Iceberg highway – the Sermilik Fjord in East Greenland

By Verified Expert

Sitting and watching the icebergs in Greenland is one of the absolute highlights of any visit.  However, it can be very difficult to detect their movement as you contemplate the vista, unless you speed it up!

It has been several years since I’ve done any timelapse photography.  In fact the last time was in Chile in 2012 where I recorded many of the night timelapses for the 3D IMAX Movie “Hidden Universe“.  

However, the idea popped into my head again this year while staying at the Unnuippi Guest House (Gert Ignatiussen), which has a panoramic view of the Sermilik Fjord from its perch above the small village of Tiniteqilaaq in East Greenland.

The Unnuippi Guest House under the midnight Sun at around 3am. The Sermilik Fjord below it is blanketed in fog

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my proper tripod with me, so I had to make do with my GorillaPod.  But I did have some success in creating a few slightly imperfect timelapses 🙂

The Sermilik Icefjord

Although most people researching a trip to Greenland are drawn to the Icefjords near Ilulissat or Nuuk in the West, if you are in East Greenland, the Sermilik Fjord (which is fed by the very active Helheim Glacier) is impressive in its own right – with a huge number of icebergs choking its waterways.

Icebergs in the Sermilik Fjord under grey skies

Late afternoon timelapse of Sermilik Fjord

This first timelapse was taken one evening when we had several large icebergs right below the hut.

I’ve slowed it down to 1/4 of its original speed so you can clearly see how the icebergs move between each frame.  I love how the really big one rotates before heading off up the fjord, and how some of the smaller ones closest to the shore are stuck. You can also see the fog start to get thicker as it gets colder.

Early morning timelapse of Sermilik Fjord

I started this second timelapse at around 3am – yay for the midnight sun!  As you peer through the fog, you can see the icebergs moving in different directions, thanks to the various currents in the fjord.

Morning timelapse of Sermilik Fjord

This last one was started around 7am and has the icebergs moving in the opposite direction to the first timelapse.  You can also see the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet just peeking over the mountains in the background.

The fjords really are “iceberg highways”.

Future timelapse photography in Greenland

In an ideal world, I would have left my camera taking images for a much longer time period in each of the above cases.   I would also have had it mounted on a more stable tripod (something I need to get out of storage when I return to Australia over Christmas this year)!

Although not perfect, creating these videos has reinvigorated my interest in doing more timelapse photography on my future visits to Greenland – not just of the moving icebergs (though they are super-cool), but also other elements as well.  I’m thinking clouds, sunset/sunrise, aurorae… depending on time of year and where I’m located.

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