All Aboard

Today was all logistics. Get last minute items. Pack and load bags. Find my cabin. Get luggage stored and tied in for a bounce across the Drake Passage. Introduction to and orientation with the Quark staff. Safety issues. Now it’s two days of bounce before the action really starts. Most people find the open ocean boring. Given the right conditions, I love it. Pray for light or wind to create a drama on an seemingly infinite stage.
Enjoy my Antarctica galleries, book, and statements.
Learn more about my workshops here.
Early registrants get discounts at home.
Members get discounts abroad.

Ushuaia – Alvear Glacier

Ushuaia – Alvear Glacier

Today we (my companions Seth Resnick, Craig Perrini, and Chris Hauser) took a hike. It was the hardest hike I’ve ever taken. It was described simply as a 3 hour 7 km hike one way. What was left out was that it was 75% vertical, ascending 3600 feet, including muddy paths through forests and crossing sheer loose scree (flat sheets of shale on hard packed dirt) – wet. It rained. Our guide had no med kit or training and spoke limited English which combined with my limited Spanish got us 75% of the way there – most of the time. She was in amazing shape. The goal was the Alvear Glacier ice cave, which was discovered ten years ago and has now melted up to 100 yards. Once inside it, it was beautiful. We should have had helmets. It constantly exfoliates. Amazingly, we had cell reception. So when we got three quarters of the way back Seth and I called our wives, “We’re idiots. We’re sorry. We love you.” We got back to the bus at dark. The hike lasted from 2 – 11 – 9 hours. It really was a questionable endeavor. Now that we’re back we have a great story. We all got some good shots. But I’m still questioning my sanity. If I knew then, what I know now I’d do it completely differently

Lessons learned.
There is such a thing as too much gear. I needed my tripod. I only used one lens 16-35mm. 40 pounds was simply too much. I would have enjoyed the trip more, made more images, and seen better with less gear. Too much gear compromised my safety.
In these situations clothing is essential. Water proofing. Layered warmth. Good shoes. I got a new pair of boots the day before and they were life savers. Waterproof bags and camera covers are musts too.
Get as detailed description as possible of what you’re in for. Check what safety precautions that are in place.
Keep your eye on the big prize. I’m getting on the boat to Antarctica for 14 days. This was just icing on the cake. If something had gone wrong, I might not be eating cake.
Only go with good people. We helped each other through all the rough spots. No one got left behind – ever. Seth and I laughed our way, sometimes hysterically, all the way up and back down. We always have a good time together.
I’m sure there will be other lessons learned as I share this story with others.
It would be easier to make light of the situation or stoically project masculine confidence, and say “It was fine.”. But I think it’s better to call it straight, A better response is, “What was I thinking?”
Enjoy my Antarctica galleries, book, and statements.
Learn more about my workshops here.
Early registrants get discounts at home.
Members get discounts abroad.


We (Caponigro, Johnson, Resnick, Schewe) got the lay of the land today. We tapped local resources for information about the area, scoured maps and guide books, rented a car, and drove through the mountains to Lake Fagnano. The local landscape isn’t particularly distinctive. I had low expectations. I was just along for the ride. So I experimented. I warmed up with my new 5D Mark II. I tried a lot of things with multi-shot images. I find it takes practice to learn new ways of seeing. It’s one thing to understand an idea intellectually. It’s another to learn to see in new ways and be able to practice it. At the end of the day I was thinking and seeing in new ways, making my approach more versatile. I was surprised at how many images I made – 8 gigs later. Will there be any keepers?
While it may be challenging to find compelling images here, it’s easy to find an adventure. Tomorrow we take a 3 hour guided hike to ice caves in the mountains. Though I expect to make fewer images, I have high hopes. Whether I shoot a lot or a little, one real keeper would be welcome. It will be interesting to see the results.
What’s the influence of expectations on results?
The research has also clarified goals for future trips. Next time, I’d like to plan extra time to see Iguazu falls (in the northern Argentina) and/or walk the glacier’s near Calafate (western Argentina).
Enjoy my Antarctica galleriesbook, and statements.
Learn more about my workshops here.
Early registrants get discounts at home.
Members get discounts abroad.


27 hours is too long to spend in a plane.
You work, you read, you sleep and it’s still to long.
Arrival is welcome.
A comfortable bed is even more welcome.
Ushuaia, “the bottom of the world” is nestled in high mountain peaks along the Beagle Channel. It’s a sporting town – fishing, skiing, hiking, boating … you name it. They often display maps that look upside down from a northern hemisphere perspective.

Canon 5D Mark II

Today, I’m flying to Argentina to catch a boat to Antarctica! What’s my go to camera for this trip? My new Canon 5D Mark II. On trips like this, I always take a backup camera; things happen. And in this case, I know the shooting will sometimes be so fast that it’s one of the few times I shoot with two cameras around my neck; one long lens (100-400 mm) and one short (28-135 mm). What’s my backup camera? My Canon 1DS Mark III. I’m excited about the 5D Mark II being lighter, 22 mp, high ISO, low noise, and capable of making HD video. When I first got started in digital a DSLR that outresolved medium format film seemed inevitable, but a long way off; it’s been a reality for years now (12 mp). Similarly, it was clear that one day DSLRs would be capable of taking video; that day is finally here. Add to this ISO’s exceeding 5000. And extremely low noise.
This all adds up to continuing to reconsider basic assumptions about how you can make images and what you can do with them; color or black and white, in high contrast situations, after dark, in multiple pieces, print them at extreme scales, post them, post video. It’s a constant
There’s already been a lot said about the new technical specs of the Canon 5D Mark II.
Get the basics at Canon here.
Check out Syl Arena’s 5D Mark II posts here and here. And here.
Check out Ben Wilmore’s impressions of the 5D Mark II.

Olaf Willoughby – Alumni Success Story

Olaf Willoughby is one of my workshop alumns with an amazing success story. It’s a testament to how one man with focus can succeed personally and make a significant contribution in a short time.

“It all started with the mesmerising impact of a photographic expedition with Michael Reichmann and John Paul Caponigro. Antarctica was even more dramatic than I had expected. Glowing pink light at sunset. The vivid blue depths of the ice. Drifting sculpted icebergs. It was almost like a fairytale.
But the reality is different. Antarctica is under threat. Apart from the impact of climate change; the accords on land exploitation, whaling and tourism are all on a course of seemingly irreversible change for the worse.
This contrast between splendour and sadness led me beyond a photographic portfolio to produce a 48 page colour book, a work of environmental advocacy. “Antarctica, A Sense of Place”. The images and text contrast the natural beauty with the dark detail of the dangers facing Antarctica.
I produced the book within 6 months of the trip but I was still only halfway. John Cage said he didn’t consider his music complete until someone had heard it and similarly I needed marketing to create awareness and demand.
The World Wildlife Fund endorsed both the book and the images, using them in its web and print marketing activity. They also distributed over 5000 copies of the ebook on CD to help raise money for environmental causes. I have also blogged for the International Polar Year and their web site has featured the images. Additionally an article on the trip appeared in the UK’s most popular photographic magazine, Amateur Photographer, who also gave the book a very favourable review. A selection of images were exhibited at the ‘White Worlds’ exhibition at Nature In Art in the UK, Summer 2008. Prints have also been sold to support corporate environmental marketing programmes.
Through the WWF I have managed to create a good level of awareness, far higher than I might have managed on my own. I am going again in Jan 09 with John Paul and am currently planning the second edition.
JP’s workshops bring together a wonderful collection of like minded artists, rich with different talents. There are many benefits but, for me, the one outstanding lesson has been the expansion of the way I ‘see’ images, both provoking me to push harder and allowing me greater freedom to express my vision.”
Olaf Willoughby is a photographer, writer and researcher who lives with his wife Monique in London, UK. Creator: the WIT test of individualists and team players used in market research. Author: photography & travel books and articles. Values: the need to connect, environmental advocacy. Interests: the rhythms of data, images and words fuse into a long term fascination with creativity and pattern detection.
Check out a recent feature on Ag magazine here.
Find Olaf’s book here.
Learn more at olafwilloughby.com.
Stay tuned for stories from our upcoming January 2009 voyage to Antarctica.

Enjoy my Antarctica galleries, book, and statements.
Learn more about my workshops here.
Early registrants get discounts at home.
Members get discounts abroad.

Ed Greenburg – On Copyright

Ed Greenberg intellectual property lawyer speaks on Copyright online. Ed has had top notch high profile experience in this area – a lifetime of it! Ed’s been making appearances at Photoshop World with Jack Reznicki and helping clear up easily clouded issues for many creatives both amateur and professional. I learn something new every time I talk with him.

Register Your Copyright

One of the things I do at the beginning of each year is register my copyright for my images.
Registering your copyright is easy.
You can even do it online now.
Find out all you need to know here.
You don’t have to pay a registration fee for each image. You can register them in groups. I register my work in groups annually – i.e. new work 2008. If you’ve never registered before, you can register all your images for one fee – work to date.
If your work is published (or made public) consider registering more frequently. How frequently depends on you and the kind of work you do. Some photographers register their copyright when they deliver a job – every job.
You don’t have to register copyright to have ownership of your rights, they’re yours automatically. Registering your copyright is useful if your rights are infringed – in negotiations before going to court offenders are much more likely to settle out of court and if you go to court you’ll be able to recover your legal expenses as part of a suit.
Seth Resnik offers fantastic resources online to help you cut to the chase with this process and get it done exceptionally well in minimal time. Get them here.