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South Georgia Approach
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, 17mm TS-E lens, stitched, 1/200 second @ f8, ISO 200, hand-held, no filter

King Haakon Sound is on the north west side of South Georgia. It’s famous because this is where Shackleton landed when he ‘escaped’ from Elephant Island to get help for his men. It’s also where a cruise ship touched bottom a few years previously, so our captain wasn’t taking any chances and navigated slowly and carefully into the back of the bay.

South Georgia is nothing short of spectacular. How you can really do justice to it with a camera is beyond me – everyone was left speechless. Towering mountains, covered in the freshest, whitest snow you’ve ever seen, fall directly into a wild, dark and restless ocean. Clouds come and go, shrouding distant peaks one minute, revealing them and a dozen others the next. And it’s cold with a wind that rips through your clothing and chills your bones.

At the end of the sound we could see the deep blues of a glacier meeting the sea, probably one of a dozen we saw as we crept into our anchorage. We left the ship in relatively calm conditions. The sun was shining and the elephant seals were baking. They hardly acknowledged our existence. A small group of King Penguins seemed lost and we were wary of the one or two fur seals, which can be very aggressive early in the season.

In the afternoon the wind was up and landing at a second location was deemed unwise, so we steamed off toward Salisbury Plains. Sailing close to the coast, it was difficult to capture the grandeur in a single exposure, so I took several images and stitched them together. The sky was simply amazing that night.

NEW TRADITION: Although I don’t feel as though I use this technique very often, it’s interesting how many photos in this book have been stitched. It’s certainly a great addition to the digital photographer’s toolbox.

The stitch was a little troublesome because, shooting from a moving platform, the scene was never going to line up perfectly. The change of angle mightn’t be much, but it was enough to prevent the island matching perfectly from frame to frame. Clouds aren’t such a big problem because the joins can be fudged more easily.

After stitching, the image was also ‘squeezed’ a little so the island looked a little taller. In real life, you’re on the ship looking up to the top of the peaks, but when you shoot with an ultra wide-angle lens, the resulting perspective doesn’t look anything like what you have just experienced. Squishing the image brings back a little of the dramatic perspective.

This approach was repeated with Drygalski Fjord as you’ll read shortly.

Need a good read? Like to learn something more about photography? Interested in new ideas? Why not purchase a copy of my book, The New Tradition, which is full of great tales and ideas. It has 100 photographs and accompanying stories guaranteed to enthrall you - and you can save $30 on the purchase price right now - use coupon code TNT30. Check out more on the website

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