James Buchanon Dunlop is a Lomography Community member with an AMAZING life. He is a professional explorer (yes, really!) who takes his LC-A+ to far flung corners of the world, under the sea, to the top of mountains, and to places the rest of us can only dream about. Read on to find out how he got this lucky….
Name: Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I used to be a teacher and thought that it would be fun to connect my classroom with expeditions doing amazing things. It all took off and now I run or join expeditions and turn them into learning journeys for young people in the classroom through Digital Explorer. We provide live updates that students can follow online and create fuller education programmes when we get back.
How come you get to travel to such amazing places with your LC-A+?
I am lucky that my job takes me to all sorts of amazing places from the Arctic to Antarctica, Pakistan, Arabian Gulf and soon the Great Barrier Reef. I have always been going on expeditions and adventures and now it’s a job as well as a passion.
What’s in your photography kit bag?
My LC-A+ and Olympus OM1, which I’ve had for 18 years and has been everywhere with me. If I’m on a job that requires live uploading of photos and film from the wilds, then something like a Canon 5D. My favourite films at the moment are Lomography Chrome and variable redscale (try shooting at 32ASA for wonderful blues and sepias).
Why did you decide to shoot your adventures on film?
It was really the only option when I started out in 1994. I still like to use film now as it comes with all the excitement, texture and surprises that digital can’t deliver. I remember coming back from an expedition in Tibet and the first thing I did, after a quick wash, was to go down to get my bundle of films developed. I would relive the entire expedition again. I also feel that the slightly ethereal colour shift and grittier texture gives more of a sense of mood and place, something timeless.
Have you ever got into any tricky situations in unusual places?
Yes, mostly through my own stupidity or naivety. Some people have decided that pointing a gun at me would help to drive a point home, but I was pretty sure that I had the general gist of what they were saying anyway.
What’s the most amazing place you’ve been to and why?
Living on the Arctic sea ice was pretty amazing. Sometimes the moisture in the air freezes and it’s like walking through fairy dust. The temperature gradient is so extreme that it bends light, and at dusk the setting sun turns the blown snow into swirls of baby blue and pink smoke across the frozen ocean.
If you could photograph anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Wow! Exploring the oceans in a submarine would be amazing. So much that has never been seen before. On land, I have always wanted to go to the birch forests of the Tien Shan on the Kazakh-China border. Slender silver trees with leaves of gold and a deep blue sky.
Do you have any tips for travel photography?
A lot of observing and waiting. Spend time to understand how the light works where you are. Mornings and evenings often give the best light. Watch the landscape and people, think about what makes the place special for you, what comes across as the essence of the place and how you can capture that. There can be an impulse to take photos as an ongoing record of a journey, but I often find that I can be somewhere for a couple of weeks and shoot nothing, and then take three rolls of film in a day.
What are you up to next?
We’re going down to the Great Barrier Reef in November to join the Catlin Seaview Survey. They’re doing some amazing work with specially designed underwater cameras which take 360 degree panoramas. Some of these have now been included in Google Maps. It’s an amazing project and very privileged to be part of it, and of course my LC-A+ will be coming down with me.