Over the last two years Chris T Hodgson has spent a considerable amount of time in and around the Arctic Circle. He has put together an exhibition featuring favourite images from his travels which is currently on at The Knights Table Restaurant in Little Stainforth until the end of next month. Chris will be on hand this weekend to discuss his images and experiences. Here he shares his passion for the subject.

I HAD always been obsessed with wildlife and David Attenborough’s Life on Earth series instilled a passion in young me that still burns today. When adulthood loomed I fell into a “career” that sounded great on paper but just resulted in me becoming a number in a corporate machine for around 15 years.

Eventually my other half and I decided to cash in the small part of our humble flat we owned and blow the profit on a 15-month trip around the world. This renewed my passion for both the natural world and travel and on my return I signed up for two years at college in Dundee studying photography – with the goal of making a living from wildlife and travel.

From 2010 we moved into a camper van and prioritised cheaper living to allow more freedom to travel. We have been living in vehicles ever since and have travelled extensively throughout the British Isles, Europe and Asia – including an adventure from Scotland to Singapore by train.

Last spring and summer we drove all the way to Kirkenes in Norway. We covered 10,000 miles in 15 weeks and looped through Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Our goal was to be as far north as possible for mid-summer to truly witness the midnight sun, and the depths of the Arctic Circle certainly achieved that for us!

Norway is possibly the most beautiful country I have ever visited. Majestic fjords, stunning red wood houses and endless mountains make for easy driving. My primary goal was to photograph European elk, white tailed sea-eagles, reindeer, basically anything wild and free.

I ticked off all these boxes and as I explored the wilderness I began to learn that wolves, wolverine, and bears can still be found in parts of Nordic Europe, so I began to research the best places to find and possibly photograph them.

Finland holds some of the last pristine wooded wilderness in all of Europe and the eastern parts close to Russia are a haven for these apex predators. Our route back towards the UK had us travelling down the Russian border in search of suitable habitats for photography. We were led to a place called the Wild Brown Bear Lodge which has several wooden hides for animal photography.

Essentially the area has a large concentration of European brown bears that pass through the area at night on their hunt for food. We spent the night in a hide waiting till around 11pm for a large male to arrive. Being separated from such an awesome animal by a few millimetres of plywood was an experience I wanted again and again; so much that I returned for a second night on my own.

It was on my return trip through Finland that I discovered an advert on the internet for a job with Lights Over Lapland as an Aurora Photography Guide. Operating over the winter the company takes out tourists to capture stunning photographs of the northern lights. This was a dream job opportunity and a quick email from a layby near the Russian border secured me a phone interview. Over the next two weeks I had various Skype interviews in different yet identical Finnish service station car parks. The last one as we were nearing the end of our trip brought the great news of a job offer. I immediately accepted.

After experiencing an Arctic summer, we now had the opportunity of living a whole Arctic winter, bizarrely something that had been on my bucket list since I was a boy. With only eight weeks to go I had to drive back to the UK from Finland, and then drive back to Abisko, 250 miles into the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. The job turned out to be an absolutely amazing turn of events, working with world-class guides in stunning Arctic scenery and with some of the highest view rates of the aurora in the world. I wasn’t just achieving my bucket list, I was living it!

We still lived in the camper, accommodation being an issue in a village with only 80 inhabitants. Fortunately, when we bought it we got the best insulated one we could find, made in Sweden only six hours south. Perfect for winter living! I am now prepping for my second season out in Abisko. I return at the end of September and can’t wait to see the area before the snow hits as it was -18 when we arrived the previous year, and still thick snow when we left in April.

My exhibition, ‘Ever Decreasing Arctic Circles’, features some of my favourite images from my last two years of Arctic travels and I’m looking forward to sharing them and maybe even inspiring some of you to visit the Arctic Circle!

There will be a mix of aurora, wildlife and landscape photography featuring the best that this challenging and ever changing climate has to offer.

The exhibition will last until the end of September, it is free to enter and is located in the conference room at The Knights Table Restaurant at Little Stainforth. I will be on hand at the exhibition on the following dates - August 26, 27 and 28 from 12 noon to 5pm, to discuss my images and experiences. I will even answer general photography questions if you’re struggling with your f-stops and ISO!

Entry will be during normal restaurant opening hours of 9am to 9pm, except for days when the conference room is in use. ICall 01729822200 to check before you visit.

lChris has recently launched a short online Kickstarter project that finishes on Saturday, also called ‘Ever Decreasing Arctic Circles’. It’s an online viewing gallery which also allows purchase of photographs: http://kck.st/2v2EZt2