Frequently Asked Questions
What Camera Do You Use?
First I want to say its never about the camera! I have friends that use $5 toy cameras and create amazing images. But for those of you who still want to know...
For The Last Iceberg; series I used primarily four different formats, I own many cameras that I consider tools. Different projects require a different set of tools. I use both film and digital cameras.
- The first panoramic camera that I took with me to Antarctica was a Fuji TX-1 otherwise known as a Hasselblad Xpan, This versatile friendly rangefinder type camera produced lovely negatives, but I was eager to create larger prints and after 2005 decided I needed a larger negative. I used both the 45mm and 90mm lenses for that camera with Kodak Portra 160NC & 400NC Negative film.
- The second Panoramic camera I used was in 2006 in East Greenland, I rented a Linhof 617 III which produced amazing negatives but was a solid metal camera and was unfriendly to load and use in cold weather. I almost lost my fingertips to frostbite using this camera. So in 2006 when I returned to Antarctica I purchased a second hand Fuji GX617 with three lenses. They are the 105mm, 180mm and 300mm lenses. This camera is friendly to use in the hostile cold and creates lovely negatives, again I used only Kodak Portra 160NC film.
- The Epson RD-1 6.1 MP digital rangefinder body with Leica 28mm Summicron and Leica 35mm Summilux lenses. This stealthy little camera allows me to hand hold up to a half second (I dont drink coffee) with no movement or blur in dark huts and interiors. I do not like flash light and have not used any light other than what is provided by the more than adequate ball of Hydrogen in the sky. The excellent quality of Leica lenses allows me to make nice sized prints from the meager file size.
- The Canon 5D 12.8MP digital camera body with the following Canon Eos L Lenses; 24mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4,50mm 1.2, 70-300mm 4. I use prime lenses as fast as I can afford. The canon performs well in cold weather conditions is not too big or heavy and creates superb image files.
- My old trusty Rolleiflex 2.8F TLR. This 45 year old camera needs no batteries, is solidly built and creates wonderful square medium format images. I used this camera in 2003 when I first traveled to the Arctic Region of Svalbard.
- Leica MP with the following lenses; 28mm Summicron, 35mm Titanium Summilux, 50mm Summilux, 90mm Elmarit. When you want to use a superb tool and create amazing stealthy images or just need to hand hold at slow shutter speeds this is the ticket. My all time favorite camera. A true joy to use.
How Do You Get To The Arctic & Antarctica?
The first time I traveled on an Icebreaker it was in the Arctic in 2003, the ship, M/V Polar Star is a lovely small boat that is very comfortable (as icebreakers go) and is run by a company in Halifax called Polar Star Expeditions. I took this same ship in 2005 to the Antarctic Peninsula and in 2006 back again to the Arctic this time to East Greenland. I was very happy on this ship especially when Jorn Hendriksen was the Expedition Leader they are very safe and knowledgeable. Scientists, Historians and Researchers give lectures onboard and in the field. Unfortunately in 2006 they removed the two forward engines, which effectively means it no longer has the capabilities a true icebreaker needs in extreme ice conditions. www.polarstarexpeditions.com
In December 2006 I traveled on Quark Expeditions Russian icebreaker the I/B Kapitan Khlebnikov to the Ross Sea of Antarctica, this ship grows on you and having helicopters on board ensures that you will get places that you otherwise would have no chance to go. If you are looking for extreme tourism this is the ship. In fact it is the only passenger ship with such capabilities. This year I am the Artist in Residence on board another Quark ship named the M/V Orlova, it will take me back to the Antarctic Peninsula Region, I will give a report upon my return in January.
What Advice Do You Have For Aspiring Photographers?
Again I would say its not about the camera! If you are serious about photography make images often, practice seeing and look at as much photography as possible, both work you like and do not like. Begin an internal dialogue that help develops your own unique way of seeing and making images. Know what you like and why you like it. Most importantly photograph something that you are passionate about, there is not much money or glory in what I do, all I have in the end is my love and respect for the subjects I choose. Do this because you love it. I have been working on this project since 1999 and only now in 2007 am I starting to get any exposure for the work. You must be patient and passionate. For me personally I must honor my subject, be faithful to the quality of light and work hard.
Can I Be Your Assistant?
I do not use assistants; I enjoy the solitude of working alone. But thank you for asking.
Do You Manipulate Your Images? Is That Color Real?
I do very little to my images. In fact not much at all beyond Burning and Dodging (making areas darker or lighter). I sharpen and thats about it. I use NC film because it gives a true neutral color without over saturating the color; I sometimes de-saturate to be as true to what I felt I saw as possible. I have my digital cameras set to Neutral as well. That neon blue that the icebergs have really only happens in overcast situations. Its then that I work, because when the sun comes out the Icebergs just go white and lose their personality.