David Kaszlikowski used a drone and a little spare time to discover a stunning scene atop a glacier near K2, the world’s second-highest peak. It started while Kaszlikowski was shooting the upcoming documentary K2 Touching the Sky. He wanted a personal project to occupy his downtime during the weeks-long filming schedule, so he sent his DJI Phantom on a recon mission to scout shooting locations. The drone scoped out places around Concordia, the area below K2 where the Baltoro and Godwin-Austen glaciers converge. Kaszlikowski spotted a section of glacier that was melting away, creating a dramatic clone-like structure and a picturesque miniature river.
“The place was special, making a very clean graphic frame,” he says. “It was disappearing, melting, changing its form every day. It was quite obvious nobody will photograph it again like me; nobody will see it the same way the next season.”
The Polish photographer and a guide trekked to the spot at night to create a strange but vivid image that looks like it might be an alien planet. He used a 30-second exposure shot with a Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod. While the shutter was open, he “painted” the water and surrounding area with an LED, creating an eerie glow on the ice and sky. Although he was there during the summer, the temperature still drops to a frosty 5 degrees Fahrenheit up there at 16,000 feet, so his hands were plenty cold while working.
The final image plays tricks with size and scale, and the foreground doesn’t provide many clues. Although the bend in the river is 65 feet wide, the mountains in the background are some of the highest in the world. The region includes K2, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I and II—all of them topping 26,000 feet.
Kaszlikowski was happy with the stunning colors and visual appeal, and proud that he’d found something unique. Too often, photos taken high in the Himalayas show enormous snow-covered giants swathed in clouds, perhaps with a lone climber. “Those peaks are sometimes beautiful, but obviously over-represented in the pictures,” he says. “I challenged myself to find something unusual.”
The photographer says he probably would have missed the shot 10 years ago, as he wouldn’t have had the drone that spotted the location in the first place. With decades of experience in outdoor photography, Kaszlikowski’s seen the technology improve exponentially. “Today, with digital and access to various advanced tools, its much easier to get decent results,” he says. “But one thing never changes: You have to follow your vision.”
Article Credit: Jakob Schiller