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Drew Spacht  Budding writer. Photographer. Science nerd. Bibliophile. Runner. || ©DrewSpacht

https://www.drewspacht.com/

Slabs of sea ice disappeared into the fog on an Antarctic evening in the summer. Even though it was around 9pm, it would still be hours until the sun set properly, and then it would only remain below the horizon for about 3 hours. However, on this side of Anvers Island we were in the shadow of the Marr Ice Piedmont, and so the fog was allowed to build and envelop us, bringing with it a deep calm before the brief night.

This is not a landscape that many of us are accustomed to. It’s jagged, cold, and seemingly desolate. Icebergs the size of cars, trailers, houses, and buildings huddle together in the frigid waters of the southern ocean. It’s thousands of years of history, all of it floating and melting. This is how stories are lost - they melt away and are carried away by the currents and tides. As we end our week, hopefully to go out and enjoy nature, I hope we all think about what our responsibility is to this planet. To care for it, to accept our impact, and to minimize our footprint.
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A field of ice floating off the Western Antarctic Peninsula at dusk.

A rogue macaroni penguin preens it’s feathers about 8 miles from Palmer Station. I chose to selectively color this photo to emphasize the vibrancy and color of the crest feathers and beak of this awesome bird.

Ah! Love is in the air, and the “songbirds” are squawking their duets! I, uh...think this pair might need a little practice.

A spear of ice thrusts from the ocean and into the sky. There is a long list of things in my short life that I’ve become jaded about, but icebergs have never and will never make that list. I’m constantly in awe of their shapes and textures, and I often find my imagination bounding playfully at each frozen encounter. || #abstract

A rare glimpse of an Antarctic Minke surfacing along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Whale researchers from the US are doing some amazing work tracking and identifying individual whales, all in the hope of protecting and better understanding these gentle giants.

And who said that having one’s head in the clouds was a bad thing?
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Sunset in Antarctica.

Can you feel the atmosphere fill the space beneath your wings? Can you feel it as it lifts you high and takes you far?
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Southern Giant Petrels along the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

Ice and snow spilling off of Mount William, Antarctica.

The glacier at the foot of the Torres weeps throughout the summer and into fall, painting the rock below with what looks like scars. At sunset these scars start to show themselves more boldly, coming out fully in the twilight that immediately follows the sun’s retreat below the horizon.

The charred remains of a tree in Torres del Paine, Chile. On several occasions, visitors have been responsible for flames sweeping through the park, adding to the periodic natural burns that can occur in this region. I’m not sure if this part of the park was one of the sites where humans were the cause of the blaze, but regardless it is a reminder that we are but visitors on this planet and we should act as such. Be courteous, be responsible, and leave no trace. The greatest gift we can give to future generations is a beautiful and livable world.

I have never shared this image before. Torres del Paine as seen from the catamaran as one heads towards Paine Grande. Can you spot the tiny waterfall at the foot of the mountain?

If only ice were forever. Alas, even this ancient Titan must fall before the unrelenting force of time.

In the vast, frigid waters of the Southern Ocean one can find an abundance of life. Whales, penguins, seals, fish, squid, algae, coral and more. From the surface it isn’t always readily apparent, but deep below one will find that these waters are alive in ways we can’t possibly imagine.

The closest I ever got to mainland Antarctica was on a boat (6 months on Antarctic islands does not count). I was close enough in the boat that I had to crane my head almost strait up to look at the mountains that erupted directly from the ocean as they climbed vertically to the clouds. I often dream about what it will be like to stand on that ice, to touch the mainland rock. I say someday because it will happen - someday.
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Looking out on the Western Antarctic Peninsula from Cormarant Island, Antarctica.

It’s Tuesday. Go fall in love with a mountain.
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Mount William, Antarctica.

The most wonderful part of Antarctica is not the beautiful landscape, oddly enough. Instead, it is sharing such a place with people who understand how special and unique and important such a place is. Nature is what ties us all together, and there is nothing more magnificent than being able to share that with like-minded people.
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A long exposure, sunset in Antarctica.

Morning light is special, even in black and white. While taking a photography seminar this past fall, I decided to arrive early to an outing, right before sunrise. I was graced with this magnificent sight: mist rising off the water, beams of light bursting through the trees, and geese coasting across the liquid surface.

The approach to Glacier Gray, Torres del Paine.

I’ve wondered often what’s driven this obsession I’ve had with black and white. I love color photography, but I don’t study color photos the same way I study black and white photos. It’s the texture, the light - they take on different qualities when the distraction of color is taken away. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Antarctica, where infinite textures present themselves in the form of ancient ice.
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A dry dock iceberg, dubbed “top ten” by the residents of Palmer Station.

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” - Sylvia Plath -

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The cold white ice of a glacier reaches, stretches to the ocean. And it leaps in.

Post No. 250
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Mood is important in photography, as much as composition. Is the mood inherent in the scene? If not, is it inherent in the way the photo is edited? The most important explorations I’ve made into photography involved the moods of the images I’ve made, and in the process I’ve learned a lot about myself. For ultimately, an image tells you as much about the one who made it as it does about the scene. What does this image say to you?

I love these little voyeuristic moments with wildlife, moments where I get to frame the shot with something a little out of focus in the front that conveys the effort that goes into sneaking the perfect shot. These crabeater seals were having a small dispute, of sorts. The one on the ice seemed disinclined to scoot over so the individual in the water could haul out next to it, and so I sat watching for the better part of 20 minutes as the scene unfolded. For the most part, the one on the ice just dozed, or at the very least stared lazily at the seal that was swimming around and spy-hopping for a spot. Towards the end of the encounter, dozing and disinterest turned into minor annoyance. This was captured right before the seal on the ice decided it was time to leave, fed up with the nautical nuisance. I sat the whole time, watching and snapping the occasional shot, all the while making sure that I didn’t add to the scene unfolding before me. Like a fly on the wall.

I realize that yesterday was the “official” Penguin Awareness Day, but to me every day is Penguin Awareness Day! I had the pleasure of hanging out with this little chick while assisting some of the penguin researchers who go down to Palmer Station, Antarctica every Austral summer. To this day, it is still the softest, fuzziest thing I have ever held.

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