- What first attracted you to photography?
I studied photography for a year in high school and have always been interested in picking up a camera and taking photos. Having shot in film in the earlier days and even pinhole cameras, I loved developing the film and seeing the photos come to life, which is pretty cool. The introduction of digital photography definitely makes it easier to immediately review and make necessary changes. It’s great to be able to combine travel and photography, I love being able to explore new places. I still like to shoot as natural as possible without too much digital manipulation.
- What are your favourite places in the world to shoot?
Where do I start? Well, I have many. In no particular order: Yosemite National Park – Ansel Adams-inspired. Yellowstone National Park, with all the active geysers. Iceland – so many waterfalls and puffins. Malta – Mdina , “the silent city”. Svalbard – polar bears and the midnight sun! Monument Valley, Arizona. Ushuaia, Argentina – Tierra del Fuego, “the end of the earth”. Niagara Falls, during the winter when it’s half frozen over. Central America – Tornado Alley during tornado season! New Zealand’s South Island – snow covered peaks and lush green fiords.
We also have some great local areas. Broome, WA – turquoise waters and red sand/rocks. Cairns and Port Douglas – beautiful beaches and rainforests. I love exploring country Victoria, visiting old towns and the many waterfalls dotted around the state.
“You have to see it to believe it.”
- You clearly have a strong connection to Antarctica, with your first experience there being a scenic flight, your second an exhibition cruise and then your most recent, actually living and working at Davis Station. Can you tell us a little about what the continent means to you and why it keeps drawing you back?
Antarctica is one of those places you must see to believe. I do like cold places, I guess this started off with enjoying snow skiing. I have been told I’m crazy many times by going down there because all I’ll see is white, white and more white … which is totally wrong! Antarctica is such a unique, remote and very unforgiving place. Any expeditioner that explores Antarctica makes great sacrifices, from isolation through to dry skin because of the low humidity inside – around 10-15%. But the good outweighs these. Also, [my work with the Bureau of Meteorology at Davis Station] contributed to the ongoing scientific research in many ways – for example, the weather in Antarctica does affect the weather we receive in Australia, so a better understanding of this will help forecasters and many other industries within Australia to better understand the changes in our weather. Most of the data that we collected was also shared with the global community to assist other Antarctic stations and countries.
Aaron battled through weeks without sun, glare from the ice and frost forming on his camera to shoot the stunning ice-scapes.
- Do the unique conditions there affect your technical process?
The technical process of taking photos remained generally the same, however the elements of the weather did make it very difficult at times. With the sun above the horizon 24 hours a day during the summer, it’s recommended shooting with a polariser filter to remove the glare off the ice and bring in tone and contrast. During the winter months, where we didn’t see the sun for 38 days, you needed longer exposures or a flash. I found my batteries lasted around 3 hours during time lapse photography, with the higher ampere hour batteries lasting almost 4 hours. This was with a hood over the camera slowing down the camera “cold soak” time – which is where the camera body/lens/glass becomes the same temperature or colder than the ambient temperature and frost begins to form. I would occasionally use a hand warmer and attach it to the lens to try and prevent any frost. I would always put my camera and lens in a plastic bag before taking it inside. This would allow the camera to acclimatise slowly. With temperatures well below zero and the temperature inside around 20 degrees, condensation would form outside and inside the camera if this was not done. After about 2 hours, it would be safe to take the camera out of the bag, sometimes even waiting this long to take my memory cards out to transfer the photos to my computer! Knowing how to use your camera in the dark was essential. Where all the buttons are and learning to use your camera with gloves on.
- You spent 13 months at Davis Station, shooting amazing images of Antarctica’s landscape and wildlife – do you think you’ll be gearing up for a similar expedition any time soon?
I’d like to return to Antarctica at some stage in the future. I have done expedition cruise’s to the Arctic (Svalbard) and the Antarctic Peninsula before, so perhaps something similar in the near future. I would love to return to Iceland and Svalbard during the winter months to experience the aurora borealis. No two auroras are the same and I’d never get bored photographing them. Also, Madagascar has a diverse wildlife list that I’d love to photograph one day.
See the full collection of Aaron’s work here