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Freeze frames: Resourceful, creative visuals of old-school ice harvesting

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It doesn’t get much cooler than this.

Portland, Maine-based photographer Bob Bukaty’s captivating video and photos bring to life the 120-year-old tradition of ice harvesting, a process that yields ice used for cooling beverages at a New Hampshire summer resort. Bob employed a variety of techniques, equipment, angles, reflections and vantage points to take the readers right onto – and under – the ice on Squam Lake in Holderness, N.H. He also recorded interviews of group members who used chain saws, ice picks and a massive sled-mounted saw to harvest the blocks of ice from the lake surface.

Concord correspondent Michael Casey originated the story and wrote the text. “I thought of Bob because of the amazing work he does outdoors and the fact that we have worked so well together in the past,” Casey said. “It was truly a visual story and without Bob’s availability and willingness to come up and spend time on this, I am not sure we would have pursued the story.”

Bob worked for the better part of the frigid day wearing boots with anti-slip spikes on the lake’s 13-inch-thick ice to capture “a lot” of video and photos. “It was kind of the perfect story for shooting video because there was a lot of activity being repeated over and over,” he said.

To record mesmerizing water-level views that simultaneously shows the ice above and below the water’s surface,Bob secured his GoPro camera inside a waterproof housing. “I had some problems with water that splashed on the dome freezing above the surface,” Bukaty said. That required him to go inside a shelter to melt the ice off.

Meanwhile,the innovative overhead and underwater angles were captured by placing the GoPro on a telescoping pole – borrowed from the roof rake he normally uses to pull snow off the roof of his home in Maine. For the underwater views, he put the camera in the housing and strapped the pole to himself so it wouldn’t end up at the bottom of the lake if it slipped from his grasp.

In New York, East digital presentation editor Samantha Shotzbarger adapted Casey’s text story into an audio script, voiced by broadcast journalist Warren Levinson. She stacked the story presentation with a still photo and a few gifs she created from different sections of the video. “I can’t emphasize enough how much the video transported viewers to Squam Lake – right in the center of the action,” she said.

Bob’s striking visuals were the talk of newsrooms in New England and at the New York headquarters. The story stayed in top headlines for most of the day, and the video spent three days among AP’s top U.S. newsroom-ready videos – even while competing against State of the Union coverage. Axios linked to it as the No. 3 item in their Tuesday PM newsletter.

As of Friday,Feb. 8,it had more than 3,100 views on the AP YouTube channel,and Chartbeat showed the AP News story had nearly 30,000 page views,with high engagement.

For compelling still and video journalism that generated national interest,the team of Bukaty, Shotzbarger and Casey wins this week’s Best of the States.

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