Photographing East Greenland

On my photography expedition to East Greenland, I spent 10 full days sailing in the Scoresby Sound. The sound extends from the Greenland Sea, winding its way deep into East Greenland for 110km before it branches off into many smaller fjords.  Thus creating the longest fjord system in the world of approx. 350km. East Greenland is one of the least populated and most remote places on earth. 

Life in East Greenland is very basic. Approximately 80% of Greenland is desolate and uninhabited.  The land is covered with an ice sheet, of approx. 1,710,000 sq. km, 2 -3 km thick in parts.   The Inuits live in villages and settlements hugging the coastline. With very few roads,  travel around Greenland and between settlements is consequently,  very difficult, with the only mode of transport is by ship, boat, helicopter, or dog sleds.

Getting To East Greenland

There are 2 ways to get to Greenland from Iceland.  Fly, or travel by sea from Reykjavik.  Likewise, I started my expedition from Reykjavík port on MS Freya a Swedish ship. 

MS FREYA

What was supposed to be a 2-day crossing, ended up taking over 3 horrendous days.  Once out in the Denmark Sea, we encountered a terrible and unforecast 50-knot storm. The MS Freya was only able to travel at 2-3 knots/hr. Suffice to say that most of us were seasick to some degree and were glad to see Ittoqqoormiit, at the beginning of Scoresby Sound. 

The People of East Greenland

We went ashore by zodiac to the Ittoqqoormiit settlement, pop. 400. A very small settlement, with brightly coloured houses, and a backdrop of snow-covered mountains. The settlement was very quiet, we only saw 2 adults, a store owner, a man feeding his sled dogs, and a couple of muskox in the distance.  A few very friendly children were running around and happy to have their photo taken. Ittoqqoomiit is on the edge of the largest national park in the world.  Northeast Greenland National Park covers 930,000 sq.km.

People in this village hunt whales, polar bears, narwhals, arctic foxes, seals and fish to sustain their lives. The remainder of their food supplies is shipped in during the warmer months of July –August, as the settlement is not accessible during the rest of the year due to snow. The climate in this Arctic region is very harsh. Winter temperatures can be as low as -22c.

Fjords
Fjords
Village Children
Village Children
Greenland Village
Greenland Village
Village Inhabitants
Village Inhabitants
East Green Village Dogs
East Green Village Dogs

Far From The Madding Crowd

Sailing for 10 days sailing through the fjords of remote East Greenland was an incredible experience.  No tourists, no phones, no internet – it made the whole experience more enjoyable. Viewing and photographing from either the ship or the zodiac, experiencing beautiful deep fjords, pristine waters, huge icebergs, steep and rugged coastline, and high snow-topped mountains.  Some of the icebergs were up to 30 mtr high. Only 10% of an iceberg is above water and 90% is below. 

Weather permitting we were able to go in zodiacs around the icebergs, at all times keeping a safe distance in the event of one them calving off a large piece of ice, which could cause huge waves and capsize our zodiac.

East Greenland Out In Zodiac
East Greenland Out In Zodiac
East Greenland Out In Zodiac
Icebergs
East Greenland Out In Zodiac
East Greenland Out In Zodiac
iceberg
iceberg
east greenland
Bird
Iceberg sunset
Iceberg Sunset
iceberg reflection
iceberg reflection

Dwindling Glaciers

The saddest part of my visit to East Greenland was witnessing and photographing the effects of climate change.  Likewise, many of the glaciers I saw have either disappeared or are shrinking, hence, leaving remnants of the original glacier, due to global temperatures rising.  

Arctic ocean temperatures and warmer winds have increased over many years by 1c.  Consequently, the ice sheet and glacial melting is contributing to global sea level rising of around 0.75mm per year.  

east greenland glacier
Glacier
east greenland glacier
Morning over the glacier
east greenland glacier
east Greenland glacier
east greenland glacier
Diminishing Glaciers

For anyone who loves landscape photography, glaciers, such as, huge expanses of untouched wilderness, and off the grid experience, this is a must-see place to visit. Even though it was mid-summer, temperatures ranged from 0c – 5c.  At times, the wind chill factor made it much colder.  Layers of warm clothing, very warm hat, gloves and a thick overcoat is necessary.   

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