A busy few weeks has meant a slowdown in images appearing on this blog. I’m still working my way through last summer’s collection of new images from the Alps, among other things.
There have been two previous posts about the glaciers I photographed above Saas Fee – Terminal Decline, and The Forms of Ice. Click the links to read the posts and see the images.
The is the first post of the Fee Glacier in monochrome, and I remain in two minds about the conversion to B&W. On the positive side it has mood, atmosphere and bite. The contrast, intrinsic to monochrome, accentuates the white ice that intrudes into the grey rocky landscape. Also, in the context of climate change, with glacial retreat very evident, and the distinct possibility that some glaciers will cease to exist in another century, monochrome feels appropriate. And yet…
When you look at a glacier – and this is why those two previous posts are relevant – you realize that glaciers are not pure white, except in the depths of winter after new snow. At all other times there are subtle colours that are very evident in the walls of crevasses and particularly in a glacier’s terminal zone as it starts to disintegrate and fall apart.
Each fall of snow is compressed and forms a thin band within the glacial ice like the annular rings of a tree. It’s colour is influenced by many factors including the regular presence of sand particles carried by the wind from north African deserts and deposited during snow fall.
It is those colours that give glaciers their character and makes us appreciate that within the chaos, intrinsic danger, and savage lines of a glacier there is true beauty. Glaciers are Leviathans creeping down hill millimetre by millimetre. By comparison snails look like they are turbocharged. Glaciers appear alive, but they are a dying breed.
In celebrating their existence, we need to glory in their colour, as well as be reminded of the savage beauty which, occasionally, is manifest best in monochrome.
Their skin my be grey in their death throes, covered in grit, resembling elephant hide; but when the forces of nature slice break them apart, they show their true colour as in this second image, below, of the Gorner Glacier above Zermatt, also shot last Summer.