An ongoing series of micro-videos produced for Antarctica New Zealand as a response to my 2016 residency at Scott Base, Antarctica as part of their Community Engagement Program.
A couple of days late sorry … Pressure cracks in the sea-ice near Cape Evans, Antarctica
Our first sight of the 7th continent from our NZRAF 757-200
A lone penguin makes its way through broken sea ice near Cape Royds in Antarctica. The wee fella showed such courage and determination as it worded it’s way over and around massive cracks to get to the colony on the cliffs behind where I took this shot.
Beware the crossed flags!
Scott Base Field trainer Mike Lundin and Mike Rowe check out the sea-ice ahead of our Hagglund vehicles. Regular routes are marked with lines or flags that have been scouted out. Hazards like hidden or active cracks are marked with crossed flags and the field trainers check them out before driving over them. Cracks are often only visible as faint changes in the texture of the snow (see below) … if you’re lucky! In white out conditions visibility can make them completely invisible. Before crossing dodgy cracks they drill holes to expire the thickness and shape of the ice.
Big ups to these guys for keeping us safe!
A three-for-one deal this Friday… just because I love the progression between the these shots.
NIWA diver Rod Budd trudges through a building wind to the field kitchen as he brings in gear from our field camp on the sea ice at Cape Evans, Antarctica. It would have been about -25°c but with wind chill easily more like -35°c.
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!
Shots of the historic huts in Antarctica – mostly from Scott’s hut and Cape Evans with a few from Shackleton’s Cape Royds thrown in. This is a working edit so will change over time.
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.
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. See her video from TEDx at the bottom of this page.
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.
This video of Jane Ussher speaking for the recent TEDx Scott Base gives a fantastic heartfelt context to the place, her work and then how my photos contrast to her work.
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
Bubbles from the divers tanks flow like quicksilver on the underside of the frozen sea at Cape Evans, Antarctica. We were lucky enough to spend three days camping on the sea-ice with Dr Ian Hawkes and his fellow scientists as they dived below the two metre thick ice.
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.
Camping in the New Zealand summer … Antarctica style. After a three hour ride in the Hagglund we arrived at our campsite for the final part of our field survival training. This shot was taken about 11.30 at night and this is about as dark as it got. The tents are pretty much the same design Scott used during his fatal 1912 journey to the pole. In the background is the ever present Mt Erebus. On the left Warren is recording the sound of the flagpoles squeaking as the move in the snow.
To learn more bout the camping see my earlier video post.
The thin green line is a conceptual representation of our relationship with nature I have developed since visiting Antarctica. I explain it below:
Scott Base is a wonderful place. More than a mere shelter from the harsh environment of Antarctica, it has a special culture among it’s personnel, both ‘permanent’ and the transient scientists and others like myself and Warren.
Literally you can step from the friendly, pleasant 18° comfort of the base, through an industrial fridge door, into the potentially killer conditions outside.
This tiny separation between civilisation and wilderness, literally a thin green line because Scott Base is painted a fetching green colour (Chelsea Cucumber to be exact), really got me thinking about our broader relationship with nature.