The Japanese-born photographer has been exploring the remote corners of the northernmost American state for quite some time now, collecting his photographic findings in his “Ice Formations” series— what he looks for are the “ice patterns that appear on the swamps, ponds, lakes and rivers of Interior Alaska.” These patterns are “mysterious and wondrous, delicate and ephemeral,” he explained, and that’s why they fascinate him so much. “They form quietly, change quickly and disappear as I find only a few.”
Ryota Kajita’s relationship with Alaska goes a long way back, ever since he attended the University of Fairbanks to get his MFA degree in photography. By now, he’s travelled to more than 50 isolated villages by any means of transportation available, from snowmobiles to light aircraft, all to seek for these “transient and small creations,” which he hopes to share with others through his photos.
These ice formations, which range in diameter from 10 to 30 inches (25 to 75 centimetres) generally come from frozen bubbles of gases like methane and carbon dioxide trapped under ice. When the water freezes, it turns into ice slowly from the surface down, and it traps the gases— it’s these bubbles, combined with the freezing temperatures, create the unique geometric patterns that Kajita is after. The photographer captures them in his film camera on black and white film. “I scan the negative and tone it digitally in Photoshop,” he explained to Lonely Planet. “By minimising colours, viewers can focus on the elegance of the forms and shading created by clear transparent ice and white frost.”
“I used to run out into the woods after school and explore places that made up my neighbourhood,” Kajita told Lonely Planet. “As an adult, photographing ice has its roots in my childhood experiences. In this spirit I strive to know the environment at a deeper level,” he added. The photographer hopes to inspire viewers to feel connected to nature and inspire their curiosity about natural phenomena.
If you want to know more about Ryota Kajita and his work, you can visit the photographer’s official website here.