• Home
  • Blog
  • Picture Perfect: Interview and Advice from a Polar Photographer

Picture Perfect: Interview and Advice from a Polar Photographer

by Oceanwide Expeditions Blog

It isn't easy to take a bad picture in the polar regions, but it's far from impossible.

The art of Antarctic photography

It isn’t easy to take a bad picture in the polar regions, but it’s far from impossible.

(Snapping a photo of the inside of your jacket is a good start.)

Even so, the beauty of Antarctica seems to ask a certain photographic respect: When you take a dim, crooked, thoughtlessly rushed picture of a dazzling Antarctic shoreline, somewhere there’s an angel bursting into tears.

After all, you were better off just enjoying the moment with your own two eyes.

By contrast, a carefully captured Antarctic photo is a beautiful sight. It’s almost enough to transport you into that sublime, surreal world.

To find out how this is done, we sat down with someone who does it for a living.

Esther Kokmeijer has been a professional photographer for years, leading numerous polar photography workshops that teach passengers how to take pictures they’re proud to bring back home. During our talk, she gave us a few tips you won’t want to miss.

Unless the inside of your jacket is really that interesting.

What’s one photography tip you give all polar passengers?

Tell stories with your pictures.

You don’t need the best camera or biggest lens to do this. It’s all about your own observations of the Antarctic environment, your own presence within that world.

Is that idea very easy for people to grasp?

It takes practice, but they’re in the perfect place for it. When I’m leading a workshop on an expedition vessel in Antarctica, for example, I like to inspire passengers to absorb the whole beauty of Antarctica.

It’s a wide-angle paradise, but there are also so many tiny details that deserve attention.

Is this why you got into bird photography, to capture the little details?

Before coming on board expedition cruises, I wasn’t at all a bird photographer. In fact, the first bird photos I made were out of duty.

But now I admire them fully.

I especially love capturing fast-flying birds, like Arctic terns. They move so gracefully. By freezing them with a fast shutter speed, the most elegant postures become visible.

Are you from a very natural environment?

I was born in the northern Netherlands, in a region known as Friesland.

Beautiful coastal areas were only a couple of minutes of biking from where I lived, so I could watch the sun setting into the perfect mirror of the sea, reflecting all those pink clouds.

Now my favorite landscape is an ensemble of water, clouds, and icebergs.

Are icebergs central to your own Antarctic photography?

It’s the icebergs that really make me feel in love with the polar regions.

Although it’s always amazing to see wildlife in their natural habitats, I can gaze at icebergs for hours.

I like to capture their numerous appearances in my pictures. They can look like crumpled paper, translucent golf balls, or giant pieces of meringue pie in so many shades of blue.

Do you look for great pictures, or do they just find you?

With my camera, I’m always an active observer. I feel my surroundings and am more open and aware of all that’s happening around me.

I love that feeling of being hunting for the right moment…

Do we sense another photography tip coming?

Yes: Try to capture action, emotion, and fun.

Maybe there’s a penguin stealing a stone from a nest or teasing a seal by jumping on its belly or just staring back at you, curious.

It’s all about waiting for the right moment. Collect your polar story, show references, make overviews.

And don’t forget to capture something that shows the scale once in a while.

Is close-contact wildlife photography of penguins, for example, possible on cruises to Antarctica?

With most of our landings, we can get fairly close to the penguins.

Per IAATO regulations, this means no closer than about five meters (16 feet), but we’re right there on the snow with them. You don’t need a very high-powered lens.

To watch penguins at eye level is extremely touching and intimate. I’m lying on the snow much of the time.

I take photos using their height as a reference. Even on wide shots, I try to capture the penguins as tall as possible to prevent them from becoming black dots on the snow.

Can you leave us with one last piece of photography wisdom?

Overall, it’s about your own perception.

How do you experience the polar regions? What touches you about them? Be authentic, capture the moments in this awe-inspiring place in the way you want to remember them.

And remove your camera from your jacket before taking any pictures.

Yes, it generally works better that way.

Ähnliche Reisen

Antarktis - Basecamp
Bis zu $5300 Rabatt

Antarktis - Basecamp

Die aktivste Reise in die Antarktis

OTL31-24 Die Antarktische-Halbinsel-Basecamp-Reise bietet eine Vielzahl von Möglichkeiten, die Antarktis zu erkunden und zu genießen. Diese Expedition ermöglicht es Ihnen, zu wandern, mit Schneeschuhen zu laufen, Kajak zu fahren, Berge zu besteigen und sogar...

m/v Ortelius

MS Ortelius

Reisezeit:

4 Mär - 16 Mär, 2024

Liegeplätze ab:

5450 USD

Antarktis - Elefanteninsel - Weddellmeer - Polarkreis
Bis zu $6100 Rabatt

Antarktis - Elefanteninsel - Weddellmeer - Polarkreis

Wagen Sie sich über den Polarkreis hinaus und besuchen Sie einige der tierreichsten Gewässer und Inseln der Antarktis

PLA31-24 Diese ausgedehnte Expedition führt Sie bis zum Polarkreis und verbindet die reiche Tierwelt des Weddellmeeres mit den surrealen Küsten und Inseln der Antarktischen Halbinsel. Wichtige Anlandestellen wie die legendäre Elefanteninsel und der Crystal Sound...

m/v Plancius

MS Plancius

Reisezeit:

7 Mär - 21 Mär, 2024

Liegeplätze ab:

6300 USD

Antarktis - Jenseits des Polarkreises - Wilkins-Schelfeis

Besuchen Sie Orte, die von De Gerlache auf seiner Polarexpedition an Bord der Belgica entdeckt wurden

HDS30-24 Die Reise ist eine echte Expedition, auf der wir die sehr selten besuchte Region der Bellingshausen-See, der Marguerite-Bucht und der Alexander-Insel erkunden. Wir besuchen Orte, die von De Gerlache auf seiner Polarexpedition (Juni 1887 - März 1899)...

m/v Hondius

MS Hondius

Reisezeit:

13 Mär - 28 Mär, 2024

Liegeplätze ab:

10400 USD

Antarktische Halbinsel – Polarkreis; Entdeckung des tiefen Südens
Bis zu $3300 Rabatt

Antarktische Halbinsel – Polarkreis; Entdeckung des tiefen Südens

Erkunden Sie die entferntesten Gewässer des fernen Südens, während Sie den antarktischen Kreis auf der Suche nach verschiedenen Walarten überqueren, darunter Buckel-, Zwerg- und Finnwale

OTL32-24 Diese Reise hat das Ziel in Gebiete südlich des Polarkreises vorzudringen. Diese Fahrt führt durch Gewässer in denen Buckel-, Zwerg- und Finnwale gesichtet werden können. Die Expedition bietet an verschiedenen Stellen die Möglichkeit für Wanderungen...

m/v Ortelius

MS Ortelius

Reisezeit:

16 Mär - 29 Mär, 2024

Liegeplätze ab:

6800 USD

Antarktis - Polarkreis - Walbeobachtungsreise
Bis zu $2800 Rabatt

Antarktis - Polarkreis - Walbeobachtungsreise

Überqueren Sie den Polarkreis

PLA32-24 Diese Reise entlang der Antarktischen Halbinsel bis zum Polarkreis führt durch Gewässer, in denen sich Buckel-, Zwerg- und Finnwale aufhalten. Die Expedition bietet an verschiedenen Stellen die Möglichkeit für zahlreiche Aktivitäten wie z.B. Wandern...

m/v Plancius

MS Plancius

Reisezeit:

21 Mär - 1 Apr, 2024

Liegeplätze ab:

5750 USD

Loading