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12.18.2019

Freeze Frame: Capturing an Arctic Adventure with Mike Horn

Shimmering icebergs. Sparkling crisp waters. Blankets of brilliant white snow. When world-renowned explorers Mike Horn and Børge Ousland set out on an epic, record-setting journey across the North Pole in their boat the Pangaea, they wanted to capture the momentous occasion and the stunning natural beauty with still photography and video.

Photo © Stein Retzlaff | Roam Media

For over three years, Horn had been traversing the globe on his Pole2Pole expedition on a quest to circumnavigate the earth from the South Pole to the North Pole. On this final leg, the boat would make its way from Nome, Alaska to 85.34’N and through the Northeast Passage to Spitsbergen, Norway.

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

The explorers navigated the way and collected data on everything from mental and physical endurance to changes in the landscape since their previous trip to the North Pole in 2006. For example, they noticed that leads—openings in the water between ice floes—were much wider than in the past, a sobering reminder that the ice is melting at an alarming rate. In fact, at many points, the boat was sailing through open water in locations where Mike and Børge once walked on thick ice during previous expeditions.  In areas that were still frozen, the team noted that ice, once several meters thick, now had salt water seeping through, with its total density at less than a half-meter, rendering it unsafe for the heavy gear that Mike and Børge would have once carried across it.

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

The team was ready to face the harsh challenges of a frigid Arctic trek, and they demanded an equally resilient camera that could withstand the fierce elements—simply put, a camera that wouldn’t quit. Photographers (and crew members) Stein Retzlaff and Santino Martirano relied on the versatile X-T3 to capture all the magnificent moments.

“With the X-T3, I was able to switch from filming Horn heroically steering us through the arctic ice pack to snapping still photos of an iceberg in the distance,” said Retzlaff.

Expedition visual storytelling is unique to any other kind of shooting. Conditions on an expedition change minute-to-minute, so reliable gear that performs well under extreme circumstances is critical. 

The X-T3 was exposed to severe conditions—temperatures as low as -10°F, freezing ocean humidity, arctic wind gusts, and ocean swells that bumped the crew and camera about. Despite it all, the X-T3’s battery life held up and the camera configuration for adjusting ISO, aperture, shutter speed and mode of shooting was efficient and smooth.

Every gram of weight makes a difference on an expedition, and the X-T3 is a lightweight, mirrorless option packed with abundant features.

“With mirrorless cameras, you are often forced to sacrifice some quality for functionality,” said Retzlaff.

“But Fujifilm’s X-T3 proved to be the exception, delivering high quality and excellent functionality, which was vital in filming the expedition since I was constantly walking around on a moving boat. Gloves were pretty much mandatory when stepping outside onto the deck, and the X-T3 was easy to handle even with ski gloves on.”

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Stein Retzlaff | Roam Media

Horn and Ousland’s North Pole Crossing was the world’s first complete crossing of the Arctic Ocean. It was an awe-inspiring adventure and achievement for two explorers and a handful of crew. Thanks to the X-T3, that adventure is captured forever for the entire world to see and share.

Photo © Stein Retzlaff | Roam Media

Photo © Stein Retzlaff | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Stein Retzlaff | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media

Photo © Santino Martirano | Roam Media