Behind the Scenes: Running North

 
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The cover story of Issue 01: Winter is Running North, a story on two dogsledding guides in western Maine.  Weighing in at 32 pages, this is a beefy article with tons of beautiful full-page images, but we were still left with oodles of photographs that couldn’t make it into print.  Here are a few, along with a behind the scenes look at our time shooting across the snow of Western Maine.

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One of the greatest challenges in photographing a dogsledding adventure is the pace of it all— the dogs won’t wait for a photographer who wants to wander around to take a shot.  When sitting in a sled, you have a great shot of five or six furry butts in front of you.  While standing at the helm of the dogsled you better focus on holding on— I learned the hard way what happens when you try to grip the sled with one hand and shoot with the other: with a big puff of white I bellyflopped into the snow and watched the team fly on past before Kevin brought them to a halt.  So, that's not ideal either.  

 
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Luckily, Kevin and Polly provided us with a snowmobile, so we were able to scoot ahead, photograph the dogs coming past, and repeat.  This solution worked beautifully (and saved me the humiliation and bruises that accompany a high-speed fall off a running dogsled)!

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I also had the (somewhat crazy) idea of capturing the dogsleds from overhead with my drone.  The simplicity and graphic nature of an all-white palette with a dash of dogsled appealed to me artistically.  Turning that image in my head into a reality was much harder though: I did not want to scare the dogs so needed to take off far away from them, we faced some very high winds on the trip that when paired with loose snow created very poor visibility, and perhaps most difficult of all, drones hate the cold.  For two days I walked around with the drone battery buried deep in my parka against my body and slept with it in my sleeping bag to try to keep it warm.  Finally, on the third morning, I got my chance— the winds had subsided, the sun wasn’t too bright, and I had time to slip away from the dogs and take off where it wouldn’t disturb them.  

Despite my best efforts, my fully charged drone battery had dropped to just 38%, giving me maybe six or seven minutes of usable flight time.  I took off right before Polly’s dog team flew past, and captured them racing across the frozen lake, nothing but snow in all directions.  Working fast, I got the shot I had been dreaming of and landed the drone right as it started to warn me of both dangerously low battery and systems shutting down due to low temperature.  PHEW!

 
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I hope you enjoy the cover shot and all the other images as much as we do!  

Did this behind the scenes interest you?  Please help us by pre-ordering Issue 01 or buying a subscription, and you’ll be able to read more and see all of the photos that made the cut for the print magazine!