As has become customary after returning from a significant overseas photographic expedition I have been more or less hibernating for the last few days whilst I attempt to recover from a nasty case of jet lag and general post trip exhaustion. The combination of long waking hours (from shooting well into the small hours), irregular sleep patterns and general lack of sleep during my trip all combined with crossing multiple time zones (both coming and going) really screws up my body clock and biological rhythm. I seem to manage just fine during the travels (lots of coffee and great company helps) but always seem to fall in a gaping hole on my return to Australia when I finally slow down and it all catches up with me. I love living in Australia, but it is on overseas trips such as these that I am reminded of how far Australia is from most of the rest of the world; or at least from those places to which I love to travel and photograph. I have barely been able to raise myself from my bed over the last few days and even a few short hours catching up on general unpacking and household duties has seen me quickly exhausted and searching for my bed. Not to overplay my jet lag but there really is nothing at all romantic about international travel with pounds of camera gear in toe. The dream is most definitely the destination and not the journey.
Now, nearly a week on from returning I am finally feeling sufficiently recovered and ready to tackle to enormity of the editing and processing task that lies ahead of me. Antarctica was an absolute photo orgy of photography. Never before have I shot so many fames so intensely over so short a period with so many like minded photographers. If ever ones enthusiasm was starting to wane (and really how could it in Antarctica!) there was always a nearby photographer ready to re-inspire and re-enthuse. As I have already blogged; it may well be years before I have fully mined all of the gems from this remarkable photographic expedition. The only way to even begin to tackle this project is in bite sized chunks and to this end I have made a couple of very quick passes through my RAW captures and made a few initial selects for processing. I expect to spend many hours over the coming days / weeks and months editing in small ‘chunks’ to get down to my final selects from the trip.
This first photograph was one of only around a dozen images I shot from tripod during the entire trip. As a landscape photographer who is used to shooting from tripod it was a real change of pace (read: frenetic pace) to shoot from ship and zodiac handheld; where it is of course impossible to use a tripod. I enjoyed the freedom of shooting handheld (especially from zodiac); but there is something about using a tripod that I quite enjoy and occasionally missed. Those few instances where I did have an opportunity to slow down and use my tripod during shore landings were greatly appreciated. The mere act of setting up a tripod, getting out a cable release and filters gives my mind a chance to slow down and think contemplatively about my photography. This was also one of the only photographs from the trip where I used the LEE ten-stop ‘Big-Stopper’ Neutral Density Filter to slow my shutter speed to sufficiently soften the water around the ice. I had thought I would make more use of this filter during shore landings on the continent; however, time ashore was limited and therefore so were long exposure opportunities – such is life.
To state the palette of colour in Antarctica is extensive and extraordinary is to fail to do justice to Mother Nature. Many of the icebergs are the most incredible surreal deep blues above water and the deepest darkest fluroescent greens below the waves. This small piece of water carved and polished ice was lying on polished pebbles in around a foot of crystal clear water on one of our early shore landings. Its form and structure immediately struck me and I new I had an opportunity to capture a photograph with a slow shutter speed that would be quite different from most iceberg photographs. Other than the slow shutter speed – you don’t need to suspend your disbelief. As those who attended this trip will attest; the colours in Antarctica are quite literally unbelievable and no embellishment is required in post processing. The wind would have been a good 30-40 knots when this photograph was taken and you can see large plums of spindrift coming off the distant mountain peaks across the channel.A higher resolution version of this photograph can also be seen on my portfolio website under Antarctica at www.jholko.com. I am currently working on my ‘Antarctica what worked and what didn’t’ blog entry and hope to have that finished in the next week or so along with more of my images from this remarkable trip. My friend Andy Biggs also has an extensive blog entry on this Antarctica expedition and Gura Gear (my number one camera bags of choice) – check it out at the Global Photographer and Gura Gear.