Quick Tips For Excellent Expedition Photos

When your polar expedition has come to an end and all you’re left with are the memories of an epic adventure, you will be grateful for all those amazing photos that you managed to take. Photo opportunities will constantly present themselves throughout your trip. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why people choose these polar cruises, and so anything that can improve your snapping skills is fantastic.

Whether you are a seasoned photographer or a novice just hoping to capture a few images for your scrapbook, these quick tips should leave you well prepared.

Travel Light

Overladened Donkeys

When you head to shore during your expedition, you will want to be carrying as little as possible in your backpack. Long days can be made all the more tiring by having to cart every camera accessory you can think of with you.

One thing that people tend to bring a lot of is lenses. If you’re really into your photography and you don’t mind carrying them, there’s nothing wrong with bringing a range of different zooms. However, that perfect picture may well present itself whilst you are in the middle of changing them over, so you may want to just pick one to avoid having to constantly fiddle with the camera. Also, if you need to get closer, your feet are the best zoom you’ll over own.

But Don’t Forget The Essentials

Camera Tripods

Having said all of the above, you need to ensure you’ve got the essentials with you. Aside from the camera (obviously), a good, lightweight tripod can be a great addition to your kit. You may think you have a steady hand but it’s nothing when compared with the stability a tripod offers.

You’ll also need spare batteries, memory cards, a cloth to clean off the salt that inevitably builds up on the lens in places close to the sea, and your charger. You could also consider bringing a laptop or portable hard drive on which to back up photos, in case you lose memory cards in transit. Incidentally, if you are taking multiple memory cards, it’s a good idea to organise them in a plastic case with separators. This way, they are less likely to go missing and you can keep track of which ones you used on which days.

Always Be Ready

Woman Taking Picture

That perfect moment could occur at any time, so it’s important to always be alert. Wildlife and the elements are unpredictable, so always be on the lookout for potential opportunities. Ideally, you’ll want to be carrying your camera at all times, either in your hand or around your neck, but this isn’t always possible. If your hands are full because of the activity you are doing (ski-trekking for example), find a rucksack which offers speedy access to its contents. Check out our blog post on the best expedition accessories for some great options.

Know Your Settings

Camera Settings

If you’ve bought yourself a new camera for your polar cruise or you are not too familiar with the ins and outs of what your current one can do, it’s best to familiarise yourself with some basic settings to get the most from your equipment.

Two specific settings that you may want to look at are Aperture Priority mode and RAW. Aperture Priority, usually designated with an ‘A’ or ‘AV’ on your camera’s dial, allows you to stipulate the aperture value (how much light is allowed through the lens) and the camera will automatically choose the best shutter speed. It is used a lot in landscape photography to help get everything in focus when there are various depths to an image.

The RAW setting refers to the format that photos are taken in. Many people like to take their pictures in JPEG as this is most widely used online, but snapping them in RAW format will allow you to convert the file into any format you like afterwards without distorting it in any way.

A Fantastic Filter

Camera Filter

Buying additional filters for your camera may seem like something that amateurs needn’t bother with, but when heading into the polar reasons there is one filter that will instantly make your pictures better. A circular polariser will not only eliminate glare from surfaces such as the sea, the glass windows of the ship, and the snow which covers these parts of the world, it will also increase the contrast of the colours in your pictures.

The bright blue sky and white fluffy clouds will stand out even more against the stunning backdrops you encounter and everything will look a lot sharper. Depending on your camera and the quality of filter, a circular polariser will set you back anything from a fiver to one hundred pounds. However, it will soon become your best friend on your expedition.


Girl With Camera

With all that said, one of the best ways to take great pictures is to experiment and see what looks good. You can change things like where the subject is in the frame (top, middle, bottom, slightly to the left), where the sun is in comparison to you (even shooting into it at times), the shutter speed, the aperture, the focal length, whether or not there’s a person in the photo, the angle you shoot from (birdseye, eye level or from underneath), or anything else you can think of. You can even give yourself a theme for each day to help give your pictures a sense of purpose. It’s totally up to you!

If you would like to put your newfound photography skills to the test, we have a wide range of Antarctic and Arctic cruises for you to choose from. And if you’re looking for inspiration as to the perfect camera for your trip, check out our blog post on the best accessories for your polar cruise.

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