Photographer’s Otherworldly Shots of Glacial Caves in Iceland Will Leave You Awe-Inspired

Photographer’s Otherworldly Shots of Glacial Caves in Iceland Will Leave You Awe-Inspired
"Comet". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)

A Nebraska-born photographer who was charmed by Iceland’s epic landscapes is capturing the otherworldly beauty of glacial caves on film. The cocktail of light, color, and texture in these unbelievable natural formations will leave you spellbound.

Ryan Newburn, 33, was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He has lived in Reykjavik, Iceland, for five years where he owns a glacier tour company called Ice Pic Journeys which has a built-in photography package tour.

Photographer Ryan Newburn. (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
Photographer Ryan Newburn. (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)

He first became inspired by landscape photography while on a five-month walking tour across Japan in 2014 with his digital camera in tow. After subsequent walking tours through New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and, finally, Iceland in 2018, Newburn was hooked for good.

"Comet". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Comet". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)

“I came to Iceland originally to walk across Iceland as well, and I did that. It took me about three weeks,” he told The Epoch Times. “After that, I approached a company for a job and they ended up hiring me as a glacier guide. I trained at Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier here in Iceland for about six months and then I was officially a glacier guide for this company.”

As a part of his job, Newburn would go to the glaciers each day, leading clients and teaching them about the ice. He soon began to fall in love with photographing the glaciers and, along with that, weaving a story of the ice caves and glaciers and how they’re changing.

"The keyhole". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"The keyhole". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)

Among Iceland’s varied landscapes of ice and snow, volcanoes, waterfalls, and painted mountains, Newburn likes to “look for the places that aren’t so photographed.” While he’s in the field, Newburn looks for vibrant colors that people don’t often get to see.

“I think that’s why I like the ice caves and the glaciers so much, you get these deep blues and emeralds, and these transitions of different shades of blue that make the ice caves so pleasing to the eye,” he said.

"Stasis". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Stasis". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)

One of Newburn’s most epic shots to date was taken in the winter of 2022. The powerful image which is titled “Stasis,” was achieved by abseiling into a glacial cave inside a massive iceberg on a frozen lake.

“During the summertime, massive chunks of ice break off of the outlet glaciers on Vatnajökull and float on the glacial lakes, slowly melting away,” Newburn said, sharing his shot on Instagram. “However many of the larger icebergs won’t melt before winter sets in. Once the cold temperatures hit, the lake freezes and traps the iceberg in place for the season. If you can stomach traversing a frozen lake, you can venture out to these icebergs and discover cave systems inside of them.”

For Newburn, photographing surreal moments like this is just “spectacular” and “indescribable.”

He told The Epoch Times: “There are just times where you need to not be focused on photographing it, and just enjoy it.”

"Knife in the dark". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Knife in the dark". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)

It’s impossible to travel light in the field as a glacial photographer, so Newburn has a list of basic equipment that he always takes on excursions. His essentials include crampons or shoe spikes for walking on the ice, a hook, and harness (in case of getting stuck in a hole or crevasse), ropes, a helmet, and ice screws.

Having just transitioned from Nikon cameras to Sony, he also packs his current gear, a Sony A7R V camera, and his three favorite lenses: a Sony 24-70mm G Master, Sony 12-24mm Sigma Art, and a Tamron 70-180mm.

Newburn provides basic equipment to all of his clients, and insists it’s crucial to “never go on to the glacier alone. ... always let someone know where you are, and have a radio at all times.”

"Through the fire and flames". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Through the fire and flames". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)

Newburn’s biggest challenge is accessing the lesser-photographed spots that he covets, since finding them and getting to them safely is no mean feat. However, he is constantly rewarded with breathtaking scenery and reminded of why he does what he does.

“The most wonderful aspect is just being in the nature itself,” he said. “I like to shoot a lot of surreal things, so like, when you’re actually there, you always need to take some time to just put the camera away and just be amazed by the nature that you’re actually in.”

"Sapphire". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Sapphire". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
Nature’s voice speaks loudest in Newburn’s incredible photos. He uses varying degrees of post-processing, depending on the conditions of the shoot and “how I want to express the scene,” and shares his work on Facebook, Instagram, and his tour company’s website.
“Since I’m a guide here, I have the freedom to explore the country and try to find new places,” he told The Epoch Times. “That’s kind of my main mission, just to continue exploring this little island for new and exciting places that nobody’s ever seen before.”

Below are some more incredible images:

"Jokull". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Jokull". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Meteor". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Meteor". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Tunnel vision". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Tunnel vision". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Journey in the dark". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Journey in the dark". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"The crystal crevasse". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"The crystal crevasse". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"The sapphire vault". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"The sapphire vault". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"The land of always winter". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"The land of always winter". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Spirited away". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Spirited away". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"The amber room". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"The amber room". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Flow". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Flow". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"The frozen flame". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"The frozen flame". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Raftel". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Raftel". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Cauldron". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Cauldron". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Hela". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Hela". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Moon rock". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Moon rock". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"Mirror mirror". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"Mirror mirror". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
"The painted world". (Courtesy of <a href="">Ryan Newburn</a>)
"The painted world". (Courtesy of Ryan Newburn)
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