FirstLight Workshop

South Georgia and Gold Harbor

Old whaling harbor of Grytviken


an elephant seal tossing sand on back to cool down

King penguins heading to surf on Gold Harbor

seals on beach at Gold Harbor

seals on Gold Harbor beach, South Georgia

Dawn on Gold Harbor, South Georgia

Elephant seal wakening


Dawn on Gold Harbor, South Georgia


Solo King penguin heading into ocean on Gold Harbor

Dawn on Gold Harbor, South Georgia



Gentoo penguins arguing


We’re en route from Gold Harbor on South Georgia to Elephant Island on the Antarctic Peninsula.  Overcast and cold, it looks like Antarctic conditions.

South Georgia was stunning, but Gold Harbor was a step beyond that.  We made an early morning landing, arriving the beach at 4AM.  Scores of Elephant seals, thousands of Antarctic Fur Seals, 100,000+ penguins, it was sensory overload.

During sunrise, the black-sand beach and penguins were still in shade, while the peaks of the mountains in the background were in full sun.  This scenario really illustrates the limit of the camera, be it film or digital. The eye can see that dynamic range of sunlit to very dark far more effectively than the camera is able to capture.  How do you deal with this..either through software (such as Adobe Lightroom) or through the use of a neutral density graduated filter.  These tools provide a method of reducing the exposure in the background by up to 3 stops, while allowing the foreground to remain unaffected.  I used a Singh Ray Neutral Density Graduated Filter on some of these images.  Another group, I used the grad filter in Lightroom.  Both are very powerful tools for the photographer, the ease of use of the Lightroom tool is awesome, but for some publications, this isn’t allowed, as it’s considered manipulation.  Either way, this method is great/invaluable for compressing that light range.

Hi AXL School!!  I was just on this amazing place called Gold Harbor that is in South Georgia.  Very remote and very untouched, it’s the home to hundred’s of thousands of King Penguins, Elephant seals, Antarctic Fur Seals, birds of all kinds, it’s incredible!  Do you all remember how much I said an Elephant seal could weigh?  A scientist aboard the trip told me that there is some thinking that an Elephant seal will actually sleep as it descends to it’s feeding depth of that one mile.  Scientists have tracked the Elephant seal as it goes down, and they discovered that often the seal would go straight down, with no swimming motion, which indicates that it is not moving and probably asleep.  Pretty cool, huh??

A cool fact..the difference between a seal and a sea lion: the sea lion has ears that stick out from the body, seals have sound ports, but not ears

We crossed into the Antarctic waters a few hours’s coming up to summer here (seasons are reverses, since we’re below the equator) and its not terribly cold.  Around 32 degrees is pretty much what it’s been, so not the 40-60 degrees below zero it can get in winter.  Brrrrrrrr….

More from the Antarctic soon,

Miss D’s Dad










One Response to “South Georgia and Gold Harbor”

  1. Allen Harry Says:

    Stunning images and location.
    Wish I could be there.

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