Jen communicating with the locals (pic: Shane Mitchell)

Jen communicating with the locals (pic: Shane Mitchell)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jungle Jen and the First Adelie

He's saying....

"Jen! How I've missed you! Come here and give me a Cuddle!!!"

no... really.... I heard him....

I speak fluent penguin now.....


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Icy News...

So you know how I've been going on and on about that last weekend... the one I spent forever editting photos from- the one where so much happened it felt like four years not four days....

It was my turn to write an article for icy news that week... normally I have very little to say (ok, so none of us believe that, but when it comes to writing the station newsletter, often I struggle for inspiration)... but inspired by the sheer amount of photos and the remaining buzz from the weekend previous, I actually got off my pasty blue behind and submitted this...

Out and About in the Vestfolds (I didn't choose the title- lame as...)

You can find more info about Davis and the exhibitioners, what we've been up to, what its like here at 
There are photos and all the old icy news at "This Week At Davis" 

Oh... and....

Guess what....

THE PENGUINS ARE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

JJn Painting with Light

Yes. Winter was pretty long.

And I kind of disappeared off the face of the planet. Its not that I wasn't here, it was just that you couldn't see me because the majority of my world was dark. I was there, just lurking in the shadows, phantom style. Or was that Dick Tracey? I don't own a trenchcoat. Though I do like the idea of wearing my underpants on the outside of a purple jumpsuit. Lets run with the Phantom....

So let me explain. Winter here isn't actually ALL dark. At Davis we have 6 weeks where the sun doesn't clear the horizon, but thats not to say that its totally dark all day. You know that hour or so in the morning before sunrise (ok, lets be realistic here... mum knows that hour, most people I know don't.... unless it happens to have hungover from the previous evening's proceedings....) so... You know that hour after the sun goes down in the evening... after the sunset... (nice input there captain obvious)... how there is a bit of a glow and the light slowly drains from the sky? Well, imagine that hour, but elongated due to the sheer albedo of ... white...

Albedo: definition:

The fraction of solar energy (shortwave radiation) reflected from the Earth back into space. It is a measure of the reflectivity of the earth's surface. Ice, especially with snow on top of it, has a high albedo: most sunlight hitting the surface bounces back towards space.

So I'm a weather nerd. I can hear you judging me....
Even over midwinter - the peak of lightlessness (new word, I dig it) when the sun starts its gradual return to the antarctic, there is still a good three hours of what most would consider daylight. For example. You can see how cold the water that you are planning to jump into in only bikini and volleys (so your wet feet don't stick to the ice on quick exit from said cold water). You can also see the steam coming off the outdoor hottub set up for the occasion. It starts getting light at around 11am, and by 3pm is pretty much night. again. so...

(I'm working up to a point... just in case you were wondering)...

The clear nights this year have been. well. amazing.

We've had one of the most aurorally active years in memory. Almost every night.

Auroras are the drama of the heavens. They change every night, thoughout the night, peak around 3am, can light up the whole sky or just be a silver whisper in the ear of those sparkling pinpricks in the dark blanket of sky. Either way, they are exciting, they build and snake and ribbon and curl across the sky- they change in intensity, waning and sparking back up again on a whim.
And you know what?

We had them so frequently this year that a lot of the time, you couldn't even be bothered running back up the stairs to grab your camera.

Now the light is back 16 hours a day (14 of that sunshine above horizon) I miss night. The hours that Auroras might occur are becoming pretty unfriendly- especially to my shiftwork hours. But they still give me a buzz. Especially while looking through the camera lense.

Early on we were introduced to the idea of playing with light at night time. To shoot an Aurora, the camera must be on a tripod with the exposure around the 30sec mark, generally set to a timer to stop the camera shake as the shutter releases which blurs the stars and the foreground. It's art.
So first imagine standing there, shuddering in the icy cold (oh, literally, its not even a pun woooh!) flicking your torch light on and off and on and off... out of sight of the camera ofcourse so as not to ruin the shot. Until someone tells you that you can light up the foreground for a better shot using just your torch light.

Painting. Like with a brush, careful to stay within the lines.

... And then, after that you walk through the shot...

Rookery Lake Apple, early one morning. That's the moon in the sky by the way, not the sun... jjn

and then you start drawing things- like you did as a kid with sparklers in the crisp night air at new years.. and then you start getting results in this....
Standard JJn tomfoolery... mouth open in photos... such finesse.... (c) J.Feast)

The boy (oh how he loves it when i call him that haha), getting in on the fun. This was his second attempt (the first the S was backwards as you have to write in mirrored), and wasn't quick enough with the light. I love this photo because the letters look like they have legs.... :D

The successful photo.... See the look of accomplishment on his face...

These two shots are great also to show how quickly the auroras ribbon and change. There can't have been more than a minute between these two photos....

The red scribbles came from a small LED light hanging off the back of my head torch...

You've seen this one before in colour... it makes me feel like I'm on the moon ... (c) J.Feast

You can use a flash, with some totally interesting and entertaining results... I could totally show you...

but a girl has to retain some mystery right........?

hehe, and one last one, for mum.....


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jungle Jen's White World in Black and Grey

So, While I work steadily through processing all the photos from last week in an effort to get them ready for the station DVD (along with all the other thousands and thousands of photos still yet to be processed- I know I'm prone to exaggeration but this actually may be an underestimation of my task ahead) I thought I would share some of my other photos (other photos?? I've only been here a year..)...

in black



These are some I like. Hope you like them too.

Aurora over L-Sat Radar Dome. Davis Station (c) J.Feast

Me? Making Noise? Neverrrrrr (Photo taken by Shane Mitchell)

I just love her curly whiskers. Cute huh! (Weddell Seal, (C) J.Feast )
Berg. No more needs to be said. (c) J.Feast

Bandit's Icebergs. In this light it makes them look like their sterling silver. I like that. (C) J.Feast

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jungle Jen Reflections

Well, We are officially into the last month..


The last month until the ship is SUPPOSED to arrive to swap new people in and take us home to warm ground, warm weather and warm welcomes... but as we all know, schedules in Antarctica are all subject to the "Antarctic "A" Factor"....

its quite similar to Murphy's law.

but colder.

The penguins are due back this week, the seals are beginning to congregate, a little later than we expected, and we should start to see some seal pups around the traps looking soft and lovely and gorgeous, all ready to pose for our eager cameras desperate to capture that one last perfect portrait of an icy wilderness still striking out for it's solid significance in our lives and hearts.

for example.

Last weekend:

Blew my mind.

Deep Lake Reflections, Vestfold Hills, Antarctica (c) J.Feast
I took thousands of photos and felt like I lived three lifetimes in one four day trip out into the field. We (boy and I) visited Brooke's Hut, Deep Lake, Davis (for bread and birth control- two things you don't forget on a trip to the field...) Icebergs, Ace Lake, Every other single lake in Long Fjord, Tryne Fjord, Platcha Hut, Breid Basin, Lichen Lake, Stalker Hill, Lake Zvezda, Bandits Hut, Michelson's Cairn, Iceberg Alley... and you don't even know what all that means! We went ice climbing, ice skating, I practically crawled three km on my stomach over frozen fresh water lakes because I could not steal my eyes away from the amazing bubble formations captured in the ice as it froze. We saw sunsets, seals, we had picnics amongst icebergs.,.. And all of this, with clear blue skies and not a breath of wind.

I could have cried.

It is really easy when you live in an isolated place for a long time to forget the reasons for coming here, and become embroiled in the crap and politics that goes hand in hand with living in a small confined space (can of sardines) with the same people day in day out for 16 months. Some days, its hard to retain that positivity and awe at a place that changes subtley and often, and its really difficult to stop this version of reality becoming the "norm".

-15 degrees C is now classed as "Warm"

Rocks have become beautiful.

Nobody blinks an eyelid at spending 20mins of your evening infront of the heater defrosting the olive oil so you can cook dinner.

You know you're in Antarctica when you see grown men ... 
... ... ... ... ice skate.

But this "weekend" (Saturday night after work (10:30pm) driving through thick snow so we could wake up at Brookes Hut the following day- until Wednesday night, extended due to the most amazing blue skies, dimpled with the most sumptuous sunset bathing spectacular iceberg alley in soft light...oh!) I think this weekend may have changed my life.

For the first time in a long time I actually thought twice about wanting to go home.

Now I understand why people keep coming back to this place.

So. I thought, after beginning to sort through the 35GB of photos I took in four days (beat that!) I thought I would share a couple of the early photos of the trip. Just something to tide you over. And something to remind me why I am here, and why in four weeks time, its going to be really really difficult to say goodbye to this place.....


Reflections on Deep Lake behind the old weather station. Deep lake is a hypersaline lake which never freezes, not even in -40 degree temperatures. On days without wind, the mirrored reflections of the Vestfold Hills can be crystal clear. (c) J.Feast

Deep Lake Reflections

Weddell Seal Lazes in the sun out between some Icebergs off Davis Station, Antarctica (c) J.Feast

Its a tough life being a seal...   (c) J.Feast