A 360° glimpse at the inky black under sea ice at Cape Evans Antarctica as Waikato University diver Prof Ian Hawes descends.
NIWA’s Drew Lohrer holds the safety line for ice diver Ian Hawkes as he works under the 2 metre thick sea-ice at Cape Evans in Antarctica. The divers cut a hole through the ice then position a modified shipping container over the hole to act as a dive base.
I was super impressed with these guys and their safety regime – the diver is in constant communication with the surface through a system of pulls on three rope Drew holds in a shaft of light through the containers only small window. It highlights these ‘lines of communication’ and that Ian was truely ‘in safe hands’
The wall of Scott’s Hutt at Cape Evans as seen in my headlamp.
In keeping with the historic theme created by my photo series “Into the light” featuring shots of the historic huts on Ross Island, this weeks FridayFoto is of one of our tents on the sea-ice at Cape Evans. After all this time the best tent design for Antartica is pretty much the same as what Scott and Shackleton over 100 years ago. Good design stands the test of time!
A diptych of images showing a detail of snow piled high on the windows of Scott’s historic hut at Cape Evans. When we visited in October the interior of the Hutt was very dark because the sun was still low and this snow on the windowed blocked it’s light. This created a very moody experience as we explored by the light of headlamps.
A massive iceberg trapped in the sea-ice near Cape Evans. We walked around this beast in the light of the midnight sun. I took photos for two hours solid that night in temperatures lower than -25°c until the camera finally gave up and refused to focus and the LCD screen faded to grey .. but my fingers were so cold I didn’t care.
A photo for all the Kiwis in the garden this summer: These shovels sit just inside the door of Scott’s historic hut at Cape Evans.
Scott’s hut is the iconic base associated with Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition 1910–1913 and his second, and final, famed attempt for the Geographic South Pole.
This shot is part of a comprehensive collection I took when we were with the dive team at Cape Evans. I wanted to capture the feeling of visiting the hut rather than concentrating on accurately documenting the site and artefacts, after all, many very good photographers have done this already (including the outstanding work of Jane Ussher in her book Still Life: Inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton). I found it quite liberating to know I could take a totally different approach.
When we entered the hut it was very dark with snow covering many of the windows. We had to wear head-torches which created an eerie pool of light in the inky dark, revealing a small bit at a time. To try and get the feeling of the experience I shot with combinations of head-torch and snooted flash lighting and using my homemade lens on a modern Nikon DSLR. The lens is made with the element from a 100 year old Kodak pocket camera very similar to that used by the photographer from Shackleton’s expeditions, Frank Hurley.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust has a very good website that goes into great detail about this and the other historic huts in Antarctica https://www.nzaht.org/explorer-bases/scotts-hut-cape-evans
The wall of my MDes office is slowly being taken over by small prints from the Antarctica: Sixty Shades of White project. It represents a tiny proportion of the 1TB of data, stills and video I collected while on The Ice in October. It is still very early days but at least five possible collections/projects are emerging … this will keep me going for years!
A real highlight of our expedition to Antarctica was camping out on the ice with a team of scientists/divers at Cape Evens. And a highlight of that highlight was when we dropped a GoPro down one of the dive holes to get a glimpse of the world under the 2m thick sea ice.
Little did I know that seconds before I pulled the camera up a Weddell Seal cruised by to check out the rope (this footage has been edited because it sat on the bottom doing very little for a while).
Earlier that day Warren had dropped a hydrophone down the hole to reveal the constant chatter of the seals – wait until you hear what he captured! The background audio on this pales in comparison.
The divers cut a hole through the ice using a “heat drill” and park a modified shipping container over the hole to give them a sheltered work area.
Weddell Seals are now my favourite animal!