Danco Island sunset, Antarctica. Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS, 1/250 @ f/11, ISO 100.
I took this photo from the top of Danco island, of a small island on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula, at approximately 9:45 p.m. Like Alaska in the summer time, Antarctica enjoys a lot of daylight. I did not visit this location on my last excursion to Antarctica, but when looking at this scene, in conjunction with the time of night, location of the sun, you can envision a whole lot of landscape opportunities in a future visit. Besides the obvious beautiful and other-worldly scene itself, the clouds are a key component of interest in this picture. I can fast forward an hour or so in my mind and imagine some pink light flooding the overhead sky. Maybe on the next trip.
Chinstrap penguin on iceberg, Paradise Harbor, Antarctica. Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS, 1/400 sec @ f/13, ISO 250.
Penguins and icebergs must be the two greatest hallmark subjects of Antarctica, and they are fun to photograph. We only saw one Chinstrap penguin in Paradise Harbour during an afternoon of exploring the region in a small zodiac. In some regions of the Antarctic Peninsula, populations are declining, although the reasons why are not yet fully understood.
Mixed clouds and sun is my favorite type of weather for landscape photography. It creates a dynamic light that often affords something interesting. The top and back light falling on this group of Adelie penguins gives contrast and separation, and the clouds add a sense of drama to the scene. Placing wildlife contextually in their natural habitat helps tell the story. The colony of birds on this island was significant. I forgot the number, but it was in the thousands, and watching them come and go into the water was both amazing and comical, in the way that penguins seem to invoke a smile simply by the way they move. Just minutes before this photo was taken, the group of people in my small inflatable boat had just experienced a remarkable encounter with a humpback whale and her calf. I wrote about that in a newsletter yesterday, and if interested, you can read it on my website.
Adelie Penguins, Hope Bay, Antarctic Peninsula. Canon 5D Mark III, 100-400mm f/5.6L IS, (100mm). 1/1000 sec @ f/9, ISO 200
Iceberg in Port Charcot at sunset, Antarctica. Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS, (24mm), 1/50 sec @ f/7.1, ISO 400.
In contrast to the last photo I shared from Port Charcot, on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, this image was taken in the opposite direction, about 15 minutes later. The sun had just set and we were closing out the night at about 11:40 p.m. One general piece of advice for landscape photography is don’t put your camera away when the sun sets. If the conditions are right, and there are clouds in the evening sky and it is clear enough in the west, a lot of color can happen at that point. Especially in far northern and southern latitudes when the sunset takes it’s leisurely time. For the curious minded, there is zero saturation and zero vibrance applied to this image in post production. Just a basic white and black point set, with some shadows boosted in Lightroom 4. How I would have loved to be in a skiff and buzz around those giant icebergs at this moment, but this was essentially a grab shot on the way back to the ship.
Lone penguin on iceberg, Antarctica Peninsula. Canon 5D Mark III, 100-400mm f/5.6L IS, (370mm), 1/250 sec @ f/8, ISO 200
This image invokes the great expanse of ocean wilderness and the solitude of a lone penguin, preening itself on a floating iceberg. Antarctica, because of it’s great remoteness and unique and extreme environment is a true wilderness. Moving through it’s waters on an the deck of an icebreaker is one continuous amphitheater experience. With a few lenses and camera bodies, the photographic options are many. I used the 100-400 often in situations like this for its great compositional flexibility with the zoom range of the lens.
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