Antarctica : The Lemaire Channel

One of the most spectacular features of Antarctica we are looking forward to visiting on the expedition I am leading this November aboard the Polar Pioneer is the Lemaire Channel. This natural, narrow channel is flanked on both sides by high mountains and snow dusted rock spires and rates as one of the most wondrous and beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure to photograph. Slowly cruising through the channel is akin to what I imagine it would be like aboard a space ship gliding between towering and precipitous mountains on an alien world. Whether you are on the bow, aft, port or starboard the landscape is equally awe inspiring and impressive. On my last trip the conditions were overcast with frequent heavy snow and dark brooding clouds as we made our way slowly through the channel. Whilst a few photographers were bemoaning the lack of clear skies for sunset colour I was secretly thankful for the dark and ominous atmosphere. Antarctica is so often depicted for its brilliance that I find it refreshing to see images that depict a more ominous and portentous landscape.Frequently clogged with icebergs and pack ice the channel is really only safely navigable  early in the season in an ice hardened expedition class ship such as the Polar Pioneer. Later in the season when the weather warms and the ice thins the channel is frequently visited by larger tourist based cruise ships; although the danger of ice bergs to their thin steel skin always remains. One of the real benefits of a photographic expedition to Antarctica aboard an ice hardened ship is the ability to not only get close to very large icebergs, but also to push pack ice out of the way greatly increasing the photographic possibilities in locations such as the Lemaire Channel. Although passage through the Lemaire Channel is never guranteed we do plan to sail through it (weather and ice conditions permitting) this November. I am secretly hoping for more dramatic weather and evocative atmospherics.

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