Being in the Ross Sea on board the Russian icebreaker I/B Kapitan Klebnikov was an amazing opportunity for me as a photographer back in December of 2006. It was an expedition that would visit many of the great Antarctic explorers huts and routes. We were less than 700 miles from the geographic South Pole but still in the sea. Having the power and capacity of a real icebreaker was thrilling. We could go were many could not and even when the ship was at it’s limit we would fly in the helicopters we carried on board.
One of the most intriguing aspects of being on such an expedition was that there was 24 hours of daylight. The sun made a shallow oval above us as it moved high in the sky. Only the length of the shadows gave any hint of what time it might be. I also grew very fond of the ice. Ice is not static, it is dynamic and sea ice was a very different creature than an iceberg. The two elements had a contentious relationship. Sea ice was constantly moving with currents, waves disturbing itself and causing massive icebergs to collide into each other as a result. On this particular day in December of 2006, The swell was quite strong. The rising and falling, the undulating movements of the sea ice set the giant icebergs on a collision course for each other. I watched as they came closer and closer to each other. We were some miles away, so I could not judge very well as to whether they actually did or not.
Does good light follow me? Or am I so tuned to be aware of what good light is? Maybe both. – Camille Seaman
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 75-300mm f-4-5.6 III telephoto zoom lens @ 220mm – 1/125th @ F/22 – ISO 160
She is almost ready to strike out on her own and leave her mother. We are probably the first humans she has ever seen. We sit in our black rubber zodiac trying to keep our voices low, every now and then someone will say “awww” as she changes her pose and looks deceptively cute and cuddly. She is top predator and we are wise to keep some distance from her.
The scene is a bit surreal. I am the expedition photographer for a luxury expedition ship from the wealthy country of Monaco. We are in the high Arctic of Svalbard, less than 750 miles from the geographic North Pole. The passengers are pampered; eating chocolate-covered strawberries and sipping champagne as we watch the young Polar Bear from our zodiac. I cannot say what prompted this expression from her, maybe she could smell the chocolate, in any case she seemed to echo my internal confusion. I wonder if she is asking what I am asking? “Silly Humans, what are you doing? Silly Humans why are you here?”
This particular encounter with a Polar Bear has been one of my most memorable. I had been coming to the Arctic for many seasons. This particular season we were graced with exceptional even overcast light with dramatic pale hues of blue and yellow in the sky. I dread sunny days and members of the crew often would remark that we were in for moody weather when I was on board. I seem to bring the clouds with me. – Camille Seaman
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM – 1/400th @ f/10 – ISO 400
John Palmer is a medical doctor from Australia in his other life. When he is on board the I/B Kapitan Klebnikov as resident doctor, his duties also include traffic operator for the two helicopters on board. He looks off into the distance where two massive icebergs are about to collide in a strong swell. The helicopter is too small to see but has flown out to observe and fly over the icebergs for a special view.
I was waiting for my turn to go up in one of the old Russian helicopters and do a tour flying over the icebergs, I made only one exposure of this scene. The helipad sits at the stern of the vessel and is narrower than the rest of the ship. From where I stood it was not obvious where I was actually standing. From this vantage point the viewer of the image is not aware of the photographer’s presence which is something I strive for in my work. I want the viewer to feel like they are right there, and my eye, my hand are whispering to them..
I am a big fan of science fiction, being in this part of Antarctica was so extreme, so foreign and so perilous that I could not help but imagine that this could be a scene from some ice covered distant world. At the same time I was very much aware that this awesome and amazing place was on OUR planet right here on Earth. I feel that this image successfully communicates the emotion of isolation and extreme nature of the place. – Camille Seaman
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 35mm lens – 1/160th @ f/22 – ISO 160
These three images are from Seaman’s new book, “Melting Away: A Ten-Year Journey Through Our Endangered Polar Regions”, which can be found on Amazon here. See more of Seaman’s work at here website, www.CamilleSeaman.com. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.