After four days of getting in and out of Zodiacs for excursions along the Antarctic Peninsula, we’re back on the ship fulltime, cruising the Drake Passage. The way we spend our time has changed accordingly. Some people have used the days at sea to catch up on sleep, attend lectures, watch Antarctica-themed documentaries in the ship’s theatre, or make appointments at the ship’s spa.

For about three or four of the ship’s passengers—and I’m one of them—it’s a great opportunity to work on photographing birds in flight.

I still don’t fully understand why certain seabirds tend to follow ships, but I sure love it when they do. Yesterday alone I saw lots of cape petrels, a black-browed albatross or two, a white-chinned petrel, a smaller seabird called the Antarctic prion, and a wandering albatross. When I copied the images from my memory card onto the external hard drive I brought with me, I discovered I had shot 1,084 photos. Of birds. In one day.

When you’re photographing birds in flight, you do tend to shoot a lot of photos. You shoot in a burst (in the case of my Nikon D500, 10 frames per second), and once you can get the autofocus to lock onto the bird, you just keep shooting as long as you can keep the bird in your viewfinder. Then along comes another bird—or the same bird circles around and comes back—and you repeat the process.

The vast majority of the photos I got are very much deletable—the bird is out of focus, or it’s way overexposed, or it’s flying away from me (in other words, a butt shot), or one of its wings is cut off by the edge of the image. Quite a few images show nothing but ocean, with the bird long gone. But I did get some keepers, and you can see them below in slide-show format.

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