on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Thomas Peck’s Critiques – Ice seal

From Bruce Percy’s book: Iceland, a journal of nocturnes

Thomas Peck

The real pleasure of photography is that it forces me to slow down and really look. That’s never easy in our rushed world, so a chance to stop, look and see is truly valuable.


Many photographic images are illustrative. They present the viewer with whatever is in front of the camera. However, photographs are at their most powerful when they tease out an emotional response in the viewer. They go beyond illustration and become evocation. Bruce Percy’s image of a small iceberg on the beach at Jökulsárlón in Iceland is just such a picture. It shows ice on a beach at dusk but it evokes thoughts of silence, time and mortality.

What do we see? The photographer has been careful to simplify the image as much as possible. The foreground shows one small iceberg melting on a black beach. Blurred waves wash on the shore in the middle distance. The horizon gives sense of scale and location. The sky is dark, moodily blue. The darkness of the sky echoes the blackness of the beach. This could be early morning before sunrise, but the feeling is more that it is dusk and night is closing in.

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