After a successful collaboration in the desert and savanna of Namibia, wildlife documentary filmmaker and producer Tanguy Dumortier offered to join on another expedition. This time, we would go up North.
In a new episode of "Le Jardin Extraordinaire", the most famous nature show of the public Belgian TV, we followed Michel d'Oultremont a young but already renowned wildlife photographer on his search for the mythical muskox in the Dovrefjell National Park in Norway.
Being a host-driven documentary, my main role would be to operate the camera, covering all scenes involving Tanguy presenting and interacting with Michel d'Oultremont.
Things though, wouldn't go according to plan...
TANGUY AND MICHEL D'OULTREMONT PULL THE SLEDGES THAT CARRY THE EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLY FOR THE ONE WEEK EXPEDITION.
PHOTOGRAPHER MICHEL D'OULTREMONT GET OUT OF THE TENT ON THE DOVREFJELL PLATEAU, NORWAY
EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS MAKE THE SPOTTING OF MUSK OX DIFFICULT
TO GET WATER TO COOK AND DRINK, SNOW HAS TO BE BOILED, WHICH CAN BE A LENGHTY PROCESS.
We parked the car about 40km South of Oppdall, put our snow shoes on and started hiking on the trail, while pulling 2 heavy sledges on the steep hill leading to the heart of Dovrefjell National Park. That took us half of an exhausting day.
Michel d'Oultremont is one of the most promising wildlife photographer of Belgium. Born in 1992, he discovers its passion at age 15 while observing rabbits using the binoculars of his father. At age 22 while still being a student, Michel wins the Rising Star Award and the prestigious Fritz Polking Award Jr the same year. He is the first to win both prizes.
Always in search of beauty, he prefers to capture a common animal in a beautiful environnement with exceptional light than catch a very rare animal in a pure documentary way.
IMAGES TANGUY DUMORTIER
This, is what we came for; the muskox.
These majestuous animals have inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years since the ice age when they lived together with mammoths. During mating, bulls violently fight each other to establish harems.
LOST IN THE ICY LANDSCAPE, WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER MICHEL D'OULTREMONT FACES A MUSKOX ©Jean-Marc Joseph
After an hour walking from base camp, following tracks of animal footprints and tufts of fur, Michel finally spots the first herd of muskoxen.
Lost in an apparently desolated landscape, Michel d'Oultremont, points his camera equipped with a massive long lens while In the distance, a 400kg muskox searches the snow for grasses, lichens and mosses.
You can be nothing but fascinated and respectful towards the capacity of Nature to create life capable of surviving in such an hostile environment.
The bare landscape of Dovrefjell National Park is extremely exposed to strong winds which dramatically amplifies the sensation of cold and makes the camera work more demanding.
SNOW INVADES THE VESTIBULE AS A STORM BADLY SHAKES THE TENT
On the third day, I started to feel really bad. Headache, bloqued nose and fever.. not an ideal situation when you're camping on snow at 2000m altitude.
There was no way I could get there on my own, and as I did not want to jeopardize the expedition, I decided to stay.
Days and nights became agonizingly long, as both my condition and weather worsened. Tanguy on its side, improvised using a GoPro and a selfie stick to cover my absence. Don't do this at home...
RTBF / CLAIR-OBSCUR PRODUCTIONS
Director / Host / Camera
Camera / Assit. Director / Sound Recording
Sound Editing / Mix
JOEY VAN IMPE
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