As I write this posting, I’m reminded of one scene in the US hit show, “The Office” where Ryan tries to impress Jim Halpert about all the wonderful aspects of having spent a few months in Manhattan. To which Jim replies, “Yes I can see that.” Ryan then says, “But you really can’t see it because of the all the smells and sounds and so forth.” Jim nods his head and says, “Yeah I can imagine that.” And to ensure he one-ups Jim again, Ryan shuts the door and says “No you can’t even imagine it because it’s too awesome for the imagination.” In Ryan’s mind, this puts his stature above Jim, but only as long as he believes Jim will never actually get to go to Manhattan.
I chuckle at that, because I don’t want to come off as Ryan in this post or any post for that matter. But standing on the deck of our ship and snapping away a few photos. one of my fellow passengers came up to me and said, “Too bad none of your shots will capture the wonder of this place.” For the slightest of moments, I took it as an insult to my photography skills. But I then realized that he was right. There are many photographers who can make a place grander and more exciting than it really is. But not Antarctica. The total is many times greater than the sum of its parts, and much greater than just a few shots from a few photographers.
Sensor: Sony A7R
Location: Whaler’s Bay, Deception Island
I wondered afterwards, “What makes this place great?” The unfamiliar landscape immerses you with scenes that could come out of a science fiction fantasy film. Wildlife that is unafraid of man puts a pause on my mind every time I think and write about it. The experience is heightened exponentially with the paucity of visitors there. I can’t help but think that much of the experience is defined by the relative lack of tourists there a year. Only about thirty thousand people go to Antarctica a year with virtually no real permanent residents. The lack of people makes this place great.
Sensor: Canon 6D
Location: Petermann Island, Antarctica
But by going and by my enthusiasm to share my experiences, I’ve really lost any moral authority to tell others that they can’t go in order to preserve its remoteness. Humans by nature are explorers at heart. But if Antarctica gets too popular it could begin to lose the very thing that makes it special.
Sensor: Canon 6D
Location: Yankee Harbour, Antarctica
And that kind of leaves me sad… I really want to go back.