You'll Sweat When You See How Beautiful This Icy Continent Can Be - OZY | A Modern Media Company

You'll Sweat When You See How Beautiful This Icy Continent Can Be

By Enrico Sacchetti


Because despite the subzero temperatures, you’ll sweat when you see how beautiful Antarctica can be.

I’m a photographer who specializes in science and industrial images. This specialization leads me to many inaccessible locations around the world. These locations are often hard to reach and dangerous, and therefore I’m obligated to wear and use location-specific protective clothing and equipment. The difficulty and danger are definitely a large part of the attraction that has led me to this type of photography. 

It is this searching for adventure and adrenaline, and my desire to document the scientific research on the White Continent, that led me to Antarctica.

The amount of light, the infinite views of the ice, the cold  (-22.5°C) and the isolation transport you to an alien environment.

After months of research, meetings and logistical planning, the time for my departure arrived. Although I was not looking forward to facing a journey of 30-plus hours with around 50 kilos of baggage, the thrill of the adventure made the grueling journey bearable.

Immediately upon disembarking the military C-130 aircraft, the impact was jolting; the amount of light, the infinite views of the ice, the taste of the air, the cold  (-22.5°C) and the feeling of isolation immediately transports you to an alien environment. But as a photographer, the first thing that struck me was the quality of the light. With an almost completely absent atmospheric pollution, the air was crystal clear!

My photographic project was to document the Italian Science Council’s scientific research on their two Antarctic bases: the Mario Zucchelli Station and the Dome Concordia Station.

On planes, helicopters and snowmobiles, I followed the researchers on their activities to remote areas, which gave me a unique perspective of Antarctica — not only from the ground, but also from the air. I had the privileged opportunity of visiting a place that almost certainly no one has ever seen before.

After the first few images, I realized that the glaciers were not only white, but also contained many shades of blue. This is because the glaciers absorb more of the red wavelengths than the blue wavelengths that enter it, and therefore the light reflected back to the surface is missing the red wavelengths, giving glaciers their blue appearance.

To my surprise, the photographic equipment held up perfectly in temperatures of -48.9°C! I’m certain that the low humidity was a major factor. After all, Antarctica is one of the driest places on Earth.

The hardships of the cold weather and high winds did not take away anything from the natural beauty and the purity and quality of the light that enveloped me. In fact, the difficulties inherent to the White Continent made me appreciate each and every image I shot.



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