Ok…it’s taken a week just to get this trip report sorted out. Part of the problem was recovering from over 24 hours of travel, part was the fact I came back with a little over 100 gigs of digital images to wade through. The real problem is how, in words, do I describe this trip.
The Michael Reichmann Antarctic Expedition was a huge success–not only in terms of photos produced but in the experience all the expeditioners shared. Between Michael and his partner in crime Christopher Sanderson, videographer for the Luminous Landscape Video Journal and Quark Expeditions the expedition went off without a hitch-once we got on board our ship that is. We were wondering that final weekend if our flight to Ushuaia would even take off since the airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas, chose that week to go on strike. We were due to fly out on November 30th but on Monday, the 28th, the entire international airport in Buenos Aires was blockaded forcing travelers to schlep almost a mile just to get a cab. But Quark arranged our passage with a “business as usual” sort of attitude.
Our trip was onboard the Akademik Shokalskiy. Built in Finland in 1982 for polar and oceanographic research (read “spy ship”), she carries a maximum of 48 passengers in comfortable outside cabins, above the waterline. Her ice-strengthened hull permits smooth navigation, and her active stabilization system reduces the ship’s roll. Uh, ok…I would hate to have made the Drake Passage without that “active stabilization system” cause she was a-rocking and a-rolling!
The first morning out we experienced the Drake Rock & Roll. I had been warned by many previous Antarctic travelers about this. This part of the Southern Ocean, the Drake Passage, can either be flat as glass (Drake Lake) or rough-really rough–Drake Rock & Roll. This shot allowed me to measure the angle of roll–26.8 degrees which means a total of 53.6 degrees going back and forth. Fortunately, my bunkmate, Seth Resnick, and myself were highly medicated–we never did get seasick! The crew was nice enough to consider our trip to be “fairly rough”. I would hate to see “really rough”. A previous trip experienced really rough-over a 45 degree roll angle…Ouch, that would have been painful!
We made shore landings (called “Beach Landings”. Let me tell you, there are no “beaches” in Antarctica–well except for maybe in Whaler’s Bay at Deception Island) and found a poopload of penguins at almost every stop. I say poopload with meaning…penguin guano is odorous.
We also saw Weddell Seals and an occassional whale-I didn’t get any good whale shots :~(
And more icebergs than you could shake a stick at.
We encountered incredible landscapes and incredible light-lasting WAY TOO LONG. I’ll tell ya, 20+ hours of shootable light is almost too much to deal with.
This shot from deck 7 (the main observation/shooting deck) was shot at 12:30 am! Seth was still shooting with his 300mm F2.8 handheld at ISO 100!
We even had an outdoor BBQ in the Antarctic! The temp was in the 30′s F.
Did I mention icebergs? This is an example of a tabular iceberg whose size was, well, undetermined–it was huge.
Did I mention Whaler’s Bay? Well yes, there was a beach–after a fashion–and Seth and a few others decided to do a “Polar Plunge”. No, I didn’t go in…I have a rule from my old days of SCUBA diving, never go into water unless it’s within 10 degrees of my body temp.
The group–about 44 (still not sure of the actual number) were great people to share this experience with. Lot’s of avid shooters, lots of great shots taken. Gigage-a new term coined by Seth Resnick. Major Gigage!
Check out the Antarctic feature story to see a preliminary edit of shots…I’ll warn you that it’s image rich so I hope you have fast pipes. This trip was so successful that there’s discussion about doing it again in February 2007. Stay tuned for further details.
I would like to thank Michael Reichmann and Christopher Sanderson as well as fellow instructors John Paul Caponigro, Stephen Johnson and Seth Resnick and Thomas Knoll, yes, the co-author of Photoshop and primary author of Camera Raw (mandatory Photoshop content alert) for having me along. It was an incredible experience I will cherish–until the next one!