I’ve been out and about in the dark again with my camera and tripod over my shoulder. It’s nice wandering around outside in the dark. It’s easy to begin to take for granted just where you are sometimes, it’s been busy and you’ve been focused on doing your job and you can forget to look around you. When you’re out with the camera though you are really taking it all in. Just walking around aimlessly, looking around you and not just going from one place to another is quite relaxing – and spooky. The sound of your feet hitting the ice makes you think about just what you are walking on – hundreds of metres of ice rather than solid ground. The ice here is not simply frozen water but compacted snow, that has either fallen or been blown, that is then frozen solid. Solid is not really the right word though. The ice at the surface is probably made up of ninety plus percent air, but is frozen so it seems solid and only gives a little when you walk on it. Because of this it echoes and rings when you stomp around -often you can hear people walking around outside long before you see them. This ice, that is made up of mostly nothing, will then be compacted as more and more material is deposited until, towards the bottom of the ice sheets, shelves and glaciers the ice is now virtually free of air and is the solid blue ice that will be seen when the ice calves into the ocean and floats off as a Berg. Anyway, I digress. Outside, in the dark, with the stars and strange green and red lights above you, and the strange ringing sound of your footsteps resonating through the surface ice you can’t not be aware of the fact that you’re in a bit of a mental place. The one thing that stops me from being out there all of the time of course is the cold. To try to get the pictures you want of the night sky takes a bit of tinkering with camera, changing settings, putting delays on the shutter, changing the exposure and trying to focus on things that are light years away. This all has to be done with fingers with the minimal amount of material covering them, rather than the three different layers and huge bulky mitts that will actually keep your hands warm. Because of this you have to do as much as is possible with the camera inside the base, keeping to a minimum the changes to the camera outside. This would be easier if you knew what you were doing, what you wanted to take a picture of and the best way to go about it. Although things are actually starting to sink into my brain I’m still learning a lot and often I don’t have the first clue about a lot of those things and just end up outside changing all the settings after getting them all wrong inside!
Still, as I’ve said a few times now, Antarctica often makes it hard to not get good photos by providing such ridiculously amazing things to point a camera at.
This last picture is one that I like, only a slight tinge of green from the aurora that I’d gone out to see and the opposite direction form the best bit of the starry sky and the band of the galaxy but something about it just makes you realise what an inhospitable and alien place we live in, like a scene from a film set hundreds of years in the future with the module and it’s spotlight actively exploring somewhere new and weird – which not long ago was just what was happening down here.