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Focus on a Photo #4 - Antarctica!

First Light on Antarctic Mountains, Gerlache Strait, Antarctica

Glittering white, shining blue, raven black,

in the light of the sun the land looks like a fairy tale.

Pinnacle after pinnacle, peak after peak,

crevassed, wild as any land on our globe,

it lies, unseen and untrodden.

- Roald Amundsen

Another photographer on my voyage remarked that the Antarctic landscape was "like the Land of Mordor" (albeit without the evil Sauron or erupting volcanos), but could Tolkien have ever imagined a snow and ice fortress like this? The mountains, glaciers, snow cornices, ice cliffs, and icebergs were simply beyond the power of any language to adequately describe. I hope my photos give you a sense of the austere grandeur and epic beauty of this extreme polar wilderness.

I made this image - one of my favorites of the entire voyage - as MV Ushuaia sailed between the Palmer Archipelago and the Antarctic Peninsula. I woke before 5 AM, saw clear skies out my porthole (unlike the overcasts of previous days), so grabbed two cameras and went topside. The ship's decks and ladders were white with overnight snowfall. I was surprised to find no one else out shooting, but thoroughly enjoyed the solitude and incredible morning light on the mountain ranges to both our port and starboard sides.

I shot this hand-held with a Nikkor 200-500mm F/5.6 telephoto lens zoomed to a focal length of 300 mm. Exposure was F10 at 1/640 second, ISO 200. I processed the RAW image in Adobe Lightroom and sharpened it in Photoshop.

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