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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Journey To Antarctica

The massive frozen continent offers photo opportunities of glaciers, otherworldly coastlines, massive mountain peaks and, of course, incredible wildlife

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"You can get an inkling of that by choosing your own experience once you're onshore," Lanting says. "That's really the key. I would advise folks not to try and do everything when they go onshore. The temptation is to photograph the first penguin that you see, and you end up taking the same penguin pictures that have been made thousands of times before. What I would advise someone to do is to walk in the opposite direction of most other folks, and to sit down on the beach and put the camera next to you and just soak it up, to really experience what it's like to be down there, because you may never be back there in your lifetime."

Necessary Preparations
Preparing to photograph in the Antarctic region involves a few key steps. First, Lanting suggests that you read up on what has been done before photographically so you can look in another direction. Try to create your own private view of Antarctica, and be contrarian in your approach.

Next, determine when you'll visit and for how long. Lanting considers nine days a rushed trip, with two weeks being fairly ideal. Since the seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere, trips are normally organized in the warmer months from November to March. November and December are springtime, Lanting's favorite to experience the ice melt and birds beginning to nest. For penguins, including hatchlings, midsummer is ideal, meaning December or early January.

Autumn scenic of Eagle Lake and Eagle Peak in the Chugach Mountains, Chugach State Park, Alaska.
Even though it's summer, it's still Antarctica. That means cold temperatures, though not necessarily as cold as you might expect. Because trips are sea-based and don't venture far inland, it's a maritime climate that typically keeps temperatures above freezing. Still, you'll want to prep for wet weather and muddy ground.

"You'll end up on a shoreline and then you have to be on foot," Lanting says, "so you need to be physically prepared for wet landings. Rubber boots, especially insulated rubber boots like muck boots, are absolutely the best thing to wear. You want to be prepared to deal with mud and snow, so before we even think about the cameras, you want to be able to get comfortable in muck and sleet and wet conditions.

"The core of preparing yourself to be able to do anything photographically," he continues, "is to be comfortable in wet, cold weather, and to be mobile. So you want to be able to carry all of your gear on your back, you want to keep things dry during landings so a photo pack with a rain cover is the ideal thing to bring. Dry bags aren't really necessary. Wear a serious rain jacket with layers of fleece and down underneath and, of course, gloves and hats and all of those things. The single best thing to bring along if you really want to get serious about photography is a serious pair of rain pants so you can crouch down in the mud or on cobblestone beaches and you don't have to worry about getting mucked up."


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