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03.29.2019 Luca Bracali

Personal Best vol.20 | Luca Bracali

Luca Bracali

He has travelled to 141 countries, is author of 13 books and winner of 13 prizes in International photo contests. Since 2008 he is a member of Apecs (Association of Polar Early Career Scientists) for his contributions about environment published in the media. In 2009 he was the only reporter to reach the geographic North Pole on skis. In 2010 Bracali debuted in the world of fine-art photography and his pictures have been on show, as solo exhibitions, in 50 museums and galleries in Rome, Sofia, Kiev, Odessa, Copenaghen, Montreal and New York. Tv director of Rai 1 since 2011 and documentary-maker for Rai 2 and Rai 3, Bracali published 15 reportages on National Geographic. From 2017 he became ambassador of the non-profit organization “Save the Planet”. The Minor Planet Center in Cambridge has entitled in his name the 198.616th asteroid discovered.

Gears:

  • FUJIFILM X-H1
  • FUJIFILM X-Pro2
  • FUJIFILM X-T2
  • FUJIFILM X-T1
  • XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
  • XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
  • XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR
  • XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Arctic. A world to discover

In 2003, after visiting Antarctica for the first time, I began developing a “green conscience” without belonging to any political party or joining any environmental movements.

At that time, there was discussion of of the hole in the ozone layer, first discovered at Antarctica’s Vernadksy Research Base where I went to cover my first assignment with a more scientific focus. I found myself wanting to know more – to fully understand how accurate the journalists’ reports were and whether the earth was truly in danger. Sadly, I came to realize, the warnings were accurate and dire then and even more so now.

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    Hudson Bay, Canada. Mother bear and cub, walking in an unusually unfrozen Hudson Bay that should be totally ice-covered this time of year. Instead of a seal, she’s eating a crab.

  • Svalbard island. During late summer when bears typically haven’t eaten for months, they are costantly seeking for food and seem losing their energy even while walking.

It is the Arctic and Antarctic regions, after all, that are most sensitive to climate change. They are known as the beating heart of our planet – and it was from these remote and boundless regions that the first cry of planetary alarm was sounded.

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    Hudson Bay, Canada. On Bryan’s property bears and dogs live together, sharing the same area. Bears are often used to playing with the dogs, hugging them and unsuccesfully trying to scare them (check the dog’s tail!).

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    Svalbard island. Infallible swimmer. After having climbed onto a slab of ice in the middle of the frozen sea, the bear starts sniffing for food.

Five years after that first trip I went to Canada, followed by Alaska in 2008 to work on my personal project “Arctic Sun on my Path” where I spent 35 days in the tundra to photograph polar bear pups as they emerged from their dens for the first time. The expedition and research was also aimed at studying global warming and the impacts on delicate arctic ecosystems.

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    Hudson Bay, Canada. A snowstorm foretells that the Hudson Bay will soon freeze. In few days, the bears will start their march.

  • Hudson Bay, Canada. When a nearby lake begins freezing, polar bears can finally walk on their favourite surface.

In the following years I deepened my research working alongside American scientists, then Russians and finally Italians. I documented and photographed the permafrost in Alaska, the ice at the geographic North Pole and samples of air aerosols at the Svalbard islands – and I was among the first photojournalists allowed to enter and document the usually inaccessible Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Hudson Bay, Canada. Bears are used to fighting almost every day. For fun, food or to compete for a female.

Carbon pollution is immensely destructive to the earth, yet man never tires of producing it in every form, through every possible and imaginable means.

Hudson Bay, Canada. These shots worth more than every word on the subject, even for nonbelievers of global warming.

Photography is an essential practice for me, not only as a means of expression, but also and above all, communication. Through the evocative power of photography, the most universal language that exists, I am able to convey experiences and emotions that allow me to bring about greater understanding and deeper respect for our planet and each other. Through photography, I can speak directly to the hearts of all people, inspiring joy and sparking important conversations across cultures and languages.

Godafoss, Iceland. As temperatures rise, frozen waterfalls such as Godafoss will show another face.

In spite of what is happening to our planet, my style is to always show the beautiful side of nature and never the destruction – to focus on the earth’s grandeur and beauty that remains, preserving in images what may soon be lost to greed.

Jokulsarlon, Iceland. It looks like a wonderful show but it’s actually nature’s disaster. At Diamond Beach, thousands of icebergs once gathered every year as a result of Vatnajokull, Europe’s biggest glacier, which is constantly losing ice. It has lost 100 meters annually over the past 80 years.

Within twenty years the world will no longer be the same, but the evocative force of photography will continue to tell us the story. The arctic and its silent sovereignty of the ice will soon become a memory.

Ballstad, Lofoten islands. It took two hundred shots to get a star trail image with northern lights like this. Rather than opening the shutter speed for over 1 hour in a cold climate, it’s recommended that you use the built-in interval-timer function on the X and GFX series.

After 27 years of photography with SLRs, I decided to sell all of my gear in 2013 (a set worth 40,000 euros that included everything from 8 to 800mm) in order to challenge myself with mirrorless. I knew then that mirrorless represented the future and I recognized that starting earlier, when many remained skeptical about this new camera technology, would give me a critical advantage by forcing me to adapt quickly to a new style of travel and photography. I started with the X-Pro1, then with X-E2, then the X-T1, the X-T2 and the X-T3, but also the X-H1 and the GFX 50S. Regarding optics, I use the XF8-16, the XF16-55, the XF50-140, XF100-400 — and sometimes the XF16mmF1.4 and XF56mmF1.2. I love the H1 for stability on a 5-axis that is useful in still photography and extraordinary for shooting video. I like the T3 for the back-light sensor and for night shots and, especially for capturing the aurora borealis, as it offers a welcome advantage. I love the GFX series with which I photographed Norway’s Lofoten Archipelago, as well as Iceland. The stunning quality achieved with this medium format camera made me realize that I had arrived at another critical point in the realm of gear. And I would need to convert again!

Svalbard island. Nordenskjøldbree is a perennial glacier. The hidden ice caves near its bay are truly a revelation. The ceiling is covered with a thousand blue bubbles. Because oxygen is trapped in the ice crystals, the diaphanous light spreads and is reflected in every direction.

Disko Bay, Greenland. Eqip Sermia is considered a "calving glacier" precisely because ice blocks of various sizes come off much more frequently than on other glaciers.

Disko Bay, Greenland. At its deepest known measurement the Jakobshavns Glacier was recorded at 2,500 meters deep, but in the last 10 years it has dropped by 100 meters and retreated by 15 kilometers.

Disko Bay, Greenland. The gigantic sculptures of ice appear motionless in the sea. In actuality, the icebergs are moving at speeds of 17 kilometers per day.

The Movie Silent Ice Guardian by Luca Bracali

Read more on “Personal Best”

Vol.1- Flemming Bo Jensen
Vol.2- Pieter D’Hoop
Vol.3- Santiago Escobar-Jarmillo
Vol.4- Stefan Finger
Vol.5- Xyza Cruz Bacani
Vol.6- Christian Bobst
Vol.7- Tomasz Lazar
Vol.8- Eamonn McCarthy
Vol.9- Faruk Akbaş
Vol.10- Kevin Mullins

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