Light, Ice and Sights
It is no secret that Antarctica is a regular feature found on a photographer’s bucket list. This destination at the bottom of world is alluring and profound as it draws like-minded people from all corners of the earth to its relatively untouched terrain.
With hordes of naturalists, birders and historians that flock to the area on cruise liners during the peak season of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, an exotic blend of tourists does not normally tie in with the needs of a photographer.
Photographers dream of exquisite light and unspoiled backdrops. They have no problem with waking up before the sun comes up, driving or walking to the perfect area to shoot from and can wait patiently until their subject of desire appears for the picture-perfect moment (well, almost most of the time!) Such like mindedness is a vital component to a successful photo safari, which is why a dedicated photographers-only cruise to Antarctica’s Peninsula is a not to be missed occasion!
This Antarctica tour is arranged for early November during a time when few tourists and ships are around but also because it will provide the best photographic opportunities when it comes to light and setting.
The winter months’ after effects will offer landscapes with clean and white backgrounds while the golden hour will bathe the region in pastel shades of pink and blue, with dazzling sunrises and sunsets of kaleidoscope colours. As a dedicated Antarctica photography tour, sessions will be arranged for zodiac trips during ideal lighting conditions, ice and weather depending, in order to capture the mesmerising penguin colonies, infinite number of sea birds, mountainous peaks and ice sculptures. Maximum time will be spent on the beaches of the Peninsula and evening sessions will also be optimised where possible.
Late spring in Antarctica plays host to colourful interactions between Chinstrap and Adelie penguins. These quirky yet adorable creatures will be busy nest building and wooing for a mate on the icy slopes of the peninsula, while the seabirds will also be putting on their own displays of affection to court a potential partner. Although this period is usually prime mating season, chicks are sometimes found when the wooing commenced earlier than expected, which means there is a chance of witnessing the hatching of penguin chicks too!
Seals are found in good numbers throughout these waters, and we’ll be on the lookout for the stealth Leopard Seal, placid Weddell Seal and socialable Crabeater Seal as they graciously swim through the frigid waters or perhaps lazily chill on the floating ice sprinkled across the sea.
The route will focus entirely on the Peninsula found south of the Drake Passage. Landings and visited areas include the South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Sound (home to gigantic, tabular icebergs), the surreal Deception Island in Whalers Bay (home to rusty whalers’ remnants), Astrolabe and further south towards the spectacular Lemaire channel. This Antarctica safari does not include visits to the ever so popular South Georgia or the Falkland Islands because focus will be given to one particular area as this leaves more time for photography. Less time is spent cruising the Southern Ocean from one spot to another and exclusivity is almost guaranteed from other ships and tourists in the area.
Most Antarctica tours comprise of ships with 100 guests or more but the Peninsula tour will only serve as host to 70 passengers, all who want to see the bottom of the world through a lens. With a smaller number of passengers, some cabins have been made more comfortable by converting triple share cabins into twin share cabins, as well as twin cabins into single cabins but less participants on a ship also means the photo tour leaders on board are able to offer more of their time to aid in the photographic journey of their guests.
The vibrant rookeries of penguins, squawking seabirds, playful seals, colossal icebergs and towering peaks all complimented by amazing light and pristine white backdrops will assuredly provide an array of photographic opportunities. It will capture the heart and soul of a nature photographer who dreams of capturing the unspoiled scenery that awaits on one of ORYX’s Antarctica tours.
By Nicolette Louw
Nicolette is an expert Photographic Travel Consultant for ORYX Photographic Expeditions. She has always had a travelling heart. Born in Santiago, Chile to diplomatic parents, she has had the privilege to live and travel extensively throughout South America, North America and Europe but Africa has and will always be home. With a BA International Relations degree from the University of Pretoria, along with photographic knowledge and exposure after working at Nikon South Africa for over 4 years, her passion for people, travel and creativity came together upon joining the ORYX team in 2017. Get in touch with Nicolette at [email protected].