Photographing Antarctica: Penguins, Seals, and a Complete 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 tens of millions of penguins dwelling 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 profitable 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 additionally a complete photo voltaic eclipse set to happen on December 4.

Full disclosure: This text was delivered to you by Lindblad Expeditions

At a Look

Getting ready For The Expedition

This is able to not be the primary time photographer Andrew Studer had tried to {photograph} a complete photo voltaic eclipse. On August twenty first 2017, Studer’s images and movie displaying 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 loads of last-minute preparation,” Studer says. “Whereas initially, my focus was on find out 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 short 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 solution to the staging metropolis of Ushuaia, Argentina.

“Flying over Patagonia was beautiful. I’ve by no means been, so with 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 received me actually excited to {photograph} the landscapes of Antarctica.”

Studer and O’Bar landed in Ushuaia and had been instantly met by the Lindblad Expeditions group who would transport them to their dwelling for the following 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 to be able 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: “Often once I journey, it’s slightly extra bare-bones, so to talk. So once I first set foot on the ship, I used to be blown away. The whole lot 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 dwelling to an unbelievable everlasting artwork exhibit known as Change. It options mediums resembling portray, pictures, video, sculpture, and even soundscape, all curated by acclaimed artist Zaria Forman. Over 50 artists contributed work displaying their interpretation of the altering landscapes because of local weather change.”

Because the couple unpacked their gear and clothes, the rest of the visitors continued to board. Quickly after, the ship was on its means 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 dwelling 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 had been fortunate to get the all-clear for a Zodiac touchdown on Barrientos Island. Clearly, there are not any docks for an enormous ice-cutting expedition ship, so to be able 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 seaside,” Studer describes.

“There have been actually stunning mountains and sea stacks, so once we disembarked, my thoughts was already overloaded with photograph concepts. After which I noticed the penguins. This was my first time ever seeing penguins, so as an alternative of getting my digital camera 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 images as nicely. The factor that struck me straight away 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 visitors returned to the heat and luxury of the ship, however the pictures was not over but.

Transferring Landscapes

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

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

“The best half for me was the fixed altering of perspective that the transferring boat supplied, particularly with a telephoto lens. The landscapes had been always altering. Irrespective of the scene I simply photographed, inside minutes it could look utterly completely different and result in a completely distinctive composition. When you find yourself mountaineering it’s a must to stroll for fairly a while to vary your perspective like that, however being on this unbelievable ship transferring among the many landscapes, the laborious work of getting a special perspective was being finished for me, and in a really brief 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 the direction of South America’s Tierra del Fuego.

For Studer, the early get up name on his alarm was nicely definitely worth the momentary ache it inflicted.

“Dawn this far south in the summertime is about 3 AM, and it was fairly freezing once I received to the higher deck of the ship to shoot,” he says. “Nonetheless, I knew straight away 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 had 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 had 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 images with the mountains within the background.

“After we received to our anchor level exterior of Neko Harbor, there have been some beautiful glaciers within the distance, and you could possibly see the gentoo penguins onshore. As the decision for breakfast went out, I opted to deliver my digital camera to the eating room.

“Meals had been an attention-grabbing a part of the journey for me,” Studer says. “All of the meals had been unbelievable, however I discovered myself bringing my digital camera with me to the desk as I might always see one thing new exterior the window that I might need to shoot. This morning specifically, I may see the gentoo penguins porpoising within the water exterior of our ship. Primarily, they’d dive down deep into the water and after they come again up, they soar out of the water, larger than I believed they’d. It took some finding out of their conduct earlier than I used to be capable of 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’ value of images 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 had been porpoising on all sides of us. After we landed, I used to be overwhelmed. Although this was a smaller colony, they’re so packed collectively it was laborious to seize images that confirmed the personalities of the penguins. However as we waited, we had been capable of 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 top quality water boots onboard the ship that allowed us to face virtually knee deep within the chilly Southern Ocean. We observed a small group of gentoo penguins that had been going out to the water to fish. Once they would come again in the 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 completely different local weather and panorama than what Studer and the passengers on Nationwide Geographic Endurance had skilled so far.

“I wasn’t actually certain what to anticipate at South Georgia Island,” Studer explains. “However over the three-day interval we had been there, I used to be blown away. The wildlife consisting of King Penguins, Elephant Seals, and Antarctic fur seals was in every single place, and the panorama backdrops had been beautiful. It was inspiring to see these mountains seemingly meet the ocean. We received some sunny days right here as nicely, which led to some attention-grabbing images 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 truthfully can say it’s essentially the most stunning place that I’ve been lucky sufficient to go to. You’ve this assortment of unbelievable wildlife with these exceptional glaciers and mountains. The penguins had been interacting with the seals, they usually mixed in on this entanglement of nature’s magnificence. Whereas I used to be taking pictures, I couldn’t cease laughing at how humorous the wildlife right here was. The King Penguins had 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 could be an ideal time so as to add to his ardour undertaking, Area 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 rejoice these particular locations and lift consciousness to conserving them in a singular means that wasn’t simply your typical panorama images. The concept was born when I discovered this previous area swimsuit and didn’t hesitate to purchase it. Since then, the swimsuit has been everywhere in the world, resulting in some fairly distinctive photos.

“I beloved my Area to Roam photographs from Gold Harbor,” Studer states. “Utilizing a telephoto, I used to be capable of 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, although 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 virtually turned the otherworldly panorama themselves.”

St. Andrew’s Bay

The subsequent morning, a brief trip 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, by which 250,000 breeding pairs exist. The “oaken boys,” younger penguins who haven’t molted their child down feathers in trade for his or her waterproof coats, frolic in abundance right here. The scene led Studer to play with compositions that confirmed the infinite 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 intently packed collectively, and I spent loads of time capturing extra summary sort photos with my telephoto lens. Although I had photographed penguins for seemingly weeks by this level, this expertise and the images I captured felt actually distinctive.”

The Complete Photo voltaic Eclipse

The Lindblad Expeditions group had deliberate the itinerary of this Antarctica expedition with the whole photo voltaic eclipse on December 4, 2021 in thoughts. In the course of the eclipse, the Nationwide Geographic Endurance can 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 at all times an element on this rugged area. With the eclipse slated to happen round 4:00 AM, the captain and his crew spent all evening finding out the climate maps to present the ship and its passengers the very best probability of witnessing the uncommon phenomenon.

As famous by Naturalist Joe Holliday within the day by day expedition report, even with the entire planning, the Antarctic climate is at all times preventing again.

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

“We noticed a crescent-shaped solar rise because the solar was principally 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 group later discovered that they had been the one ship within the area fortunate sufficient to witness the whole photo voltaic eclipse.

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

“By some means the captain was capable of 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 instantly overhead made the pictures fairly distinctive. I nonetheless look again in awe on the work that the ship’s captain and his group did to make us among the fortunate few who had been capable of witness this whole photo voltaic eclipse.”

Falkland Islands

Because the Nationwide Geographic Endurance started the lengthy trek again to Ushuaia, Argentina, the Falkland Islands can be the visitors’ 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 give attention to wrapping up one other ardour undertaking he had throughout this journey: taking portrait images 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 capable of {photograph} an enormous 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 had been surprisingly relaxed with folks round, so it was straightforward to get wider angle photographs highlighting the surroundings as they nested.

“After dwelling within the chilly environments of Antarctica and South Georgia Island, this hotter, iceless panorama felt tropical. You’ve these white sand seashores full of penguins and their younger chicks, and to be sincere, 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 secure floor at Ushuaia, Argentina and commenced their lengthy journeys dwelling. Whereas Studer has traveled the Earth seeking 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 rather more than the pictures that he introduced dwelling with him.

“There are loads of adjectives that I may 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 lots concerning the results of local weather change, and naturally, this area gives an abundance of proof that reveals the consequences 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, due to conservation efforts and the way troublesome they’re to achieve. With the ability to expertise these unbelievable places in a means that doesn’t have an effect on the wildlife’s pure habitat is important. Lindblad was not solely nice about ensuring we didn’t make an affect on land, however all through the times, there was at all times 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 will do to assist advocate for constructive change.”

He continues: “For me, not solely did I depart with an unbelievable assortment of images 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 take into account myself fortunate that I used to be capable of expertise Antarctica earlier than it adjustments. This journey additionally gave me hope that if all of us work collectively, we might be able to protect this area for generations to come back.

“I went with Lindblad Expeditions to see the whole 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 all the three-week expedition. I had that feeling once I noticed the large colony of King penguins on the seaside 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 beautiful orange mild over the mountains beneath. It was all of those ‘eclipse like’ emotions that made for an thrilling and rewarding pictures expertise that I’ll always remember. My solely hope is that this gained’t be my final expedition to Antarctica, and that due to conservation efforts, the untouched magnificence will stay on my return with Lindblad Expeditions and Nationwide Geographic.”

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

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

Full disclosure: This text was delivered to you by Lindblad Expeditions. Lindblad Expeditions is a world 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 folks to discover and care concerning the planet. The organizations work in tandem to provide modern marine expedition packages and to advertise conservation and sustainable tourism world wide. 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 images by Andrew Studer and Baily O’Bar.

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