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Northern Light Hunter

He has travelled to 138 countries, written 10 books, and won 8 awards in international photography competitions.  He’s been a member of APECS (Association of Polar Early Career Scientists) since 2008 for his environmental contributions published in the media.  In 2009, he was the only journalist to reach the geographic North Pole on skis.  In 2010, Bracali had his debut in the world of fine-art photography, and his pictures have been exhibited as solo shows in museums and galleries in Rome, Sofia, Kiev, Odessa, Copenhagen, Montreal, and New York.  He has directed 160 programs for Rai 1, and has been featured in over 40 broadcasts and TG (Rai Networks) as an explorer and documentary filmmaker.  The Minor Planet Center of Cambridge has named the 198,616th asteroid discovered after him.  Four of his latest reports were published in National Geographic.

GSM: Luca, what does it mean for you to immortalize the dance of the sky with a click?

LB: It means to make a pact with nature that gives me a unique moment, an instant when all the magic of the sky’s force meets and collides with the earth’s shield.  Aurora borealis is generated by a solar reaction, and millions of electrically charged particles are shot from solar winds towards our planet.  After a journey that can last from two to four days, electrons and protons collide with the higher altitudes of our atmosphere, and depending on the type of gas in the collision, it causes different colors.  I look for that once in a lifetime moment, the true carpe diem of photography.

GSM: Luca, the Northern Lights is an optical phenomenon of Earth’s atmosphere, how are you able to capture the rapidly changing colors?

LB: I have been photographing the Northern Lights since 1999, and I clearly remember my first heavenly vision, how beautiful it was up there, dancing in the sky in Alaska’s far north, in Barrow, the last human settlement before the Arctic Ocean.  And I still remember that the first image I captured was with film, with neutral colors of an Ektachrome.  The camera settings were, for quality and practical reasons, f/4 with a shutter speed of 20 seconds on 400 ISO film.  Today, 18 years later, things have changed a bit and my last Aurora, photographed in Iceland around mid-March, was taken with my Fujifilm X-T2, with an interval timer: there were three series of 70 shots each, and settings were 800 ISO, f/2 and 5 second shutter speed.  From this series of images, in post-production, you can create a time-lapse, or in the case of an over 200-shot series, even a star-trail.

GSM: Luca, explorer of planet Earth.  Your résumé is full of many expeditions by now.  You can definitely testify to the environmental changes that the Earth has gone through.  Which picture represents these changes for you?

LB: Global warming is the greatest evil that is afflicting our planet.  And unfortunately, contrary to what Trump says, it is an overwhelming reality that man is about 30% responsible for.  The rest is due, almost certainly, to a very sudden variation of the Earth’s geo-environmental conditions.  My first thought is of the polar bears that face extinction within a few decades.  But what I consider the most representative shot might be the one on the lagoon at Jokulsarlon, at the foot of Vatnajokull in Iceland, the biggest glacier in Europe.  80 years ago it didn’t exist, and now it loses about 100 meters every year because of ice melting.  The bay is teeming with icebergs, a truly beautiful sight to see but in reality it’s hiding a sad story.

GSM: Author of 10 books.  Where can we see your images?  Any exhibitions?


Ten books in 10 years, from the first that was published in 2006, or ten books in 30 years of photography, from when my first photo was published in 1986.  My images are found not only in magazines and books, but also online on my website lucabracali.it, even if there is only a small selection.  Some images are also in the houses of my collectors who bought them as limited edition works of art.  Upcoming exhibitions?  Three rather important international shows.  The first is April 11, at the European Parliament in Brussels.  The theme is melting ice.  I just hope that my message will leave an impression on the minds, but above all on the hearts, of people who count, on those who make decisions and have political power, and also a conscience.  A human conscience.  In mid-May I’ll be in Yangon, Myanmar, at the invitation of the Italian Ambassador for an exhibition and event related to my seventh book “Myanmar. The True Essence.”  Finally in November my work will be displayed at the “Leonardo da Vinci Center” where there will also be a charity auction, and I’ll be able to give a little help to people in need through the “Luca Bracali Foundation.”  Just as I did last year.

Author: Laura Scatena

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