Returning From Antarctica

February 26, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Icebergs (small variety), Seymour Island, Antarctica.
Canon EOS-1D X, 24mm lens, f11 @ 1/200 second, ISO 100.

These cute little icebergs (each is about the size of a table) were found stranded on a remote beach at low tide on Seymour Island, tucked away in the Weddell Sea.

I've just returned from a voyage with Aurora's Polar Pioneer down to Antarctica, across to South Georgia, up to the Falklands and then back to Punto Williams in southern Chile. I travelled with Abraham and Jen Joffe and Blake Castle, who were shooting video while I was shooting stills. We all agreed it was a great way to earn a living and pinched ourselves several times that we were really down in the deep, deep south, experiencing some of the world's most delightful and exotic locations. All about our job will be revealed in the next few weeks.

On my previous trip to Antarctica, I spent seven days in overcast or heavy snowfall with just a two hour window of half-sunlight to play with. On this trip, we had a perfect blue-bird evening with a full moon rising just as the sun set on the other side. The following morning was just as clear, but by the afternoon, the weather had closed in and, as you can see from the unedited image below, the light was a little lacklustre. However, it snowed that night, giving us the four seasons in one day.

So while the light wasn't perfect on Seymour Island, overall there was nothing to complain about and I just had to make the most of what was there. I spent an afternoon walking along this beach, shooting a series of photographs that featured these amazing shapes. It reminded me a little of the beach in Iceland where the icebergs get washed up - it would have been great to see what Seymour Island was like at high tide!

The photographs were taken with a 24mm wide-angle lens with two exposures, one normally and a second with a ND filter so I could blur the water. I then joined the two images together. I find that the camera only has to move half a pixel during the 30 or 60 second exposure to introduce some unwanted blur. By using the normal exposure (at 1/200 second) as the base, everything is crisp and sharp. I then add in the long exposure as as second layer and brush in (through a mask) the blurred water. It gives me the best of both worlds and while it might not make too much difference in a small reproduction like this, it can be very important for a larger print or paper reproduction.

The raw files were processed in Capture One and the post-production completed in Photoshop. I also moved the foreground iceberg up a little bit to make a tighter composition (just in case you noticed a difference!). More from Antarctica soon!


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