Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Sky, originally uploaded by tsaven.

For the love of god, view at full size)

Clear nights here are fairly rare, especially at this time of year. We're at the convergance of a few different ocean currents and weather patterns, so there's almost always some sort of clouds hanging around.

But a few nights ago, it was one such night, brilliantly clear and cold. And on nights like that, this is what the sky looks like. The whole sky. Horizon to horizon.

At around 11pm, I strapped on all my camera gear, bundled up in as much clothing as I could, snagged some chemical warmers for my boots from the divers, and took a walk to the east, up the side of the glacier.

I could try and describe what it was like, but nothing I say can do it justice. I could try and describe feeling like you're the only thing alive on the whole continent, of realizing just how small and insignificant you really are, this tiny black dot on an immense expanse of ice and snow. Of looking up and being slightly confused at the thin cloud that stretches across the whole sky and looks like it's behind the stars, then realizing that I was seeing the Milky Way for the first time in many years. I could try and describe the solitude of plodding along slowly up this massive plane of white, looking back and seeing off in the distance this little bubble of light, our station, a minuscule blip of civilization on this harsh continent.

But no count of my words could possibly bring to accurate fruition the experience in your minds. Whatever you're thinking it was like, multiply it by a thousand and you're still nowhere close.

So I do my best to try to capture the experience in pixels, and while you may look at the image and say it's neat, I promise you, it's far more incredible in real life.

Even so, I wasn't able to capture it as well as I'd liked. My only fast lens is the cheap 50mm f/1.8, and to really capture this place, I need something wider (especially on a crop-sensor camera), but my only wide lens is my 17-85 f/4-5.6, and even with 30 second exposures it wasn't capturing nearly enough light. And my hands and the camera started to get cold VERY quickly. Hiking up there I was fine, but standing around waiting for 15 second shutters gets you cold pretty quickly.

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