Restlicht: Swiss photographer Bernd Nicolaisen's stunning images capture Iceland's frozen caves

For the past 10 winters, the 56-year-old has stood for hours each day in the heart of these frozen caves, waiting for the light to shine through

A damp icy cave might not be everyone's idea of a holiday, but for Swiss photographer Bernd Nicolaisen, the glaciers of southern Iceland provide the perfect escape year after year.

For the past 10 winters, the 56-year-old has stood for hours each day in the heart of these frozen caves, waiting for the light to shine through. The result is "Restlicht", or "Residual Light", a study of the textures found in the natural walls formed by 1,000-year-old ice.

"I work with the elements," he says, "nothing is staged. In winter there can be a lot of rain, making the rivers too high for exploring the caves. Other times, snow makes for bad visibility. It takes a lot of patience waiting for the right moment to shoot."

Cave-BerndNicolaisen.jpg
'Cave of Sounds', 2014: Restlicht is a study of the textures found in the natural walls formed by 1,000-year-old ice © Bernd Nicolaisen

Nicolaisen's fascination with ancient ice formations began closer to his home of Bern, where he would photograph "milky, two-dimensional ice". But hearing about the translucent, Icelandic glaciers, ever-changing and marbled by lava, the art-photographer began what would become an annual pilgrimage.

In January, each day provides just two or three hours of daylight to work with, but Nicolaisen will never use the artificial help of a flash. "I'm an invisible man in the story," he says.

"My role is to observe and create the pictures but I am passive – I won't even say too much about each image. When you talk about it as a photographer, you close the horizons of the viewer. I have no politics in my work, no ending, only this beauty, and that's more than enough."

'Restlicht' by Bernd Nicolaisen is available from hatjecantz.de, priced €58. For more images: berndnicolaisen.com

Comments