I became captivated by Arabia's Empty Quarter as a young man when I read Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands. The Empty Quarter is larger than France without a single permanent point of water or human habitation. It's both the world's largest sand sea and one of the hottest places on earth, and has only been traversed a handful of times. I didn't want to repeat Thesiger's epic journeys many decades later, but when I discovered motorized paragliding I found a way to visualize this remote landscape in a new way. I made three paragliding trips into the sands, first for GEO in Saudi Arabia, and then returned two years later to go from Riyadh to Oman and Yemen for National Geographic, and finally made a personal trip to the southern most reaches of the U.A.E. to complete my field work. What I found was one of the most beautiful and unseen wilderness on earth. On its fringes I encountered elements the oil wealth that has forever changed Arabia, but I also found Bedouins still clinging to traditions, and offering up a level of hospitality that was truly humbling. This body of work would simply not have been possible without their kindness.
Empty Quarter is George's second book, published by Harry N. Abrams. This is the most extensive compilation of photographs ever taken in the Arabian Desert. Measuring 9.5 x 13 inches, the book has 208 pages with 150 color photos and captions.
For the past fifteen years George has been working on a somewhat obsessive project to photograph all of the world's hyper arid regions. The idea came to him when he started flying his motorized paraglider over the Sahara in the late 90s, and has taken him to 27 countries plus Antarctica. What he found on this oddyssey was a collection of co-evolved landscapes, like a disparate family, with each desert having unique variations on the common dry-land features of sand dunes, salt lakes, and wind erosion. He also discovered the highly developed strategies that allow man, vegetation, and wildlife to endure on the outer limits of survival.
Time-lapse Photography by Doug Urquhart (UPTHINK.TV)
The story behind ICELANDIA:
Iceland is a land of many geological wonders. In celebration of our 3-year wedding anniversary, Karen and I travelled to Iceland for two weeks of relaxation and exploration together. I documented parts of our trip with time-lapse photography in an attempt to share our experiences with others. The midnight sun had passed (as well as the tourist high season) and the nights were rapidly becoming longer as we transitioned into the month of September. Although the Solar Maximum is just around the corner, the auroral activity was very low for a majority of our travels. After 11 nights of cloudy conditions and an unexpected geomagnetic flat-line, we were eventually treated to a stunning Aurora show over the lesser travelled shore of Jökulsárlón that lasted for a majority of the night.
We started our adventure in Reykjavik around 7am on Sunday, August 26th, 2012. From Reykjavik we travelled to the West Fjords, Troll Peninsula, Mývatn, Askja, Vatnajökull, Landmannalaugar and everywhere else in between that we could reach before our departure back to our home in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, September 8th, 2012. We camped for a majority of the trip and slept comfortably thanks to the bomber TheNorthFace.com Mountain 25 tent.
Thanks to Icelandair, Go Iceland Car Rental, Room with a View, Kirkjubol in Bjarnardalur, Grettislaug, Fossholl Guesthouse, Vogafjos-Guesthouse, Dreki Hut, Hotel Skogar, Guesthouse Skálafell, Guy Thorsby for the Mountain 25 tent, Jim & Margi Urquhart for watching our Siberian Huskies, Jennifer Rice-Morton, Paul Zizka for the beta and anyone else who helped us along the way. Huge thanks to Ríkharðour for the late-night assistance when our suv got stuck.
This short montage was created using a minimalist time-lapse set-up that travelled in one backpack. Gear list: Canon 7D, Canon 5DmIII (thanks aperturent.com !), Canon 17-40L, Canon 10-22 EF-S, Canon 70-200, DynamicPerception.com Stage One 42" motion control dolly & MX-2, B+W & Tiffen 1.8 ND filters, Cokin ND grads & Induro AKB2 tripods.