your boat with an iceberg. But getting that incredible shot is easier said than done! We’ve been very fortunate to get some great shots of both Shear Madness and Migration posing with icebergs. But how have we done it?

First you have to find a suitable iceberg that is willing to pose with you. That means it needs to be photogenic, reasonably stable (ie, not ready to overturn or calve imminently), properly positioned for the light conditions, and not too far out of your way. As we cruise in company with Migration, we maintain VHF radio communications on an agreed to channel and discuss all matter of things – our route, upcoming hazards, whale alerts, dinner menus, tech support questions, comparing reading from various instruments, and much more. Periodically one of the other of us will call “Photo op!” and point out a likely candidate. That leads to a discussion about how far away it is, how a diversion will affect our arrival time at our destination, whether it is truly “worthy”, and how we would best get some great photos.

The perfect berg for a photo shoot (photo by Steve D'Antonio)

The perfect berg for a photo shoot (photo by Steve D’Antonio)

It’s really important to have two boats. One can position and pose while the other takes photos. Then positions can be reversed. As the icebergs must be approached very slowly and carefully, this of course takes time. We start with a broad plan of action, then one boat gets into position while the other guides it to the best spot for photos. When done, we switch positions and repeat the process.

We did this successfully several times prior to Migration’s guest, Steve, joining them. Steve is a serious photographer and on our trip from Christianshab to Rodebay we spotted a perfect photo op – a large iceberg with a see-through window which would allow one boat to shoot photos of the other boat position on the other side. Shear Madness moved into position while Steve shot photos using his various cameras and lenses. Then it was Migration’s turn. The only problem is that we do not have the same quality equipment on Shear Madness, so in order to get the same great photos of Migration, we needed to transfer Steve from Migration to Shear Madness. Not a problem!

Shear Madness (photo by Steve D'Antonio)

Shear Madness (photo by Steve D’Antonio)

We decided to proceed away from the berg where we had maneuvering room, then hold Shear Madness in place while Migration, using her stern cameras, backed up to our stern, allowing Steve to step off of Migration’s swim platform and onto ours. This was accomplished without incident as both George and Bradley are masterful drivers and the sea conditions were quite benign.

Soon Migration was positioned and Steve got some equally wonderful photos of her. He stayed aboard Shear Madness for the rest of the trip until we reached our anchorage where we planned to launch a tender. But upon reaching the anchorage, the winds had picked up to 20+ knots, making the tender launch a real challenge – envision even a small tender suspended from a crane in strong winds swinging like a pendulum! So we decided to put Steve back on Migration the same way he had got off – with a stern-to-stern transfer. First we dropped and secured our anchor, then Bradley used our stern thrusters to hold her in place as George backed Migration up to our stern – a bit more of a challenge with the winds – but still easily achieved. When the sterns were nearly touching, Steve stepped easily aboard and Migration pulled away to drop their anchor. The only problem was that we would have to wait until morning to see the photos Steve had captured! As it turns out, they were worth the wait!

Migration (photo by Steve D'Antonion)

Migration (photo by Steve D’Antonion)

The photos posted with this update are not high resolution due to limited bandwidth. Better photos will be posted later when we are back in high-bandwidth territory!

Click any photo to enlarge.

  1. #1 by John Brown on October 11, 2014 - 9:27 pm

    Great photos and the photographer transfer was certainly worth the effort. I have only recently joined your journeys but will endeavor to catch up in time.


  2. #2 by Karen Ferris on August 21, 2014 - 6:43 am

    Amazing!! One should aways cruise with a second boat equipped with a photog.


  3. #3 by Gene Blanchard on August 20, 2014 - 11:58 am

    Wonderful pictures, Kathy, and I enjoyed your write-up as to the preparations, etc. It sounds as if you are having a great time, and please give my regards to Bradley.


  4. #4 by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 10:02 am

    Great photos!


  5. #5 by Kathleen on August 20, 2014 - 9:11 am

    Guys these photos are just incredible – thanks for sharing the “how to”. Very fun.


  6. #6 by Spindle, Dottie on August 20, 2014 - 7:58 am

    Kathy, these photos are “postcard” perfect. Forwarding onto my sister and now my brother – there’s a fan club beginning in my family – they’re thoroughly enjoying your travels. Thanks for sending.

    Dottie Spindle


  7. #7 by Luxurious111@aol.com on August 20, 2014 - 7:20 am

    Kathy! Incredible! I’m going to be in Alexandria, Baltimore other eastern spots mid sept. Will u be in the area then? Deb

    Sent from my iPad



  8. #8 by Anonymous on August 20, 2014 - 6:45 am

    These pics are amazing…..look forward to seeing the high def. post! Obviously, you are having a great time and learning more send more each day please be careful and keep the posts coming. OX – Sandy


  9. #9 by Ulf Carlsson on August 20, 2014 - 6:45 am

    I’m really enjoying reading the posts on your amazing adventures onboard SM, great stuff! A week onboard SM as a crew member, anywhere in the world, is on my bucket list, for sure!


  10. #10 by Scott Hilbert on August 20, 2014 - 6:35 am

    Oh my what a photo shoot indeed. I cannot wait to see your high resolution shots and hopefully subsequent YouTube videos. Is Steve the same Steve I’ve seen published in Passagemaker Magazine?

    Thank you so much for posting these amazing pictures as I look forward to my cruising days in the distant future!


  11. #11 by Johann Aschberger on August 20, 2014 - 6:35 am


    Did YOU swim away from the boat to take pics?

    Pictures are really outstanding! Keep on going. And return safely to US.



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