Gordon Wiltsie ,    
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1 Although I have been passionate about photography since childhood, I only considered making it a career after I discovered that I was colourblind!  My real teenage dream was to rip into the clouds aboard a navy jet: something pretty risky for a person who can't tell whether a cockpit light is glowing green for "a-ok" or red for "panic!"  About the same time, I had also become a writer, photographer and editor for both the student newspaper and yearbook at my high school.   Although I think most people previously considered me a "nerd," photography suddenly made me popular, even with jocks and the cool crowd who wanted plenty of ink about their glory days.  And, since I mainly shot black and white, what did colourblindness matter?  At the same time I began rock climbing and mountaineering in the dramatic Sierra Nevada that soared two vertical miles above my hometown Bishop, California.   I met many notable climbers who passed through town, including a Kodak Instamatic-wielding car mechanic named Galen Rowell, would soon shot a cover story about Yosemite big wall climbing for National Geographic.  If he could do it, I wondered, why not me?  Unfortunately it took me a lot longer than Galen, despite much groveling to the magazine's former Director of Photography, who had an embroidered sign outside his office: "Please Wipe Your Knees Before Entering."  Eventually, however, my incessant wanderlust and work with countless smaller magazines led an editor to contact me through a friend of a friend and a door to the forbidden kingdom cracked open.  Since 1988 I have subsequently photographed about ten assignments for NGM, mostly about wild expeditions to little-known places that are generally cold, miserable and dangerous.  Because I am pretty good at making cameras show only what I want, too, some of this even makes me look heroic!   Ironically, although I am best known for my photography of mountaineering, dogsledding, climbing, boating, hiking and skiing - all of which started becoming popular just as I was starting as a photographer - my real passion (and perhaps greater skill) has actually been capturing images of local people and the social environments I have encountered along the way.  I think that this is obvious in my accompanying selection of "favorite" pictures (which were very hard to choose.) The most important thing about my photography, however, is that my images are always a team effort with multiple levels of often-invisible support.  I am enormously grateful not just to the National Geographic Society but also to countless other publishers, editors, sponsors, friends, companions, family members and subjects who have enabled me to have experienced a life that has beyond my wildest dreams as a child.  Above all, too, I owe everything to my inexplicable fortune to have been born on such a remarkable planet with its nearly infinite different inspirations.  I can only hope that my pictures can play some tiny role in helping more people to care about protecting it.  Gordon Wiltsie Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. Inuit hunter, Jayko Apak waits for seals on ice flow near Clyde River. Antarctica.  Sunset over Antarctic Peninsula near Adelaide Island & Danco Coast. A lenticular ‘Sierra Wave’ cloud hovers over the eastern Sierra Nevada, viewed from California's Owens Valley. Nepal, Himalaya, 80 year old rice farmer of Maghar tribe. Nepal, Himalaya, Jarkot village & Yak Face Mt., near Muktinath in north rainshadow of Annapurna. Nepal, Himalaya. Farmers plow and plant rice in terraced paddies, in upper Marsyandi River Valley, alongside famous trekking route around Annapurna massif. Anatarctica. Mountaineer Hector MacKenzie on bare ice glacier in southern Ellsworth Mountains.  Mount Fordell bkg. King Penguins depart a huge rookery at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia, Antarctica. Rattlesnakes.  Male Panamint rattlesnakes in non-mortal ‘Combat Dance,’ believed to be a territorial ritual.  White Mts., CA. Nepal, Kathmandu.  Children in costume for Gai Jatra festival, honouring recently deceased relatives. Nepal, Kathmandu Valley. Hindus celebrate Krishna's Birthday (Krishna Asthami) at at temples and pagodas in Durbar Square in Patan. Mongolia, Darhad Valley.  Nomadic herding family packs up in sub-zero temperatures to cross 8,000 foot Utreg Pass. Polar Bear drifts on floating ice in Arctic Ocean near Franz Josef Land, Russia. Lightning touches down through a sunset over California's White Mountains. An expedition skis near the Fenris Mountains in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Skiing. Montana, Sinuhe (MR).  Skiing The Ridge at Bridger Bowl, MT. Polar explorer Will Steger mushes across the frozen Arctic Ocean, bathed in glow from the midnight sun.
International Arctic Project. Victor Boyarsky (MR) starts day of dog sledding on frozen Arctic Ocean with a snow bath, despite frigid temperatures. Back to current issue