Recently, I collaborated in an exhibition called Poles Apart. It was so named on the realisation that two friends were at the opposite ends of the world at approximately the same time doing the same thing – making photographs of remote natural beauty. Both the Arctic & the Antarctic are characterised by the same elements – snow, ice, mountains, glaciers & water, yet they exhibit completely different personalities. Because they are so far away, few people get to visit & see for themselves – hence the exhibition.
The 35 images displayed are a selection of the photographs I made in response to what I ‘saw’ in The Lofoten Islands of Norway & Iceland in January & February 2018.
My captures are of natural beauty at a specific point in time & are the culmination of the thoughts & emotions which flow whenever I visit a location. I take the time to ‘listen’ to the environment before I create. I work with the ideas/feelings/impressions which I want my images to incorporate. I simplify so that the unnecessary is eliminated & in so doing, I create something unique – simply because it’s ME.
In the Arctic, I worked mostly with 3 concepts: Lonely, Majestic, Extreme. Every image I made has one or more of these influencing compositional & technical decisions. I shot mountains & glaciers, ice caves & waterfalls, the Aurora & human habitation. Coinciding with the Arctic winter it was an ‘authentic’ experience & one I will never forget.
The Arctic in mid-winter presents a number of significant challenges for landscape photographers. The holy grail for landscapers is light – especially around sunrise & sunset. Well, at this time in the Arctic there is precious little of it. The sun rises around mid-morning & is gone again by mid-afternoon. Not abundant riches in photographic terms, but ideal if you fancy a beer (or two).
Secondly, the sun does not traverse the sky in the arc we are all familiar with, but rises & sets in the same quadrant. So really no need to scout different locations for sunrise & sunset – effectively they are the same.
Thirdly, while there was a very generous smorgasbord of backgrounds to photograph, accessing sites with shootable foregrounds was often very difficult. Snow, snow & more snow – usually ankle deep, often knee deep & sometimes waist deep. It’s little wonder that I soon became a ‘car-park’ shooter.
Fourthly, there was the cold, the wind chill & the not infrequent snowstorms & blizzards. Lumbering around in 5 layers of clothing in minus 20-degree temps at 1.00am in the morning just might not be everyone’s idea of a good time. My image “All Lit Up’ was shot in exactly those conditions.
And finally, all was not exactly as it first appeared. If you look over at the images entitled “Ice Beach” & “Twilight” the wet & glistening sand was masquerading as a huge sheet of ice. I regret that it claimed me more than once.
But in spite of all that, I had an awesome trip with wonderful experiences & have brought back images which in one sense are iconic & in another, totally unique. I’m very proud of that.