The vision came to Krystle Wright in a dream: a bird’s-eye view of BASE jumpers in flight over a stark desert landscape. When she awoke, the adventure photographer resolved to make that vision into reality. And with that, the dream turned into an obsession — one that led her on a four-and-a-half-year journey of failed attempts, uncooperative weather, disappointments and inward examination. The Mysteries follows a tenacious, and perhaps crazy, quest to chase down an elusive image and provides a glimpse into the kind of singular passion that drives people to reach their goals, regardless of what stands in the way.
The photo appeared on the cover of Powder magazine’s 2016 photo annual: a skier shredding a line in the foreground of a total solar eclipse. But the image tells only the crux of the story. Eclipse, directed by Anthony Bolello, chronicles the other half — the adventure, obsession and effort required to get that incredible shot. Polar bears, negative 20-degree temperatures, capricious fog and clouds, rain, frostbite and variable snowpack are among the myriad adversities that photographer and mastermind Reuben Krabbe and his team braved to capture the iconic photo.
Eclipse is a ski movie with an end goal. Skiers Cody Townsend, Chris Rubens and Brody Leven provide the talent along the way. From skiing couloirs to touring a Russian ghost town and avoiding sea-ice on heavily laden snowmobiles, all the way to the eclipse itself, we can’t help but feel their pain and share their bliss as they traverse the Arctic in search of an elusive, once-in-a-generation photograph.
2016 Presentation: Paul Nicklen
Renowned photographer and marine biologist Paul Nicklen specializes in documenting polar landscapes, an interest that emanates from his upbringing in one of the few non-Inuit families on Baffin Island. His stunning images of leopard seals, emperor penguins, icebergs, beluga whales and polar bears — which have graced magazine covers and best-selling photo books (Polar Obsession) — not only showcase incredible products of nature, but also reveal the effects of human-induced climate change as it eliminates entire ecosystems. “Extreme environments like the high arctic get little coverage, and yet their species need protection due to the dwindling ice,” Nicklen says. “I want people to care about these regions as much as I do, and I hope my images can inspire an audience.” Even though he trained as a scientist, Nicklen was overwhelmed by the need to create memorable images in spite of having no formal photography schooling. “I realized I was more of a right-brain artist than a left-brain scientist,” he explains, adding, “my body of work is the result of learning from mistakes and by experience.” And his experiences include intense physical and mental hardships. “If I find myself standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a lot of other photographers, I know I am in the wrong place. If I am cold and miserable and alone under the sea ice, and my assistant hates me for being there, and big animals with large and sharp protruding parts are staring at me, I know I am in the right spot.”
In Person: Paul Nicklen