Antarctic Dreams

When OP columnist William Neill led a workshop to Antarctica, he created his own unique collection of images from a place that has become much more accessible for photography-oriented adventurers

Iceberg Towers at Dawn, Pleneau Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS II and 1.4x III
It was a cold dawn when we jumped into our Zodiac boats to explore this magic place where icebergs from near and far float into a shallow dead-end bay. More steadily through the bay, I had to watch carefully and fire quickly when these icebergs separated beautifully, and then the composition was gone. The next two hours here made me constantly catch my breath with wonder. It was so amazing, we returned for more icebergs and seals for another two hours in epic sunset light.

The Antarctic landscape is unlike any other. Grand glacial peaks present a powerful presence while providing a hub for penguin and seal populations. While the extreme weather and long days may deter some, the continent is a must-see destination for many photographers.


Gentoo Penguins and Solar Halo, Cuverville Island, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II
As we landed at this gentoo penguin colony, I noticed a wonderful solar halo overhead. I quickly changed lenses to my 16-35mm in order to fit the full circle. I noticed some penguins going out to fish and began to photograph. With my eye to the camera, I didn't notice these guys walk right by me. I could have touched them!

William Neill embarked on an Antarctic adventure as a leader for Michael Reichmann and Kevin Raber's Luminous Landscape workshop. While on the ship and small Zodiac rafts, Neill found himself quickly adapting to a new shooting style defined by anticipating important compositional moments. During the extra-long summer days, this could be a challenge, as lines and shapes constantly shifted with the movement of the watercraft and clear skies quickly filled with dramatic clouds. Inspired by the epic landscape scale and the thrill of an unknown challenge around each corner, Neill easily shot 10,000 photos within five days for the portfolio project "Antarctic Dreams." Through these images, Neill presents his own dreams of photographic travel and hopes to inspire others with dreams of Antarctic preservation and conservation. Special thanks to MindShift Gear and BorrowLenses.com for their support of William Neill on this expedition.


Blue Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM


Ancient Crystal Iceberg, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM
I could have spent a whole day just photographing this iceberg, but we only spent 10 minutes around it, as there was so much else to see. Using my 24-105mm zoom, I was able to make wide scenic views at 24mm, as well as zoom in closer for my favorite type of intimate landscape details, as seen in these two photographs. Making these images was more like sports photography since the action was coming by us quickly. Using autofocus, image stabilization and fast framing was critical.

 


Morning Light, Gerlache Strait, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS II USM and 2x III
To begin our adventure, we sailed overnight, arriving in the Gerlache Strait on the Antarctic Peninsula. Our great expectations for what we would see were met with landscapes beyond our imagination. The low-angled sun highlighted a band of clouds sweeping across the glacier, making perfect light. The image stabilization was a great benefit when making telephoto landscapes from a moving ship.

 


Icebergs and Sunset, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS II USM and 2x III
After a day of photographing penguins, whales and icebergs, we sailed off to our next location. Massive icebergs slowly took shape in the warm evening light. Bundled up on the forward deck, I photographed for an hour and a half during golden sunset light, finishing at twilight on this long midsummer day's dream.

 


Rolling Iceberg, Scontorp Cove in Paradise Bay, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM
The water was dead-still and our group hushed, cameras aimed in all directions, whirring with a sense of urgency to capture the epic views. Small pieces of ice clanked against the metal bottom as our Zodiac floated slowly in the bay. Suddenly, this small iceberg rolled before our eyes, casting glorious ripples radiating outward—Earth vibrations. A few moments later, the stillness returned.

 


Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica, 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS II USM and 2x III
Our first close encounter with icebergs came in Cierva Cove, a serene bay full of sculptural masterpieces. A pool of turquoise was cradled within one iceberg, serving as a contrast with the stark, dark sea. Aiming down from the ship's deck allowed me to isolate an abstract pattern of the iceberg itself and the smaller "bergy bits" as we slowly sailed by.

2 Comments

    WOW! 10,000 photos in 5 days — that’s only 125 per hour for 16 hours, or if one takes time to eat it’s ONLY 150 per hour. Why not just use a continuous shooting mode to save the forefinger and go for 100,000!

    Hi Jerry, I know it sounds insane to make that many images, but the circumstances warranted it. We saw SO many great subjects, and much of the time we were moving in Zodiacs or on the ship in rapidly changing conditions. On land, we photographed penguins and so wildlife photography requires rapid fire. Because of all of this, percentage of success was uncertain. One student took 30,000 as he was heavily focused on wildlife.

    Cheers! Bill
    http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/columns/on-landscape/antarctic-dreams.html

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