Coolest Job In The World? Expedition Photographer Shares Antarctica Highlights

An expedition cruise photographer has picked 15 of his favourite images taken over the last six months while sailing with HX.

HX Photography

Kay Fochtmann, 42, has been travelling on a series of sailings with HX and has enjoyed some incredible experiences, capturing the beauty of the scenery and wildlife around Antarctica.

The Antarctic landscape itself is breathtaking. It feels truly otherworldly, and no photo can truly do it justice. Add into the mix Leopard Seals, Gentoo Penguins, and Humpback Whales to that landscape to name a few and it becomes a true paradise for wildlife photographers with manyspecies that can only be observed in Antarctica.

It’s an explosion for the senses. The human eye and mind are not used to seeing a desert of ice and icebergs the height of high-rises on a day-to-day basis, so we have no comparison. During my first voyage as an onboard photographer, I felt what many guests felt; gratitude to the point of tears. Everything was so unbelievably beautiful.

Kay Fochtmann

Here’s a look at the 15 images he has chosen:

HX Yawning Leopard Seal

Yawning Leopard Seal. The Leopard Seal is one of the two Apex predators (the other being the Orca) of Antarctica and the only seal that hunts warm-blooded animals like penguins and other seals! We were on Pléneau Island, and I was leading the Photo Adventure small boat cruising that we offer and together with six lucky guests I pressed the shutter when the Leopard seal finally showed its razor-sharp teeth.

HX MS Fridtjof Nansen

MS Fridtjof Nansen’s first ever sea ice landing. Guests and crew waited for this moment for quite a few days! Finally, Captain Raymond Martinsen found a spot in a channel called “The Gullet” and put the ship straight into sea ice and guests could walk around. A phenomenal experience for guests and crew alike!

HX Antarctica Ice Sheet

Another sea ice landing, this time on a free-floating sea ice sheet that could only be accessed by the Zodiac. What a surreal experience to walk on a single ice sheet in the middle of Antarctic waters surrounded by ice.

HX Antarctica Gentoo Penguin

Penguins jumping onto Icebergs or down into the water after taking a rest on them is always a rewarding photo opportunity. This Gentoo Penguin decided to take a dive close to Cuverville Island in this photo.

HX Antarctica Humpback Whale

Sometimes you need luck on your side.  This young Humpback Whale continued to slap his fluke on the water surface for about 20 mins and some lucky guests and I were out on the Zodiac at the right time! Did you know that the shape and pattern of the fluke of a humpback whale is as unique as a fingerprint? Photos of humpback whales’ fluxes helps to identify individuals and their migration patterns.

HX Antarctica Neko Harbour Penguins

Two Gentoo Penguins resting on a small iceberg in Neko Harbour after taking a dive. I have two approaches for my penguin photography. I either look out for the cleanest penguins like these two for a perfect Antarctic scenario or I try to find the one that is most covered in mud and embracing its surroundings.  

HX Antarctica Gentoo Penguin Chick

Like this Gentoo Penguin Chick at a colony at Damoy Point which seems like it has surrendered to its fate. There is not much they can do. The penguin chicks can’t yet clean themselves in the water because their down feathers are not waterproof, and they must wait until they get their juvenile plumage. 

Photo adventure cruising between Icebergs in Pléneau Bay. The area just out of the Lemaire Channel offers one of the most spectacular small-boat-cruises that you can do in Antarctica. The reason for this is that Icebergs of all sizes float into the bay and get stuck and become grounded. Therefore, the bay is known as the ‘Iceberg Graveyard’.

HX Antarctica Iceberg

When the light is right in Antarctica it offers a spectacular view to what lies underneath the water surface. The part of an iceberg above the water level is usually only 10 percent of its complete size!

HX Antarctica Desert

For me, this image symbolizes perfectly why Antarctica is defined as a polar desert!

HX Antarctic Fur Seal

Antarctic Fur Seal resting on an iceberg. Due to relatively low exposure to humans, wildlife in Antarctica is pretty chilled or even curious about us humans. This guy just woke up from a nap.

HX Antarctica Glacier

Antarctica is a perfect example as to why some images require an object to give it scale! Without the small boat it would be impossible to tell the size of the iceberg behind it.

HX Pléneau Bay

Guests marvel at the wall of Glacier in front of them in. I also used them to give some scale for the viewer. 

HX Two Adélie Penguins

Two Adélie Penguins perfectly aligned next to each other. Photographing penguins can be quite overwhelming. At first, they all look alike and there are usually so many standing in a small space closely together, so you don’t know what to look for. 

I try to see if I can spot some that are standing out from the crowd. These two with their beautiful pattern almost in sync made for a great image. 

HX Fur Seals

Two juvenile male Antarctic Fur Seals play fighting at Deception Island. This way the young seals learn how to fight off rivals for when they must protect their breeding territory site when they are adults.  


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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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