Postcard from Antarctica: Deception Island

In Antarctica, Postcards From..., Travel, Within The Frame Adventures by David26 Comments

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

  1. Mike Hannum

    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!

  2. Declan

    Beautiful shot. Nice contrast.

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

    1. nate parker

      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.

    2. Eamon Murphy

      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)

  3. Annie Wallace

    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.

    Cheers,
    Annie

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

  4. Roger Bradley

    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?

    Roger

  5. Michal

    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…

    1. David duChemin

      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.

      1. Declan

        David,
        Michael put my question somewhat better. I would love to see your RAW process to achieve the above image. Wonderful black & white.

  6. nate parker

    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.

    1. Declan

      Nate,
      The Shakelton exhibition is on near Dublin, Ireland. The photographs there are stunning.

      We hope to do a short video there on Dec 17th for broadcast in Fuse at http://www.guygowan.com before Christmas, all going to plan.

    1. Author
      David

      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…

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