Photographing Antarctica: Penguins, Seals, and a Total Solar Eclipse

Antarctica is a bucket listing vacation spot for numerous panorama and wildlife photographers, and for good motive. Dramatic, jagged mountain peaks rise excessive over colonies consisting of hundreds of thousands of penguins residing on the frozen earth beneath. While 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 National 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 article was dropped at you by Lindblad Expeditions

At a Glance

Preparing For The Expedition

This wouldn’t 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 displaying a rock climber in entrance of an eclipse in Oregon went viral, and it’s simple 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 National Geographic Endurance.

“This plan all got here collectively inside simply two weeks, so it was a lot of last-minute preparation,” Studer says. “While initially, my focus was on the best way to seize the eclipse, my girlfriend Bailey O’Bar is a wedding ceremony 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 fact of what lay forward didn’t kick in till the couple flew over Patagonia on their approach 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 unimaginable,” 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 obtained 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 residence for the subsequent three weeks, the 126-passenger National Geographic Endurance. Over 24-days, the ship would go to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands.

The route that the National 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: “Usually once I journey, it’s a little extra bare-bones, so to talk. So once I first set foot on the ship, I used to be blown away. Everything on the ship was stunning, from the rooms to the widespread areas. But perhaps my favourite a part of the ship was the paintings. The ship is residence to an unimaginable everlasting artwork exhibit referred to as Change. It options mediums reminiscent of portray, images, video, sculpture, and even soundscape, all curated by acclaimed artist Zaria Forman. Over 50 artists contributed work displaying their interpretation of the altering landscapes on account of local weather change.”

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

Shetland Islands

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

“After a lengthy voyage at sea, we had been fortunate to get the all-clear for a Zodiac touchdown on Barrientos Island. Obviously, there aren’t any docks for a large 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 had been actually stunning mountains and sea stacks, so once we disembarked, my thoughts was already overloaded with picture concepts. And then 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 couple of minutes to easily take within the unimaginable expertise,” he provides.

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

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

Moving Landscapes

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

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

“The coolest half for me was the fixed altering of perspective that the shifting boat supplied, particularly with a telephoto lens. The landscapes had been continuously altering. No matter the scene I simply photographed, inside minutes it could look fully totally different and result in a completely distinctive composition. When you’re mountaineering you need to stroll for fairly a while to vary your perspective like that, however being on this unimaginable ship shifting among the many landscapes, the exhausting work of getting a totally different perspective was being carried out for me, and in a very 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 National Geographic Endurance arrived in Antarctica. Far 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 nicely definitely worth the short-term ache it inflicted.

“Sunrise this far south in the summertime is about 3 AM, and it was fairly freezing once I obtained to the higher deck of the ship to shoot,” he says. “However, 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 seemed 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 great 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.

“When we obtained to our anchor level outdoors 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 fascinating a part of the journey for me,” Studer says. “All the meals had been unimaginable, however I discovered myself bringing my digital camera with me to the desk as I’d continuously see one thing new outdoors the window that I’d wish to shoot. This morning particularly, I might see the gentoo penguins porpoising within the water outdoors of our ship. Essentially, they might dive down deep into the water and after they come again up, they leap out of the water, greater than I assumed they might. It took some learning of their habits earlier than I used to be capable of observe small teams and get some nice pictures 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. “As the Zodiac maneuvers by means of the floating ice, penguins had been porpoising on all sides of us. When we landed, I used to be overwhelmed. Even although this was a smaller colony, they’re so packed collectively it was exhausting to seize pictures that confirmed the personalities of the penguins. But 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 pictures of them with the glacier and the landscapes within the background.

Photo by Bailey O’Bar

“But 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. When they might come again in direction of shore, they might splash their wings in a frantic, stunning show. After photographing the penguins on land for a whereas, this was a good change of tempo and led to some nice pictures earlier than we jumped again on the Zodiac and returned to the ship.”

South Georgia Island

Gold Harbor

South Georgia Island is a massive, 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 very totally different local weather and panorama than what Studer and the passengers on National Geographic Endurance had skilled up to now.

“I wasn’t actually certain what to anticipate at South Georgia Island,” Studer explains. “But 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 all over the place, and the panorama backdrops had been beautiful. It was inspiring to see these mountains seemingly meet the ocean. We obtained some sunny days right here as nicely, 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 truthfully can say it’s essentially the most stunning place that I’ve been lucky sufficient to go to. You have this assortment of unimaginable wildlife with these outstanding glaciers and mountains. The penguins had been interacting with the seals, and they jumbled in on this entanglement of nature’s magnificence. While 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 is able to be a excellent time so as to add to his ardour challenge, Space to Roam.

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

“I cherished my Space to Roam pictures from Gold Harbor,” Studer states. “Using a telephoto, I used to be capable of seize pictures the place the compression of the lens makes it seem 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 grew to become the otherworldly panorama themselves.”

St. Andrew’s Bay

The subsequent morning, a brief journey alongside the coast north led Studer and the National Geographic Endurance to St. Andrew’s Bay, the place the biggest colony of king penguins resides in South Georgia. It is 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 alternate 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 higher view of the colony, and it was unimaginable seeing it from above,” he says. “They are so carefully packed collectively, and I spent a lot of time capturing extra summary sort photos with my telephoto lens. Even although I had photographed penguins for seemingly weeks by this level, this expertise and the pictures I captured felt really distinctive.”

The Total Solar Eclipse

The Lindblad Expeditions group had deliberate the itinerary of this Antarctica expedition with the overall photo voltaic eclipse on December 4, 2021 in thoughts. During the eclipse, the National 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 a issue on this rugged area. With the eclipse slated to happen round 4:00 AM, the captain and his crew spent all night time learning the climate maps to provide the ship and its passengers the most effective likelihood of witnessing the uncommon phenomenon.

As famous by Naturalist Joe Holliday within the every 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. However, 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 throughout the complete photo voltaic eclipse!

“We noticed a crescent-shaped solar rise because the solar was largely blocked by the moon’s shadow. After a jiffy, all that was left of the solar was the well-known “diamond ring” form. Finally, darkness fell on the ocean throughout us because the shadow completely blocked the solar. For one wonderful 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 came upon that they had 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 virtually 100% cloud cowl within the area, apart from this tiny window,” Studer describes.

“Somehow the captain was capable of get us on this window when it mattered most. The indisputable fact that the eclipse occurred proper on the horizon, with this imposing cloud financial institution straight overhead made the photographs fairly distinctive. I nonetheless look again in awe on the work that the ship’s captain and his group did to make us a few of the fortunate few who had been capable of witness this complete photo voltaic eclipse.”

Falkland Islands

As the National Geographic Endurance started the lengthy trek again to Ushuaia, Argentina, the Falkland Islands can be the company’ final land tour.

Lying 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 comfy climate on land to deal with wrapping up one other ardour challenge he had throughout this journey: taking portrait pictures of the Naturalists who tirelessly guided the passengers over the three-week journey.

Of course, the Falkland Islands did present one final likelihood for Studer so as to add to his wildlife portfolio. On Steeple Jason Island, he was capable of {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 had been surprisingly relaxed with folks round, so it was simple to get wider angle pictures highlighting the setting as they nested.

“After residing within the chilly environments of Antarctica and South Georgia Island, this hotter, iceless panorama felt tropical. You have these white sand seashores stuffed with 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/National Geographic Experience

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

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

“But probably, the one that stands proud essentially the most is refreshing. These days, you hear a lot concerning the results of local weather change, and after all, this area gives an abundance of proof that exhibits the results in motion. But 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 how tough they’re to succeed in. Being capable of expertise these unimaginable places in a means that doesn’t have an effect on the wildlife’s pure habitat is vital. Lindblad was not solely nice about ensuring we didn’t make an impression on land, however all through the times, there was at all times a wide selection 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 optimistic change.”

He continues: “For me, not solely did I depart with an unimaginable assortment of pictures and experiences, however this expedition actually opened my eyes to the untouched fantastic thing about the world that also exists, however sadly, remains to be threatened. I’ll always remember this expedition, and I think about 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 could possibly protect this area for generations to come back.

“I went with Lindblad Expeditions to see the overall eclipse in Antarctica. But 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 complete 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 unimaginable mountain and glacier landscapes of Antarctica. In South Georgia, we had this unimaginable 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 images expertise that I’ll always remember. My solely hope is that this gained’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 National Geographic.”

More from Andrew Studer will be discovered on his web site and Instagram.

More from Bailey O’Bar will be discovered on her web site and Instagram.

Full disclosure: This article was dropped at you by Lindblad Expeditions. Lindblad Expeditions is a international 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 National Geographic to encourage folks to discover and care concerning the planet. The organizations work in tandem to supply revolutionary marine expedition packages and to advertise conservation and sustainable tourism all over the world. Guests 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.

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

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