Adventure photography tips: polar explorer shares his methods


Adventure Photography Tips: polar explorer shares his methods

As wintry weather returns to Britain this weekend, you may feel daunted by the cloud and cold, and feel like there are no good photographs to be had.

Nikon photographer and polar explorer Ben Saunders disagrees.

One of only three people in history to ski solo to the North Pole, as well as the youngest (he did it in 2004 at age 26 and no one has done it since), Ben argues there is no such thing as bad weather for photography.

The Arctic weather is obviously a little more extreme than the scattered snow showers falling around Britain, but Ben argues the lessons from his polar expeditions can apply to your own photography.

In the video and tips below Ben shares his thoughts on getting great images in extreme conditions.

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.