To spend a fortnight in Antarctica and coming back with shots of orcas whale, leopard seals catching and preying on penguins can be a surreal experience. But Captain Vishwas Patwardhan puts it down to ‘luck’ factor and taking some risks to scale some vantage points.
Patwardhan was in Antarctica in November 2017 as part of a special photography expedition with Wild Photo Norway. “This expedition was meant for professional photographers and so we got to travel to more places and we got a lot more photo ops than what is usually possible,” says Patwardhan, who will be putting up 200 photographs from this expedition at Balgandharva Art Gallery from April 1-4.
“A team of 50 photographers mostly from Scandinavian countries, Australia, New Zealand and a few from the US, were a part of this expedition. We had gone in summer month — November, December January are the summer months in Antarctica — so the temperatures are fairly tolerable. It doesn’t go below minus 10 degree Celsius, which is considered warm by Antarctic standards. In winter, it is impossible to go for photography expedition because it’s dark throughout the day. In the summer months, there was sunlight, 24x7. But yes, it was tough nonetheless. You are covered in layers of clothing and travelling from one spot to another, carrying all the photography gear,” explains the Merchant Navy officer.
The team used to travel in a small expedition ship to commute from island to island or to mainland Antarctica. From the ship, they used to take a rubber zodiac dinghy to go on the ice and walk around.
“I did 20 landings in different areas of the continent. We would spend about four or five hours on the island and then go back to the ship for meals. We would have to go to the ship even if we had to use the washroom. This was so to preserve the pristine condition of the island, devoid of any human influence,” he adds.
When asked if he had to use any specific gear to shoot in the cold region, Patwardhan replies, “Not really. We used regular gear. It’s just that we had to carry spare batteries, because they used to run out faster than normal, in Antarctica’s temperature.”
Patwardhan, who began with fashion photography in 2000, turned his focus on wildlife photography soon enough. In Antarctica too he focussed on the habitat.
“I came across three different types of penguins — adelie, gentoo and chinstrap. I also spotted orcas, the killer whale, who are called the apex predators. They are at the top of the food chain, which means no one preys on them. I was one of the four photographers who clicked pictures of leopard seals catching and killing penguins,” adds Patwardhan.
All these photographs will be displayed at the exhibition, besides flex boards in Marathi and English with description of the continent, what is blue ice and so on. Patwardhan will also put up a LCD screen which will have some videos on loops — like those of penguins mating, and how they walk towards the river.
Next up, Patwardhan is thinking of displaying his ‘tigers-only’ photographs. And, then he plans to go on another exhibition to Arctic, as close as possible to the North Pole, mainly to shoot images of the polar bears.
ST Reader Service
‘Antarctica’, a photography exhibition will be held at Balgandharva Art Gallery, J M Road, from April 1-4, between 9 am and 8 pm