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Exploring the Crystal Desert: Antarctica Through a Photographer’s Lens

Christopher Michel doesn’t like to sit still. Despite a career that includes gigs as a Naval flight officer, tech investor, entrepreneur, journalist, and government science advisor, Michel has managed to steady his hands long enough to also hone his skills as a photographer. His pursuit of the perfect image has taken him from Mount Everest to Papua New Guinea to the Korean Demilitarized Zone — and even, in 2010, to the edge of space (inside a U-2 spy plane). His most recent journey, however, is to a place he deems most magnificent of all: the frigid waters of Antarctica’s so-called “Crystal Desert.” On board a giant ship chartered by Harvard (his alma mater), Michel photographed icebergs as they froze, melted, and refroze. We managed to slow Michel down long enough to ask him a few questions about his polar voyage.

What kind of photography equipment do you recommend for extreme environments like Antarctica?

Antarctica and camera equipment aren’t friendly. From the inevitable Zodiac sea spray of the Southern Ocean to the battery-draining deep freeze, a smart photographer needs to come prepared with backup equipment, extra power, and protective everything.

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Borg cube or ultimate wine cellar?  “Resistance is futile, you will be inebriated.” (at Aureole Wine Lounge)

Borg cube or ultimate wine cellar? “Resistance is futile, you will be inebriated.” (at Aureole Wine Lounge)

Chocolat Blanc et Langue de Chat

#ShiroiKoibito. #Chocolate #Chocolat

Chocolat Blanc et Langue de Chat

#ShiroiKoibito. #Chocolate #Chocolat

Cheers!   (at Rosewood Sand Hill)

Cheers! (at Rosewood Sand Hill)

Ambiance.   (at Madera Lounge)

Ambiance. (at Madera Lounge)

Home.  

#SFO #SanFrancisco  (at San Francisco International Airport (SFO))

Home.

#SFO #SanFrancisco (at San Francisco International Airport (SFO))

Inaugural #USGP at #COTA #Austin @OfficialVettel P2! @RedBull #F1 constructors secured!  (at Circuit of the Americas)

Inaugural #USGP at #COTA #Austin @OfficialVettel P2! @RedBull #F1 constructors secured! (at Circuit of the Americas)

Go @OfficialVettel! @RedBull  #F1. Inaugural #USGP at #COTA #Austin (at Circuit of the Americas)

Go @OfficialVettel! @RedBull #F1. Inaugural #USGP at #COTA #Austin (at Circuit of the Americas)

And now we dance.  #USGP #F1 #Austin  (at The Tap Room at Six)

And now we dance. #USGP #F1 #Austin (at The Tap Room at Six)

Fan Fest beer garden.   #USGP #F1 #Austin  (at Austin Fan Fest Powered by Mobil 1)

Fan Fest beer garden. #USGP #F1 #Austin (at Austin Fan Fest Powered by Mobil 1)