Photography Tips for Antarctica
You’ll probably be no stranger to the fact that the conditions in Antarctica can be challenging for us humans, as well as for the technology we bring with us.
You’ll probably be no stranger to the fact that the conditions in Antarctica can be challenging for us humans, as well as for the technology we bring with us. Here, Expeditions Online has pulled together a list of photographers’ tips for Antarctica. Having traveled there previously, with camera in hand, we have learned what travelers need to do to get the most out of an Antarctic expedition cruise in photographic terms. We’ve shared our photographers' tips for Antarctica here:
What to bring
Firstly, let’s look at what you need to bring on an Antarctic expedition cruise to make the most of the photography opportunities you’ll get:
- More than one camera body - It’s a good idea to take more than one camera body if you can manage it. I’ve found that it’s best not to have to change lenses when you are out and about. The weather conditions in Antarctica aren’t great for changing lenses. Plus opportunities, particularly wildlife-related ones move fast, so having two camera bodies means you are prepared and ready.
- Tripod – A tripod will be useful for taking pictures in low light or for slow shutter photography.
- Memory cards –Bring plenty, as you’ll take more photos than you think you will. Alternatively, bring a hard drive so you can move your pictures from card to drive.
- Batteries – As with memory cards, bring spare batteries. The charge in batteries doesn’t last as long in the cold Antarctic weather. When you are outside, keep one battery in a warm pouch in case you need to change it over.
- Sealable plastic bags/freezer bags – It is advisable to keep your gear in one of these bags as it’ll protect it from condensation which can happen when you move from a cold to a warm environment.
- Silica gel or similar material that acts as a drying agent – keeping some of this in your kit bags can help protect against moisture build up.
- Lens filters including UV filter and polarizing filters – it’s a great idea to bring these given the conditions you will be working in. I’ve included some details below on how to use them.
Look after your kit
Be vigilant with your kit. Don’t be afraid to use it, obviously. But remember that the environment on an Antarctic cruise is harsh. You might be out in the water on zodiacs, for instance, so you need to be alert where your kit is concerned. And, as mentioned above you’ll be moving from cold to warm temperatures and back again quite a lot, so remember to protect your kit from moisture and help it deal with condensation using the tips I mentioned above.
There are lots of bright white around – so practice how to use your exposure and filters
Taking photos in Antarctica means that you want to be able to deal with the bright white light you’ll experience. But it can be tricky for cameras to deal with the brightness of snow in Antarctica. The result can mean that images are more grey than white. So:
- It’s a good idea to read about your camera’s exposure settings before you go on your Antarctic expedition.
- It’s even better if you can practice using them in advance.
- You might have a setting built into your camera for winter conditions – if so, use this to help your camera deal with the levels of brightness you’ll experience on a bright day in Antarctica.
- Alternatively, you can use a setting of 3 or 5 brackets at an interval of 1 to 2 stops.
- And, you might also have to overexpose your shots to get the best results.
Put the effort in
Your Antarctic expedition will undoubtedly give you lots of fantastic photographic opportunities. And, it will really pay off if you put some extra effort into your Antarctic photography. For instance:
- Move around to find a better angle.
- Or experiment and try a different angle too. Perhaps research and practice these before you set off on your Antarctic expedition.
- Think about being ready to take shots at sunrise and sunset at this time of day can offer some superb opportunities.
- When it comes to framing your shots, don’t forget the context of the shot is also of interest. So don’t just think about getting the focus of your shot in the middle of your frame. Instead, think about moving it to the side of the shot, so you can get more of the environment and context into the picture.
- Scale is something that you can really demonstrate in your Antarctic photography, so don’t just go for a close up of the wildlife – build in the scale of their surroundings. You’ll also get more detail into your shots this way.
The first rule of taking photographs in Antarctica doesn’t disturb the wildlife. You are on their territory so always be respectful. Always remember to switch off your flash, as you do not want to startle them. If you stay still, they may be inquisitive enough to come to you. And try to get down to their level – this way they may make eye contact with you, which is a glorious feeling. Also, if you shoot from their level, you’ll get more of the environment into the shot and this works much better than looking down and shooting from above. Also – the best shots are when they are active – flying or diving, fishing or yawning etc. Be vigilant and patient for these opportunities.
Using a camera on a zodiac and kayak
Exploring by zodiac and kayak will give you a unique perspective on the Antarctic landscape. And when it comes to using a camera on a zodiac, you’ll be able to take advantage of getting even closer to your surroundings – including icebergs and wildlife. But, you might find that the zodiac boat can be unsteady, so to compensate for this, use a faster shutter speed to counteract any movement and blurring you might experience in your photography.
And perhaps the most important photographers' tips for Antarctica is to enjoy taking photographs in the Antarctic wilderness!
At Expeditions Online, we are experts in Antarctic expedition cruises – the ultimate choice in travel to Antarctica. We have a number of Antarctic cruises on which you can explore this beautiful and unique continent from the safety and comfort of our vessels. Some even include photography workshops. For instance, check out our Antarctic basecamp cruise aboard MV Ortelius,
Weddell Sea basecamp cruise – all of which focus giving our adventurers the opportunity to try out activities at various bases in Antarctica – including Antarctic photography workshops, climbing, hiking, kayaking and polar diving.
Get in touch or visit expeditionsonline.com to see if we can meet your travel needs – our advice is independent and expert and we have individually tested every trip we offer.
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