Lemaire Channel was socked in with heavy snow as we passed through it. Only those who had been there before, knew the soaring majesty of the peaks above hidden by the low lying clouds. Having been through the Lemaire Channel four times now, our 2005 expedition passage, which was full of hours of riotous color, was clearly an exception, not the rule.

At the far end of the Lemaire Channel we turned into Plenneau Bay, the iceberg graveyard. The ice was good, but not extraordinary like our 2007 cruise. Snow filled the air making shooting conditions challenging. We traversed the bay for hours in separate zodiacs exploring the largest masses of ice that weren’t surrounded by brash ice. Snow covered, this ice, grounded in the shallows of the bay, offered altitude and a side variety of shapes, lines, and textures.

After lunch, we moved on to nearby Petermann Island, the area’s largest colony of Adelie Penguins at the gateway to the Pennola Strait strewn with large masses of ice. The sun made a feeble attempt to come out for the following hours, a tiny omnipresent spot, making a wonderful counterpoint in the otherwise flat gray skies, still capable of casting light upon the watery sculptures we chased so feverishly. Again, those of us who elected not to land enjoyed the luxury of extended zodiac cruises. For hours, we chased pyramids, caryatids, griffins and a riot of other fantasies frozen in ice.  This afternoon and Paradise Bay were the best sessions of the whole trip.

Incoming sea ice forced us to carve our way back through the Lemaire Channel through more katabatic winds, gusting up to 50 mph. With an eye to our voyage home, we moved north west to find an evening’s shelter and position ourselves for our final day of cruising.

Andy Biggs made a quick presentation on integrating NIK software into a digital workflow. Seth followed with an extended presentation on advanced Lightroom processing techniques and leveraging the power of Presets.

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Pre-breakfast cruise at Fish Island through thick brash ice to two fantastic iceberg arches topped off with a close encounter with a leopard seal that slapped our zodiac with its flipper and followed us all the way back to the boat. You’ve got to shoot fast to get these shots. Sometimes you miss them, but if you get hung up on the last one you missed you miss the next one. Move on.

Post-breakfast cruise through the Grandidier Channel. All sorts of states of water; calm and with swell; clear, ice-spotted, and ice-choked. I became fascinated with the wake of the boat and sinuous like it cut behind us. Slow, dreamlike shooting as the world drifts by subtly changing by the minute. You need to look and look again; shoot and return; shoot and return.

Post-tea cruise to Petermann Island (a premiere penguin colony) with departure detour to nearby icebergs on the open ocean side. Floating through canyons of ice with heavy swell and some crashing surf. Fast and furious shooting. One shot only. Tossing boat. Shoot first. Ask questions later.

Post-dinner cruise through the La Mer Channel, considered a jewel of the Penninsula, second only to the Gullet. Weather moved in fast, we reacted, moving into the channel early. Fog enshrouded the high peaks creating a moody atmosphere. We glided up the deep fiord watching it all unfold high above us. At the end, whales. The next best thing to evening light is atmosphere. Expect the unexpected. Make the most of what you’ve got.

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