He said "I also found I had come home with much better photos. Each photo was carefully thought out before-hand. I was studying the light, the lines, and the behaviors of the wildlife to get the right shot. It showed both in the quality of my photos and the quality of my experience.
Below you will find his 10 suggestions for a photography packing list.
1. When moving around in Zodiacs with splashing water, rough seas, and other guests on board, it can be difficult to change a lens. Rain, snow, and sea spray can easily get onto your sensor and lens element during a lens change. Packing two versatile zoom lenses will not only help keep your gear safe, it will offer more versatility when you have rapidly changing conditions. I often suggest guests look at two zoom lenses in the 24-70 or 24-105 range, paired with a 70-200 or 70-300 depending on which camera brand you use. I’ve found that 24-70 can fulfill 90% of the shots I take on my expeditions, most being right around 35mm. A longer lens like 70-200 is great especially around February and March, when the whales tend to be more densely populated. If you’re keen to pack a third lens, I would suggest a 16-35 or any wide angle prime for walking about on land. Ultra wide lenses give a great dramatic view of the vast landscapes in the Arctic and Antarctica. Nowadays, small compact cameras like the Sony Rx100VI pack a pocket-sized 24-200mm built in telephoto zoom lens. I love to keep one of these with me at all times. Not only do they take amazing photos, they are also incredibly versatile during those “in-a-pinch” moments.
2. I cannot stress enough how important it is to bring backup memory cards. Cards get lost, corrupted, and filled up. If you think you have enough memory cards, buy three more. You can find good quality cards online for less than $20 each. I always suggest bringing multiple 32GB or 64GB cards instead of one larger 128GB card, for example. If one large card goes bad, you are out of luck. Having numerous smaller cards offers you the security of multiple backups. I stick those cheap extra cards all around my gear. Backpack pockets, pants pockets, jacket pockets…
3. The cold weather conditions can drain a battery before you’ve even had the chance to use it in your camera. I always keep 2-3 spare batteries in my jacket breast pocket or somewhere close to my body so the heat can keep them warm; this will prevent unwanted discharge. Additionally, I always have two batteries fully charged in my room, but never left unattended while charging in my cabin for safety purposes.
4. Unless you’re taking incredibly high-res bracketed photos to merge in post-processing later, creating time lapses, or filming documentary-level video, the lighting conditions in Antarctica are almost always well-lit enough for shutter speeds high enough to not require the use of a tripod. If you feel you need one, it’s best to look for small travel tripods or spend the money on ultra lightweight carbon fiber tripods. Carrying tripods in the Zodiacs can be a bother, and walking in the deep snow is challenging with the extra weight. Tripods also pose bio-security risks and must be thoroughly cleaned before and after each landing.
5. Bring Microfiber cloths, lots and lots of them. You will undoubtedly deal with more water droplets on your lens than you could ever imagine. You can also pair them with a nice alcohol wipe to clean the salt off. I suggest bringing 2-3 “lens pens” of whatever brand you can find. These are the best at getting any residue off your lens to make sure you get the sharpest images possible.
6. The type of camera bag you use is personal preference, and there are hundreds of different styles and brands on the market now. However, I would suggest you look for one that is waterproof, or at the very least, water repellent. I also cannot stress enough how important it is to also find a dry-sack/dry-bag that your entire camera bag can fit inside. The weather is always changing, often with very little notice, and Zodiac rides can get very wet. Your best defense from ruining your camera equipment is a waterproof bag.
7. A circular polarizing filter is used to block unwanted reflections of light and add more saturation to the sky in brightly lit photos. Most of the time, the Arctic and Antarctica have very harsh lighting conditions, and a CPL is great for managing these difficult lighting scenarios. However, not knowing how to use a CPL is much more destructive to your photos than not having one. Be sure to invest in a good one, especially with expensive lenses. Stick to brands like Hoya, Gobe, and B&W. These brands are known for creating high quality glass filters for a reasonable price.
8. If your computer or your cards fill up, it’s always great to have a backup hard drive. Not only is it great for you during the trip, but you can also rest assured knowing your photos will be backed up for a lifetime. Even if you put them on a cloud when you get back, a hard disk is a great additional safety precaution.
9. As a general rule, I never trust factory camera straps. Not only do I find that they hurt my neck, but they aren’t comfortable to wear with a life jacket, and the cheap plastic tabs are prone to breaking during rugged use. The best way to protect your investment is to consider purchasing a high quality camera strap. I prefer to use a backpack clip style. It keeps my gear close to my body so I’m always ready to shoot, and also makes it much more comfortable to hike or snow shoe with a camera.
10. I find a good pair of polarized glasses is one of the most important things to keep in my bag.
Constantly scanning for a beautiful landscape or for wildlife means staring for hours at an environment with harsh reflections and scattered light bouncing off the ocean or snow. This UV light is not only damaging, but will certainly cause visual fatigue and discomfort after awhile.