Fleeting Beauty: Photo Project Captures Arctic Melting

The stunning images of THAW are a beautiful and haunting reminder of our warming planet.

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Photo from Timo Lieber’s new exhibition, THAW

High above Greenland’s ice sheet in a doorless helicopter, photographer Timo Lieber photographs melting ice. His latest exhibit, THAW, captures climate change in real time, with striking contrasts of fresh blue meltwater amidst polar whites.

Lieber is a renowned UK photographer, known for stunning aerial displays. His work focuses on the environment, ranging from alpine ski slopes to oceans in the summer.

“The environment is a key ingredient in all my photographic work. Having travelled to the Arctic numerous times and seeing the rate of change there, I had the idea of creating this new series,” he said.

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Photo from Timo Lieber’s new exhibition, THAW

THAW: Capturing Polar Ice With Photos

Over the course of two years, Lieber traveled to Greenland and took photos of glacial lakes and the rapid melting that causes them.

Lieber wanted to answer the questions, “What is behind this beauty?” and “How does it affect us?”

He collaborated with glaciologists from the University of Cambridge and Aberystwyth University in Wales, and sees his exhibition as a combination of photographic art and science.

Lieber’s THAW exhibition runs February 20-23 in London. We caught up with him to learn about the whys and hows of his project.

Timo Lieber Interview

GearJunkie: What method do you have to take to the skies?

Timo Lieber: “[I’m] always in the air myself – helicopter or plane, whatever works best for the particular job. No doors is a must in a helicopter.

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Photo from Timo Lieber’s new exhibition, THAW

Do you anticipate visiting Greenland in the future to further document the changes?

Absolutely, yes. I see this as a longer term project, THAW is just the beginning.

Photo from Timo Lieber's new exhibition, THAW
Photo from Timo Lieber’s new exhibition, THAW

How has the evolution of drone technology impacted your work or your field?

Drone tech hasn’t impact my work at all, as I am always up in the air myself. To me [drones] make a big difference and are part of the creative process.

Also, it’s hard to do what I do with drones. Flying several hundred kilometres in one go above remote landscapes like Greenland, where you don’t have roads, is impossible with drones. Plus, you need a lot of trust to put a $50,000 medium format camera under a drone.

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Photo from Timo Lieber’s new exhibition, THAW

You used a 100-megapixel Phase One camera for a huge, detailed print. How crucial is your gear to the story?

To me what counts is the idea behind a series and the way you visualize the story. It almost doesn’t matter HOW you shot it / what gear you shot it with — as long as the end result is stunning.

Nate Mitka

Midwest born, Nate Mitka is based in the GearJunkie Denver office. He is an advocate of all outdoor activities and has developed some habits, like running without headphones, eating raw vegetables, and fixing the chain on his ratty old bike.