Ice, Ice, Baby

Ensure you come home from your next Arctic or Antarctic journey with some great photos thanks to these polar photography tips from Aurora Expeditions.

When we travel to extreme destinations like the Arctic or Antarctic, we’re welcomed by some of the most captivating landscapes on the planet. Despite the incredible vistas and abundance of spectacular wildlife, shooting in the Poles can present many challenges, with photographers having to adapt constantly to changing weather, be prepared for unexpected wildlife behaviour and battle with extreme temperatures and their hampering effect on photography equipment. In 2017/18, passengers travelling on Aurora Expeditions’ photography voyages to Antarctica or the Arctic will have the chance to develop their photography skills under the guidance of polar photography experts Chris Bray, Scott Portelli, Michael Baynes and Martyn Lucas, through a tailored program of lectures and workshops on essential camera skills and photography in the polar regions. Some of their top tips include:

Brighten for Snowy, Icy Scenes

“Dial up your camera’s Exposure Compensation, otherwise photos with a lot of white snow or ice end up dull and grey. Don’t go too far though or you’ll overexpose the shot,” says Chris Bray, an award-winning Australian Geographic photographer, and Lowepro and Canon ambassador.

Your Smartphone Might not be Smart Enough

Smartphones and tablets aren’t capable of handling low-light photography as well as a DSLR. In these scenarios, smartphones will automatically use a slower shutter speed to absorb as much light as possible without a flash. This means you’ll need a stable position or even a tripod to get a clear image and avoid camera shake. Remember that slower shutter speeds don’t freeze movement as well as a faster speed would, so stick to more stationary subjects such as landscapes. In addition, as smartphone cameras rely on digital, rather than optical zoom, your image resolution will decrease the more you zoom in, making the images grainy. Using your camera’s default zoom settings and shooting in good light will help keep your images sharp

Keep Your Hands Warm

“This might seem hard to avoid in polar regions, but wearing thin gloves under your wetsuit will help to prevent your hands from getting too stiff to work the camera settings,” says Scott Portelli, the Australian National Winner at the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards and Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 by Natural History Museum.

Prepare for Wildlife

Shooting wildlife is always challenging. Get your technique right, however, and you could be rewarded

with some amazing shots. It’s said that the most interesting wildlife photography involves the three F’s:

fighting, feeding and frisky! While a zoom lens is often essential to good wildlife shots, be sure to include some of the creature’s surroundings in frame. Flash photography can disturb animals, and is not recommended. When you’re on land, getting down lower to the animal’s level can create a more engaging image. Always listen to your guide about maintaining the appropriate distance from wildlife

Photograph Wildlife from a Low Vantage Point 

“Images taken at the same eye height as your subject will create a more neutral looking image. Lowering your profile will also allow the wildlife to relax and carry on around you,” says Michael Baynes, a freelance photographer and photography guide who has travelled to over 50 countries.

Wild Weather

You may encounter some dramatic weather, but don’t let that discourage you from getting great photos. Moody skies, filtered sunlight and rain make for some theatrical shots, so play around with your shutter speed and aperture for the best exposure. And considering you’ll be travelling during the summer months, you’ll enjoy the benefits of the Midnight Sun – a natural phenomenon that allows nearly 24 hours of daylight the closer to the north or south pole you travel. Given this, sunrise and sunset last longer at the poles, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to plan for your perfect shot.

Combat Condensation When Returning to the Ship 

“Leave your camera in its bag to allow it to slowly warm up and use a damp cloth to wipe salt water from your equipment,” says Martyn Lucas, an internationally-recognised landscape photographer.

Aurora Expeditions will offer a series of specialist photography voyages in 2017/18, including Jewels of the Arctic (August 18-31, 2017), which cruises among Greenland’s spectacular icebergs in Scoresby Sund, the largest fjord system in the world; the In-depth South Georgia & Antarctica – (November 27-16 December, 2017) led by Chris Bray; and In Shackleton’s Footsteps (March 7-24, 2018), led by Scott Portelli , which follows in the footsteps of one of the world’s greatest Arctic explorers.

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