Photography in Antarctica

Photography in Antarctica

Michael Moore|May 12, 2016|Blog Post

Michael Moore has been working with us for nearly a decade; he earned both his BS in biology and an MS degree in ecology, ethology, and evolution at the University of Illinois. As an expedition leader, Mike has led travelers everywhere from the equatorial forests of New Guinea to the Great White Continent of Antarctica, and many places in between. We recently caught up with Michael to see what’s in his camera bag.

What camera(s) do you recommend for serious photographers?

On Antarctic voyages, I always bring two DSLR camera bodies. Changing lenses in the field is not ideal, so this gives you the ability to quickly interchange between lenses. In my bag you will find:

  • Nikon D800E
  • Nikon D700
  • Nikon 24-70mm 2.8
  • Nikon 70-200mm 2.8
  • Nikon 14-22mm 2.8
  • Nikon 105mm 1.4 macro

I use my 70-200 with the teleconverter most of the time. In Antarctica you will be on top of the wildlife; it’s literally all around you! That said, I do regularly change between my 24-70mm and the 70-200mm plus a 1.4x telelens.

If you have a longer lens, such as a 200-400mm, it may be useful for shots of albatross and other seabirds from the deck of the ship, but the size and weight of such a lens should be seriously considered when packing.

What is your favorite camera bag?

At this point, there is no “perfect” camera bag I’ve come across. I use the Thinktank Airporter backpack for travel, and the SealLine 40L wide-mouth duffle with Pelican Case interior for the Zodiac.

Can you tell us more about how to transport equipment in Zodiacs?

You will need to keep your hands free for getting in and out of the Zodiac. It can get QUITE wet, with spray, inclement weather, and the occasional wave. The SealLine bag is my current favorite for Zodiac cruising; it is waterproof and easy to reach everything inside.

When on land, do you bring a plastic bag or something to put the backpack on when retrieving your equipment?

You can put your bag down, but it is wet and your bag will get covered in penguin poop. You can certainly bring something to protect your bag, however, I consider the mess to be a hazard of getting good shots—a badge of honor, if you will.

Do you bring a tripod?

I don't. I used to, but I find I use that mostly for shots of flowers in low-light conditions, neither of which occur in Antarctica.

Any recommendations on a compact waterproof camera?

I have tried many of the waterproof "tough" cameras and I am still disappointed. Many of my colleagues have a Canon PowerShot G-series with a waterproof housing, which seems to work well for them.

What about condensation with the lenses/bodies.  Do you individualize each lens or camera body and have a bag for each, or can you combine? 

There are no real problems with this in Antarctica. Condensation is more of a problem when leaving an air-conditioned cabin into a tropical environment! You may have issues if you come in from a landing and then take your camera immediately out of the bag to take interior photos, but I’ve never had this happen. 

For more information on our upcoming expedition, visit Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands

Learn more about Antarctica here: The Ultimate Travel Antarctica Guide

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