Untamed Images Blog

    Adventures in Nature Photography

    Browsing Posts in Travel

    These separator tanks, found at the abandoned whaling station at Grytviken on South Georgia Island, were once used in the whale oil purification process.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 182 mm, 1/200 sec at f/14, ISO 200

    My recent visit to the Southern Ocean included a landing at Grytviken on South Georgia Island, the site of a whaling station that was in operation from 1904 until 1962. During that time more than 50,000 whales were butchered at Grytviken where their body parts were processed to extract oil and to produce fertilizer and fodder. As a devoted animal lover, and given Grytviken’s brutal history, I cannot say that I was looking forward to this landing. Nevertheless, I went ashore with my fellow passengers, raised a glass in honor of explorer Ernest Shackleton at his gravesite, and looked around the fine museum documenting Grytviken’s past. So ambivalent was I about the landing, I did the unthinkable: I went ashore without my camera.

    Grytviken, an abandoned whaling station on South Georgia Island, sits on the shore of King Edward Cove below rugged cliffs.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM +1.4x at 98 mm, 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200

    After exiting the museum, my eyes were drawn to the boilers set amongst the rusting ruins of the whaling station’s buildings and machinery. The sinuous curves and the repeating patterns were crying out to be photographed and I could not resist. If I were able to convince one of the zodiac drivers to ferry me back to the ship to grab my camera, I’d have about an hour to spend photographing the decaying machinery before our time for the landing would run out.

    A close-up look at a section of a boiler assembly at the Grytviken whaling station on South Georgia Island reveals serpentine countours in ochre hues.

    EOS-1D Mk IV, 70-200mm f/2.8L II at 90 mm, 1/80 sec at f/14, ISO 200

    About fifteen minutes later, camera in hand, I thanked Elise for the shuttle service, stepped off the zodiac, and began photographing furiously. It seemed that wherever I placed my gaze, I saw another image just dying to be created. I have not worked much with subjects in this genre, but in that hour I was completely lost in the creative possibilities. Wonderful colors, strong repeating visual elements, and oxidized old-fashioned machinery all vied for my attention. Caught up in the moment I wished for more time, but in hindsight, it might not have been such a memorable experience if I’d been able to linger.

    Grytviken may have a past that is hard to stomach, but what remains of that horrible whaling operation is a present-day treat for photographers.

    Pressure cookers and a bucket-conveyer, once used to boil whale blubber, now stand rusting in the harsh weather of Grytviken, South Georgia Island.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 123 mm, 1/100 sec at f/14, ISO 200

    At Grytviken, whale oil storage tanks create a colorful palette as paint gives way to rust.

    EOS-1D Mk IV, 70-200mm f/2.8L II at 90 mm, 1/10 sec at f/14, ISO 200

    Do you have a favorite? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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    Ice Ice Baby


    On my recent trip to the Antarctic Peninsula the wildlife (including seven species of penguins) were captivating, but the ice, in its endless variety, made a strong bid to steal the show. From smallish deep-blue icebergs in a sea of white, to miles-long tabular icebergs, the ice was more than just mesmerizing, it was downright otherworldly. The following images are but a small sample of the icy scenery I was privileged to observe and photograph.

    Remember, you may click on any of the images to see a high resolution version of it.

    A large iceberg with a delicate arch towers over the water near Cierva Cove on the Antarctic Peninsula.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM at 70 mm, 1/500 sec at f/10, ISO 200

    The ice found along the Antarctica Peninsula, with its near-infinite range of textures, shapes, and aqua hues, provides ample opportunities for abstract photographs.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 168 mm, 1/2000 sec at f/4, ISO 200

    A large iceberg having run aground, reveals shapes that would do a modern sculptor proud.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 200 mm, 1/2500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

    A deep blue iceberg surrounded by sea ice resembles a giant-sized jewel.

    Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 165 mm, 1/500 sec at f/9, ISO 400

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    With very little prompting, this group of girls from the Indonesian village of Sangeang were ready to strike a pose for the camera.

    Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 88 mm, 1/800 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400

    Anyone familiar with my work knows that I rarely photograph people. Not because I have anything specific against the idea, rather I just prefer to focus on nature and wildlife. However, on a recent trip to Komodo National Park in Indonesia, I had the opportunity to visit a nearby village called Sangeang where the locals are known for their boat building skills. Seeing them crafting large wooden vessels (called Phinisi) by hand, was an interesting experience.

    But the children who followed us around like groupies were, for me, the highlight of our brief visit. Though I am certain they have had foreigners strolling their narrow streets many times before, we were still sufficiently novel that we were accompanied by our newfound entourage everywhere we went. One group of girls in particular were a delight — changing their demeanor from one moment to the next to reflect shyness, inquisitiveness, boldness, boredom, and ease. To my surprise, every time I lifted my camera to take a picture, they suddenly froze, and then stared down the lens in amazingly photogenic fashion. They enjoyed seeing their likenesses when I showed them the pictures I was taking on my camera’s LCD.

    As our group returned to the beach and prepared to board the dinghies, the setting sun hung low on the horizon and everything was bathed in a warm golden light. The girls bunched together for a few final photos and I was fortunate to capture the image shown above. If you look closely at their faces, you’ll see a range of expressions which perfectly capture the way the girls acted around us: sweet, confident, reserved, tough and enthusiastic.

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