Hey Everyone -
Guess what? Today I touched ground on my final seventh continent! I cannot believe that a career in a field society has such caution towards has allowed me to shoot 7 continents! It was an exciting first land fall – but let me first explain a little about the day.
We woke up and did yoga. After, as breakfast began, a pod of humpback whales appeared off the balcony of the boat. We watched them for awhile just off the bow. They were so close it felt like we were swimming next to them – such a treat. They were soon beaten out by a group of penguins jumping out of the water, hydroplaning like torpedoes. In the distance we could see the land fall of Antarctica. It is a sight you cannot really describe because it is so majestic. The white mountains and the glaciers amongst the staggering cliffs and icebergs – it’s just beyond! We attended a very interesting session on the penguins we were going to be seeing over the next few days before being called to the bridge by Lisa, the expedition leader. As they were parking the boat, Lisa showed us the beach we were going to be taking the zodiac boat to in order to shoot our first images. Accompanied by two of the staff, we set out in the zodiac for the first ever landfall on Antarctica…and boy is it one I will never forget.
Upon landing, the sun was out and it was just glorious. I pulled a beach chair and props and immediately began shooting along the rocky shore. It was a DREAM to bring my first image to life especially after months of dreaming about the shot wondering, “Will it ever happen?” So many factors go into a trip to Antarctica and the forefront being the weather.
After getting our first initial shot we decided to walk up into the snowy ice to shoot a shot for my balloon letter series – the word ANTARCTICA. As we got up into the bluff, suddenly the weather began to change and as we inflated the first A the sun got stuck behind a cloud and it never reappeared. The wind came up and the shot began to become more and more impossible seeming. The winds became so unbearable we thought it couldn’t get any worse. Then the ‘I’ flew away and began bouncing across the white landscape into the unknown. Lizzy and Lucco from National Geographic began running to get it. Within a minute the both began to sink into the snow and fall over with each footstep: the ‘I’ was too far away. Lizzy kept going – foot fall after foot fall – sinking into the 4 feet of snow. She finally got over the ridge and saw the ‘I’ stuck against a large rock. All of us back at the snowy field had almost given up, but Lizzy came triumphantly over the bluff carrying the ‘I’ and we all sighed with relief finding it hard not to clap! Lizzy totally saved the day. If I only had a photo of her holding it like her life depended on it! After that, it was mostly smooth sailing getting the rest of the letters done and soon the image was concocted. Sure enough, it was a beautiful sight!
We were thrilled to achieve our first few images but we will never forget that first moment of landing on the continent – I may be done with balloon letters after this! (Just joking…sort of).
After a long hot shower we went to drinks with he captain before having dinner with the two staff who helped us with the shot, Taylor and Luccio. They are just amazing having spent trip after trip on these spectacular National Geographic expeditions. What a life right?
Just when the day couldn’t end on a better note a huge groups of humpback whales appeared off the stern of the boat jumping and splashing for krill. They are so large and so majestic from just 50 feet away. What a thrill…
Alarm is set for 5:30am - can’t wait to share another day from the Antarctic!
Hi Everyone -
Today was spent entirely at sea and boy did we luck out in the Drake Passage this route. The Drake is where three currents come together (the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Antarctic Convergence) so it is famous for being very rough and very very grey. However, we were fortunate to have fairly calm seas and a little sunshine. Though the boat is still rocking, it has been nothing like it is notorious for being.
They really keep you busy even at a day of sea. We had a lot of informational talks and lectures by different National Geographic guides and spent some time watching the albatross swooping side to side off the stern of the ship. One of the guides even instructed us on how best to use our GoPro camera in the coming days! Though not the most eventful day, I really enjoyed the pleasure of not having a lot to do (for us busy types, sometimes it takes a day at sea in the Arctic to remind us how important it is to take a day off!).
Tonight we had a debriefing on the loading/unloading of the zodiac boats that we will be taking to shore to shoot in the coming days (zodiacs are small rubber boats that larger vessels use to transport people to shore). The Expedition Leader gave a nice lecture and we now feel even more prepared than before for our arrival tomorrow morning in Antarctica!
So excited to step foot on my seventh continent tomorrow – I can’t wait to share more as we begin out photo shoot here on the White Continent!
It is day 4 of my travels. We awoke at 5am this morning to get get ready before heading to the local Buenos Aires airport to catch a plane to Ushuaia, the most southern city in the world. Flying over the beautiful Patagonia region we descended into a landscape I had never seen before: a sub-tropic ecosystem with low snow covered cliffs and lush widespread greenery.
We left the airport and headed through the local national park learning a lot about the natural environment. Due to the year round cold weather, the organic decomposition of natural foliage occurs much slower than most places on earth. Because of this you can observe many interesting details- especially in the forest. We saw two red foxes, Argentine geese and some colorful parakeets. Eventually, we came to the end of the park which is also the end of the Transamerican Highway that runs from Alaska to the bottom of Argentina. The day before this, a man who had been waking the trail for 2.5 years had arrived at the sign.
We then took a catamaran through the Beagle Channel, which separates Argentina and Chile. Spotting many sea lions and cormorants, my favorite moment was at an old red and white striped light house… it was truly stunning standing so silently amongst all the chattering birds in the quite bay. The ride ended with an exciting sight in the distance: the National Geographic Explorer ship we are taking to Antarctica!
Grabbing our belongings, we couldn’t help but race down to the ship and board this incredible boat. We are staying in a nice room with a view of the starboard. The staff was very welcoming and we spent some time doing safety drills and getting a lot of important information from the crew.
After dinner we received some new snazzy red parkas with the National Geographic logo and the boat set sail. Tonight, we will begin our ride deep into Drake’s Passage, which is famous for anyone going to Antarctica. The passage is where three currents meet – the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Antarctic Convergence. As you can imagine, this makes the passage rather rough and many tales have been told by the explorers who chartered this territory over the past two centuries.
Outside the window the sun is trying to set just after 10pm but not sure it will have a chance. Hopefully the sea will remain decent through the night and I look forward to sharing more tomorrow!