Shooting photos with a lens made from ice sounds cool whichever way you say it, but unless you’re working in freezing temperatures, you’re going to have to get those shots pretty darn quick or else end up with a watery mess and a bunch of utterly unusable images.
Photographer Mathieu Stern actually managed to make such a lens, and yes, it was as difficult a challenge as it sounds.
In a post on his website, Stern says that “dreaming of creating weird lenses is my thing,” adding that the idea to fashion a camera lens from ice had been in his mind for the last couple of years.
To create his so-called “iceberg lens,” the French photographer spent many months creating a 3D-printed lens body for his Sony camera that would hold and focus the unique lens. He also had to modify an ice ball maker to shape the frozen water into an optical half sphere.
Once all that was taken care of, there was the small matter of tracking down a suitable chunk of iceberg that would offer optimal clarity for his “pure ice” lens, a challenge that took him to the Nordic island nation of Iceland.
The search led him to Diamond Beach about 200 miles east of the capital, Reykjavik. The cold conditions meant that it took a painstaking 45 minutes to create one lens (it only took five minutes in his warm room back home), and after the first four efforts all cracked, Stern’s patience began to wear thin.
Luckily, the fifth effort proved successful, but he only had 60 seconds to take the shots before the lens melted to an extent that it became unusable.
“Finally the last lens worked, and I was amazed by the images I saw on my screen,” Stern wrote in his account of the project. “Of course they are not sharp or clean like a modern lens, but they are amazing when you know it’s just a piece of ice that focused light.”
He added: “Maybe it was a lot of work for a bunch of blurry photos, but I was amazed by the beauty of the images.”
Check out the full set of photographs in Stern’s video at the top of the page.
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