Dec 6th


Postcard from Antarctica: Deception Island

Woke this morning to new light. After more than a week of unrelenting sunshine and blue skies, the clouds finally moved in, and just in time for our landing at Whaler’s Bay on Deception Island. To me this place is moody with the ghosts of the past – a place that’s falling apart and decaying; fitting for a place once a base for whaling, a trade I’ve no respect for. Last year I couldn’t bring myself to shoot black & white in Antarctica at all, but here, this time, at Whaler’s Bay, I set both my cameras to monochrome and shot a series of black & whites. I’m really excited about this short series, which – apart from this image – will appear for the first time in SEVEN, the fine art book being published later this year.

And now we’re en route home, through two days of the Drake Passage. Then a day in Ushuaia, a day in Buenos Aires, and finally to Vancouver with a small collection of new photographs, some new friends, and some really great memories. My thanks to the group that joined me here for the last two weeks – I’d travel anywhere in the world with you.

Comments (26)
  1. December 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Wow! Totally beautiful image. Love it!

    Have a great trip home and as usual, thanks for sharing the journey and images.

  2. December 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    That’s a familiar looking boat!

    I’ve wanted to go to this place ever since seeing Peter Eastway’s photographs at a talk he gave –

    Now, even more so.

  3. December 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    It sounds as if you’ve had an amazing experience. I was heartened by your anti-whaling comment. A view I share wholeheartedly. Safe passage home!

  4. Declan

    December 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Beautiful shot. Nice contrast.

    Why shoot b&w when you could shoot colour and produce a perfect b&w fom a raw file?

    • December 7, 2012 at 6:52 am

      It just helps with visualization Declan in my opinion- also with the combination of a red filter a blue sky can become wonderfully dark and contrasty and if that is what your ultimate vision is for your developed image it’s much more satisfying to see your review screen showing that than a light blue sky. -in my opinion.

    • Eamon Murphy

      December 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      As well if you shoot raw you can set the picture mode to B&W, which will make the embedded jpeg preview B&W but obviously not the raw file itself. so you get a black and white preview on your camera and a full colour raw file to work on later when you open it in lightroom,photoshop, aperture, ect :) (for nikon anyway, I’m sure its similar on canon too)

  5. Annie Wallace

    December 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I love the mood of this solitary boat. I find it poetic even though there are plenty of single boat shots floating around.
    Of course, yours is unique because it is NOT floating :).

    To me the choice of monochromatic fits with the mood. There is a tension–a storm and breaking through to light, if that makes sense, and black and white helps me transition back and forth between those two moods.

    I have to tell you that you inspire me greatly. After your “great” fall, you work has become even better. You did not let your physical setback stop you. In fact, your images are more powerful now visually in my humble opinion–not that they were ever shabby.


    Did you do editing in Nik or other software designed specifically for black and white?

  6. December 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Truly wonderful shot with atmosphere. Just wondering, is there a benefit changing the camera setting to monochrome rather than convert the file in the computer?


  7. craig

    December 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Hey David,

    All I can say is Acros and the Hassy!!!


  8. December 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Not sure if “symmetry” or “harmony” is the best word to describe this photo…

  9. December 7, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Great photo, looking forward to seeing the collection

  10. December 7, 2012 at 3:42 am

    Hi there, like that photo very much – maybe ’cause i like B/W much :)

    David, explain please, why you’re taking pictures in b/w instead of colour shots and postprocessing to b/w?
    i was always learned that it’s better to shot in color and then change to b/w if needed…

    • December 7, 2012 at 5:52 am

      Michal – When you shoot RAW, as I do, it remains a full-colour photograph, the only difference is in what you see in the preview in the camera’s LCD screen. I’ll write a longer blog post about it later, but you’re right – better to make sure you’ve got all that colour information. Shooting in RAW will always give you that.

  11. December 7, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Awesome David! I read Shackleton’s book a long time ago and as adventure books go that paint a visceral image that one is untoppable- so South Georgia island and the old whaling stations there must be an incredibly inspiring scenario. I got to travel myself for a week to the PNW this fall and I’m feeling the need to do it again , regularly! Until then thanks for the great vicarious experiences you’re providing! Also I shoot in a dedicated RAW mono mode too- I have two of them on my custom functions settings on the dial: one for black and white bulb exposures and one for black and white manual. then importing into LR I apply a preset that’s similar to those of the Canon jpeg camera previews then converting to B+W I’ll actually go back to the color mode and work that up before going to Silver Efex. Weird/ alas.
    Be well. -N8.

  12. December 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    David – are you shooting any film on the side on these excursions?

    – Rob

    • David

      December 9, 2012 at 5:33 am

      Not this time, Rob. It crossed my mind, but I was trying to keep my luggage lighter. I love shooting with my Hassie but man, do I not love travelling with film and dealing with security scanners, etc. Toying with the idea for Kenya, but we’ll see…

  13. Sharon

    December 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Gorgeous….beautiful toning!

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