Many of you have been keen to see what Jason and the winners of Air New Zealand’s Voice for Antarctica in partnership with Antarctica New Zealand got up to down on the Ross Ice Shelf. Check out some of Jason’s amazing shots captured whilst on location at Scott Base and the incredible stories from Mike & Marli.
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Sleep deprivation and a lapse in concentration can have serious consequences in the world of photography. My recent trip to Antarctica working with Air New Zealand and Antarctica New Zealand was the first time for me that this became a serious issue after I accidentally formatted a card I had not backed up…
Day 11, maximum number of hours asleep on any given day – 3. Minimum number of hour’s asleep -0, on several occasions; time in bed tonight 1.5 hours. Not an ideal time to back-up the twenty-hours of shooting but with whisky in hand and snow falling heavily outside the research shack window anything seems possible or is that probable? Read more
Over the past weeks I have been sharing the tales of my recent assignment in Greenland for the Worldnomads.com and National Geographic Channel Scholarship. In Part One and Part Two I reflected on the beauty and culture that makes Greenland a truly unique destination. Today I’d like to share some of the crew experiences with you.
There are many, a great many, misconceptions about field assignments and what they entail.
After decades of presenting images and tales to countless audiences I’m well aware that some people fail to make the connection between the beautiful image on the screen and the often physically and emotionally debilitating path it took to capture that frame.
This is fine and quite honestly expected because it’s often hard for me to make the same connect and I was there! A big part of the ‘divide’ is that people who love to make images often do so under pleasant and let’s face it, relaxed conditions e.g. on holiday. Or, if they are a serious photographer whilst working on a pet project with no looming deadline and a very fluid brief if in fact there is one.
But the harsh reality is that field photography is a marriage of physical pain, sickness, loneliness, frustration, danger, ever-present failure, with self-flagellation as a bedfellow. But for some myself included, it is a wonderful gift full of potential and fun and adventure, experiences and incredibly rare opportunities sandwiched among the hardships. It is these rare successes that keep one moving ahead, and it is my desire to share this strange sandwich of a career with a total stranger that has me returning to the Scholarship every year. Read more
Last week I posted Part One of my Greenland assignment wrap up. Today I continue the journey, reflecting on the wonders of an unforgiving environment and the resilience of a culture…
I have seen images of Musk Ox on icy, windswept tundra and thought “that looks tough” and it is, but I quickly learned why so many photographers capture them in these conditions.
The rugged, uneven tundra is buried under metres of snow and ice blown smooth by the winter storms. As I’m sucking in air on a mountainside my guides in typical Greenlander matter-of-fact fashion, and as if they’re stating the obvious, tell me that’s why every other photographer waits until winter and then they just “Get all the way out here on snowmobiles.” “What they don’t hike like us?” I ask incredulously, and they just laugh at me and continue up the sheer slope!
The soft cushion plants are fantastic for falling on especially with your face, but they are shocking to hike on for protracted periods. They’re uneven, unstable, give little purchase when you push off from them and conceal countless holes some deep enough to swallow you up to the waist. It’s like walking on a ‘hole minefield’ and the more tired you become the more mistakes you make.
And that’s what Greenland is synonymous with; it is one of those countries where being tired and unprepared can kill you. The terrain is harsh and the climate unmistakably unforgiving but for all that it is mind bogglingly beautiful, enormous to the eye and the senses. This is not Big Sky country like Australia it’s Big Land country where the scale is hard to fathom. The magnitude of the natural features is such that to capture them you have to use lenses so wide there is the potential to diminish that which you’re trying to translate for the viewer.
The landscape is raw and untamed and EMPTY! The planet’s largest island is home to only 57, 000 people so outside the scattered towns and communities there is no sign of human activity. This is true wilderness and it is easy to be drawn to the primeval nature of it. Even during the hardest moments of hiking, biting cold, and wet weather it is impossible to ignore the sheer beauty of the endless tundra and tortured ice cap.
The people are incredibly giving, welcoming and generous of time and spirit, but they are also the most self-sufficient and hardy race I’ve met. They don’t mess around they just get in there and do it, they work together to achieve a goal or get the job done and above all they value community. They hunt and fish and sail, are practiced in repairing anything that breaks and are incredibly aware of their heritage, culture and what it means to be from Greenland.
There is a quiet determination in everything they do and they don’t waste time and resources. With a short summer and winter always on the doorstep you get the feeling there is no time to waist. And yet as a visual artist I was amazed at the amount of time spent on the Arts, dance and music. It was not just a part of the culture it permeated it. And the joy on the faces of teenagers practicing traditional dances was palpable, real and very infectious. I attempted the intricate footwork and movements but failed completely, my only success was in making an entire hall of people laugh and laugh and laugh…
I was humbled and touched by my time in Greenland and can only offer my sincerest thanks to the wonderful people who assisted me. The landscape and environment are astounding and in many ways at the mercy of the actions of other countries but more on that later.
Next Week.. The Greenland Assignment: Part Three. Divya and the crew face the harsh reality of field work and just how difficult it is to create distinct and beautiful imagery.
Greenland is a land of rugged and harsh beauty, empty landscapes and brutal ice. My recent assignment for National Geographic Channel and Worldnomads.com was one of the most challenging I’ve had the pleasure to experience.
The weeks before a major assignment usually go something like this; little or no sleep, increased stress levels, increased spending, my assistant starts to hate me more than usual, family starts missing me before I’m even out the door, and everyone at Geographic wants the work I haven’t completed from the last assignment delivered. Greenland was no different, though I did spend more time preparing the kit for extreme weather and remote conditions than I would for warmer climes.
Without exception the Greenland shoot was brutal, no if’s no buts’, just physically scarring and frighteningly cold. There was no end-of-Summer twilight hours with insects feeding on tundra flowers, no lying back on rocks warmed but an overly long northern hemisphere sun reluctant to dip below the horizon, and no swarms of flesh sucking insects launching from a million cushion plants. Read more