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Late Season - Antarctica
There is nowhere in the world that is quite like Antarctica. A remote, storm-swept continent, it holds a place in both our history and our imagination. Amazing tales of endurance, incredible encounters with wildlife and a remarkable landscape combine to build a very special story that speaks to us on so many levels.
You can travel to Antarctica from October until March, but for the landscape photographer, I think it’s the late season that promises the most. Huge mantles of snow and ice have melted away, revealing for just a short time a hidden skeleton of rock and ice, lichen and shrimp, while fast moving storms threaten hourly to hides these secrets once again.
My book, Late Season, is a limited edition, hand-crafted collection of 47 luxurious, high resolution Antarctic landscapes. Every aspect of their creation has used the most advanced tools, materials and techniques, based on a lifetime of practice and refinement.
To capture the photographs , I used the world’s most advanced medium format camera system, a 150-megapixel Phase One XF with a range of super high-resolution Schneider-Krueznach lenses. The sensor records an incredible 14,204 x 10,652 pixel resolution as a true 16-bit file, so every nuance, every point of detail in a landscape is faithfully recorded in terms of resolution, tonality and colour.
Working in sub-zero temperatures, often with howling winds and driving snow, it can be a challenge to capture the quintessential Antarctic landscape. On land, a tripod with long steel spikes is driven into the ground for stability, but on a zodiac or the ship, you simply do your best to work from a moving platform.
Photography has always been a matter of capture and post-production. While a lot of cameras do the post-production for you these days, to create images that present and reflect the experience and emotion can’t be done automatically. Many exposures are captured before selecting the very best image and taking it into post-production.
All the photographs are single captures and completely dependent on the Antarctic environment. The locations and the weather are real, but their interpretation is the result of decades of study, learning the art and craft of master photographers to give the photographs a voice of their own.
Each photograph can take several days to fully resolve its creative questions, refining local contrast, perfecting colour hues and correctly expressing the feeling of light and life found at the moment of exposure.
This genre of photography cannot be automated. The photographs are not lucky captures or a moment of good fortune, rather they are considered responses to a real and untamed environment.
I find presenting a single photograph incredibly limiting. While I enjoy the dance of social media, it is hardly satisfying. Images are low resolution, involvement is fleeting, there is no gravitas. In comparison, rendering a photograph as a print represents the ultimate expression of the photographers art.
In fact, throughout the history of photography, we’ve relied on exhibition prints to display the true nature of the photographer’s craft. Only a photographic print reveals the fine detail and subtle toning as the photographer meant it.
But an exhibition is limited to a span of time and the geography of its visitors. To reach a global audience, the challenge is to produce a photo book with the same quality as an exhibition print.
Standard photo books produced on offset presses produce very good facsimiles, but they are never as good as the original because they are printed with only four or maybe six ink colours and a resolution of, say 300 dots per inch.
In comparison, a modern inkjet printer can draw from up to 10 different ink colours with a resolution of 2,880 dots per inch. Never before has technology offered such a complete expression of a photograph’s craft. There is no better tool than a modern photo-quality inkjet printer with pigment inks applied to archival cotton-rag paper.
And this is where partnering with a bespoke printer has enabled me to create the ultimate form of photographic expression: exhibition quality prints bound into a photo book.
Each photograph in my book is printed exactly the same as one of my portfolio prints. Every one has the precise range of detail, colour and tonality that I would demand for an exhibition. And because I have taken the trouble to capture the images with a high-resolution sensor, the quality matrix flows smoothly into an oversize, large format book. When printed across the pages, the photographs measure 780x390mm. It's a beautiful size, encouraging you to fully engage with the wonder of Antarctica.
Equipment, technique, process. Every step is taken with agonising precision, but they are invisible when you view the finished result. And that’s exactly how a photo book should be.
You’ll understand why I’m a little excited by this book. It’s taken me 40 years working as a photographer to take my creative ideas and present them so completely. And I love the fact I have found Libby and Geoff at Momento Pro who share my passion for the photo book format.
Late Season is not inexpensive. In addition to all the care taken in the capture and production, only the highest quality inks, papers and binding materials are used. And the book is printed and bound by hand and to order. It’s something you can’t rush - it takes Momento Pro skilled craftsmen a good six weeks to prepare each volume.
Late Season is available in a limited edition of 45 books. Each book is individually numbered and signed. It comes in a custom designed and produced clam-shell case to protect your investment and we can ship to all corners of the globe. And it’s a highly attractive way to enjoy and experience one of the most remote and remarkable places on Earth.