One of the key shots I want to shoot is of the two water boats decaying on the shores of Deception Island.
As with many photographs I have seen of seemingly incredible locations, actually getting there is remarkably easy to reach once you're on board a ship like the Akademik. Deception Island is an active volcano and its whaling station was abandoned after a little too much heat in the 1970s. However, the water boats are from much earlier than this, from 1900 to 1930-ish. Fresh water for operations was carried out to the whaling boats using these covered boats and today there are just two in 'good condition'.
There's lots to see and photograph at our landing point, but a snow storm closes in making photography difficult. The only angles worth shooting are with your back to the wind because it takes but seconds for your lens to be plastered with snow if you turn into the wind. The pattern on the ground at the base of one of the old containers is created by snow settling in footprints.
It's interesting that many of the destinations we actually visit are not 'pristine', but rather remnants of man's inability to settle permanently. So many pristine places are simply inaccessible, no matter what equipment you have, so we go to the places where it is sometimes possible to get ashore and find that 'man' has been there before us.
Although the weather is stormy, it is really very kind and makes for much better photographs compared to a bland blue sky. Of course this is an assumption: maybe I need to return to see what it's like in fine weather!
Our landing at Deception Island was inside the caldera - the island has a huge harbour tucked inside narrow heads. In the afternoon, we returned outside the caldera and hoped to land via zodiac onto a jet black beach inhabitied by thousands of chinstrap penguins (the Russians call them policemen with their 'black hats' - David McGonigal is sitting in the cabin with me as I write this, so any questions I need to know I just ask him as he's a walking Antarctica encylopedia).
The weather closes in and the swell pushes up, so being unable to land we go for a zodiac cruise and shoot the penguins from off shore. Soon it is snowing so heavily that visibility is reduced to only a few metres and the snow creates a 'grainy' effect over all the photos.
We take a very rough zodiac ride back to the ship and note how much fun it was to be out in such extreme conditions, yet feel safe that warmth, food and lodgings are only a short distance away. We take for granted all the safety precautions our crew and expedition team put into place that allow us to have such great adventures.