The Antarctic Sun

One of the notable features that is characteristic of high latitude (polar) environments is summer seasons of continuous sunlight. This is a result of the combination of Earth’s tilt and position while it travels around the sun, which makes the sun visible above the horizon 24 hours of the day during the respective boreal (northern polar region) and austral (southern polar region) summers. It is often difficult to convey with words, and even pictures, just what it is like to watch the sun’s horizontal journey throughout the day. It is contrary to the conventional understanding, at least for most of us, of how the sun rises from the east, high into the sky above us, and drops to set on the west. I wanted to find a way to capture the sun’s horizontal journey here in Antarctica, but a picture or a much-too-long 6-hour video simply will not do. Luckily, there is a happy middle-of-the-road between these two called timelapse video: simply, a short video created from thousands of images that were taken over some span of time. When you display these images rapidly on a screen, the result is a “video” that captures the passage of long periods of time (such as a few hours) in just a few seconds or minutes; you are basically watching a video at 100-times the normal speed. This is actually how the very first movies were made, and where the term “motion pictures” derives its name, so in essence timelapse is taking us back to the original way of making videos. And turns out this is the perfect medium for capturing the never-setting austral sun in Antarctica as it moves sideways across the horizon. It took multiple attempts, but after many many hours of trial and error I think I got some nice results. Here are some of the best shots I was able to capture:


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