This was a pretty spectacular christmas day. We woke up when the expedition leader announced on the loudspeaker that we had a pod of killer whales off our bow. Better than waking up to an alarm clock…
We then headed into the Lemaire Channel. The captain had heard earlier reports that it was too packed with ice and we couldn’t make it through. When we approached the Lemaire Channel another ship, the Ushuaia, had already turned around. We hadn’t seen another ship until now and we all were pretty disappointed because it seemed like we couldn’t make it through.
However, the captain was determined to get through and through some skillful maneuvering and crashing through even more ice…
We did eventually make it through the Lemaire Channel. To bad for the guests on the Ushuaia. This is one of the many reasons to choose the NatGeo Explorer over the other ships that travels to Antarctica. This ship has proven it can go were others can not.
The Lemaire Channel had a lot of wildlife. I felt a little bad sometimes when a seal would be taking a nap on an iceberg but was in our way. The captain would try to maneuver around the seal but sometimes it just wasn’t possible. This seal eventually slid off the iceberg and went to find a quieter place to take a nap.
Miki taking a picture of me taking the above picture.
After making it through the Lemaire Channel we made it to Booth Island. We had the most spectacular light with the most dramatic cloud cover. We had some amazing penguin and seal spottings while out on the Zodiacs. I shot over a 1000 pictures in one afternoon. Don’t worry… I wont post them all.
The wildlife taken from a zodiac near Booth Island.
and for the dramatic iceberg shots of the day.
When we got back to ship a couple of people were referring to our boat as the big lens zodiac. The shortest lens on our zodiac was a 400mm. Antarctica tends to bring a well travelled crowd and most of the photographers on board have already been on safari (some several times) which requires some big glass. Antarctica is no different. The bigger and faster lens you can afford to bring down the better.
While I was on the zodiac cruise with the Ira Block (the NatGeo photographer on board) and the other big lens crew, Miki went on a hike to the top of Booth Island.
I also took a few pictures with my infrared converted 30D when we were travelling back through the Lemaire Channel. My infrared camera spent most of the time in the camera bag because I’ve had limited success with it. Even with the stunning landscape of Antarctica, I’m still not satisfied with the results. Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I think simple black and white photos are much more appealing.
The daily expedition report and a few more photos after the break.