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 pilot, 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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