Flipped Iceberg: Shooting in Antarctica

This is a behind-the-scenes video of the flipped iceberg photos we shot in Antarctica. The video includes an overview of the gear used, a Lightroom editing screencast, some unreleased video of the iceberg, and a brief rundown of press outreach and monitoring viral analytics. Buy a print.

First, I must mention that these photos are incredible because of the subject matter: an upside down iceberg. There wasn’t anything remarkable about my technique. The video provides a lot of great information, but it’s worth noting that this was a particularly rare and unusual sight. It was really cool to see an image of nature go viral, without the need for any gimmicks. Of all the things I’ve made in my life, I would *not* have expected a photo of ice in water to end up being covered so widely.

Antarctica is not a normal place. Shooting there requires a lot of specific gear augmentation. In the video you’ll see my normal get-up. I wore a balaclava and sunglasses for the cold and sun protection, a chest mounted GoPro, Hestra snow gloves, and Arcteryx outerwear. Antarctica is cold, but the Peninsula is relatively warm at 2 degrees celsius. The biggest problem is the unrelenting sun being reflected off of every surface imaginable.

When we would explore coves we’d travel on Zodiac boats. These boats are awesome; they are fast, bouncy, and scary as all hell if it’s wavy. As such, I’d bring my old Canon 5DMKII any time I’d go out on the boat. There was a lot of splashing, rain, snow and general chaos on the boats, and I figured it was the safer bet. I alternated between the 16-35mm 2.8 and the 100-400mmm II, recently released.

I was alternating between shooting video and images when we came upon the iceberg. I haven’t previously shared video of the experience so it’s in the video above for the first time. In both video and image mode, I shoot RAW, so the images you are seeing are duller than the final ones.

Every image I shot in Antarctica was processed in Lightroom. I used to use VSCO presets a lot, but now I am much more minimal with my editing. I mostly correct for the RAW settings and otherwise leave the image alone. VSCO is too heavy handed and of-the-moment for me. The video above presents a screencast of the editing used on these images.

The 100-400mm lens is a new release from Canon and it’s worth mentioning a couple features. First, 100-400 is ridiculous. It’s not a consistent 2.8 like its similarly sized 70-200 brother, but if you’re not shooting in low light, or fast moving subjects, who cares! It weighs the same and is the same size. Also, it’s a typical spin zoom instead of the ridiculous pump action barrel-zoom found on the 28-300.

I used a few different bags in Antarctica, but the most effective was the newly released Lowepro Protactic 450. First, it can house larger cameras like the 1DC with lens attached. Second, it’s pretty big on the inside while still being pretty sleek on the outside. Third, it’s got a genius rain cover tucked away on its underside, ready for quick deployment. This thing is amazing in Antarctica! I’d typically bring this bag with me to shore to ensure I had all the lenses I needed. I had a smaller sling bag, but I so rarely felt comfortable only bringing one lens.

Every artist desires for their work to be seen by a lot of people — in that way, it was really exciting to see these images covered so broadly. While I’m not proud of it like I am some of my other projects, it was exciting to get more eyes on something I made. Check the video above for more on the viral tail, and what unfolds over time as the “pop” dissipates.

Large format, fine art prints of the iceberg photos are available exclusively here.