Photographer spends 31 nights taking 31 photographs to capture the diminishing midnight sun in Iceland

5 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle. Via Creative Boom submission. All images courtesy of the artist.

In his series, 01:20, Belgian photographer Bastiaan van Aarle documents the phenomenon of the diminishing midnight sun in Ólafsfjörður, Iceland, during the month of July.

For most people on this side of the sixtieth latitude, the remarkable natural spectacle of continuous daylight dominates Iceland for two to three months in the summer. Due to Ólafsfjörður’s northerly location, the sun briefly touches the horizon on 1 July and then rises again immediately. Over the ensuing days, it sinks lower and lower until the night gradually returns.

This collection of photographs presents these light changes in thirty-one different motifs, taken every day of the month at 01:20 – the darkest moment of the day during July.

Now available in a new book, Bastiaan van Aarle – 01:20, it's a documentary of nature, as well as a portrait of Icelandic life. In these photos, Ólafsfjörður looks like a typical fishing village in the north of Iceland. Like many Icelandic villages, it is made up of houses with corrugated metal roofs, a church near the harbour, a few shops, a gas station, a fish processing factory, a swimming pool, a hotel, and a school. All of this is surrounded by snowy mountain peaks and rivers meanderings through valleys, with the Greenland Sea adjacent to the north, whose fishing grounds led to the development of the main branch of the industry there.

Besides the natural event, 01:20 also documents daily life in this geographically isolated spot. Only the traces of human beings can be discerned in the environment: dilapidated containers, rusted industrial ruins, parked cars. In some cases, the village looks as fragile as a scale model. “It tells a lot about the culture, about the way that houses are built, how the people cooperate, what nature is like and how people have domesticated it,” says van Aarle about this aspect of his project.

2 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

2 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

11 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

11 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

14 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

14 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

19 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

19 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

31 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle

31 July 2017 © Bastiaan van Aarle