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Camera gear for Antarctica


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PerfectlyPerth, thank you very much for all the tips, especially this one:

 

 

I'll be sure to bring extra batteries. Smart idea to make a fleece battery holder. Having batteries organized also help keep track of which ones are charged.

 

I visited the local Nature Preserve to take photos of birds in flight. It's not easy!

 

Woody

 

Re batteries: before our trip, I too was worried about battery discharge in the cold. In reality, my Nikon batteries performed well and I did not experience any sort of "quick" discharge from the cold. I always had two fully charged spare batteries in my pockets, and had no problem with them either.

 

As for birds in flight: this definitely requires practice as you've seen, and probably read on my blog. If you can get somewhere to practice with gulls and other "slower" birds, that will be the most useful for this trip.

 

Beside lots of practice, of course use some camera settings to make it more likely that you'll get keeper images: use continuous (burst) shooting mode, set the autofocus to continuous (on your Nikon that should be AF-C)(although sometimes I found I got better results with single focus, AF-S), use a shutter speed of no slower than about 1/250 (use a faster speed if warranted), use the most focus points, and try to capture the bird against the sky or other "plain" background, which increases the chances that the camera will focus on the bird. Also, practice panning.

 

Practice will pay off for taking photos of birds in flight!

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Turtles06, glad to hear about the battery performance. Your Nikon camera and mine take the same batteries.

 

Good idea to practice photographing slower birds. Thanks for the info on camera settings.

 

Woody

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Great advice. Funny you should mention Fairbanks in March. We have planned a trip to Fairbanks in March 2015 to see the Northern Lights.

 

Do you have any tips for a Northern Lights trip? Items to bring? Lens recommendations?

 

Good tips to pack hand warmers in checked luggage, and to bring sealable plastic bags.

 

Woody

 

Several thotghts in no particular order of signigicance -

 

1. You will need more batteries hna you thought. Bring extras.

 

2. A good tripod is an obvious necessity.

 

3. Aurora tend to cover large ares of sky. I borrowed a fast wide angle lense. I do not remember wich one. If you do not own one, rent.

 

4. I bought a red light flashlight so that I woud not dstroy my night vision,

 

5. I am not sure that you will be in Fairbanks at the right time but plan to spend some time at the Ice Carving Festival. It is amazing!! If the tme you have picked is wrong, try to reschedule.

 

6. I spent 5 nights at Chena Hot Springs to see the aurora and I had 5 great nights. I was very very lucky. You need to schedule several nights at Chena just in case you have clouds. Chena hot springs is well set up for aurora people. You can even have them knock on your door if you go inside to grab a bit of sleep and the aurora get really good. Chena has an outpost on top of a hill which gets you better viewing viewing and alsp gets you away from the lights of the resort. It is not cheap but you get much better shots. They have a yurt at the place so you can go inside and warm up when you get too cold.

 

7. Schedule yur trip on nights when there is little or no moon.

 

8, I generally did every shoot bracketing - generally 5, 10 and 20 seconds. You can't use really long exposures because aurora move and they will blurred.

 

9. Assume that you will be buyng more cold weather clothes in Fairbanks. You can not imagine how cold it gets at night especially if it windy.

 

10. I used one of those wireless shutter actuators to minimize camera movement. My camera also has a feature where the mirror goes up and th shutter does not fire immediately but 3 seconds later. I also used this option.

 

Hope all this helps. It will be an experience you will never forget.

 

DON

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PerfectlyPerth, thank you very much for all the tips, especially this one:

 

 

I'll be sure to bring extra batteries. Smart idea to make a fleece battery holder. Having batteries organized also help keep track of which ones are charged.

 

I visited the local Nature Preserve to take photos of birds in flight. It's not easy!

 

Woody

 

Handy that you have the reserve to practice the bird shots. I was glad that I did plenty of practice with that as it was my downfall on my first two trips - always envious of everyone elses bird shots. But this last trip I got plenty of my own.

 

Batteries - I tend to treat them like SD cards ie impossible to have too many and no matter how well behaved they are at home or on any other holiday - you dont want to be on a zodiac surrounded by humpbacks when all your batteries decide now is the perfect time to die ! I have watched it happen to people and they have wept !

 

I made my little fleece battery holder for the second trip and it worked a treat - and yes helped me to keep charged from discharged separate. So took it on the 3rd trip and it lives in my "take it" box now for future trips.

 

With the birds again - Every day you are "at sea" - head out on the decks - either the top or the stern is best. The birds start following the ship as soon as you hit the Drake and are there for the whole voyage - so the best way to get the shots is to always be out there. And of course - whales. When coming close to the various islands or shore lines you will get porpoising penguins and seals frolicking - so basically keep your eyes peeled in all directions !!!

(Hence why I never understood why the library and lounge was always full of people sitting around reading - didnt they come on the trip to see what was outside ?).

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With the birds again - Every day you are "at sea" - head out on the decks - either the top or the stern is best. The birds start following the ship as soon as you hit the Drake and are there for the whole voyage - so the best way to get the shots is to always be out there. And of course - whales. When coming close to the various islands or shore lines you will get porpoising penguins and seals frolicking - so basically keep your eyes peeled in all directions !!!

(Hence why I never understood why the library and lounge was always full of people sitting around reading - didnt they come on the trip to see what was outside ?).

 

Totally agree with the advice to be out on deck with your camera as much as you can. It was amazing to watch the birds follow the ship in the Drake, and I felt sorry for my fellow passengers who could not handle the ship's movement (we had two pretty rough crossings) and were in their cabins during that time. It was simply mesmerizing to watch the albatross just glide along, almost never needing to flap their wings...

 

Here's a legendary wandering albatross, following along with us in the Drake:

 

WanderingAlbatross1024x620_zps367261ed.jpg

 

(photo by turtles06)

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Don: Brilliant! These are exactly the kind of Northern Lights advice I'm looking for.

 

Several thotghts in no particular order of signigicance -

 

1. You will need more batteries hna you thought. Bring extras.

Check.

 

2. A good tripod is an obvious necessity.

Check.

 

3. Aurora tend to cover large ares of sky. I borrowed a fast wide angle lense. I do not remember wich one. If you do not own one, rent.

I have a 10 - 24mm f/3.5 - 4.5 wide angle that I use on a Nikon D7100 (1.5x DX crop sensor), making the angle of view 15 - 36mm (full frame equivalent). Do you think this lens is sufficiently fast and wide?

 

4. I bought a red light flashlight so that I woud not dstroy my night vision,

Good idea.

 

5. I am not sure that you will be in Fairbanks at the right time but plan to spend some time at the Ice Carving Festival. It is amazing!! If the tme you have picked is wrong, try to reschedule.

Thanks for the recommendation. I looked at the 2015 schedule, and fortunately we will be there during the festival. Lots of activities. My wife wants to go on a dog sled ride.

 

6. I spent 5 nights at Chena Hot Springs to see the aurora and I had 5 great nights. I was very very lucky. You need to schedule several nights at Chena just in case you have clouds. Chena hot springs is well set up for aurora people. You can even have them knock on your door if you go inside to grab a bit of sleep and the aurora get really good. Chena has an outpost on top of a hill which gets you better viewing viewing and alsp gets you away from the lights of the resort. It is not cheap but you get much better shots. They have a yurt at the place so you can go inside and warm up when you get too cold.

Five great nights out of five -- lucky you! I'll take a look at Chena Hot Springs. Generally, at what time did you begin viewing the Northern Lights? When you return to your room with your camera, do you need a large Ziploc bag to avoid condensation? When you go into the yurt to warm up, what do you do with your camera and tripod? (Take one or both with you? Leave one or both set up?)

 

7. Schedule yur trip on nights when there is little or no moon.

:) We are scheduled to be there for the March equinox (new moon).

 

8, I generally did every shoot bracketing - generally 5, 10 and 20 seconds. You can't use really long exposures because aurora move and they will blurred.

Good tip.

 

9. Assume that you will be buyng more cold weather clothes in Fairbanks. You can not imagine how cold it gets at night especially if it windy.

Oh my! I had hoped the clothes we're buying for Antarctica would be sufficient (snow pants, parka, boots, etc.). Perhaps not.

 

10. I used one of those wireless shutter actuators to minimize camera movement. My camera also has a feature where the mirror goes up and th shutter does not fire immediately but 3 seconds later. I also used this option.

I'll be sure to bring my wireless remote. Good idea about the mirror up feature. I'll have to practice using it on my camera.

 

Hope all this helps. It will be an experience you will never forget.

 

DON

Thank you again for the tips.

 

Woody

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Handy that you have the reserve to practice the bird shots. I was glad that I did plenty of practice with that as it was my downfall on my first two trips - always envious of everyone elses bird shots. But this last trip I got plenty of my own.

 

Batteries - I tend to treat them like SD cards ie impossible to have too many and no matter how well behaved they are at home or on any other holiday - you dont want to be on a zodiac surrounded by humpbacks when all your batteries decide now is the perfect time to die ! I have watched it happen to people and they have wept !

 

I made my little fleece battery holder for the second trip and it worked a treat - and yes helped me to keep charged from discharged separate. So took it on the 3rd trip and it lives in my "take it" box now for future trips.

 

With the birds again - Every day you are "at sea" - head out on the decks - either the top or the stern is best. The birds start following the ship as soon as you hit the Drake and are there for the whole voyage - so the best way to get the shots is to always be out there. And of course - whales. When coming close to the various islands or shore lines you will get porpoising penguins and seals frolicking - so basically keep your eyes peeled in all directions !!!

(Hence why I never understood why the library and lounge was always full of people sitting around reading - didnt they come on the trip to see what was outside ?).

 

Totally agree with the advice to be out on deck with your camera as much as you can. It was amazing to watch the birds follow the ship in the Drake, and I felt sorry for my fellow passengers who could not handle the ship's movement (we had two pretty rough crossings) and were in their cabins during that time. It was simply mesmerizing to watch the albatross just glide along, almost never needing to flap their wings...

I'm glad both of you got great bird shots.

 

Turtles06: Nice photo! I like how the wandering albatross is in sharp focus, and the slight bokeh background.

 

It seems like the mantra for an Antarctica trip is, "You cannot have too many SD cards or batteries." I guess that goes for any photo trip to a remote location. When we went to South Africa, in our safari vehicle, one half of the guests shooting a DSLR ran out of SD cards part way through the trip. Yikes!

 

Great advice to get out on deck with one's camera. I'm very concerned about the Drake, and even got a prescription for the scopolamine patch.

 

We are buying things for Antarctica that will hopefully serve double duty with other planned trips. We will use our cold weather gear on a Northern Lights trip. My waterproof backpack will come in handy on wet landings at the Galapagos. I bought the 80 - 400mm lens primarily for an upcoming trip to Kenya, but it will also be handy for Antarctica and the Galapagos.

 

My wife has a Panasonic Lumix point and shoot that has a 20x zoom. She wanted something with more reach, so we just got her a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 with a 30x zoom. We looked at bridge cameras, but she wanted something that would fit in a pocket or purse.

 

Woody

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Great advice to get out on deck with one's camera. I'm very concerned about the Drake, and even got a prescription for the scopolamine patch.

 

 

I'd say about 2/3 of the folks on our expedition were wearing the patch (including my spouse, for the first time, and many of the naturalists). It definitely seemed to work for them (one very common side effect as to which everyone complained: extreme dry mouth).

 

I am very fortunate in that I don't get seasick and am not bothered by the "motion of the ocean." In fact, I quite enjoy it. ;)

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. . . I am very fortunate in that I don't get seasick and am not bothered by the "motion of the ocean." In fact, I quite enjoy it. ;)

My wife is the same way. She likes the ship's motion.

 

When we cruised around Cape Horn, the sea was smooth as glass. She was so disappointed, as she had read about how rough it can be.

 

Woody

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I am very fortunate in that I don't get seasick and am not bothered by the "motion of the ocean." In fact, I quite enjoy it. ;)

 

Me neither :) I get extremely bored and restless in flat seas - I need ocean waves crashing over the bow and fabulous 35 degree rocking !!

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Love the photos --

 

Several points --

 

Be prepared for anything == like a Penguin Jumping in the Zodiac.

Or a buzz by from a bird...

 

 

DSC_2473_01_zpsbc092ecb.jpg

 

DSC_2670_zpse456a677.jpg

 

Some of my best photos were while everyone was at dinner. No one on the the upper deck (except the ship photographer.

Also talk with the ship's photographer -- he knows where to get the best photos.

Edited by PaulMCO
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. . . I am very fortunate in that I don't get seasick and am not bothered by the "motion of the ocean." In fact, I quite enjoy it. ;)

 

 

Me neither :) I get extremely bored and restless in flat seas - I need ocean waves crashing over the bow and fabulous 35 degree rocking !!

I can just picture you two and my wife at dinner during rough seas, asking each other, "Where is everyone?"

 

Amazing photo of the wave crashing over the bow.

 

Woody

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Some other birds that you may encounter off the coast of South America are:

 

. . . The Giant Petral

 

. . . And the Great Shearwater

 

 

Love the photos --

 

. . . Several points --

 

. . . Be prepared for anything == like a Penguin Jumping in the Zodiac.

Or a buzz by from a bird...

 

. . . Some of my best photos were while everyone was at dinner. No one on the the upper deck (except the ship photographer.

Also talk with the ship's photographer -- he knows where to get the best photos.

Nice photos!

 

Good tip to talk with the ship's photographer. We are scheduled to sail with NatGeo photographer Kevin Schafer. Bio Has anyone sailed with him, or familiar with his work?

 

Woody

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I can just picture you two and my wife at dinner during rough seas, asking each other, "Where is everyone?"

 

 

Well, here's what the dining room looked like during breakfast on one of the mornings when we were crossing the Drake. :)

 

ExpMDR1024x678_zps9f533ff4.jpg

 

(photo by turtles06)

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I'd say about 2/3 of the folks on our expedition were wearing the patch (including my spouse, for the first time, and many of the naturalists). It definitely seemed to work for them (one very common side effect as to which everyone complained: extreme dry mouth).

 

I am very fortunate in that I don't get seasick and am not bothered by the "motion of the ocean." In fact, I quite enjoy it. ;)

 

You might want to be careful about wearing the patch for more than three consecutive days. Some folks (my self and a friend, in separate instances) noticed withdrawal issues. These occurred after 24 hours after removing the patches worn over a six day interval. (See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3971103). The withdrawal symptoms mimicked seasickness - except occurring on dry land or calm seas!

 

Bob

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You might want to be careful about wearing the patch for more than three consecutive days. . .

Bob: thank you for the heads up and for the link to the article. This will be my first time wearing the patch, and I appreciate your sharing your experience. I previously read about the dry mouth side effect, but not the withdrawal issues.

 

I'll now limit my use of the patch to three days, which should easily cover the time we are crossing the Drake.

 

Woody

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Don: Brilliant! These are exactly the kind of Northern Lights advice I'm looking for.

 

 

Thank you again for the tips.

 

Woody

 

Originally Posted by donaldsc View Post

Several thotghts in no particular order of signigicance -

 

3. Aurora tend to cover large ares of sky. I borrowed a fast wide angle lense. I do not remember wich one. If you do not own one, rent.

I have a 10 - 24mm f/3.5 - 4.5 wide angle that I use on a Nikon D7100 (1.5x DX crop sensor), making the angle of view 15 - 36mm (full frame equivalent). Do you think this lens is sufficiently fast and wide?

 

I honestly do not remember exactly what the speed and range of the lens was. However, you might check on your rental items. Considering what your trip will cost, the lens rental will be round off errror.

 

 

6. I spent 5 nights at Chena Hot Springs to see the aurora and I had 5 great nights. I was very very lucky. You need to schedule several nights at Chena just in case you have clouds. Chena hot springs is well set up for aurora people. You can even have them knock on your door if you go inside to grab a bit of sleep and the aurora get really good. Chena has an outpost on top of a hill which gets you better viewing viewing and alsp gets you away from the lights of the resort. It is not cheap but you get much better shots. They have a yurt at the place so you can go inside and warm up when you get too cold.

Five great nights out of five -- lucky you! I'll take a look at Chena Hot Springs. Generally, at what time did you begin viewing the Northern Lights? When you return to your room with your camera, do you need a large Ziploc bag to avoid condensation? When you go into the yurt to warm up, what do you do with your camera and tripod? (Take one or both with you? Leave one or both set up?)

 

Lights began as soon as it got dark sometimes and sometimes later. What I did is once I started shooting, everything stayed outside for as long as I was shooting. When I was done, I took the camera off the tripod, bagged the camera and make sure that the bag seals and brought the camera and tripod into my room. At the yurt, again, everything stayed outside until we headed back to the resort.

 

9. Assume that you will be buyng more cold weather clothes in Fairbanks. You can not imagine how cold it gets at night especially if it windy.

Oh my! I had hoped the clothes we're buying for Antarctica would be sufficient (snow pants, parka, boots, etc.). Perhaps not.

 

Does -20 degrees at night with a good wind attract your attention. I have done Antarctica also and it was nowhere as cold as it was i up on the hill in Fairbanks. I layered and usually had warm underwear, underwear, a warm shirt, a down jacket as a shell, and a really warm down jacket for outerwear. Yes - I said a down jacket under my down jacket.

 

 

 

Hope all this helps. It will be an experience you will never forget.

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LOL Turtles now I feel compelled to compete with you for a "big water Drake shot" !!!

 

This is my personal favourite from my first trip.

IMG_9308_zps60111fc0.jpg

 

 

And from my second trip - my favourite bird in flight shot which was purely an accident - I was aiming at the iceberg and the bird flew into the frame.

IMG_0379bird_zps0f457d61.jpg

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Bob: thank you for the heads up and for the link to the article. This will be my first time wearing the patch, and I appreciate your sharing your experience. I previously read about the dry mouth side effect, but not the withdrawal issues.

 

I'll now limit my use of the patch to three days, which should easily cover the time we are crossing the Drake.

 

Woody

 

My spouse put a patch on after we left Ushuaia, and removed it right after we crossed the Drake (southbound), so that was probably about two days. She did the reverse northbound.

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One other thing that I forgot to add. Do your shutter speed and ISO in manual and also work on manual focus. Prefocus to infinity before you go out into the dark and do not change the focus setting. It is hard for autofocus to focus on stars.

 

DON

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Lights began as soon as it got dark sometimes and sometimes later. . .

 

Does -20 degrees at night with a good wind attract your attention.

 

. . . Yes - I said a down jacket under my down jacket.

 

 

One other thing that I forgot to add. Do your shutter speed and ISO in manual and also work on manual focus. Prefocus to infinity before you go out into the dark and do not change the focus setting. It is hard for autofocus to focus on stars.

Don: I appreciate all your tips for the Northern Lights trip. I still can't get over how cold it will be. Brrrrrr!

 

Woody

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. . . This is my personal favourite from my first trip.

 

And from my second trip - my favourite bird in flight shot which was purely an accident - I was aiming at the iceberg and the bird flew into the frame.

Nice photos.

 

The photo of the bird in flight reminds me of a cruise around Cape Horn on the Mariner of the Seas. The Cruise Director had a daily morning show, and often showed photos submitted by passengers. We had some days with extremely high winds.

 

After a particularly windy day, the CD showed a photo of a lounge chair in flight. A guest was on his balcony taking a picture of the ocean. The wind blew a lounge chair from the top deck over the side of the ship. The passenger just happened to snap the photo at the right moment, and didn't even know he photographed the lounge chair in flight until he reviewed his photos.

 

The CD did warn people not to throw lounge chairs overboard to get a photo of their own.

 

Woody

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