To put it simply, camera lenses are essentially pieces of glass that help to focus light that allows a camera to capture an image. This is a concept that stuck with photographer Mathieu Stern who got the idea to try and make a working camera lens out of a piece of ice. According to Stern, “If glass can focus light, then ice should do it too.”

The entire project took Stern about half a year where he first had to create a custom lens body (that he 3D printed) that would be capable of holding the ice as its main lens element. He also had to modify an ice sphere maker (typically used to make whisky ice balls) that would be capable of creating half spheres.

When Stern was finally satisfied with the size and shape and focus distance that his creation could make, he made a trip to Iceland where he took pieces of clear ice from icebergs and glaciers in hopes of using those pieces of ice for his lens. The overall process took about 5 hours as it took about 45 minutes to melt each piece of ice, plus there were also multiple failures along the way as some of the ice pieces broke during the process.

He did eventually get it to work, and while the quality of the images taken with the iceberg lens was less than ideal in terms of sharpness, it’s still a pretty impressive feat and a pretty cool (pun intended) concept.

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