For most travelers, Antarctica is a “bucket list” trip, a place you hope to see once in your lifetime, often the last of the seven continents on which you can say you’ve set foot. I’m very mindful of my good fortune in being able to go to the Antarctic for a second time. The first time was in January 2002, and I was hosting a Penn State Alumni Association trip with Gohagan & Company, just as I’ll be doing in January 2018.
Last night I rooted around in the hall closet that contains several decades’ worth of photos and found the pictures I took on that 2002 trip. Those were the days of film cameras, and I have 37 rolls’ worth of pictures from Antarctica—and Ushuaia, and Buenos Aires—in a shoebox. I remember stuffing a bunch of rolls of film into my jacket each time we’d get on the Zodiac boats that took us from the ship to the penguin colonies onshore, and once over there, I’d have to change film every 36 images. Hard to imagine. I don’t miss that part at all.
Anyway, I spent a little time this afternoon scanning some negatives from that 2002 trip. I’ve got an Epson Perfection V600 scanner, BTW, that I bought some years back for about $200 and that does a great job with both prints and negatives. So here are a few images from today’s scanning session. First off is our ship, the Marco Polo (a converted Russian icebreaker, if I remember correctly), going through the photogenic Lemaire Channel:
I remember spending a lot of time on the deck of that ship, especially toward the stern, where the naturalists would hang out and talk about the seabirds that were following the ship. I have several rolls’ worth of really bad, out of focus, flight shots of various albatross and shearwaters and petrels from back then; I hope to do much better next January with better gear and higher ISOs—and the ability to fire off a dozen shots in a burst, in hopes that one of them will be a keeper.
By the way, everyone who goes to the Antarctic gets issued a red parka like the ones you see in the photo above. I’m pretty sure it’s to make us easy to see, so ship personnel and guides can keep track of us when we’re wandering around onshore—and to make sure we all get safely back on the ship. When the trip is over, you get to keep your parka.
We saw two different kinds of penguins on the trip: gentoo and chinstrap. Here’s a gentoo penguin:
Cute, yes? But not quite as cute as a chinstrap penguin, shown below:
I saw in the itinerary for the January 2018 trip that we’re likely to see both chinstrap and gentoo penguins again, as well as Adélie penguins.
One thing I remember about the penguins was that we were instructed to give them wide berth—in some cases there were ropes showing the boundaries of where we could walk, so as not to disturb the penguins, their nests, or their chicks. But that didn’t mean that the penguins always observed the rules, and sometimes they’d walk right by you, or even come up to you. This shot of one of the Penn State travelers gives you a sense of just how close we were to these critters:
I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time engrossed in looking at the 2002 pictures and scanning the best of them. I’ll post more later.