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Photographing Antarctica: Penguins, Seals, and a Whole Photo voltaic Eclipse

Antarctica is a bucket checklist vacation spot for numerous panorama and wildlife photographers, and for good motive. Dramatic, jagged mountain peaks rise excessive over colonies consisting of thousands and thousands of penguins residing on the frozen earth beneath. Whereas photographing Antarctica is a uncommon expertise in itself, photographing a complete photo voltaic eclipse in Antarctica is akin to successful the lottery.

In November 2021, Photographer Andrew Studer boarded the Lindblad Expeditions ship Nationwide Geographic Endurance with the hope of not solely capturing the rugged landscapes and beautiful wildlife of Antarctica, but in addition a complete photo voltaic eclipse set to happen on December 4.

Full disclosure: This text was dropped at you by Lindblad Expeditions

At a Look

Making ready For The Expedition

This may not be the primary time photographer Andrew Studer had tried to {photograph} a complete photo voltaic eclipse. On August twenty first 2017, Studer’s pictures and movie exhibiting a rock climber in entrance of an eclipse in Oregon went viral, and it’s straightforward to see why. With the 2021 eclipse being seen within the southern hemisphere, Studer labored with Lindblad Expeditions on a plan to seize the uncommon second off the coast of Antarctica from one of many journey tour firm’s 15 expedition ships, the Nationwide Geographic Endurance.

“This plan all got here collectively inside simply two weeks, so it was numerous last-minute preparation,” Studer says. “Whereas initially, my focus was on tips on how to seize the eclipse, my girlfriend Bailey O’Bar is a marriage photographer with a ardour for wildlife, so she was very excited to see the penguins and seals.”

The fast two-week preparation time felt like a blur to Studer and the truth of what lay forward didn’t kick in till the couple flew over Patagonia on their technique to the staging metropolis of Ushuaia, Argentina.

“Flying over Patagonia was beautiful. I’ve by no means been, so having the ability to see the glaciers and mountains of this well-known area from above was unbelievable,” Studer says. “I had been so centered on the eclipse I hadn’t thought of what else was in retailer for us. The scenes beneath me snapped me out of that haze and bought me actually excited to {photograph} the landscapes of Antarctica.”

Studer and O’Bar landed in Ushuaia and have been instantly met by the Lindblad Expeditions staff who would transport them to their house for the subsequent three weeks, the 126-passenger Nationwide Geographic Endurance. Over 24-days, the ship would go to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands.

The route that the Nationwide Geographic Endurance would journey in an effort to go to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands.

Studer describes his preliminary response whereas boarding one of many latest ships within the Lindblad fleet: “Normally once I journey, it’s just a little extra bare-bones, so to talk. So once I first set foot on the ship, I used to be blown away. All the things on the ship was stunning, from the rooms to the widespread areas. However possibly my favourite a part of the ship was the paintings. The ship is house to an unbelievable everlasting artwork exhibit referred to as Change. It options mediums akin to portray, images, video, sculpture, and even soundscape, all curated by acclaimed artist Zaria Forman. Over 50 artists contributed work exhibiting their interpretation of the altering landscapes on account of local weather change.”

Because the couple unpacked their gear and clothes, the rest of the friends continued to board. Quickly after, the ship was on its method south, by means of Drake’s Passage to the world’s most inaccessible continent: Antarctica.

Shetland Islands

Earlier than reaching the shores of Antarctica, the Nationwide Geographic Endurance explored the coastlines of the South Shetland Islands after which disembarked on Barrientos Island. This island is house to colonies of each chinstrap and gentoo penguins, which get pleasure from barely hotter temperatures than their friends simply south.

“After an extended voyage at sea, we have been fortunate to get the all-clear for a Zodiac touchdown on Barrientos Island. Clearly, there aren’t any docks for a large ice-cutting expedition ship, so in an effort to get to land, you assemble into teams of 10 or 12 on a small Zodiac boat which takes you a brief distance to the seashore,” Studer describes.

“There have been actually stunning mountains and sea stacks, so after we disembarked, my thoughts was already overloaded with picture concepts. After which I noticed the penguins. This was my first time ever seeing penguins, so as a substitute of getting my digicam as much as my eye, I took a few minutes to easily take within the unbelievable expertise,” he provides.

“This was additionally my first time seeing the native Weddell seal, so I began incorporating him into the pictures as properly. The factor that struck me immediately was how expressive the seals’ faces are. They’re very photogenic and I used to be excited to know this was removed from the one one I might see on our expedition.”

After three hours on shore, Studer, O’Bar, and the opposite friends returned to the heat and luxury of the ship, however the images was not over but.

Transferring Landscapes

With such an unlimited space to cowl over a three-week expedition, Studer and O’Bar spent an excessive amount of time on the Nationwide Geographic Endurance. Fortunately for them, the vast majority of the time spent on board has the adventure-seeking friends calmly cruising by means of among the most untouched and wild landscapes on the planet. With about 20 hours of daylight in the course of the summer season, this results in limitless images alternatives with out having to do a lot work.

“A lot of what I shot on the expedition was truly from the ship,” Studer explains.

“The good half for me was the fixed altering of perspective that the shifting boat supplied, particularly with a telephoto lens. The landscapes have been continuously altering. Regardless of the scene I simply photographed, inside minutes it will look utterly totally different and result in a completely distinctive composition. When you find yourself climbing it’s a must to stroll for fairly a while to vary your perspective like that, however being on this unbelievable ship shifting among the many landscapes, the exhausting work of getting a unique perspective was being performed for me, and in a really quick period of time.”


Neko Harbor

After a two day voyage navigating the unpredictable waters of the Drake Passage and exploring the Shetland Islands, the Nationwide Geographic Endurance arrived in Antarctica. Removed from the South Pole lies the Antarctic Peninsula, which resembles an icy tentacle that reaches out from the Antarctic mainland, in direction of South America’s Tierra del Fuego.

For Studer, the early get up name on his alarm was properly definitely worth the non permanent ache it inflicted.

“Dawn this far south in the summertime is about 3 AM, and it was fairly freezing once I bought to the higher deck of the ship to shoot,” he says. “Nevertheless, I knew immediately how fortunate I used to be to be one of many few who braved the early time and the chilly once I regarded round me. We have been transiting by means of a waterway between the Antarctic Peninsula and Anvers and Brabant Islands, so I used to be surrounded by dramatic mountains that have been aglow within the early morning mild. There was a considerable amount of floating ice on both aspect of us, and because the ship moved by means of it, the ice would line up completely for perspective pictures with the mountains within the background.

“Once we bought to our anchor level exterior of Neko Harbor, there have been some beautiful glaciers within the distance, and you may see the gentoo penguins onshore. As the decision for breakfast went out, I opted to convey my digicam to the eating room.

“Meals have been an fascinating a part of the journey for me,” Studer says. “All of the meals have been unbelievable, however I discovered myself bringing my digicam with me to the desk as I might continuously see one thing new exterior the window that I might need to shoot. This morning specifically, I might see the gentoo penguins porpoising within the water exterior of our ship. Basically, they’d dive down deep into the water and once they come again up, they bounce out of the water, greater than I assumed they’d. It took some finding out of their habits earlier than I used to be in a position to comply with small teams and get some nice photographs of them popping out of the water. It was one other reminder about what number of photographic potentialities existed from the consolation of the ship.”

Having felt like he had already captured days’ price of pictures in only one morning, Studer was reminded that the day had technically but to start as the decision to disembark got here by means of the ship’s announcement system.

“Even the Zodiac touchdown right here was an journey of its personal,” he says. “Because the Zodiac maneuvers by means of the floating ice, penguins have been porpoising on all sides of us. Once we landed, I used to be overwhelmed. Despite the fact that this was a smaller colony, they’re so packed collectively it was exhausting to seize pictures that confirmed the personalities of the penguins. However as we waited, we have been in a position to get the occasional penguin who would separate themselves from the colony and I wound up getting some nice photographs of them with the glacier and the landscapes within the background.

Photograph by Bailey O’Bar

“However maybe my favourite a part of this shore expedition was seeing the penguins stroll from land and into the water to fish. We rented prime quality water boots onboard the ship that allowed us to face nearly knee deep within the chilly Southern Ocean. We seen a small group of gentoo penguins that have been going out to the water to fish. After they would come again in direction of shore, they’d splash their wings in a frantic, stunning show. After photographing the penguins on land for some time, this was a pleasant change of tempo and led to some nice photographs earlier than we jumped again on the Zodiac and returned to the ship.”

South Georgia Island

Gold Harbor

South Georgia Island is a big, mountainous island that lies about midway between the southeast shoreline of Argentina and Antarctica, however 1,200 miles to the east. This far distance implies that the island has a really totally different local weather and panorama than what Studer and the passengers on Nationwide Geographic Endurance had skilled up to now.

“I wasn’t actually positive what to anticipate at South Georgia Island,” Studer explains. “However over the three-day interval we have been there, I used to be blown away. The wildlife consisting of King Penguins, Elephant Seals, and Antarctic fur seals was all over the place, and the panorama backdrops have been beautiful. It was inspiring to see these mountains seemingly meet the ocean. We bought some sunny days right here as properly, which led to some fascinating pictures which confirmed the chilly, snow-capped mountain peaks with clear daylight on the wildlife within the foreground.

“Our first touchdown on South Georgia was Gold Harbor, and I actually can say it’s essentially the most stunning place that I’ve been lucky sufficient to go to. You’ve got this assortment of unbelievable wildlife with these outstanding glaciers and mountains. The penguins have been interacting with the seals, they usually jumbled in on this entanglement of nature’s magnificence. Whereas I used to be capturing, I couldn’t cease laughing at how humorous the wildlife right here was. The King Penguins have been awkwardly hobbling round whereas the elephant seals had these goofy expressions on their faces.

Impressed by South Georgia’s numerous magnificence, the photographer knew this is able to be an ideal time so as to add to his ardour undertaking, House to Roam.

“Over the previous few years, I’ve been obsessive about capturing tales of a fictional astronaut exploring otherworldly landscapes right here on earth,” Studer explains. “I need to have a good time these particular locations and lift consciousness to conserving them in a singular method that wasn’t simply your typical panorama pictures. The concept was born when I discovered this outdated area go well with and didn’t hesitate to purchase it. Since then, the go well with has been everywhere in the world, resulting in some fairly distinctive photos.

“I beloved my House to Roam photographs from Gold Harbor,” Studer states. “Utilizing a telephoto, I used to be in a position to seize photographs the place the compression of the lens makes it appear to be the penguins and the area man are proper subsequent to one another, though in actuality, fairly a distance separates them. The penguins themselves felt alien to me, so this was a good way for me to specific that. And right here, there have been so many penguins, they nearly grew to become the otherworldly panorama themselves.”

St. Andrew’s Bay

The following morning, a brief experience alongside the coast north led Studer and the Nationwide Geographic Endurance to St. Andrew’s Bay, the place the most important colony of king penguins resides in South Georgia. It’s estimated that over a million king penguins make up this colony, wherein 250,000 breeding pairs exist. The “oaken boys,” younger penguins who haven’t molted their child down feathers in alternate for his or her waterproof coats, frolic in abundance right here. The scene led Studer to play with compositions that confirmed the limitless layers of penguins that overtook the panorama.

“We hiked up a small hill to get a greater view of the colony, and it was unbelievable seeing it from above,” he says. “They’re so carefully packed collectively, and I spent numerous time capturing extra summary kind photos with my telephoto lens. Despite the fact that I had photographed penguins for seemingly weeks by this level, this expertise and the pictures I captured felt really distinctive.”

The Whole Photo voltaic Eclipse

The Lindblad Expeditions staff had deliberate the itinerary of this Antarctica expedition with the overall photo voltaic eclipse on December 4, 2021 in thoughts. In the course of the eclipse, the Nationwide Geographic Endurance could be transiting from South Georgia Island to the Falkland Islands. Not being locked into a particular location allowed the captain of the ship to vary course as wanted, because the climate is all the time an element on this rugged area. With the eclipse slated to happen round 4:00 AM, the captain and his crew spent all night time finding out the climate maps to offer the ship and its passengers the most effective probability of witnessing the uncommon phenomenon.

As famous by Naturalist Joe Holliday within the day by day expedition report, even with all the planning, the Antarctic climate is all the time combating again.

“We had our hopes up due to the clear sky at daybreak. Nevertheless, a cloud financial institution approached us, threatening our hopes for a view of the eclipse at dawn. The ship rotated and began cruising away from the clouds. Then it occurred: the solar rose at dawn in the course of the complete photo voltaic eclipse!

“We noticed a crescent-shaped solar rise for the reason that solar was largely blocked by the moon’s shadow. After a couple of minutes, all that was left of the solar was the well-known “diamond ring” form. Lastly, darkness fell on the ocean throughout us because the shadow completely blocked the solar. For one superb minute, we noticed the solar’s corona flare out on all sides of the shadow.”

The tireless and efficient work of the ship’s crew paid off, because the staff later discovered that they have been the one ship within the area fortunate sufficient to witness the overall photo voltaic eclipse.

“It seems, the satellite tv for pc photos from that occasion present nearly 100% cloud cowl within the area, apart from this tiny window,” Studer describes.

“In some way the captain was in a position to get us on this window when it mattered most. The truth that the eclipse occurred proper on the horizon, with this imposing cloud financial institution straight overhead made the pictures fairly distinctive. I nonetheless look again in awe on the work that the ship’s captain and his staff did to make us among the fortunate few who have been in a position to witness this complete photo voltaic eclipse.”

Falkland Islands

Because the Nationwide Geographic Endurance started the lengthy trek again to Ushuaia, Argentina, the Falkland Islands could be the friends’ final land tour.

Mendacity 300 miles east of Patagonia and 752 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula, the islands supplied a reminder to Studer about simply how far this journey had taken him. He used the snug climate on land to deal with wrapping up one other ardour undertaking he had throughout this journey: taking portrait pictures of the Naturalists who tirelessly guided the passengers over the three-week journey.

After all, the Falkland Islands did present one final probability for Studer so as to add to his wildlife portfolio. On Steeple Jason Island, he was in a position to {photograph} a large colony of Black Browed Albatross.

“The Black Browed Albatross had these nests on the tussock grass that dotted the Steeple Jason Island panorama,” Studer says. “They have been surprisingly relaxed with individuals round, so it was straightforward to get wider angle photographs highlighting the surroundings as they nested.

“After residing within the chilly environments of Antarctica and South Georgia Island, this hotter, iceless panorama felt tropical. You’ve got these white sand seashores crammed with penguins and their younger chicks, and to be trustworthy, the penguins felt misplaced after getting so used to seeing them on the ice!”

The Lindblad Expeditions/Nationwide Geographic Expertise

After over three weeks at sea, Studer, O’Bar, and the opposite passengers disembarked on the steady floor at Ushuaia, Argentina and started their lengthy journeys house. Whereas Studer has traveled the Earth in quest of the landscapes, wildlife and tradition that make the world particular, his journey with Lindblad Expeditions on board the Nationwide Geographic Endurance could have topped all of them. Moreover, his expertise was far more than the pictures that he introduced house with him.

“There are numerous adjectives that I might use to explain my expertise in Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands with Lindblad Expeditions,” Studer explains.

“However probably, the one that stands out essentially the most is refreshing. As of late, you hear rather a lot in regards to the results of local weather change, and naturally, this area gives an abundance of proof that reveals the results in motion. However even with that, it was refreshing to see that there’s nonetheless hope. These areas nonetheless appear so untouched and the uncooked magnificence of those places are on full show, because of conservation efforts and the way tough they’re to succeed in. Having the ability to expertise these unbelievable places in a method that doesn’t have an effect on the wildlife’s pure habitat is crucial. Lindblad was not solely nice about ensuring we didn’t make an influence on land, however all through the times, there was all the time a variety of talks within the lounge given by the on-board Naturalists that designate how local weather change impacts the Antarctic area, whereas additionally showcasing what we are able to do to assist advocate for constructive change.”

He continues: “For me, not solely did I go away with an unbelievable assortment of pictures and experiences, however this expedition actually opened my eyes to the untouched great thing about the world that also exists, however sadly, continues to be threatened. I’ll always remember this expedition, and I think about myself fortunate that I used to be in a position to expertise Antarctica earlier than it modifications. This journey additionally gave me hope that if all of us work collectively, we could possibly protect this area for generations to return.

“I went with Lindblad Expeditions to see the overall eclipse in Antarctica. However I got here again with so many photos that imply much more to me than the eclipse,” Studer concludes. “We had so many ‘eclipse worthy’ moments. That feeling of photographing one thing so distinctive and uncommon adopted me for your entire three-week expedition. I had that feeling once I noticed the large colony of King penguins on the seashore in South Georgia, or each time I laid eyes on the unbelievable mountain and glacier landscapes of Antarctica. In South Georgia, we had this unbelievable ribbon of lenticular clouds catching this attractive orange mild over the mountains beneath. It was all of those ‘eclipse like’ emotions that made for an thrilling and rewarding images expertise that I’ll always remember. My solely hope is that this received’t be my final expedition to Antarctica, and that because of conservation efforts, the untouched magnificence will stay on my return with Lindblad Expeditions and Nationwide Geographic.”

Extra from Andrew Studer may be discovered on his web site and Instagram.

Extra from Bailey O’Bar may be discovered on her web site and Instagram.

Full disclosure: This text was dropped at you by Lindblad Expeditions. Lindblad Expeditions is a worldwide supplier of small-ship expeditions and journey journey experiences acknowledged because the class chief for its pioneering, cutting-edge programming and conservation dedication. Lindblad works in partnership with Nationwide Geographic to encourage individuals to discover and care in regards to the planet. The organizations work in tandem to supply revolutionary marine expedition applications and to advertise conservation and sustainable tourism all over the world. Visitors work together with and be taught from main scientists, naturalists and researchers whereas discovering beautiful pure environments, above and beneath the ocean, by means of state-of-the-art exploration instruments.

Picture credit: All pictures by Andrew Studer and Baily O’Bar.

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