Wildlife Photographer Morten Hilmer on Shooting in Extreme Off-the-Grid Conditions

Blizzards, whiteouts, violent winds. Danish wildlife photographer Morten Hilmer conquers them all for that one perfect shot. He is the first creative pro in our Master of Elements campaign, in which we show how our Rugged drives survive all the elements of nature.

When a blizzard is raging, when the winds force animals and people to seek shelter, when the weather is unforgiving: that’s when Morten Hilmer goes out to create. He is a professional wildlife photographer with a passion for bushcraft and primitive skills.

For more than two years, he served in the Danish special forces, patrolling the coasts of Greenland with a dog sled. Training to survive in Greenland’s extreme weather conditions with very little equipment prepared him for life as a full-time wildlife photographer.

Extreme nature

Morten’s favorite place to photograph wildlife is the far north. The ice-encased tundra is full of wild beauty, but frostbite, porous ice and hungry polar bears make the region a real-life survival simulator. The wind turns dazzling white landscapes into total whiteouts. In wintertime, there’s not a single ray of sunlight for months and temperatures often drop below minus 50 degrees Celsius.

“Every place in the world comes with its fair share of dangers. The ones here are just different than the ones you probably encounter in everyday life,” Morten tells us. “You can’t get sick up here, for example, bacteria do not survive up here. You can’t get hit by a car, only by a polar bear. I prefer life this way.”

Driving forces

In his photography, Morten captures the most authentic side of nature. He wants his viewers to feel the cold and smell the damp forest, as if they’re there with him. “I never think about ISO, aperture or shutter speed”, explains Morten. “When I reconnect with nature, when I feel nature with my heart, the perfect picture comes by itself.”

On the other hand, Morten is obsessed with having reliable backup. “Losing your pictures is one of the worst things that can happen to a photographer. I cannot emphasize the importance of backups enough. Especially when you work in extreme environments, where accidents can easily happen.”

He needs a drive that endures the most extreme conditions. That’s why he chooses the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro, an extremely durable drive that survives even in the craziest winds or cold. “It’s unbreakable. It’s also very light and compact, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space in my backpack. And if anything ever happened to my drive, which is unlikely, I have five years of Rescue Data Recovery Services included.”

Superfast transfers

The Rugged SSD Pro has superfast transfer rates, very useful when you’re working off the grid. “I need to transfer as much data as possible in the shortest possible time, in order not to drain my battery. When I get to the airport or the cabin, I make a second backup.”

When Morten returns home, he edits his footage directly from the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro. “The insane speeds really come in handy when editing, which is very important for me, as I want the end result to look as similar as possible to what I felt when taking the picture.” Afterwards, Morten makes two final backups to two separate drives, so as to eternalize his photos, and he deletes them from the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro so that he can take it on another adventure.

“Decent, sturdy gear is essential for a wildlife photographer, especially in rough environments. I trust companies like LaCie that have been around for many years, companies that have really proven themselves. LaCie makes high quality products. I trust them with my life’s work.”

Check out our Master of Elements campaign at www.master-of-elements.com.

Follow Morten Hilmer on Instagram and YouTube.