sweeping shot of antarctica landscape with mountains and penguins

Tips and Photo Examples for Photographing Antarctica’s Landscapes

The last frontier, the white continent, the ends of the earth…Antarctica is legendary for so many reasons.  The wildlife sensational, the scenery stunning, and the sense of adventure palpable.   While there are many topics to cover regarding photography in Antarctica, today we’re going to discuss several tips and tricks for photographing Antarctic landscapes specifically.  From towering glaciers, to jagged mountain peaks, to simply photographing the immense space and wilderness of Antarctica, it’s a wonderland for photographers of all levels and interests.

Get that iconic panoramic shot

What most people don’t realize is that the Antarctic peninsula is actually an extension of the Andes, yielding incredible mountain peaks and dramatic glaciated landscapes.  While back in the day you had to have a special camera set up to take these wide format shots, in today’s world of digital photography, you can easily crop your photo (basically cutting out the top and bottom of the photo, to make it skinnier) like the above to emphasize the panoramic expanse of the Antarctic mountains.

Zoom in to fill the frame with mountains

In line with emphasizing the glorious mountains of Antarctica, don’t stop with the initial wide angle photo of the entire range.  Use your camera’s zoom or put on a telephoto lens to fill the frame with those dramatic contrasts and craggy textures of the glaciers and mountains that predominate everywhere.  It’s natural to think you need to photograph mountains with the top and bottom showing.  However, sometimes the lines and striations are every bit as compelling…photograph just a snippet to get impressive textures.

Be sure to photograph wildlife in the landscape

In the world of wildlife photography, it’s easy to concentrate solely on the wildlife, especially when you can get so close to icons like penguins and seals.  While these close-up “guidebook” photos, as I call them, are wonderful – with a zoomed in photo of a penguins face, for example – don’t forget to step back and photograph wildlife as part of the landscape, as it can really yield some show-stopping results.

Don’t forget to get people in the landscape

We photographers often go to great lengths to avoid getting people in our photos.  However, in certain instances, like the photo above, it can really add to the scene.  Above, you can see a small line of seven hikers on the snowy ridge.  I feel that by placing people strategically in your landscape photo you can really add context to what is otherwise an otherworldly scene.

In other cases, like in the below photo, providing people or even modes of transportation, helps to show scale of the landscape.

Emphasize the expanse of the wilderness around you

There are many things to photograph when in Antarctica, however, sometimes the best thing to photograph is the void – the expanse.  This is where finding that animal or person, amidst a consistent pattern of nothingness, can be ever so evocative.  When doing so, be sure to consider fundamental rules of composition and avoid placing the animal directly in the middle of the photo.  Placing it towards the corner or on one side of the frame makes it much more interesting to the viewer.

Antarctica is truly mesmerizing, and hopefully you are reading this because you wish to go there one day, or perhaps even have an Antarctica expedition coming up in the near future.  As you can see from the above photos, I am enamored by this “last continent” and hope that these few examples will help inspire you when you get the chance to photograph is wild land.

See you out there!