Editor’s note: Bozeman-based photographer Kt Miller is focused on conservation and education. She comes by it pretty naturally. She was raised within the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem; received a 35mm camera while in high school; taught for the Montana Outdoor Science School; served as a mountain guide and instructor. The list goes on.
In 2012, she started working part time with Polar Bears International – an organization that nicely pairs with her creative talents and conservation passion.
She just returned (on November 26) from several days in Churchill, Manitoba – nicknamed “the polar bear capital of the world” – and shares this amazing guest blog and imagery with us. She also reminds us to get out and appreciate the natural wonders of the world — a perfect sentiment for the season.
“Wind whistles through the windows. The Tundra Buggy sways from side to side, a lullaby-like rocking. Fat flakes of snow whirl in the lodge lights. It’s wild to be so comfortable in such an extreme and remote place.
I am outside the small northern town of Churchill, Manitoba on the western shore of Hudson Bay, home to the second southern most polar bear population in the world. Churchill has become a home away from home for me in the fall. I returned for my second season working with Polar Bears International this year, and I anticipate it will be an annual pilgrimage for years to come.
I am currently residing on the Tundra Buggy Lodge, a train-car-like procession of white school bus contraptions on monster truck wheels specifically modified for arctic adventuring. The luminaries before me figured out how to bounce wireless internet signals all the way out here, so here I am, sitting in the retrofitted Tundra Buggy One, wildlife viewing vehicle turned film studio, reaching out to you. The digital world is crazy isn’t it?!?
A photographer at heart, I use my passion for visual media in multiple facets up here. Taking photographs becomes a constant background task, while the greater environmental education projects fill the main stage.
We spent the previous month in the wildlife management area just outside Churchill conducting a variety of media programs aimed at educating the masses about polar bears and climate change. I am fortunate to work with some of the worlds leading arctic scientists to help bring their knowledge and expertise to life through moving media. We take this content in the form of live webcasts and stream it on the internet for the public to view. On top of that we partner with explore.org and assist in the execution of the live polar bear cams, a series of remote cams that run live every day during October and November.
One week ago we ventured out to Cape Churchill in Wapusk National Park for the final trip of the season. We left the scientists behind this week to focus on media projects. It is also an opportunity for me to get some time behind the wheel of Buggy One. That’s right, yours truly (all 5’1” of me), is going to be the next arctic monster truck operator. Whatever it takes to run the polar bear cam, right (wink wink) ?!
I get the corner office in Buggy One with ample space above for creative collaboration and room below for my perfectly positioned Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 AW. It mostly lives unzipped at my feet, providing easy access to my carefully arranged media tools. The arctic kit this year consists of:
Canon 5D Mark ii
Canon EF 100-400 F 4.5/5.6
Canon EF 24 – 105 F 4
Small Surui TX tripod with T-2005X Ball Head
Surui R-4203 tripod with VH10 Video Head
Rode Videomic Pro
Zoom H4n Handheld Audio Recorder
Cokin Graduated Filter Set
LitePro Gear Feather Camera Crane
Canada Goose Women’s Expedition Parka
Today is the last day of the trip. We will begin our journey home tomorrow, first back to Churchill, then south and west to Montana.
Adventure comes in many forms, whether it’s tundra monster truck tours, ice climbing festivals, or ski mountaineering expeditions. As photographers, our lenses give us the ability to inspire. I encourage you to play with light and do your part to share the wonders of the world. We only get one, it’s time we take care of it and share it.”