Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The slideshow of my photos is uploaded and ready for your viewing pleasure. Once again, the quality has been decreased when it was uploaded, but I think you will still enjoy the show. I have been using google's new video service to upload these videos to the internet. It is a new service that is still in development but is available for limited use. If you are interested in uploading some video check it out at video.google.com. I have found it to be very helpful and easy to use. The video is about 14 minutes long, so make some hot chocolate, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Click here to view the video!
It is now Saturday, January 8, 2005 and we survived the night on the ice. After warming up (and maybe a nap) we got ready to spend the morning in Neko Harbour. Neko Harbour is known for its glacial activity and today was no exception. We were on the zodiacs, making shore landings one at a time. The zodiac ahead of mine was starting to motor toward shore when a large piece of ice calved off of a glacier and create a large wave heading towards shore. Luckily our expedition leaders are highly experienced and he quickly steered the bow of the zodiac into the wave to prevent being capsized. It was definitely a close call and got the passengers heats pumping. Once on shore we were greeted by some friendly penguins. They seemed just as interested in us as we were in them.

After returning to our ship, our next stop was Wihelmina Bay. It was about 4 PM when we got there and we got to experience some hungry whales and an Antarctic sunset. Well, as close to a sunset as you can get in Antarctica since it really doesn't get dark in the summer. Just as we turned the corner into a cove, the sun was shining through the snowy peaks and reflecting off the water perfectly. I love this photo.

After capturing this sunset, we noticed bubbles coming to the surface near our zodiac. Slowly they started to move and formed a perfect circle. Immediately our expedition leader got very excited and explained to us what was creating the bubbles. This is a method of feeding used by whales call bubble netting. The whales dive deep and blow bubbles and swim in circles. This prevents fish from getting outside of this circle of bubbles. Then the whale quickly swims straight up through the bubbles and feeds on all the fish trapped inside. It was an amazing site. When the circle was complete, about 10 seconds later a whales head would pop out of the water directly in the middle of the circle. Here is a picture of the bubbles on the surface. I don't no if you will be able to see it, but it is worth a try.

It really just goes to show how smart these animals really are. After they were done feeding the just swam off and left us with some amazing memories.

This was such an amazing trip and I wish that everyone could get the opportunity to experience what I will never forget for the rest of my life. I hope you all enjoy my photos and feelings about my trip. I will be posting another video which is a slideshow of most of my pictures from Antarctica. I hope you will all take some time and watch it to see what I was unable to post on the blog. Stay tuned...

We arrived back at the ship and met with the staff to talk about our night of camping on the ice. They told us that most likely we wouldn't sleep much because we would be pretty cold and that it was totally our choice if we wanted to go for it. ARE YOU KIDDING? I don't think that I will be getting another chance to camp on Antarctica anytime soon! However, some of the older passengers on the boat were not as intrigued and chose to retire to there warm beds. We went and gathered our gear and put on a few extra layers in anticipation of a cold night. Once the ship was successfully anchored we boarded the zodiacs and went ashore to Damoy Point. Our expedition leaders lead us to the site where we would be sleeping for the night. We pick our spots where we would be sleeping and started to set up camp. Did I mention that we didn't have tents? That's right, no tents. It is difficult to anchor tents because the snow is so thick and you can't get the stake into the ground. Instead we all were equipped with bivvy bags. A bivvy bag is a waterproof and windproof bag which can enclose a person for basic shelter. First we used a shovel and dug out a space about 1-2 feet deep were we would sleep. This is done to help shield yourself from the wind and it also provides extra warmth. Next we stuffed our bivvy bags with our sleeping bags and layed a mat down to sleep on and provide some cushion. Here are some pictures from our camping trip.

On the left you can see one of my classmates, Ali, shoveling her space where she is going to sleep for the night. Other students are in the background making final preparations for the chilly evening.

In this photo one of our professors, Jon Cox, is helping some of the students with there video project. There were two students on the trip that chose focus on video for the project instead of photography.

Annie, Dom, and Maria are all bundled up in their bivvy bags keeping close trying to conserve their body heat.

Camping on the continent of Antarctia is definitely the coolest thing that I have ever done. I may have got a total of 2 hours of sleep and not been able to feel my toes by the morning, but it was worth it.

One last thing...Shayna commented that she didn't see people wearing the crazy hats that I mentioned in the post about our barbecue...Luckily I found some proof!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It is not the best quality, but here is a small clip of the barbecue that we had on the deck of the ship in Pleneau Bay. Now that I have figured this out I hope to be able to upload more video clips. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE CLIP.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

After our early morning cruise through the Lemaire Channel we arrived at Pleneau Bay. After a second breakfast we suited up and got ready to head ashore. We all loaded onto the zodiacs and headed toward land. Despite the best efforts of the zodiac drivers, we did not make it to shore. The tide had brought in too much ice into the bay and we were unable to push our way through to make landfall on Pleneau Island. Although we did not make it to land, it was still a really fun morning. We would occasionally stop and our driver would look to find a path through the ice.

Slowly, but surely we made our way back to the ship in anticipation of lunch! This was not just any lunch, we were having a barbecue on the back deck of the ship. We finally got back to the ship and saw tables and chair set up all over the deck and did I mention AMAZING food? They also had some crazy hats that everyone was encouraged to wear. It was soooo much fun. I have a video that I am trying to upload from the barbecue. Hopefully I will be able to share that with you all soon.

That afternoon we got back on the zodiacs and were successful on landing on Pleneau Island. We where entertained by many gentoo penguins and 5 big fat southern elephant seals. This is a picture of a gentoo penguin. You can identify it as a gentoo penguin because of the white markings at the top near their eyes. It actually looks like they have little headphones on!

At this particular spot I also captured a photo of a gentoo in some shallow water. It is one of my favorite photos that I captured while in Antarctica.

I don't know if I think elephant seals are cute or really gross. They are absolutely HUGE. They also hardly ever move and usually have snot dripping down their noses. There is something about their faces though that seems cute. I'll let you decide.

I really do think they are cute! Anyway, after taking about 100 pictures of these lazy guys, we got back on the zodiacs and went back to the ship for dinner and to prepare for one of the things I had been most looking forward too since we left port. Camping on Antarctica! A night on the ice! Stay tuned.

Hope you all enjoyed the postcard photos. My other assignment that I would like to share with you while I was on the trip was my advertising assignment. We had to create an advertisement for a product of our choice and use only photos that we had taken ourselves. My partner and I decide to create an ad for the new ipod photo that had just recently been released. After brainstorming and a few failed attempts, this is what we came up with.

I am not an expert with photoshop so I was pretty proud of the results. I feel that the ad is simplistic in nature and gets the point across that you can now view photos on the ipod photo. Let’s also not forget that we create this ad on a ship while in Antarctica! (OK, I’ll stop preaching.) Maybe JoAnn can comment on what she thinks since she seems to be quite interested in advertising herself. Check out her blog on advertising, it's really interesting. Thanks for the comment on the last posting JoAnn.

Now, back to the trip! When we last left off, we were in Wihelmina Bay and Enterprise Island. After a good dinner we all called it a night and retired to our rooms. It had seemed that we had just closed our eyes when we hear Aaron, our expedition leader, inviting us to the top deck for coffee, hot chocolate, and pastries.

If I remember correctly it was about 4:30 in the morning, but we were urged to wake up because we were passing through the Lemaire Channel. After throwing on a couple of layers and stumpling to the top deck, I woke up with a cup of hot coffee and took in the breathtaking sights of the Lemaire Channel. It was a narrow passage way crammed with chunks of ice. To the right and left mountains jutted vertically out of the grey seas. Truly Amazing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

After some trouble posting more pictures, here are my four postcard photos that were part of my work while on my trip. These pictures where actually taken in Argentina before we boarded the ship for the journey to Antarctica. A paragraph or two were on the back of the postcard describing the picture and enticing people to visit Argentina.

Above is a landscape photo. You can probably guess what a landscape photo is...so i won't explain it in any more detail. This was taken in Tierra del Fuego, which is the southern tip of Argentina. It is a sort of national park and the mountains and scenery are breathtaking. Here is a link to the official visitors site. FYI, it loads slowly but contains a lot of pictures and useful information.

Above is an action shot. This was also taken in Tierra del Fuego. A fellow student was showing her excitement about the visit to this beautiful area and I was able to capture her in mid-air while she was jumping for joy.

Above is a night shot. This is a photo of an old wooden boat wreck on the shore in the harbor in Ushuaia, Argentina. It was actually pitch dark out when this photo was taken, but by using a tripod and a long shutter speed, the amazing colors of the weathered wood and sky really pop out.

Above is a portrait shot. This was taken near Buenos Aires, Argentina in an area that was full of street performers and vendors. Here, for just a dollar or two, a female tourist poses with an Argentinean tango dancer. I really enjoy the fact that his eyes are covered by his hat. I feel that it makes him seem mysterious and intriguing.

To answer your question Jacky, while in Argentina and on the ship in Antarctica, we set up a room with all the computers and printers where we could work on our projects. That is what I meant my "digital darkroom". Also, geopolitics is just the political issues dealing with a certain region like Antarctica. You can find some more information about geopolitical issues here.

Stay tuned for a posting about my other project and more information about the trip.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

As promised, here is a map of the region that we visited. I hope you are all able to see it. I am going to work on getting a color map, but this will have to do for now! You can not see the tip of Argentina in this map but it is located directly north of this area. The Drake Passage is the area of ocean that separates Argentina and Antarctica. It took two days to get to Antarctica on our boat.

When we were abroad I was able to get six credits worth of classes completed. My first and favorite course was an introduction digital photography course. We were all lucky enough to be loaned digital SLR cameras for the duration of the trip. We were also loaned Apple ibook computers in order to set up our "digital darkroom". In this course we had a variety of projects that incorporated photography and writing. One of our projects while we were in Argentina was to create four postcards. One had to be an action shot, another a night shot, a landscape and a portrait. We then had to create a paragraph for the back of the postcard that would entice people to visit Argentina. I am having difficulty uploading these pictures so I will put them in the next post. Also in the next post I will include my second project which was to create an advertisement using all my original photography. I decided to do an ipod Photo ad because they had just come out on the market.

The second course I took was called geopolitics of Antarctica. For this I had to create a final paper that was on a geopolitical issue. I had to incorporate my photographs in this paper. The final edit of the paper had to look like it was a magazine article.

The question I get most often is why would I want to go to a place that is so cold. I have to say that the reason I wanted to go to Antarctica is that it seemed like the trip of a lifetime. I don't think that I will ever get another opportunity to go visit such a incredible place that not many people get to experience. Many other students go to Australia or New Zealand, but I feel that I can visit those places later in my life.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

After a night of rest we awoke in the morning at our next destination. Wihelmina Bay and Enterprise Island. We suited up after another hearty breakfast and lined up to get on the zodiacs for a tour around Wilhelmina Bay. We were cruising around the bay keeping our eyes open for any signs of whales, seals or other wildlife. About 10 minutes into our travels we heard the walkie talkie of our expedition leader beep. Another zodiac had found a pod of whales that seems to be playful and were hanging around their boat. We quickly found our where they were and zipped over to meet them. We could see two humpback whales at the surface around 100 yards away from us. We shut off our engine and waited to see if they would get any closer. They dove down under the water and surfaced again about 30 yards from us. WOW...everyone was thrilled. Little did we know that was only the beginning. They dove under the water again and stayed under for for about 3 minutes. Then, they surfaced.

As you can see, they kind of scared us some. One of the humpback whales, which is easily 3 times the size of our zodiac, surfaced only FEET from our boat. I literally was sprayed by water from it's blow hole. It was definately one of the coolest (and scariest) things that has ever happened to me. Also, here is a picture that I captured of a whale surfacing near another zodiac.

This was one awesome zodiac tour. Later that day we got back on the ship and went a short distance to Orne Harbour. Here we were offered the opportunity to hike up one of the mountains to an amazing view of the harbor. While some of the older people on the trip decided to stick to a calm zodiak tour, all of us students were up for the challenge. When we got to shore we were told to stay in a straight line and follow each others footsteps up the side of the mountain. Although tired, we all made it to the top where we were able to rest and enjoy the magnificent view of the harbour.

I even decided to strike a pose for the camera.

Next post I hope to upload a map of the route that we took from Argentina to Antarctica, as well as explain to you some more about the classes that I took and what I learned on this trip. Hope you enjoy the pictures so far!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Our first excursion was a zodiak tour of Curtiss bay. This bay was full of really amazing shaped glaciers and towering mountains. All of the zodiacs split up and motored around the the bay looking for wildlife. A few zodiacs were lucky enough to spot 2 humpback whale and a seal. My boat unfortunately did not have so much luck. Althought we did not see any wildlife, I was just as much amazed by some of the colors of the ice. The range of blues created by the ice was truely spectacular. Also, the shapes that are created by the moving waters are pretty cool. This grooves in this peice of ice were created by air bubbles. This used to be the underside of the glacier and air bubbles trapped under it make these grooves. Eventually, the glacier became unstable and turned on its side exposing these magnificent designs. Although we did not see wildlife on this outing, we did see a small glacier similar to this one turn over. To all of you, watching a piece of ice flip over may not seem to exciting, but it really was interesting. Especially because it is so quiet and all of a sudden you here bubbling and rushing water and this massive peice of deep blue ice is moving like it is alive. Bobbing up and down until finally it stops and looks totally differnent than it did 5 seconds ago. It really is cool.

After going back to the boat to warm up and have some lunch we geared back up and got ready for our second excursion. Everyone was especially excited because we would be going ashore and leaving our footprints where not many have been before, ANTARCTICA. Now, normally there is not much percipitation on Antarctica, but that day we were not so lucky. By the time we got to our second location for the day, there was a steady snow/ice mixture coming down, but we decided to try and make the best of our first shore landing. We were now in Mikkelsen Harbour and landed on a small island where there was a Gentoo Penguin Rookery. After freezing for a while we went back on board the ship and got some dinner and headed for our next destination.
OFF the starboard side of the ship.....we spotted our first iceberg! Who would have thought that passengers would have been so excited about th big floating chunk of ice? You would have thought there was a famous person standing on top of it because I think every person on the boat took about 25 pictures of the giant ice cube. We all settled down for the evening because we knew that in the morning we would finally be at our destination.

GOOOOOOD MORNING EXPLORERS blasted over the load speaker. WELCOME TO ANTARCTICA the voice shouted. I jumped out of bed and opened the porthole window to see mountains that seemed to emerge vertically from the icy waters. The water was very smooth. No more waves! This was truely the most gorgeous place that I had ever seen. After a nice big breakfast we were all instructed to quickly return to our cabins and suit up for a zodiac tour of the bay. Everyone quickly scurried back to their cabins and put on several layers of thermals and fleece in anticipation of the frigid air.

We all gathered outside on the deck and waited to board the zodiacs. A zodiac is a small boat which could fit about 10 people on it. They were used to tour around the bays and get us on shore. Here is a picture of a zodiac being put in the water by one of the cranes on the ship. Group by group we walked down the steps that were lowered alongside the boat and helped into the zodiacs. The zodiac drivers instructed everyone to hang on because we were going to have some fun!