Antarctica Seal Safari Part 2

Andy Rouse

17 Nov 2016

Seal Photography Tips - Part Two

Many thanks for all the nice emails and comments on social media about the first part of this seal blog. Here’s the second installment, the story of a wonderful encounters with these ever inquisitive mammals in the stunning surround of Patagonia Bay….

One of the joys of any Antarctica cruise are the Zodiac rides as they allow us to see a lot of great stuff whilst feeling the cold air on your face. There is nothing like being out and about with nature. Zodiacs are great platforms for photography, on the Akademik Ioffe we have a good number of 10 photographers to each one which means everyone will get a great view. In my view the best cruises we do are the wildlife ones, looking for penguins joyriding on icebergs or seals lounging on big slabs of ice. It’s the latter that we found in great numbers whilst on a lovely afternoon cruise in Patagonia Bay, it was just magic and I want to bring you some of my favourite images from that cruise.

It started, well, almost immediately. We approached a Crabeater seal and I was able to use my 300mm lens to frame a nice portrait of it just waking up…

What I really wanted though were some wider angle shots showing the beautiful ice habitat, luckily a careful approach by the driver brought us close enough to use the 16-35mm lens on another Crabeater seal lurking nearby….

It’s important to try to separate the seal and the background with wide angles like this, which can mean a bit of acrobatics on the Zodiac. I used a circular polariser to cut down the glare and increase the visibility of the iceberg underneath the water. In hindsight I should have shot this even wider to get the bottom of the iceberg in but you live and learn. The nice thing about this encounter was that we switched the engine off so we drifted by the seal, giving plenty of new angles for pictures:

With the final one above I deliberately offset the image to create a nice foreground element to balance the big blue iceberg in the background. The yawn was incidental, but very very welcome, proof that you should always be ready to shoot at all times, something which myself and Andrew James will be covering extensively in our training on the cruise.

That blue iceberg in the distance became very interesting to us as we saw another couple of Crabeater’s lurking on it. 


So we gently manoeuvered over to it, you need to be really respectful of seals and approach very very carefully to avoid disturbance. I briefed the driver what I wanted, as everyone on board trusted my opinion, and soon we found ourselves seeing this:

A nice wide angle yes but I wanted something more intimate so we approached the second seal and switched the engine off so that we could drift by at a safe distance (for us and the seal):

Nice images with a blue background but they didn’t really excite me as they were missing a special something. So I got the driver to repeat the run, this time using a completely different angle of approach.....

Oh yes much nicer, the blue is really intense (thanks to the polariser) and the seal looks much more attentive. A couple of very nice shots and I cannot wait to repeat this on our adventure in November 2017 with the Akademik Ioffe

Andy Rouse Exclusive Antarctica 

Andy Rouse Exclusive Antarctica 

Andy is leading an exclusive Antarctica cruise with Natural World Safaris from 17th - 30th November 2017. For the trip we have exclusively chartered the stabilised ship Akademik Ioffe for a 12 night adventure spending no less that 7 days exploring the wonderful Antarctic Peninsula. Our voyage will target when Antarctica looks at it’s photographic best, when the peaks are white with snow and the penguin colonies are surrounded by ice.

To help you make the most of your experience Andy Rouse and Andrew James will be running a full photographic education program before and during the trip. Starting with a pre-departure eBook packed with hints, tips and gear recommendations that will give you a great head-start then followed by onboard training on taking and processing images for all levels plus the ever popular fun critiques. 

Cabins are booking fast and already we are over 50% full. Please get in touch if you want to reserve your place today on this amazing photographic adventure.

More Information

To find out mote about travelling with Andy on board the Akademik Ioffe, or to book your place on the Ultimate Antarctica Photography Safari in 2017, click the button below to get in touch.



Will Bolsover

17/11/2016 4:22 PM

Awesome - looking forward to travelling in Nov 2017!

Contact Us

Add Your Comment

We are wildlife specialists, not led by commissions but instead by putting people in the right place at the right time. When you get in touch you’ll discover what makes our trips so different. Our award winning safaris can’t be replicated by other companies. A destination specialist will be in touch; we don’t do hard sales but you will get plenty of inspiration and advice, as well as help creating your next trip.

By submitting this form, you confirm that you agree to our privacy policy.