When Holga Went In the Arctic


Week 1 (Dec. 20 to Dec. 26, 2007)

Week 1 (Dec. 20 to Dec. 26, 2007)

Day 1: 20 December 2007

02:00 – We leave the Québec airport. Our final destination is the Canadian Coast Guard ice-breaker Amundsen, in the middle of the Arctic sea ice. We’re all very excited, especially Ramon and I, because it’s our second trip on the Amundsen, and we know what is coming…

But we also know that it is going to be a long trip before reaching the ship. The plane will stop in Winnipeg to take on other scientists and to re-fuel, and again in Yellowknife for more re-fuelling…

We finally arrived at Inuvik.

14:00 – From the Inuvik airport, we take twin-otters to reach Sachs Harbour airport… We’re about 10 scientists by twin-otter and we have great fun, it’s shaking, a bit scary, and so noisy that the pilot distributes hear plugs to passengers.

17:00 – We leave Sachs Harbour airport (if you can call this apartment-sized building an airport) by chopper to reach the Amundsen… Here, an important thing to add, is the fact that it’s winter time, so we’re in the polar night, we have only 2 hours of dusk-dawn (we don’t even see the sun) and 22 hours of night…

So we’re in the chopper, outside it’s night, about -30°C and we’re flying over the sea-ice… After five minutes, we can see a big white and orange light in the middle of the ice: the Amundsen. Now we all smile in the chopper, even if we’re meeting for the first time (for some of us), we smile to each other, because we know that we’re living an incredible experience, and also because our endocrine system is pumping adrenaline in our veins… This is a great moment.

The chopper finally reaches the boat surrounded by ice, lands gently on the heli deck, and we finally take our first steps on the Amundsen. Smiling is not enough, Ramon and I just laugh.

20:00 – After dinner, it’s time for the first scientific meeting. Scientific meetings are directed by the chief scientist, and are moments where we organize the sampling schedule. Everyone wants different types of samples depending on their field of science. Physicists need to get on the ice to measure its characteristics, biologists want water samples or living organisms captured with big fishing nets, others are going to release meteorological balloons to make measurements in the atmosphere, and so on… So these meetings are moments where scientists decide when and what is going to be sampled, and these decisions are taken with the agreement of the Amundsen captain who as other priorities, such as not getting definitely trapped in the ice.
00:00 – We fall asleep. Still smiling.

Day 2: 21 December 2007
Position: 71.54°N / 125.25°W

09:00 – We could sleep late this morning… I feel great and remember that it is today the shortest day of our lives, less than two hours of light… After today, daylight will increase…

12:00 – We went outside to take some pictures… There is not enough light for a “Normal” speed setting, so I use a cable release, fix my Holga with the tripod clamp and shoot for 5 seconds… Is it enough? Is it too much? We’ll see that in two months, back on land…

19:30 – During the science meeting, we decided that sampling will start tomorrow… Let’s get ready.

22:45 – We went outside with Steeve, and Loic and saw northern lights… Loic was very excited, such as I was when I saw my first northern lights… And just like me he was excited but didn’t know that they were very diffuse and could be hundred times stronger and more coloured… I just told him that we might see stronger ones later…

23:16 – I go to bed, still smiling.

Day 3: 22 December 2007
Position: 71.54°N / 125.25°W

12:00 – I joined a team that went onto the ice to take ice-cores. We took a ski-doo around 50 meters from the boat. When a team is on the ice, there must be a (licensed) person with a shotgun to protect us from an eventual polar bear attack… I started by taking some pictures, and finished the roll just before my hands start to really hurt from frostbite. My cable release froze and broke, but I think I can fix it. My Holga was fine, I was afraid that the little spring inside would freeze and break, but it didn’t… So that was an extreme test for the Holga, and the result: you can still take pictures at -40°C. I love this camera.
20:00 – Tonight is the first night when the bar is open… Yes, there is a bar on the ship, opened every two days. As it was the first time for this expedition, it was the occasion to break the ice (it’s a very common joke on board) between everyone, scientists and crew members. We laughed and danced until
01:00 in the morning…

Day 4: 23 December 2007
Position: 71.54°N / 125.25°W

10:00 – Here we are. We start moving! So the ship started to move backward and forward, in order to break the ice that was surrounding us. Then, the captain puts all the engines forward and we break ice… On the sides of the boat, huge blocks of ice, about 1 meter thick, are violently pushed away. Sometimes, ridges appear making a black broken line in the calm white ice. Blocks of ice move just like little ice cubes in a glass.

And the noise. An incredible noise, there is the vibration from the engines in background, but you constantly hear ice blocks shearing and choking on the sides of the boat. The whole boat is reacting, sometimes you can hear a scary metallic sound coming from the torsion of the boat, just like if we where sinking… But no. The Amundsen is a strong ice-breaker, making his way in thick ice. Oh, finally, we move…

15:00 – First sampling day for my team. We are the zooplankton team, so we use nets and capture zooplankton. Zooplankton are like little shrimps and they are at the bottom of the carnivorous food web. So zooplankton eats phytoplankton (algae) and is eaten by fishes which in turn are eaten by bigger predators (birds, seals, polar bears…). This is the way energy flows through the food web. As we are surrounded by ice, one way to reach water is from what we call the “moon pool”, which is an aperture inside the boat at the front side. So, we’re in the boat, but in contact with the water.

17:00 – Sunday diner. It is an important moment on the ship. Everyone has to wear their best clothes, and we can buy a bottle of wine. At the end of diner, we all get together around a table and make jokes. Crew members and scientists are all together and any hierarchy is forgotten. Engines stop at 71°14.015 N / 124°11.71°W.

Day 5: 24 December 2007
Position: 71.15.020°N / 124.19.239°W

11:00 – We heard a very strong, long and strange sound, like ice trying to crush the boat. We where all looking at each other, like “what’s happening?”… The result was a huge number of ice blocks that came from under the ship and filled the moon pool…

15:00 – Crew members are still fighting to free the moon pool, but for each block removed, two new ones are coming from under the boat…

18:00 – Merry Christmas!!! Tonight, there was a big buffet with a lot of food and candies. After, we had a gift exchange. Names were picked from a bucket, and the person called could take a present from under the Christmas tree or steal someone else’s present (a fact that I found strange). Again, it was a very funny moment when hierarchy disappeared. Then, the bar opened and we danced until around midnight when the music amplifier burned and stopped playing… It was a great night…

Day 6: 25 December 2007
Position: 71.15.020°N / 124.19.239°W

11:00 – We woke up late this morning… the crew succeeded in clearing the ice from the moon pool by putting in a big coil heated by steam, which melted all the ice. We’re finally ready to move.

14:55 – We arrived in our new position in the middle of the ice (71°15.099N / 124°25.031). Ramon and I saw polar bear tracks. Only tracks… We’re going to stay here for 5 or 6 days, build ice camps and sample from holes in the ice.

20:00 – We finally started the serious business. Sampling with the hydrobios. The Hydrobios is not a simple net, it is a multiple net. Its goal is to sample animals in the water at different depths. So it is comprised of 9 nets that can be opened and closed from a control room, which is connected to it through a wire. So, we send the hydrobios to the bottom of the ocean, and open the first net. We then lift it up 20 meters, close the first net and open the second for the next 20 meters and so on… So each net captures animals in water layers of 20 meters depth. The result at the end is prodigious because we are able to determine at which depths a given plankton species is living. And this is important because it allows us to quantify the vertical migration of zooplankton, recently proved to be the biggest animal migration on the planet. Trust me, it’s important…

00:00 – We finished sampling. I’m going to bed. I’m very tired.

Day 7: 26 December 2007
Position: 71.15.020°N / 124.27.476°W

08:00 – I woke up early. I had a very hard day. I’m tired. Prepared material for ice camp… I’m tired and dehydrated. Dehydration kills you here, you don’t feel it because it’s cold, but the air his incredibly dry. I did a lot of work outside, with Steeve, our very-smart-technician. We prepared the chainsaws and the jifi, a machine to make 9 inch holes in the ice. Then I prepared the rope for the net. That was 2 hours of work, outside (-40°C). Just for a rope.

12:00 – Crew members built a tent on the ice. This tent is a security refuge. Tomorrow there will be a fire drill.

00:00 – I took long exposures photos outside. I hope they’re good. The track behind the ship is frozen. The night is very clear. I feel very good.

Week 2 (Dec. 27, 2007 to Jan. 2, 2008)

Day 8: 27 December 2007
Position: 71.14.156°N / 124.32.746°W

06:00 – I wake up for the first net. It’s too early, I haven’t recovered from yesterday, and my arms are killing me. I met Josée in the corridor (Josée, Marc and I are the “zooplankton team”) and she told me that she could do the net alone… I felt so grateful. And went back to bed. Zzzzzz….

09:00 – I wake up again. I feel a bit better. I prepared the tripod with Marc.

11:00 – We went on the ice to prepare the ice-camp. We’ve built a big tent with Ramon and Steeve. We’ve been quite efficient; in one hour it was ready and steady, with a hole in the ice to sample water from inside of it. Working on the ice is great. We use many toys, like chainsaws, snowmobiles, and shotguns (only the licensed people, of course).

Here are the plans for sampling zooplankton from the ice: We make a big hole in the ice, put a tripod over it, with a pulley in which passes a rope. From one side of the rope, the net goes into the hole, on the other side, a snowmobile lifts it up…

15:00 – We were just back from the ice when the captain started a fire drill… Everyone has to take life jacket and go onto the back deck of the ship. Then, we are divided in teams that are assigned a task. My team had to push the helicopter outside of its hangar… Then, everyone went onto the ice, close to the safety tent. The captain explained to us that we took our life jackets to use them as mattresses in the tent, to isolate ourselves from the frozen ground. In fact I was really wondering why we were taking life jackets… There is no water around us. Only ice.

Day 9: 28 December 2007
Position: 71.21.467°N / 124.57.946°W

08:00 – We start getting prepared for the sampling from the ice. But apparently, this morning is too cold to go on the ice. A strong wind drops the temperature at -58°C. We’ve been told that we cannot do our sampling because these temperatures are dangerous, so we minimize our work to ensure the sampling hole remains unfrozen. So we went on to the ice and took out the 10 cm of ice that had formed during the night in the hole. It was not so cold, we had very warm clothes and Marc and I thought that we could have done the sampling… But maybe we were wrong. I don’t know if we could have stayed out there 2 hours more.

23:00 – I’m going to bed, it’s been an exhausting day. I repaired the tucker net. I’m quite proud of what I’ve done in one hour. Then we did some experiments on zooplankton for our friend Gérald who’s in Québec. It’s normal; everyone here works for himself, but also for others that aren’t on board. I’d like to have a long night of sleep now. Please.

Day 10: 29 December 2007
Position: 71.23.472°N / 125.07.789°W

09:00 – This morning was quite warm (around -20°C) so we went on the ice for sampling. We started by sending a CTD which is a probe that collects the physical parameters of the water while it’s going down. CTD stands for Conductivity (which is used to compute salinity) Temperature, and Depth. After that, we did a plankton net. So we used a snowmobile to lift up the net from the hole after it had reached 200 meters depth. I was driving the snowmobile and Steeve was sitting behind me with a radio to keep contact with Marc and Josée who were at the hole. After lifting 170 meters of rope, the snowmobile started to spew a large amount of smoke. So we stopped where we were… Marc and Josée finished lifting the net by hand.

So Steeve and I were stuck in the middle of the ice, far from the ship, with a dead snowmobile, and no one carrying a shotgun. So after 5 minutes of complete peace and freedom in the middle of the ice, away from the normally continuous noise of the ship’s engines, we went back walking…

Finally, crew members arrived and took care of the snowmobile. That’s very practical, we scientists play like spoiled kids on the ice, and when something breaks, we have great mechanics that repair our errors…

14:00 – We’ve organized a team to go and take down the tent, because we’re moving tomorrow. We’re going to a new position. I had almost forgotten that this ship could move.

Tonight is Saturday night, I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun at the bar…

Day 11 : 30 December 2007
Position: 70.57.902°N / 123.27.884°W

12:30 – I woke up late this morning. Yesterday was a crazy night, we really had a lot of fun… In the morning, we started moving at 08:00. It’s always surprising how strong is the noise when we break ice. It’s incredible; you really think that we’re going to sink… Today was a quiet day.

20:00 – We’re stuck in the ice, and apparently, we’re going to have trouble to get out of here.

Day 12 : 31 December 2007
Position: 70.58.576°N / 123.28.825°W

07:00 – The chief scientist called us onto the ice to try to free the ship… I didn’t go on the ice, but others went, and tried everything they could. Chainsaws, Jiffies, ice-picks… Trying to comprimise the ice around the boat. It looks like we’re really stuck. Are we going to need to call for help? I heard the only other ice-breaker around is the Captain Dranytsyn, a Russian Ice-breaker. But it will be very expensive, and a bit an “international shame”… We’ll see later…
16:00 – Everyone helped on the ice to free the boat with chainsaws, axes, ice-picks, jiffies, saws and even hands.
16:30 – All engines reverse at full power. Nothing after five minutes… And then… The boat gently slipped backwards. We’re free!

Tonight is New Years Eve…

Day 13: 01 January 2008
Position: 70.59.675°N / 123.34.119°W

11:00 – Yesterday was a great night. Just great.
During the science meeting, I was told to go on the ice to prepare a new hole for the net. So I went, and made the hole. Ramon and Steeve helped us again. We were very efficient. We’re a really good team, I think.

17:00 – Ramon, Elizabeth and I were invited to dinner at the captain’s table. It’s a serious moment, but can be fun.

22:30 – It was an exhausting day, and now we have to do a net from the moon pool. So I did it with Josée… Josée looks to start being ill, like flu or something. But still, she works, she’s very patient. And she’s always smiling. It’s a pleasure to work with her. Now, I’ll sleep, tomorrow, we’re going on the ice for sampling and it’s going to be very cold because of strong winds.

00:30 – An incredible noise makes us all jump up and run to the bridge. It’s ice that is moving, and the strong wind is also pushing us backward from our static position.

Now we’re going away from this compression point… It was a bit scary… Ho, we left all our stuff around our hole. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow… We’ve lost everything, tripod, saws, ice-picks and the pully… We’ll see tomorrow, I’m tired.

Day 14: 02 January 2008
Position: 71.04.521°N / 123.55.104°W

08:00 – We arrived at a new position. Winds are so strong that temperature drops at -60°C… All operations are cancelled for today.

When you’re close to the ice, the wind blows snow on the ice and it makes the same sound that you hear when you pour a sparkling beverage in your glass. It’s a very sweet sound, hypnotising you and makes you forget how dangerous it is. I shot two rolls to make doubles with my lomofriends Jelga and Vicuna… I’m still not sure of my exposure times in the bulb setting. We’ll see later. I hope I won’t be disappointed. So we left our hole behind. I heard that we’ll maybe take the helicopter to retrieve the stuff we left on the ice… We’ll see tomorrow.

01:00 – I couldn’t sleep, so I went outside because I had the hope that they were there. And yes, they were. Northern lights filling the sky, like a colourful dancing smoke. So I woke up Ramon and we had a nice photo session… I still hope my exposure times were good (about a minute or more).

Week 3 (Jan. 3 to Jan. 9, 2008)

Day 15: 03 January 2008
Position: 71.12.840°N / 124.24.869°W

09:00 – I don’t feel very good this morning. Happily, winds are too strong for any scientific activity. So it’s time to rest. Zzzzzz again…

14:00 – A strange black-out happened…

16:00 – Finally, we did some usual sampling from the moon pool. And we also did all the work for our friend Gérald until 23:00…

Day 16: 04 January 2008
Position: 71.25.967°N / 125.08.526°W

08:00 – I woke up and felt very bad. Veryyyyy bad. My stomach is hurting me. But still, I did a tucker net from the moon pool. I went to bed after that until 13:00. I’m sick…

14:00 – We did a hydrobios from the moon pool. The guy in charge of the winch went all the way down to 219 m, even though I told him to stop at 215 m… I guess I’m also guilty for trying to send the net too deep. The result was that the net was full of mud from the bottom. It’s not serious, but Marc and I had hard time cleaning the net. And everyone is making fun of me. But that’s part of the game…

22:30 – I’m tired… Maybe I’m starting to suffer from the lack of light. I’ll do some light therapy tomorrow morning.

Day 17: 05 January 2008
Position: 71°28.481 N / 125°17.328 W

07:00 – I feel better this morning. I had an espresso during half an hour of light therapy, I felt like being on the “Côte d’Azure”. No, I’m kidding… Well, it works great, I immediately felt better, which surprised me. We did a tucker and a hydrobios this morning. Everything went fine.

13:00 – Josée and I sewed some holes that were in two of the nine nets of the hydrobios. 14:00 – I went to exercise in the gym. I felt very good after, and thought, smiling, about the astronauts that need to exercise in space… I also went outside, it had been three days since I had breathed fresh air for more than 5 minutes…

Day 18: 06 January 2008
Position: 71°32.233 N / 125°32.037 W

07:00 – Another normal day, a tucker net in the morning and hydrobios in the afternoon…

13:00 – I built a complete spool to roll our rope for ice sampling. I’m quite proud of my job. But I must confess that I was helped by some crew members. Roger, a very sweet man from Magdalene Islands, and a great couple, Myriam and Sebastian. I really like them, they’re very funny, always ready to help efficiently and both incredibly strong.

17:00 – It’s Sunday dinner, wine and cheese… Mmmmm… But we’re facing a possible crisis situation because we’ve finished the cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables, and we might not be reloaded at the mid-leg crew change, which will happen on Thursday… We’ll see…

Day 19 : 07 January 2008

09:00 – The usual sampling with the Tucker net from the moon pool… Then, we started to roll the rope on the new spool…

14:00- I went on the ice with Ramon, Steeve and Josée and prepared a new hole for sampling. Marc joined us after a chopper ride away from the ship, with the chief scientist. We were very efficient. We’re real pros now. We even helped Greg and Andrea with their hole after we finished ours. Marc made me notice that we removed more than a cubic meter of ice, which is around one cubic meter of water, which is 1000 litters of water, which weights one ton.

19:00 – I prepared a new tripod for sampling from the hole. I finished rolling the rope on the spool with Steeve and Laura. I haven’t spoken about Laura yet and that’s a shame because she’s an amazing person. She deserves a book, not only a few lines…

Day 20: 08 January 2008
Position: 71°31.431 N / 125°38.496 W

09:00 – I went on the ice with Marc, Josée and Steeve. We did out sampling from the hole with a ring net, lifted by a snow-mobile. We went to 250 meters depth. Everything went perfectly. We’re all very happy about this sampling.

13:00 – We all went out on the ice in front of the ship, at Starboard side, for a group photo. After that, we played a soccer game, while others played a hockey game, all on the ice. It was very funny. At one point, an arctic fox came very close to us. It was sniffing the air, probably searching for food…

16:00 – We did three Tucker nets from the moon pool, one for Josée, one for the lab, and one for Monica and Wojtek, a Polish couple who do nice experiments on living zooplankton.
20:42 – Let’s go to the bar and have a well deserved beer…

Day 21: 09 January 2008

08:00 – We start a normal sampling day from the moonpool. One tucker and one hydrobios during the day. It’s becoming a routine…

Week 4 (Jan. 10 to Jan. 16, 2008)

Day 22: 10 January 2008
Position: 71°40.032 N / 126°08.684 W

08:00 – I had a good night of sleep. I feel very good this morning. We start the day by going on the ice to sample from our previously opened hole. Everything went fine. We took two samples, one from 10 m to the surface and a second one from 250 m. It was very dark and we were lifting the net with Josée on a snow-mobile. When we were 200 m away from the hole, the engine almost stopped and then went recovered. It was a bit scary…

14:00 – I went to yoga with the others for the first time. It was funny, we were following a ridiculous projected video of a muscled guy surrounded by sexy girls, saying stupid things like “this position should make you feel like someone is liking ice-cream off your body”… It was hilarious…

16:00 – A sad moment. Some scientists went away and some others came in by twin-otter. The sad thing is that Laura left. She was a real sunshine, always smiling and having a good joke to share.

19:00 – The first science meeting directed our new chief scientist. Great.

21:00 – Let’s go to the bar… But not too late, tomorrow we’ll have to remove our stuff from the ice because we have to change locations. We’ve already drifted too much, almost out of our region of interest.

Day 23: 11 January 2008
Position: 71°37.115 N / 126°02.110 W

07:00 – We woke up early this morning because we had to go on the ice to retrieve our material. We’re leaving at noon.

12:00 – After half an hour of forcing with the engines, the ship is finally free. We start moving towards the South. The noise of the crushing ice starts again…

17:00 – We got stuck in the ice once again. After two hours working hard with the engines, we finally freed the ship. We need to travel about 60 miles to get back to a good position and we only managed 7 miles today…The ice is very thick…

Day 24: 12 January 2008
Position: 71°30.996 N / 125°10.401 W

07:00 – We started the day with one hydrobios and two tuckers. The crew rushed me because the helicopter had to do a recognition flight (and while there’s helicopter operations, all other operations are stopped) so I sent the tucker down at 50 m/min instead of 40 m/min. The result was that the wire was twisted around the net when it came back, and we only won 3 minutes, without getting the precious sample…

11:35 – We start moving again. From outside and closer, the sound of breaking ice reminds me of a mix between polystyrene and ceramic breaking.

14:00 – After a little walk on the deck, where I realized that the daylight is progressively increasing, I sewed a net, repaired its mounting and cleaned the lab with Josée.

Day 25: 13 January 2008
Position: 71°29.582 N / 124°32.588 W

04:00 – We’re moving, it wakes me up… Usually we move only during the period where there is a minimal amount of light (from 11:00 to 15:00). I fall asleep again.

07:00 – I wake up, and go to sample from the moon-pool with Marc and Josée. One hydrobios and one tucker. Everything went fine. Like yesterday, there’s going to be a recognition flight by helicopter to find a good place to go next.

17:00 – The ship got stuck in the ice again… It looks serious. We have to change our scientific schedule again. Let’s wait and see tomorrow.

20:00 – After dinner, we played a game called the Werewolf. It’s very funny; everyone has a role to play…

Day 26: 14 January 2008
Position: 71°31.053 N / 124°50.891 W

08:00 – After 3 hours of manoeuvring, the ship was freed without us needing to get on the ice.

12:00 – We waited for the visibility to improve, it was all white outside, nothing to see.

16:00 – We arrived at a new position which seems suitable for sampling. So we’re going to stay here for 5 or 6 days (or more…).

20:00 – We do sampling from the moon-pool, one hydrobios and two tucker nets. I’m tired and tomorrow is going to be a very hard day…

Day 27: 15 January 2008

08:00 – We went out on the ice and made our hole. Everything went fine.

13:30 – We sampled from the hole. Perfect. I shot some videos.

20:00 – We did a tucker from the moon-pool… That was an intense day!

Day 28 : 16 January 2008

08:00 – I was sent on the ice with a team (Steeve, Ramon, Loic and Graig) to build the tent again. We did it in one hour! We’re a good team.
09:30 – I joined Marc and Josée while they were finishing a Hydrobios, and then we did two tuckers from the moon-pool.
13:30 – We went on the ice for another sampling from the hole… I really liked it. The sun is starting to return, though we can’t see it yet, we had good light for three hours. I’m going to be able to shoot in the Normal setting with my Holga… The end of Bulb, finally.
16:00 – I completely repaired the ring-net, sampling from the ice is going to be easier now.
21:00 – I helped Elizabeth to build a messenger for a Niskin bottle to collect water from the ice.

Week 5 & 6 (Jan. 17 to Jan. 27, 2008)

Day 29: 17 January 2008
Position: 71°31.722 N / 124°58.453 W

A normal day: Sampling from the moon-pool in the morning and from the ice in the afternoon.

Day 30: 18 January 2008
Position: 71°32.969 N / 125°00.497 W

05:00 – We wake up very early this morning to do a hydrobios and two Tucker nets… it’s a bit hard…

14:00 – I do Gerald’s experiments for three hours. After dinner I’ll try to take some zooplankton macro shots with the ring flash and my homemade focusing frame*… I’ll see if it works.


Day 31: 19 January 2008

Another normal day: Sampling from the moon-pool in the morning and from the ice in the afternoon. During ice sampling, light was increasing, but still no sun…

Day 32: 20 January 2008
Position: 71°34.672 N / 125°06.648 W

Usual day plus a lot of sewing holes in the nets…

Day 33: 21 January 2008
Position: 71°36.229 N / 125°09.386 W

11:00 – I wake up very late today, and I had almost nine hours of sleep… I feel finally rested. But I slept so much because I’m going to work very hard later. The zooplankton team just started a 24 hour sampling plan, with a hydrobios every 4 hours. So Marc and Josée did the two first nets at 06:00 and 10:00, I’ll do the 14:00 with Marc and then I’ll do one at 18:00, one at 02:00 and a last one at 06:00 in the morning… Add the fact that tomorrow morning we have to bring back the tent and our sampling material from the ice because we’ll make our last move at noon… Going to a new and last piece of ice…

Day 34: 22 January 2008

02:00 and 06:00 – Hydrobios sampling from the moon-pool…

08:30 – I was sent to remove the tent with Steeve, Loic and Graig. Easy job.

11:00 – We move towards our new destination. I shot some videos of the boat breaking ice.

20:00 – I went to the moon-pool to help Jacques and Myriam while they were melting all the snow that entered during the trip. The moon-pool is not completely hermetic, so every time we move, snow and ice come in…

Day 35: 23 January 2008

11:00 –I’m going for a helicopter flight to take some videos and help for snow sampling… I’m very excited.

Day 36: 24 January 2008
Position: 71°09.945 N / 125°04.975 W

08:30 – Normal sampling day from the moon-pool. Repaired the tucker net with Myriam (it broke because it got stuck due to the current against the bottom door of the moon-pool)… No outside activities due to high winds.

15:30 – I did the engine room tour with the chief engineer Richard. It was fabulous. 16000 hp divided in 6 diesel engines that produce electricity to turn two huge propellers.

20:00 – I went on the ice to take pictures of the Chinese team. Their experiments are very nice to see because they have a big panel that lights the ice to measure the transmission of light through it…

21:00 – I went also in the labs at the back of the ship and took pictures of people working there.

00:00 – I went outside with Elizabeth to watch some northern lights. It was beautiful. I tried to shoot it, but they were incredibly fast and I used a 60 iso tungsten film, so I’m quite sure that the pictures are not good at all…

Day 37: 25 January 2008
Position: 71°11.812 N / 125°02.960 W

08:30 – We went outside to make a new hole in the ice for sampling zooplankton. Everything went fine. Then we immediately started sampling. That was a mistake because we didn’t leave enough time for the tripod to freeze on its feet… The result was that the tripod fell when we did the first sampling. So we decided to go back to the ship until the tripod freezes in its position.

12:15 – We went back on the ice for sampling and the tripod fell again while we were lifting the net with the snowmobile… Again… So we put it back again in deeper holes, put snow and water on the feet, and we’ll wait until tomorrow. It’s sure it will freeze during the night this time…

13:30 – We built the tent again, in order to protect the meteorological balloon of the Russian team. We were faster this time thanks to Sebastian’s help. Sebastian is a very nice and hard working crew member. I really like that guy (and also his beloved Myriam who had her birthday today).

Day 38: 26 January 2008
Position: 71°05.578 N / 124°54.518 W

08:00 – Tucker and hydrobios from the moon-pool.

12:00 – The sun appears for the first time. Beautiful. A simple, cloudy sunrise, but I could feel my entire body absorbing these light rays…

13:00 – Sampling from the ice. Very windy, about -40°C, with 25 knot winds. When lifting the net with the snow-mobile, I was going toward the sun, it was a magical moment. Then, turning back, the wind was coming directly at my face, I could feel my cheeks freezing, it was suddenly less magical.

Day 39: 26 January 2008
Position: 71°05.628 N / 124°53.219 W

08:00 – Usual moon-pool activities.

13:30 – We played another soccer game. It was very funny. And the sun was out. Tonight, there will be a mask party. Let’s make some 35mm-Holga.

Day 40: 27 January 2008

08:00 – Last hydrobios and the two last Tuckers. I feel already nostalgic… The tucker nets where full of Metridia, It’s a zooplankton specie that produces light when disturbed… So when we poured the contents of the net into a bucket, many little flashes of light lit the bucket like miniature supernovae. It’s something you can’t capture in photo. You just have to remember it…

13:30 – Last sampling from the ice. Everything went fine. We’re all a bit sad, leaving the ship, this exciting life and going back to normal life makes us all very nostalgic. But it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Never.

And I met people that I would like to keep in my life from now on…


Multiple Exposures

Here are added some multiple exposures realised following the next sequence:

  • First exposure in the Arctic
  • Second exposure in Paris
  • Third exposure in Athens
  • Last exposure underwater.

N.B.: The last shot is the only double exposure with a lomofriend (Vicuna) that is almost good… The others were not so good because of my wrong exposure settings in the Arctic… Sorry Vicuna and Jelga… We’ll do better next time!

N.B.: You can also see the story of my friend Ramon, he was my roommate during this cruise.
(see: http://www.jpgmag.com/stories/9735)

written by stouf on 2009-01-11 #news #holga-arctic-extreme-lomography


  1. tupiniquim
    tupiniquim ·

    ow, how cool is that?
    lots of cool pics (:

  2. oldskool_rider
    oldskool_rider ·

    that's holgatastic, those are some amazing holga shots, i esp like the ones towards the end where you doubled over the underwater shots!



  3. wil6ka
    wil6ka ·

    This is the most impressive blog, that was ever posted on this site.
    full stop!

    Thank you stouf for all your effort.
    It is great having you here!

  4. icuresick
    icuresick ·

    Nice shots!
    Too many words though. I didn't read them.

  5. coca
    coca ·

    thanks for sharing this amazing experience!!!, what a wonderful place :)

  6. smclemon
    smclemon ·

    You clearly had a fantastic experience. Excellent article, and some great shots!

  7. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    Wow, I don't even know what to say. What an amazing adventure and great pics. I am so jealous of everything but the cold.

  8. sonjabean
    sonjabean ·

    Amazing story! Kudos to you for taking Holga with you!

  9. liquidpapercut
    liquidpapercut ·

    Unbelievable shots! Way to go!

  10. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    Thank you stouf for sharing your incredible experience with all of us!
    What a fabs shots!!

  11. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    That's simply amazing, one of the best "travel" diaries I ever read! And what a collection of fantastic shots (and great videos as well)!! Congrats, congrats, congrats Stouf!!!
    That proves how a Holga can be an amazing photgraphic/documentary/artistic tool!!!

  12. adi_totp
    adi_totp ·

    whoooooowwwww.. many excellent shot here! i just love the holga 35mm .. it's so nice especially the simpson thingy.. very nice blog!!

  13. mattcharnock
    mattcharnock ·

    wow thats incredible - amazing pictures amazing story!

  14. 80s_ego
    80s_ego ·

    what says mattcharmock is exactly what i woul say...these pics are amazing...compliments!

  15. hanspan
    hanspan ·

    This is totally fantastic :D
    i love holga! She's abrilliant!!

  16. annegreat
    annegreat ·

    The shots are awesome and this whole experience so exciting. You should try to publish it as a book or something like that.

  17. dogma
    dogma ·

    wow fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. yoharryo
    yoharryo ·

    The photos are amazing. The black and white ones especially look like they're taken on Mars, or some moon of Jupiter.

  19. stouf
    stouf ·

    Thank you so much everyone !!!
    I'm really flattered to get such comments from such people.
    I was really lucky to live this expedition.
    I thought I had to share it.

    Lomolove to everyone.

  20. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    unbelievable :) it's the location of the year!

  21. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    unbelievable :) it's the location of the year!

  22. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    The tip about the macro shots and the home-made frame - would it be possible to elaborate on it a bit more, please?

  23. stouf
    stouf ·

    My first blog posts are about it...



  24. kylewis
    kylewis ·

    That has been the most incredible read, thank you for sharing your experiences, that's one hell of a life you lead. It is truly inspiring to know that the Holga can be taken to such extremes, did you wrap it in anything to keep the little beauty warm?!

    Has to be Location of the year, a medal to you for services to the cause of Analogue!!

  25. zoe191
    zoe191 ·

    the world is just awesome :-)
    thanks for sharing your story and pictures

  26. stouf
    stouf ·

    A new updated link for the holga macro tip : www.lomography.com.br/magazine/tipster/2009/05/21/macro-foc…

  27. hansie14
    hansie14 ·

    This has been an incredible read, such an awesome location and it sounds like you had a brilliant experience while you were there. Some really beautiful pics too. Shot five from the last set = AMAZING!

  28. neja
    neja ·

    mind blowing trip!

  29. miaumiau-wildekatze
    miaumiau-wildekatze ·

    i´m speechless! such a mindblowing experience! incredible! and the shots are insane too!
    and the poor little holga in -40degrees! i´m seriously impressed.

  30. eskimofriend
    eskimofriend ·

    I kinda wanna give you 5 of my piggies for this article... sooooo amazing

  31. pangmark
    pangmark ·

    Fantabulous! Better than a movie!

  32. parktreeone
    parktreeone ·

    Amazing stuff :-D

  33. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    Boy, you are my hero. lol I was searching for Ring flash reviews and there you are again! Brilliant stuff.

  34. ediblestrange
    ediblestrange ·

    @wil6ka told me I should read this and boy I'm happy i did. Two conclusions: it's weird I read barjavel last weekend, now I sometimes wish I'd be a scientist, great vulgarisation!!!

  35. stouf
    stouf ·

    @ediblestrange Good lord, what a nice comment! And I'm proud to be recommended by @wil6ka !!! Take care : )

  36. pierrest
    pierrest ·

    Wow this is so cool ! I'm really impressed !

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