The stained-glass icescape

Laurent Ballesta's Image

Laurent Ballesta (France) endures below-freezing dives to reveal the diversity of life beneath Antarctica’s ice.

Laurent's team navigated the freezing maze, where the ice could move at any moment and leave them trapped. To convey the immensity of the icescape streaked by colourful algae, Laurent stitched together a panorama of 24 images.

'For this to work,' he explains, 'it was essential for us all to keep very still'. After one of his team entered the scene, contributing scale and a dynamic bubble trail, Laurent captured the light filtering through the tinted ice like a stained-glass window into another world.

Behind the lens

Laurent Ballesta

Laurent Ballesta


Laurent has authored 13 photography books on underwater wildlife. As co-founder of Andromède Océanologie, he’s been leading major expeditions for 10 years. He illustrates the underwater world as both a naturalist and an artist, whether that be capturing the first images of a coelacanth taken by a diver at a depth of 120 metres, documenting 700 sharks off Fakarava hunting at night or photographing the deepest and longest dive in Antarctica.

Image details

  • Nikon D4s
  • 17–35mm lens at 17mm
  • 1/30 sec at f11  •   ISO 800  •   Seacam housing  •   24 stitched images
  • Adélie Land, Antarctica
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