Park Cameras Ambassador and professional wildlife photographer Andy Rouse has been on another spectacular adventure, this time he shares his Antarctica Aerial Adventure with us ahead of another trip in November 2017.
Hello Park Cameras readers, I have something very special for you today. In November 2017 I will be returning to Antarctica with Andrew James, on an exclusive charter with award winning tour operator Natural World Safaris. I’m very excited about the trip and I wanted to share with you some very special experiences from a previous trip to this incredible wilderness. It was a very special trip as I had the honour of being onboard the Royal Navy’s HMS Endurance for one of her work periods down south. To be embedded with the crew was incredible, under the command of Commodore Nick Lambert, and in many ways it shaped my future career. One of the benefits about being on the ship was that she had two Lynx helicopters, one of which was kitted out with special cameras to film sequences from the BBC’s Frozen Planet. This allowed me, when room and mission dictated, to get onboard and photograph Antarctica from the air.
So here is a collection of these images that have rarely been seen before. I will start with my first flight, which was over the rugged beauty of the South Shetland Islands, in many ways this was my first introduction to aerial photography and it really opened my eyes to the beauty that you can record by looking down!
As you can see a totally stunning, pristine and unspoiled landscape and in nice light too which helps. I really like the last mage as it shows a cloud bank between the South Shetland Islands and Antarctica itself in the distance. It gives a wonderful sense of scale.
Since this was my first flight I was pretty meek at the start, hardly daring to make any requests, then as the flight went on I realised that the crew genuinely wanted to help me so I started to ask for a “bit to the right” or “up a bit” to get a half decent composition.
The Lynx was incredible to work from. I was sat in the back strapped in and was given a full safety brief by the pilots before and during each flight. Of course, even though it’s in the hands of real experts, the Lynx is not a stable platform and there is tons of vibration. So I kept the shutter speed above 1/500th second, aperture to f/11-f/16 which gave me enough depth but allowed me to keep the ISO down. I was using the Canon 1DS Mark II, a great camera but not recommended above ISO 800, oh how times have changed! Lenses varied between a 20mm and a 24-70mm depending on what I wanted to show.
As my confidence grew I began to see more potential so the next time I was allowed up I did a much better job and took a much wider range of imagery....
We found a group of Adelie Penguins floating along on their own iceberg just as they were thinking of hopping off. So first I shot it with a wide angle to show the habitat.
Of course it’s tough to see wildlife from a helicopter and also my pilots were very aware of their impact on the environment so kept a respectful distance and height from anything. So I took up a second body on which I could put a Canon 70-200mm IS with a 1.4x tele-converter. This would allow me to zoom in decently from a safe height, then use the quality of the sensor to do any more cropping to get in close. I used this approach with the second image as you can see. I was beginning to really enjoy my aerial forays but had to bide my time as I was bottom of the list and could only get on board when there was space and when the helicopter was tasked to do something I would not interfere with. My final sortie came as the ship was surveying close to Patagonia Bay, I was desperate to get out as it looked a beautiful area and sure enough I was allowed on the last flight of the day. Within two minutes of take off I knew it was going to be a great flight, the light was exquisite and as we skimmed across the bay I was transfixed by the ice below. It was magical.....
I think it was the pristine nature of the wilderness that really struck me. I’m used to seeing signs of human habitation wherever I go, but here there was none. I doubt if most of the peaks we flew over had ever had any human footprints on them, for me that was a real buzz. I’ve done aerial photography many times since but few of the flights have ever given me such a buzz or yielded images that cause so much reaction. i hope you enjoy them.
With thanks - as always my thanks goes to the amazing crew of HMS Endurance who supported me at all times, especially Commodore Nick Lambert. To the pilots and observers, Mike, Si, Stimpy and BV, your professionalism flying in such a hostile environment made me so proud to work with the Royal Navy.
Andy Rouse Exclusive Antarctica Cruise with Natural World Safaris
In partnership with award winning tour operator Natural World Safaris Andy Rouse is leading an exclusive Antarctica cruise from 18th - 30th November 2017. For the trip we have exclusively chartered the stabilised ship M/V Akademik Ioffe for a 12 night adventure spending no less that 7 days exploring the wonderful Antarctic Peninsula. Our voyage will target when Antarctica looks at it’s photographic best, when the peaks are white with snow and the penguin colonies are surrounded by ice.
To help you make the most of your experience Andy Rouse and Andrew James will be running a full photographic education program before and during the trip. Starting with a pre-departure eBook packed with hints, tips and gear recommendations that will give you a great head-start then followed by onboard training on taking and processing images for all levels plus the ever popular fun critiques. This will simply be the best photographic training offered on any Antarctica cruise.
Cabins are booking fast and already we are over 50% full. Please see the tour page on the Natural World Safaris website and book your place today on this amazing photographic adventure.