Antarctica in December is a place of grand beauty— towering mountains, amazing icebergs, incredible glaciers and fascinating wild life. The weather changes quickly, moving from sundrenched days with deep blue ocean to moody overcast ones, where the water seems to go almost black. I came for the ice— I loved the thought of seeing ice with blues that seemed to come straight from a heavenly palette. Icebergs varied in every way imaginable. Some featured geometrically intricate cracks, fissures and crevasses. Others looked like they were sanded smooth, with softly contoured lines, with holes completely through them.

I took thousands of pictures, as did everyone else on the trip. I wanted to select just one that summed up everything I felt about the trip— the ice, the water, the wildlife. Eight Zodiac boats carried us from Ushuaia, our 250 foot ship to the beach, for sidetrips; and to just cruise around to get in close to icebergs and glaciers. We had just left the beach, having spent time with a large colony of penguins. I was shooting pictures of approaching Zodiacs, as we cruised back to Ushuaia, when I spotted movement out of the corner of my eye, I swung my camera to the right and my viewfinder was filled by 3 penguins, frolicking across the water in a row. They were synchronized, emerging from the water in a choreographed group, shedding water in sheets. Perhaps a half second later, they slipped soundlessly back into the water, leaving 3 perfect splashes. The best part of all is that they were positioned in front of a high glacier. The speed of our boat closely matched that of the advancing penguins. This shot captured all of them at about the same height above the water. Then they passed the end of the glacier and the moment was gone.

To me, this encapsulates our trip— the inky blue of the water, brightened by the reflected blue-green of the glacier, the impossible color and detail in the glacier and the action of the quintessential penguins— somehow, it tied everything together for me.

 

StillSteve