Antarctic Photography Hints

Our destinations offer some of the world’s most challenging conditions for photography, but also some of its greatest rewards. From towering icebergs, rugged cliffs and smiling faces, there is always something to capture on camera. Below we have listed some handy hints for making the most of photographing whilst on an expedition.

Photography Etiquette

When photographing wildlife, never surround a single animal or group of animals. Try to form a semi-circle to leave an unspoiled background. Never harass wildlife for the sake of photography. Remember that photography isn’t over when your shutter clicks; retreat from your subject in the same way you approached.

Respect the rights of other photographers. Allow others to get a clear shot before walking into their view. Also, be aware that those with video cameras are recording sights and sounds.

Wildlife photography in South Georgia

Protecting your cameras

To keep cameras dry in the Zodiacs, you can use float bags (available at good camera stores). These durable, waterproof bags come in all sizes and can be inflated to ensure your camera will float if it falls in the water. Alternatively, you could put your camera in a plastic bag or use a waterproof case that floats; there are many brands and sizes available. These cases seal and have foam lining for extra protection. A supply of zip-lock plastic bags is recommended as extra protection for the camera and personal effects.

When going from the air-conditioned ship into humid, warm air, condensation can develop on your camera and lens. To prevent this, place your camera and lens inside a plastic bag, expel the air and seal it. Be sure to keep your lens cap on so that the condensation will occur only on the camera body. In about 10-15 minutes, your camera should be acclimatised.

Photography Supplies

If using digital cameras, you’ll need to store the images, either on your laptop computer, or a digital storage device, that can carry the images until you get back to your computer. There are no facilities on board to download and store images.

Handy Hint Checklist

  • Read and bring your manuals
  • Bring lens paper and cleaning fluid
  • Pack your battery charger or spare batteries
  • Pack extra film/tape/memory cards
  • Pack electronic flash/tripod
  • Soft cloth for cleaning lens
  • Waterproof bag
  • Identify subject (look for interesting behaviour as well as beauty)
  • Frame shot carefully
  • Open aperture 1 stop when subject is dark
  • Close aperture 1 stop in bright light and glare
  • Increase shutter speed when shooting from moving ship or Zodiac
  • Focus carefully and hold the camera still.
  • Respect the rights of people, wildlife and fellow photographers

Have you read our FREE Polar Photography Handbook yet? Find more hints on everything from composition to camera care in the Polar Regions

Polar Photography Handbook

The professionalism, enthusiasm and passion shown by all expedition staff was exceptional.
Janice McKenzie, Victoria, Australia
We had a wonderful trip which met all our hopes and expectations... The expedition leader and all his team were fantastic and imparted much useful knowledge.
David Green - Spirit of Antarctica, 2015
I can not express how much I enjoyed my adventure and experience on the Polar Pioneer. It surpassed my wildest expectations.
Cristina Royale - Spirit of Antarctica, 2015
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