Mathieu Stern’s Ice Lens

This is a very interesting project by Mathieu Stern to make a lens from iceberg ice/glacier, which can be very clear since air pockets and impurities can be forced out of the ice over time. I am curious if a lens made from the center of a large iceberg could make a clearer picture since that ice sample would be the clearest or an ice core from Antarctica.

Shooting photos using an ice lens was my dream for almost 2 years. After some research I saw that almost no one ever tried this crazy idea, mainly because it’s hard as hell to find pure ice, and even harder to get a clear image.

So I had the choice to give up on my idea because it was too hard, or to just level up in the craziness. If it’s hard to find pure ice in my city, maybe I should go where I could find some 10 000 year old pure ice : Iceland’s famous ” iceberg beach”.

The night before the experiment, there was a huge storm, all the icebergs were dragged away from the beach, so we had no choice but to wait some days.

Three days later, we arrived on the beach at 5AM and had the chance to see some huge icebergs all over the beach.

We stayed there for almost 6 hours in the cold to create… only one true working ice lens.

Now the facts :
– First of all the life-span of a lens made of ice is very short, so you can’t move very far from where you create the lens.
– Focusing is extremely hard because of the water melting on the lens itslef.
– Shaping one ” lens” takes 45 min because of the ambiant cold.
– If your lens breaks in the mold, you have to start all over again
– I hacked a Japanese cocktail ice ball maker to create half spheres.
– The housing of the lens was made using a home made 3D print model.
– All photos where shot during the 1 minute of the last ice lens.
– The video at the beginning of the video was shot in the last usable seconds of the last ice lens.
– No I didn’t ruined my camera with water damages, even if it was pretty dangerous, I managed to keep the inside dry.

Now if people asks me “Are you happy with the result ? it’s a bunch of blurry photos !?”, my response would be : “this project is a scientific, artistic and poetic project, I never imagined the result would look like the photos that comes from an ultra modern lens, but I was amazed by the strange beauty of the images I made with the first ever 10 000 year old lens.”

This is not a project for everyday photography, it was an adventure and a bet that when you have a crazy hypothesis, you should do everything to experiment it in the field.

You can check the photos in full HD here :

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