• WorldView
  • 4 Min Read

A Photographic Journey Through Antarctica's Surreal Beauty

When photographer Andrew Studer joined us on an epic voyage to Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands in November 2021, he captured hundreds of pictures documenting the wildlife and the remote, otherworldly landscapes. These are some of our favorite shots from his time aboard National Geographic Endurance, including a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse. Get Inspired By Photos, Videos, Webinars, Stories, And Exclusive Offers. Sign Up

Photos by Andrew Studer
Copy by Michael Bonocore, adapted with permission from Petapixel.com.


Before reaching the shores of Antarctica, National Geographic Endurance explored the coastlines of the South Shetland Islands and then disembarked on Barrientos Island. This island is home to colonies of both chinstrap and gentoo penguins, which enjoy slightly warmer temperatures than their peers just south.

antarctica mountain neko harbor.jpg

“There were really beautiful mountains and sea stacks, so when we disembarked, my mind was already overloaded with photo ideas. And then I saw the penguins. This was my first time ever seeing penguins, so instead of getting my camera up to my eye, I took a couple of minutes to simply take in the incredible experience,” he adds.


“This was also my first time seeing the local Weddell seal, so I started incorporating him into the photos as well. The thing that struck me right away was how expressive the seals’ faces are. They are very photogenic and I was excited to know this was far from the only one I would see on our expedition.”


With such an enormous area to cover over a three-week expedition, Studer spent a great deal of time on the National Geographic Endurance. Luckily for him, the majority of the time spent on board has the adventure-seeking guests calmly cruising through some of the most untouched and wild landscapes on the planet. With about 20 hours of sunlight during the summer, this leads to endless photography opportunities without having to do much work.

“Much of what I shot on the expedition was actually from the ship,” Studer explains.

The coolest part for me was the constant changing of perspective that the moving boat provided. No matter the scene I just photographed, within minutes it would look completely different and lead to a totally unique composition.

Andrew Studer

When you are hiking you have to walk for quite some time to change your perspective like that, but being on this incredible ship moving among the landscapes, the hard work of getting a different perspective was being done for me, and in a very short amount of time.”


"Meals were another interesting part of the trip for me,” Studer says. “I found myself bringing my camera with me to the table as I would constantly see something new outside the window that I would want to shoot. One morning in particular, I could see the gentoo penguins porpoising in the water outside of our ship. Essentially, they would dive down deep into the water and when they come back up, they jump out of the water, higher than I thought they would."


"It took some studying of their behavior before I was able to follow small groups and get some great shots of them coming out of the water. It was another reminder about how many photographic possibilities existed from the comfort of the ship."

This Antarctica expedition was planned with the total solar eclipse on December 4, 2021 in mind. During the eclipse, the National Geographic Endurance would be transiting from South Georgia Island to the Falkland Islands. Not being locked into a specific location allowed the Captain to change course as needed, as the weather is always a factor in this rugged region.


As noted by Naturalist Joe Holliday in the Daily Expedition Report, even with all of the planning, the Antarctic weather is always fighting back.

“We had our hopes up because of the clear sky at dawn. However, a cloud bank approached us, threatening our hopes for a view of the eclipse at sunrise. The ship turned around and started cruising away from the clouds. Then it happened: the sun rose at sunrise during the total solar eclipse!"

Total Eclipse of the Sun.jpg

After leaving the Peninsula behind, the ship set course for South Georgia, a large, mountainous island that lies about halfway between the southeast coastline of Argentina and Antarctica, but 1,200 miles to the east. This far distance means that the island has a very different climate and landscape than what Studer and the passengers on National Geographic Endurance had experienced thus far.


“I wasn’t really sure what to expect at South Georgia Island,” Studer explains. “But over the three-day period we were there, I was blown away. The wildlife consisting of king penguins, elephant seals, and Antarctic fur seals was everywhere, and the landscape backdrops were stunning. It was inspiring to see these mountains seemingly meet the ocean. We got some sunny days here as well, which led to some interesting photos which showed the cold, snow-capped mountain peaks with clean sunlight on the wildlife in the foreground."



“I went with Lindblad Expeditions to see the total eclipse in Antarctica. But I came back with so many images that mean even more to me than the eclipse,” Studer concludes. “We had so many ‘eclipse worthy’ moments. That feeling of photographing something so unique and rare followed me for the entire three-week expedition. I had that feeling when I saw the massive colony of King penguins on the beach in South Georgia, or every time I laid eyes on the incredible mountain and glacier landscapes of Antarctica.


In South Georgia, we had this incredible ribbon of lenticular clouds catching this gorgeous orange light over the mountains below. It was all of these ‘eclipse like’ feelings that made for an exciting and rewarding photography experience that I will never forget. My only hope is that this won’t be my last expedition to Antarctica, and that thanks to conservation efforts, the untouched beauty will remain on my return with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.”


See more of Andrew Studer's work at andrewstuder.com and on petapixel.com.