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Antarctic Archive

This page contains all of the photographs published on this site thus-far derived from my Antarctic Expedition / Workshop in December, 2005. These photographs have appeared on other pages on this site, including Antarctica 2005, and are reproduced here as a means of aggregating them in one place, and also offering an opportunity for me to add some comments, where appropriate.

Reflected Cloud. Lemair Channel, Antartica. December 2005
Canon 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. ISO 100

It was just an hour or so before sunset as we entered the Lemair Channel, one of the most visited spots on the Antarctic Peninsula. And it is this for good reason, as the scenery is some of the most spectacular on the continent that is viewable from the deck of a ship. The location is just below 65 degrees south latitude.

On our sail south through the channel the temperatures were mild (around freezing), and the sky and water preternatural in their depth and clarity.

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Penguin Ridge, Antartica. December 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

Penguins are ubiquitous on both the sub-Antarctic islands as well as the rim of the continent itself. The photographic challenge that I took on was to try and show them in both harmony and juxtaposition to their environment. Though it appears harsh and foreboding to us, this land is home to the penguin. In this photograph I have tried to show both the scale of the environment as well as the penguin's place within it.

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Iron Angles. Deception Island, Antarctica. December 2005
Canon 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS lens @ ISO 100

There is an abandoned whaling station at Deception Island. There was a volcanic eruption there in the 1969 that buried much of the facility in volcanic ash.

The piece of rusted metal photographed here is of unknown provenance, but it looks to me as nothing less than an alien artifact when seen in this otherwise pristine landscape.

An interesting side note to our few hours at Deception Island was that several of the expedition staff who had been to this spot some 50 times over the years said that this was one of only two or three sunny days that they had ever seen at this locale.

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Mountain Reflection. Antarctica. December 2005
Cambo Wide DS with Schneider 35mm Digitar lens and Phase One P25 back @ ISO 100

The clarity of the air and water in Antarctica just ache to be recorded in the highest resolution and greatest clarity possible. Steve Johnson used his Betterlight scanning back, which results I am very eager to see. But a few people shot with medium format digital and large format film, as well as the usual assortment of Nikon and Canon DSLRs.

This photograph was taken with my Cambo Wide DS, Schneider Digitar lens and a Phase One P25 back. The image quality in a large print is simply astonishing. What makes it all the more enjoyable was that is was shot hand-held from a moving Zodiac as we toured an ice filled bay at the foot of a glacier – inaugurating my field use of the world's most expensive point-and-shoot.

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Two Clouds. Antarctica. December 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

I have absolutely no recollection of taking this photograph. Though the camera's EXIF data tells me the day and time (6:20am), and I know that it was somewhere in the Gerlache Channel, and that I was likely standing on the Monkey Deck of the ship when I took it, I simply do not remember photographing these two very distinctive clouds and icebergs.

I must have thought them worthwhile at the time, because I took a total of 7 frames over a very short period. But even after I had done my first pass though my images from Antarctica, I missed seeing this image as worthwhile. It was only when doing my second review, prior to archiving the raw files, that it jumped out at me.

After making a fine print, I now find it to be one of the more compelling images from this trip.

Funny how the mind works.

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Convoluted Iceberg, Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS lens @ ISO 200

For photographers seeking either other-worldly colour or abstract subject matter, nothing can match Antarctic icebergs. Ranging in size from cars to cities (even countries), the most fascinating are the smaller and therefore older ones – bergs that have been rolling around and around for months, being eroded by the warmer ocean waters.

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Supply Ship. Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 200

It's very unusual to see another ship. Sometimes days pass between sightings. This one was an Argentine military re-supply ship that was conducting helicopter operations, resupplying an Argentine scientific base. We had been watching them from the deck of our ship as they flew back and forth to the base in heavy cloud, mist and snow, when all of a sudden the weather lifted, producing this light – seemingly from a super-realist painting.

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Deception. Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

The entrance to Deception Island is surrounded with lava dust covered hillsides. The receding snow creates remarkable abstract patterns. We entered the caldera just after dawn (I had asked the Captain to wait for the light) and the clouds behind the hill were just starting to be tinged by the pink of the rising sun.

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Waves and Mountains. Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS lens @ ISO 100

It's almost impossible to capture the feeling of isolation coupled with drama that the Antarctic produces. The sea can be calm, or threatening, and the continent itself appears and disappears in cloud banks. One can stand for hours on the deck of the ship, mesmerized by the intensity of the passing vistas.

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Dark Berg. Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

Combine the other-worldly shapes of icebergs and the dramatic light of an Antarctic summer, and you have the ingredients for some remarkable photographs. Ones ship isn't just a means of transportation. It is a floating platform from which to encounter dream-like images.

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Cyan Iceberg – Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 300mm f/2.8L IS lens at ISO 100

This iceberg, the size of a small town, had eroded windows and arches. The arch was big enough to have sailed our ship through. The colours were so intense that I desaturated the image, only keeping the cyan of the arch and the yellow of the clouds. Not accurate colour, but better to my eye at least in capturing the wonder of this behemoth.

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Sky Glow. Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 300mm f/2.8L IS lens at ISO 200

With a very few exceptions (see immediately above) all of the Antarctic photographs appearing on this and other pages on this site are literal. They have been cropped, and the usual contrast, brightness, and colour balance adjustments have been made. But in no cases have I exaggerated the colours or tonal relationships beyond typical darkroom practice. That's just the way that I do photography.

But images such as this make viewers comment that they must be manipulated. No. It's simply the wonder of Antarctic light.

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Ripples after Sunset. Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS @ ISO 640

The extremely long sunsets and sunrises found when shooting at high latitudes in summer means that opportunities like this last for long periods of time, rather than just seconds. On this particular evening we stood for close to an hour, shooting the changing patterns of reflected colour in the ships ripples. Is it any wonder than most trip members shot between 50 and 100 GB of images?

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Huddle. Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

Blowing snow, cold temperatures and willing subjects. Penguins in their environment. What more needs be said?

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Deception Ridge. Antarctica. December 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

Deception Bay reminded me a lot of Iceland. There the glaciers are blended with volcanic ash, and remarkable photographs containing contrasts of light and shape are possible.

We sailed into the bay at dawn, and the warm early morning clouds and the cold blue hills dappled with melting snow were striking in their intensity.

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Ice Cracks. Antarctica. December 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

I was captivated by the geometry of icebergs. From little lumps of floating ice that rub against the ship (growlers) to tabular icebergs the size of cities, icebergs fascinate with their colours, textures and geometry.

This one, looming above us as we circled it in a Zodiac, tells a story of tilting, cracking and age, and become the subject for a study in shape and texture.

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Crescent Moon. Antarctica. December 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 200

One of the pleasures of doing landscape photography from a ship is that the landscape comes to you, rather than vise-versa. As we were sailing down the Lemaire Channel, with steep cliffs along our starboard flank, the crescent moon disappeared behind the mountain just before I could frame a shot. I knew that eventually it would reappear on the other side as the ship moved down the channel, and when it did I was ready with a framing that captured the other-worldliness of the Antarctic landscape.

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Antarctic Sun. December, 2005
Canon 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS lens @ ISO 200

We had remarkable weather on our 12 days in Antarctica. This was one of the few days with overcast, and even then it wasn't solid – producing enough "glow" to illuminate this glacier. Taken from a moving Zodiac as we motored around a glacial bay.

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Pengun Slide. Antarctica – December, 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

Penguins are the comedians of the Antarctic. Though the zoologists and guides bridle at it, anthropomorphizing their behavior is almost impossible to resist. And, as graceful as penguins are under water, their ability to walk upright is compromised on snowy slopes, and so the belly flop is a favoured means of decent.

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Ice Sculpture – Antarctica. December, 2005
Canon 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS lens @ ISO 100

I did far less black and white on this shoot than I had anticipated I would. There is so much colour in the ice, snow and sky that reducing to monochrome seems less appropriate that it does in other winter climes.

But this shot asked to be rendered as a classic B&W print. It literally glows with subtle tonalities.

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Clouded Peaks. Antarctica. December 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

The Antarctic continent is covered with an ice cap that's almost 2 miles thick. The cold air from the top spills down to the ocean, causing high winds, and frequent dramatic cloud patterns.

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Abandoned Whaling Station Interior. Deception Bay, Antarctica. December 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

There are very few signs of man on Antarctica. After all, it is almost the size of North America, and typically only visited by a few thousand people at any one time.

But there is history, and this abandoned whaling station at Deception Bay is one remnant preserved though benign neglect as much as anything else. The snow drifts and weathered wood provided a welcome change from our other photography on this trip.

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Blue Ice and Clouds, Antarctica. December 2005
Canon 1Ds MKII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens @ ISO 100

Unfortunately many of the images from Antarctica are not well served though display on the web. This is one that really needs to be seen in a large print for justice to it to be served.

The ice and clouds simply glow with shades of blue and textures that are hard to believe, yet which are an accurate reflection of the unique characteristics of Antarctic light.

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Small Iceberg at Sunset. Antarctica – December, 2005
Cano 5D with 24-105mm f/4L IS lens @ ISO 400

Sky, clouds, ocean, reflection, iceberg, warm light. All the right ingredients. Just mix and click.

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Concepts: Antarctica, Southern Ocean, Glacier, Antarctic Peninsula, Iceberg, Penguin, Antarctic, Antarctic Circle

Entities: Canon, rim, Nikon, Antarctica, Antartica, North America, Iceland, Deception Island, Deception Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, windows, Penguins, Michael Reichmann, Schneider Digitar, Steve Johnson, wood, Antarctic, Lemair Channel, Gerlache Channel

Tags: Antarctic, images, iceberg, photographs, Deception Island, Antarctica, penguins, Antarctic light, volcanic ash, This one, Lemair Channel, Deception Bay, large print, remarkable photographs, cloud, Antarctic icebergs, military re-supply ship, pages, Antarctic Expedition, remarkable abstract patterns, Schneider Digitar lens, Phase One P25, Antarctic Peninsula, Cambo Wide DS, early morning clouds, colour balance adjustments, warmer ocean waters, typical darkroom practice, Argentine scientific base, classic b&w print, large format film, Antarctic continent, Antarctic summer, Antarctic landscape, cold blue hills, Antarctic photographs, Zodiac, Ones ship, Canon 5D, volcanic eruption