by John LightLe

cclaimed naturalist photographer James Balog set off into the Iceland arctic in 2005 and brought home some revealing images that completely changed his global perspective. As a selfproclaimed skeptic to the world’s temperature shift, his expeditionary photographs revealed a climactic change unfolding before his eyes. Balog’s time-lapse photography captured a startling difference in polar decline and glacier retreats that propelled the photographer into the most aggressive project of his career. Chasing Ice explores the rapidly melting ice caps photographed over several years from across the planet. At the projects inception, Balog assembled a team of young adventurers to travel the world and photograph the significant effects of global warming in relation to the stability of glaciers. As word of his project wove through the artistic community, documentary filmmaker Jeff Orlowski, with a string of credits ranging from his short, “Geocaching: For the Web to


cHAsing icE
the Woods,” and “The Strange Case,” teamed with Balog in capturing the multi-year project. Once Balog returned from his 2005 scouting mission, he organized Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) with the intention of photographing the glacier decline. His previous work capturing nature against environment as a photographer with National Geographic or in his private portfolio of Changing Forest, Endangered Species and Gulf Oil Disaster, beaconed framework for this monumental task. Balog’s original goal was to set 25 cameras across frozen landscapes using time-lapse photography shooting images every hour during daylight. Battling extreme conditions along with sub-zero temperatures, Balog recruited design engineer Adam LeWinter as one of EIC’s field coordinator to construct the custom time-lapse camera packages used in shooting. Svavatar Jonatansson joined EIC as the Icelandic Field Coordinator as the team fixed cameras onto tripods and into rock for their unprecedented endeavor.

Global Warming and the Effects of

pHotogRApHER JAmEs BALog

Traveling by helicopter, dog sled and miles on foot, the EIC team traversed frozen ground through Iceland, Alaska, Greenland, Montana’s Glacier National Park, the Alps, Bolivia and Canada. They camped inside syntheticskinned tents, ate on the run, and photographed constantly. At one point, Balog removed his boots and rushed into the sea to snap images of melting ice crashing against a frozen coastline. Straddling mountainous ice fins, the EIC team hovered bottomless caverns suspended by repelling ropes in order to photograph a caving glacier. Fording frozen waters, Balog’s team captured majestic images of the carbondriven global warming eroding the arctic landscape. Orlowski joined Balog using video to record the EIC team in action. As they traveled across the northern hemisphere documenting their adventurers, Orlowski compiled his video and turned the raw footage over to editor Davis Coombe. The film’s producers Paula Dupre’ Pesman and Jerry

Aronson brought on composer J. Ralph to score the soundtrack, with the theme song performed by Scarlett Johansson. The music lifts viewers from the comfort of theater seats into the still calm of Arctic glaciers. Beautifully composed with vivid colors displaying icy landscapes, great crags, serene formations, and placid waters, this monolithic film showcases an evolving planet formed only with the hands of nature itself. Stills move across the screen with the subtle grace of a Ken Burns-style film or span quickly over a bustling Alaskan harbor in a hundred frames pieced together showing a rapidly declining glacier eroding into the sea. Using a mixed-media package, Chasing Ice won a throng of supporters in raising environmental conscientiousness. Balog leads us through a dramatic evolution in the warming of our planet, providing significant evidence using visual images of global climate change.
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