Feature Image by: William Pike

Hungry for Adventure with William Pike

21st September 2017, 12:00pm

William Pike has an infectious enthusiasm for adventure and is willing to tackle any challenge with a positive attitude, no matter how life changing. After surviving a volcanic eruption on Mt Ruapehu which left him an amputee, William’s positive outlook and spirit for adventure helps him live his life to the full. This attitude has helped him start a nationwide youth development programme the William Pike Challenge Award, which has a vision to grow a world full of young explorers. He was also a 2015 Young New Zealander of the year finalist, 2017 Blake Leader Award, has published his popular autobiography, Every Day’s A Good Day and is now in demand as an inspirational speaker.

Despite the hurdles life has thrown, William continues to push himself to his limits. A recent trip to Antarctica was an eye opening and humbling experience which he was able to capture with the EOS 5D IV. We sat down with William to ask him a few questions about his trip, and his journey as a photographer.

William Pike the ship to Antartica

The photo was taken on a tripod from the top deck in gale force winds as we departed Ushuaia for Antarctica. The Tripod was anchored to the deck with a slow shutter to show the motion of the ship. 

When we sat down with William Pike three words stood out from the conversation.

"Hungry for adventure"

I find it difficult to explain why I love the outdoors so much. I just love the outdoors so bloody much! I suppose the sheer beauty of some places is empowering, yet so calming. The outdoors is a place that I can escape from city life and work life. It’s a place I can totally relax.

Willaim Pike going to Antartica

The photo was taken an early evening with the sun starting to get low on the horizon, only a short distance from the summit of Mt Scott. I looked back to check on my teammates and snapped away as they were silhouetted like ants with the vast mountain landscape behind them

William’s chosen kit for the trip was an EOS 5D IV, but his appreciation for the power of photography started well before Antarctica.

When I was about 12 years old. I took a dusty old point and shoot film camera to Nepal with my granddad. I shot dozens of rolls of film and still have the photos today. I had endless joy sharing an intriguing culture and landscapes with friends and family.

William Pike Penguins
Being in the moment and capturing the moment is a fine balance alright. I saw these penguins from a distance with a EF 100-400mm zoom lens and realised they were seeking high ground to avoid a hungry leopard seal. This gave me the opportunity to be in the moment, enjoy the suspense, all while knowing that I had some time to capture the shot.

For the first time, standing on the summit of Mt. Scott and looking out into one of the best mountainscapes in my life, I felt like a real explorer. Ironically, I realised that I have been an explorer all my life. It reminded me that exploration is not just the outdoors, it’s a way of life. We are all explorers. We can all try new things, push the limits, challenge ourselves, be innovative, bend the rules and go where few people have ever been.

William Pike reaching top of mountains Photo credit: Simon Lucas.
I was absolutely knackered! This was one of the most extraordinary moments and views of my life that will stick with me forever. I felt extremely grateful to visit this special place. 

William Pike Climbing mountains in Antartica

Here Sean is cutting a level platform for me to stand on and rest my legs. Standing on a steep slope like this for hours is tiring. I had to ensure my footing was secure as I took this photo. Falling from here would have been very bad news!
William Pike goals ant

This is one of my favourite shots. In the hour leading up to this moment, we were climbing and belaying each other up some very steep terrain. As we neared the summit I paused for a moment to watch two of our team members react as they reached the summit. They went in for a hug and I was lucky to capture the special moment.

William shares with us his hardest challenges as a photographer.

Being an amputee, I’m somewhat limited to weight in my pack. I’m always very strategic when choosing my camera, lens, tripod and accessories. Most of my photography is in harsh environments, so I need to be very creative with keeping equipment dry, ensuring it’s not damaged - all while trying to keep weight to a minimum. This on top of the challenges of walking on my prosthetic leg for 18 hours.

Capturing extraordinary backcountry landscapes and moments - and then watching people’s eyes light up at the photos inspires me to keep exploring with my camera.

William Pike Antartica Mountains
I was on the lookout for a landscape that showed the immense scale of Antarctica. By using a EF 100-400mm zoom lens I was able to tightly frame the ocean, glaciers and mountains. The low light and low cloud added to the dramatic scene.
William Pike sleeping Seal
Crabeater Seal yawns between naps on an iceberg
William Pike with Ice bergs
A humpback whale prepares to dive amongst a sea of icebergs

I chose to use the EOS 5D IV because of it’s full frame, pin sharp images and low light capabilities.

The EF 16-35mm f2.8 lens provided a wide angle to capture everything from tight action shots in zodiacs, inside the ship to dramatic landscapes while climbing Mt. Scott. The low f-stop enabled me to get creative with depth of field.

Day-to-day, I’m hooked on capturing special moments of my newly born daughter. And for the outdoors, I’m focusing on capturing moments of resilience during challenging adventures.

To take on the challenge of Antarctica was hard enough with the climate and the challenges, for some of us we wouldn’t even contemplate taking the camera gear, what made you persevere through this?

Quite simply, I knew my Canon equipment could handle the harsh environment. Antarctica was also a place I wouldn't be visiting too often, so I felt it was worth every effort to take the very best gear and put up with the harsh climate and challenges of lugging camera gear up a mountain.

Did you have any images in your mind before your trip that you really wanted to capture or did you just leave it for the experience to dictate in the moment?

I had no idea what to expect in Antarctica, it all came down to the moment.

What does having these powerful images from your trip mean to you?

These photographs mean the world to me. They are priceless and I’m grateful to be able to share this once in a lifetime opportunity with others time and time again.

What advice would you give someone who is going to Antarctica to photograph?

Take the very best camera gear you can afford, put in the time to capture memories, but don’t forget to enjoy the moment too.

When asked for words of wisdom to share, William simply said “Keep exploring”.

To learn more about William Pike and his projects or to sign up to his blog check out the below

Williampike.co.nz | Youtube Channel

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