A Photography Journey to Antarctica

Monday, September 14, 2020

Michael Durr, a professional photographer and videographer explores his 1st experience in Antarctica through our photography webinar. Here he gives you the tips and tricks it takes to make great photos while you are in Antarctica. Below, you will find a list of questions we covered during the webinar and also a recording of the webinar in case you wanted to listen to it again.

1. Thoughts on bringing 500 mm vs 300 mm lenses. Is 500 too unwieldy?
From my perspective 500 mm would be too much too long, I think the 100 mm to 400 mm would be the perfect amount of zoom, because you do want to have the ability to not be locked into a very specific setting, to be able to get wider shots and then also zoom in for the details, while doing it fast, without worrying about changing lenses. And since you’re always moving, keeping that long focal lens steady can be very difficult.

2. Which lenses and what settings did you use? Did you use any of the pre-set modes or always in 100% manual? How about dealing in low gray light?
For the most part I probably shot manual, sometimes in wildlife situations that included motion I switched to an auto ISO so the camera would adjust appropriately. But for a lot of the landscapes shots I was on full manual.
I had a 24 mm to 70 mm on one hand, and ideally a 100 mm to 400 mm on the other (I had a 70 mm to 200 mm), that would have allowed me go tighter in some situations. I also had a 16 mm to 35 mm lens that I took 2 to 3 shots with, so maybe a good idea if you bring that is to combine it with a longer lens.

3. Does the Antarctica21 team help you know the best spots to photograph while you are there?
What I found is that the crew and everyone are going to let you know for sure when things are happening, if there is wildlife out, etc; almost to the point where you might be exhausted of all the shooting opportunities.

4. In a zodiac, how easy is to use a monopod?
On a full Zodiac it is almost impossible to set up, as you have to navigate around people on each side at all times, while you are moving back and forth. What they will allow you to do in some scenarios, is to sit on the floor and thrust your camera on the edge of the boat. So, if you can limit what you have to hold down that will certainly help.

5. What photography apps do you use the most?
I have a number of go-tos but Camera plus is my main camera app, it’s very good for panoramic pictures. The one that I use for the portraits is Tintype because I knew that I wanted to capture them with that retro look.

6. I understand the cold affects the longevity of batteries. Should I bring a certain type of battery? My camera uses 4 AA type batteries, which on a normal trip would last me 3-4 days.
Most of the cameras that I have use rechargeable lithium batteries and I have never had an issue with them, granted that when I was there it didn’t get too cold.(Michael traveled with us in February.) But using hand warmers, keeping your batteries close to your chest, will help with the longevity. What I actually did and worked well for me, is that I brought enough batteries, so I could leave a couple charging in my cabin while I was away shooting.

7. My camera can take a 128gb memory card which I understand can take 35k+ photos; how many SD cards do you recommend i take?
When it comes to SD cards I prefer to have a few smaller ones rather than a big one, because if you lose it or if something happens, you would have lost all of your images. My camera uses two 64 gb cards. I also back them up every day into my external hard drive.

8. I’m keen for your personal experience/view concerning DSLR vs. mirrorless cameras.
I had both with me, my Cannon is a DSLR, it’s been a work-horse for me and never had any issue with it. But my Sony A73, one of their newer cameras, that I did all of my video with, also didn’t give my any problems. It really depends what you’re comfortable shooting with, you don’t want to be in a scenario where you’re trying your camera for the first time and becoming frustrated.

 

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