ART-ica

A photographer’s journey through the North Pole is documented through his new book, “Arctica: The Vanishing North,” a tribute to one of the most beautiful and rarely seen places on Earth.

By Kirsten Niper

Sebastian Copeland, an internationally renowned photographer, polar explorer, author and environmentalist, has
released a new photography book, titled “Arctica: The Vanishing North.”

Copeland has nurtured a fascination for the polar regions since childhood. “I was naturally attracted to distant and frozen landscapes and developed an early taste for adventure. My experiences developed from the mountains to the polar regions about 10 years ago. Since then, I have made the poles the center of my interest and focus of my travels. They allow me to capitalize on my artistic skill as a photographer, bringing back images that help people fall in love with their world.”

Often perceived as a misconceived treasure, people seldom make the journey. Part of Copeland’s goal is to get people to discover their world. “My motto is ‘get out — it’s out there,’” but realizing that it may be hard for others to make it to the Arctic, a landmass one and a half times the size of the United States, Copeland takes us there.

“I aim to take them there. Being confronted with the beauty that surrounds outside the confined convenience of urban living is also the best way to empathize,” shares Copeland.

Using weather-resistant equipment that can store large files, Copeland discovered that the Arctic is a “35 millimeter environment. I learned that from trying my hand at larger formats on earlier trips; the results were great, but hard earned on the equipment and the work. I learned my lesson on the ice, you need to shoot a lot of frames because of the variables. It gives me even greater respect for the pioneers: Frank Hurley, Herbert Ponting and George Lowe.”

Even the logistics are more complicated when shooting in the Arctic, and equipment protocols are often the greatest challenge. Batteries are stored close to the body for warmth, as they cannot last in cold weather. In order to get a shot, one has to find the camera and appropriate lens, locate the battery and insert the battery into the camera, all without wearing gloves. Then, shooting also has its additional challenges, as heat from one’s eyelids can fog the eyepiece and instantly freeze it.

The environment of the Arctic lends itself to a point-and-shoot approach, and the results will always be exotic. However, Copeland has learned to look for specific elements and tries to find himself in front of the right subject. “That, perhaps more than anything, is the more difficult work,” he shares. “Primarily, I look for unique perspectives. The beauty of these regions is the open spaces, the lack of clutter. This allows shapes or subjects to really stand out.”