To see the natural world through James Balog's lens is to see it as an artist would -- through fresh eyes, as if for the first time, with no preconceived notions. His photos of jungle animals, for instance, are arresting in their directness, simplicity, even sensuality. His subjects assume the same weight and importance as a human portrait sitter, and demand (as a human subject would) that the viewer engage with them rather than simply spectate.
His newest work is no less powerful, no less engaging -- and it carries an urgent message. For several years, Balog has been going up north to shoot the half-alive ice of the mammoth glaciers for his Extreme Ice Survey, a look at the shocking effects of abrupt climate change in Alaska, Greenland and Iceland. Soaring, dripping, glowing and crumbling, arctic ice under Balog's eye requires the viewer to engage.
A new Nova/PBS TV special and a new book, Extreme Ice Now, are helping him spread the word that this glorious world is degrading at a speed we couldn't imagine until we saw it through his eyes.