In just under a week I will be making the long trek from Australia to Ushuaia in South America where I will be co-leading both a twenty one day photographic expedition to South Georgia Island and Antarctica with my friend Andy Biggs, as well as a second Antarctic Peninsula expedition just before Christmas. In between the two expeditions I am taking some personal time for photography at Mount Fitzroy in Patagonia with a few friends for ten days hiking, camping and photography in the Patagonian back-country. This will be my second visit to Patagonia in as many years, but my first to the Argentinian side. Last year on the Chile side we encountered horrendous winds that made photography impossible for six out of the seven days we were in the park. I have hopes for better conditions this year.
With a love of the Polar regions I really lucked out being born in Australia when it comes to travel time. With recent changes to airlines routes from Australia it is now necessary for me to fly Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Auckland, Auckland to Santiago, Santiago to Buenos Aires and finally Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. And thats before we even board ship for sailing time to South Georgia and Antarctica. I have not counted the number of hours that is going to mean sitting around in airports and on aeroplanes as I quite honestly I don’t really want to know. The reality is for me that I would endure just about any amount of travel pain to visit and photograph in Antarctica. The pain of international travel is quickly forgotten when that first call of iceberg ahead! is made on the Drake Passage. Antarctica is a miraculous location and with each visit my respect and love for this continent grows in leaps and bounds. One of the most fantastic things about these expeditions is the camaraderie with all on board and the shared passion for photography. Asa result I am looking forward very much to sharing the experience with all aboard.
As has become traditional I like to do a packing list post before I depart on an expedition. The purpose of this list is to both help me make sure I have not forgotten anything, but also to share what it is I take with me for those either travelling with me on these trips or considering their own future trip. Packing for both two Antarctic expeditions as well as a hiking and camping expedition in Patagonia presents some rather unique challenges and I have spent a good deal of time weighing up all my options for both camera gear as well as clothing. Thankfully I do not have to transport all of my camping gear to South America as we will be hiring what we need on location. You might note that my choice of camera bodies for this time away is not ideally suited to hiking. As much as I love the Canon EOS1DX (I just recently purchased a second one) it is not exactly what I would consider a light weight hiking friendly camera. I will instead loan a 5DMKIII from one of my good friends for the hiking component of our Patagonia trip and leave my 1DX cameras in storage.
In addition to the usual camera gear I am also carrying an Aquatech Delphin 1D underwater sport housing, dome port and ancillary accessories for one of my Canon EOS 1DX cameras. I have long wanted to pursue some underwater and split photography options (half above the surface / half below the surface) in Antarctica and I am very excited about the opportunity on these two expeditions thanks to a new sponsorship arrangement with Aquatech. I hope to post some still images and video of the housing in use in both Antarctica and South Georgia Island as well my thoughts and experience on this type of photography in the polar regions.
There is one other important piece of documentation I will be taking with me on this expedition and that is an Australian Customs Declaration form. If you are travelling internationally from Australia you can read about the benefit arming yourself with this documentation HERE.
What Camera Gear is being left at home?
I always find myself in a bit of quandary when it comes to deciding what to leave at home when packing for a workshop or expedition. Despite my intentions, I often find a lens I planned to leave at home sneaks its way into my bag at the last minute as the fear of wanting it outweighs the thought of the extra weight in the camera bag. On this occasion however, I feel quite confident in my lens selection. I have all the major focal lengths covered and although some of my favourite glass is staying at home (The Canon 17mm F4L TSE and Canon 24mm F3.5L MKII TSE) I do have these focal lengths covered in the new 16-35mm F4L IS and 24-70mm F2.8L MKII. As much as I would like to also take the Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII the sheer weight and bulk of this lens in combination with everything else really preclude it as a viable option so in this instance it is staying at home.
The Bitter Sweet
It is always somewhat bitter sweet for me to be heading overseas on a photography expedition. On the one hand I love spending time in the outdoor polar regions with other photographers who are passionate about their craft. I am fortunate to meet and travel with some fabulous people who are not only talented photographers in their own right but also a source of continual inspiration. Many of these participants have become friends and I just want to take a moment to acknowledge their photography and thank them for their participation and input. The bitter for me is that I am leaving my two young kids for an extended period of time. Thank goodness for technology and Skype.
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