Top Tips on adventure photography: from polar explorer Ben Saunders
1) Set the scene A lot of expeditions I follow tend to start photographing when they get there — ‘here we are at base camp’ or ‘here we are in Antarctica’ but the story of the training and the preparation and the build-up is just as fascinating, I think, as the expedition itself.
2) Show the scale of the challenge It’s very easy to get caught up in close-up action shots and little details and all the minutiae, but it’s important to remember to step back, get some perspective, and try and illustrate the scale of the environment, the scale of the journey, and the scale of the challenge.
3) Stay safe, but be daring I’ve taken pictures of crossing some very thin ice that is breaking up, thinking to myself ‘I’ve got to tell this story somehow’. I can only do that by having a compact camera and being able to quickly take a photograph of what’s happening. Having the Nikon AW100, which is shockproof, waterproof, and freeze-proof, certainly helps, because I don’t have to worry when I take it into extreme situations. It also has a ‘swing motion’ function, which lets you change settings and take photos by moving the camera back and forth. It’s perfect when you’ve got huge mittens on that you don’t want to take off.
4) Involve people in what you’re doing Nowadays I’m able to blog, to send images, and to text back home on a daily basis. I can take the memory card out of my camera, plug that into a little palm top computer, plug that into the phone, and I can send images back within a few minutes of having taken them.
5) Document the lows as well as the highs It’s always easier to take photographs when you’re in a good mood and the weather’s nice and the sun is shining, but some of the images I am happiest with and most proud of now are where things were really miserable. I’ve got a few self-portraits when I’m really down in the dumps and things were going really badly wrong. But to me now, those are just as important as the beautiful, scenic shots.
In the last 100 years, twelve people have stood on the moon, more than 500 have been into space, and more than five thousand have climbed Everest. Yet the journey Captain Scott and his team died trying to complete a century ago remains unrealised. No one has ever walked from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again.
In 2013, Ben Saunders and his team mates Alastair Humphreys and Martin Hartley take on arguably the most ambitious polar expedition in the last century: the four-month Scott Expedition – the first return journey to the South Pole on foot, and at 1,800 miles, the longest unsupported polar journey in history.
Here is a video of one of their training trips to Greenland.
I was checking out Ben Saunders blog today and saw this great video profile on his site. Here is a list of his expeditions, both the successful ones and the ones where he didn’t make it. Ben is currently preparing for three expeditions between 2010 and 2012: solo and unsupported speed record attempts on both Poles and the 2011/12 Scott Antarctic Expedition, the first return journey to the South Pole on foot, and the longest unsupported polar journey in history. Ben and his team mate Alastair Humphreys depart for Antarctica in late October 2011.
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