Should you buy the Canon 5DS or5DS R?

News is flying around Facebook and the Interweb. The Canon 5DS and 5DS R are coming. They'll be 50.6 megapixels. Its exciting news. People have been waiting for a 'big megapixel' camera from Canon for quite some time.

So people are asking the question, "What should I buy? Should I buy the 5DS or the 5DS R?"

My answer ...

"Neither"

Why neither? Let me elaborate.

We are all so focused on gear.

Look at any photograph posted on the web, if it doesn't list the model of camera that the photograph was taken with, what lens was used, what focal length, what f-stop, shutter duration and what ISO then there will be 50 questions asking the photographer what equipment or settings they used. And there will be zero questions asking the photographer what they saw and felt and how they came about the final composition and post processing style.

Can you imagine what it'd be like if Vincent Van Gogh painted 'Starry Night' today and had to cater for photographers gear fetish?

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, No 1  Clydesdale hair Brush, No 2 Palamino Hair Brush, #47 Green OIl Paint, Fazers Red Oil paint, Quirks Yellow Oil paint,  Cedar Painters Palette 1876 model, Dad's old shirt art smock

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, No 1 Clydesdale hair Brush, No 2 Palamino Hair Brush, #47 Green Oil Paint, Fazers Red Oil paint,
Quirks Yellow Oil paint,Ilford Fine Art Canvas, Cedar Painters Palette 1876 model, Dad's old shirt art smock



  Ridiculous isn't it. It feels like summarising one of the worlds most famous painter's work as a series of brushes, oil paints and pieces of equipment...

I could go buy the No 1 Clydesdale hair Brush, No 2 Palamino Hair Brush, #47 Green Oil Paint, Fazers Red Oil paint,
Quirks Yellow Oil paint,Ilford Fine Art Canvas, Cedar Painters Palette 1876 model and use one of my Dad's old business shirts as art smock but it won't help me one bit to be able to deliver a painting like Vincent Van Gogh. Yet when it comes to photography we seem to have this ill conceived notion that the limiting factor to becoming a world reknown photographer is our gear. "if I buy this new camera I'll be one step closer to producing better images"  

Cameras are merely a tool you use along with your skill set to execute your vision and produce a photograph.

So just as I would say to a budding painter who admires Van Gogh, don't go and buy what he used, learn what makes his paintings wonderful, learn to see how he sees, learn the why and how. Once you have done that, then worry about the tools you may need to upgrade to completely and purely replicate Vincent's work.

So if you have $3,500 to spend on a Canon 5DS or 5DS R, I recommend you buy neither.

I recommend you go spend that $3,500 on photography books produced by the worlds best photographers, visit an art gallery or 10, buy some historical art books. Research art, research why the worlds best photographers ARE the worlds best photographers, learn how they see, learn how they think, understand their vision, learn the technical skills and forget about the camera.

Learn art back to front, learn how to replicate it, learn how to produce that quality of work. Once you've you've mastered being able to produce someone elses art, then go create your own style and develop your vision and continue to improve on it. And then go buy the tool that helps you deliver on your vision if the one you have is providing limitations.

Resist G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome - a term coined by Zack Arias www.zackarias.com).

Investing in a a bigger megapixel camera won't make you a better photographer, investing in yourself will. Start today, go have a look at some of Vincent Van Gogh's work over at http://www.vangoghgallery.com/
South Georgia Panasonic GH4 Tripod

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 meets Antarctica, South Georgia and The Falklands

A few months before leaving for Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands I bought a new Panasonic Lumix GH4 and an accompanying Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Aspherical Lens.

My stalwart video rig has been comprised of Canon 5D Mark III's (previously the 5D Mark II's). The Canon DSLRs have been my go to cameras for a few years now. They work well. Lens options are great and combined with the Magic Lantern firmware, they're better than Canon ever intended them to be. With numerous pieces of work shot in RAW via Magic Lantern I was really looking for an improvement in image quality and a simpler post production workflow. The 90 megabytes per second of Canon RAW footage was really starting to wear thin especially with the prospect of long projects such as filming in Antarctica, South Georgia and The Falklands for three weeks.

If you're familiar with the Panasonic Lumix GH range of cameras, you'd recall the GH2 and subsequent GH3 were very highly regarded cameras offering great image quality in a compact unit and at exceptional price. The reviews I'd read during my research indicated the GH4 had followed in their stead with some significant improvements and the addition of 4k video, 1080p@96fps over cranking and improvements in noise and dynamic range. Philip Bloom did a good video review of the GH4.  It's not the camera of all cameras. But it's hard to beat for the financial outlay.

South Georgia Panasonic GH4 Tripod

First and foremost with my foray into the Antarctic regions of our glorious planet I was a little concerned with regards to the durability of the Panasonic GH4.  To be brutally honest, I'm always concerned with all camera equipment in these regions bar my Canon L Series Lenses and 1 series bodies and even those have their limitations in extreme environs.

The Panasonic GH4 has reasonably good weather sealing.  It was certainly put through its paces on this journey.  With temperatures in Antarctica dropping to minus thirty degrees Celsuis in the windy open areas, with sheltered air temperatures of minus ten degrees celsius, ice shards flying horizontal at fifty knots, the GH4 was given a baptism of ice! The salt water spray from shooting in a Zodiac and gentle rain of South Georgia rounded out what can only be describe as the durability trial of a lifetime for the GH4.

  So how well did the GH4 go?

Capturing moments with wildlife and expeditioners meant I needed to be prepared to capture a 'moment' at the drop of a hat.  With landings ashore lasting between two and four hours, I never once turned off the GH4, it's battery saving sleep mode was the only reprieve the battery received.  Its battery life can only be described as phenomenal.  On the harshest landed, in the coldest temperatures, the GH4 failed to wake from sleep mode. Looking in the view finder a message was displayed. "Battery Empty" or something to that effect.  Considering how much footage I'd shot on the battery and the bone freezing temperatures I was surprised the battery had last that long. But to be honest, out of all the shooting I did in the 3 week period, this was the only time I had to change a battery in the field.  Most landings saw me return to our ship with an hour of footage and battery life to spare.  Something that just NEVER happens when shooting with the Canon bodies I've been using in the past.

  The 12-35mm f/2.8 Lumix G lens (24-70mm equivalent) was faultless and was used for 90% of the footage shot during the 3 week period of shooting. Auto focus was quick and accurate even when focusing on harsh white snow. Combined with a variable neutral density filter to control exposure, keeping shutter speed at as close to 180 degrees as possible, this lens delivered. A good balance of a desired depth of field and ISO was easy to achieve on the Micro 4/3 sensor for the shooting I was doing but a faster lens would be nicer for times when a shallower DoF is required.  The lens with its variable length lens barrel was my only point of concern with the GH4 lens combination with water and snow accumulating on the lens, I paid particular attention to ensure I wiped the lens barrel before changing focal lengths.

  The GH4 worked well at higher ISO levels, better than I expected.  But I must admit for most of the shooting scenarios there was more light I needed for the majority of shooting hence the application of the variable Neutral Density filter to keep my exposures in check.

  One could say I am religious when it comes to keeping my gear clean and dry in the field.  I've got a job to do and I don't want to have gear failure inhibit my ability to capture some amazing imagery.  The GH4 was covered with salt water spray, snow, sleet and rain during this three week period. Being judicious with a good cloth whenever possible ensured my rig was kept clean dry and continuing to function.  During some shooting I did use a wet weather rain spray cover for the GH4 as I would with my Canons because the weather was pretty insane. After the days shooting, I put the GH4 in my camera bag when returning to ship, allowing it to acclimatise from the minus 10 degree temperatures to the plus twenty two degrees and humid environ of the ship.  A number of Nikons and Canons failed on this expedition due to condensation when DSLRs were not given the appropriate time to acclimatise before being exposed to the warm comfort of cabin temperatures. I had no problems with my GH4.

  For ergonomic and stability reasons I mounted the GH4 in a camera cage with two vertical grips which allowed me to brace and stabilise the camera in high winds. The added benefit of have the camera mounted in a cage was mounting points for my Rode microphone and Tascam digital recorder.  As much as having a light camera is desirable from the aspect of having to lug it around, holding  a diminutive light weight camera still is not as simple as it seems.  The addition of a camera cage added the stability I needed.  The camera cage itself didn't fair as well as the GH4, with the cage allen key bolts developing rust from the salty sea spray whilst the GH4 looks as good as new.

  Shooting in the field I shot a variety of footage.  1080p@60fps  4k@24fps and 1080p@96fps.  Making use of the camera ability to register custom settings I was able to set up my exposures, apertures and my variable ND filter and save each as a custom setting with only the need to update these based on changes in light and cloud cover.  Changing between shooting 4k@24fps to 1080p@96fps became a simple turn of the mode dial from C1 to C2 and I was ready to shoot.  

The majority of my footage was shot in 4k@24fps with my final destination output targeted at 1080p@24fps product . The ability to down scale to 1080p footage brings a level of detail that the Canon 5D Mark III with Magic Lantern RAW can only but dream to achieve. To be honest, the 5D Mark III RAW footage I've shot in the past looks out of focus and soft compared to footage shot on the GH4.  And the ability to punch in to a 4k frame and extract a 1080p frame is not to undervalued. effectively giving my two fields of view, say a long and a medium shot, in the same footage.

  Shooting the brilliant white snow covered landscape of Antarctica is a test for any camera.  In camera metering on 99% of cameras is confused by the mass of white that fills a frame usually with the end result being footage of 'dull grey' snow. The live histogram of the GH4 came in very handy along with the Variable ND filter to keep exposures in check and to ensure the whites of the Antarctic snow capped vistas were white but with detail retained.  The ability to 'place' the histogram on the rear LCD where I wanted it with a flick of my finger was great when composing tripod shots with the variability of penguins walking past. Antarctica Snow Panasonic GH4

  Auto Focus in low contrast exceedingly bright conditions can be trying for any camera.  Only in the most extreme of conditions did the GH4 focus hunt which is to be expected from most cameras bar the elite focusing DSLRs. Having the ability to simply tap the LCD where I'd like the camera to focus was a dream.

The LCD was bright and visible in all the conditions I experienced.  The tilt and swivel capabilities came in handy on numerous occasions when shooting really low or really high.  A welcome capability over shooting with my Canons.  The touch screen capabilities for using custom function soft buttons on the screen was a novelty I didn't use much.  Navigating through images and videos  via Review I did most via physical dials initially as old habits die hard.

The auto switching between the LCD and the Live View Finder I turned off on the first day as I invariably moved my fingers near the sensor all the time seeing the display switching between the LVF all too often.  The LVF was a pleasure to use.  The information displayed being the same as that on the rear LCD made it a breeze to shoot via the view finder.  Particularly useful for shooting stills, not so much for video.  The real time histogram within the viewfinder was also useful for stills shooting.

To round out my experience with the GH4 I used and tested two EF lens adapters. A generic speed booster which I found the quality to be un acceptable in tests. And a manual aperture EF lens adapter which worked extremely well considering its simplicity as long as you didn't stop the manual aperture down to far thereby causing vignetting.  I'd love to get my hands on a Metabones Speedbooster with full Autofocus and IS capabilities but they weren't in stock in any time frame that would've facilitated me taking one on Antarctica.

Having just returned home to my family after two expeditions to Antarctica and two weeks in Patagonia I've had little time to sit down and post process any footage or stills from the GH4 but early in the new year I will have some footage and stills shot on the Panasonic GH4 to share.

   
Patagonia Fitz Roy

Patagonia – Cerro Torre, Fitz Roy and Perito Moreno

Coming off the back of a photography expedition down to The Falklands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, I held little hope for poor desolate windy Patagonia.  Sure it has Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and the Pireto Moreno Glacier, but really how could it compare with the sheer mass of wild life in The Falklands/South Georgia Island and exotic draw of Antarctica .... well 10 days in Patagonia blew my mind.

We started our journey in El Chalten.  Fitz Roy in all its glory can be seen from town, looming in the distance.  Wisps of cloud traipsing and caressing is bulbous peak.  Calling out to the inhabitants of this small country town. I must say, its way more impressive than I expected.

I've never been a climber nor shall I ever be. For starters I'm not a big fan of heights and my main limitation, power to weight ratio is back to front.  Yet the the peaks of this region were calling to me.  Did I go don my climbing shoes, grab a rope, some cams and a harness?  Not a chance. But I did pack a hiking pack, a few days clothes and my camera gear and set off on the trails in the region to photograph this beautiful place.

Trekking in Patagonia can be a bit of a hit and miss. The weather can change at the drop of a hat. We had rain, snow and sunshine. And it's windy. Very Windy. Always Windy. Did I mention its windy?

To get to all the good vantage points there is quite some walking and a not insignificant amount of rock hopping.   Overall the knees coped, the back coped with my pack weight and the company of my fellow trail companions made the trip light hearted and enjoyable.  Though I must say I do miss the Australian experience of sitting around a camp fire at night, with Patagonia's high winds and dry fallen timber, fires are a no no.

Patagonia Fitz Roy

On our last night of viewing Fitz Roy, we had dinner, a glass of wine and were relaxing watching the sunset.  The sunset wasn't particularly awe inspiring but I was there, relaxed and enjoying the experience.   I was shooting a few frames of Fitz Roy. The clouds were covering the peak and I was talking to our marvellous guide when he squeals with excitement "I think I saw a puma tail! Its a puma!!!"

I replied "You're pulling my leg surely David?!?" and out from behind a tree across the river strides a Puma.  It stops, looks at us for 20-25 seconds and then disappears back into the forest.

I turned and looked at our guide. The look on his face said it all.   Flabbergasted he splutters out .... "I've been guiding for 14 years and never seen a Puma" I managed to capture a number of frames.  I only had a 70-200 at my side and the Puma was across the other side of a glacial river. But I still captured some frames.  Its fair to say I won't be winning BBC Wildlife Photographer of the year with this one. But I'm just happy for the experience.

Puma - Patagonia Poincenot Fitz Roy

Post the sighting we were discussing rare animals in the area and our guide told us about the Andean Deer.  Sadly, or luckily, I saw one within the first ten minutes of setting out hiking.  In my ignorance I didn't make much of it so I didn't inform my fellow hikers.  Our guide looked at me and said "Now you're pulling my leg!".

After the excitement and joys of a Fitz Roy and the Puma we headed over to photograph Cerro Torre.  We had a few days in this region photographing the peaks from a few different vantage points.  Our best shoot was on the last moraine before the glacier at the base of Cerro Torre.  Rising at 3:55am to hike out for sunrise, it was a cold blistering wind coming down from the glacier. But it was worth every moment of discomfort as we were award a beautiful warm glow as the sun kissed the peaks.  Returning to our campsite at 6:30am there was no way I could sleep after this experience.  So a few cups of coffee and some biscuits and I powered through until breakfast before hiking out of the Glaciers National Park into El Chalten for a celebratory dinner.

The next day we headed out to El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier.  What a marvellous and accessible glacier.  The weather wasn't the best but there was a break in the weather to walk on this magnificent mammoth glacier and having a wee drab of Whisky during the walk, before heading to the balconies to shoot it from another vantage point.   We retired to town to our new favourite restaurant for another great meal before flying out to Ushuaia.

Pireto Moreno Glacier Patagonia

Patagonia was an amazing place. Better than I ever could have anticipated. I've walked away with some beautiful images which I will share at a later stage when I have finished processing them back at my studio. Will I go back to Patagonia? I'd love to. Those majestic peaks are calling me.

So I'm now sitting here in Ushuaia writing this last blog post for 12 days in a cafe as Joshua Holko and I prepare to board for our 12 day Spirit of Antarctica expedition.  Another ship full of eager photographers chomping at the bit to get down to see the amazing wildlife and scenery, to set foot on the content and relish the surreal experience that is Antarctica.

Thats it from me for now. Signing off for now!
King Penguins South Georgia Island

The Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula Expedition has completed

I can't believe its over. The surreal experience of the Falklands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsula expedition has been hard to put into words.  Whilst out shooting  I was watching the faces of our intrepid expeditioners adorned with a mix of bewilderment and awe.   How can one now be? With the sheer bio mass of South Georgia and the surreal remote landscape of our planets 7th continent.  It's fair to say my well of awesomeness experiences spilleth over.

The South Georgian Smile

The South Georgian Smile



Setting sail from Ushuaia, Argentina, our voyage out of the Beagle Channel was full of excitement and in-trepidation. First timers are wary of stories of the raging Drake Passage whilst those revisiting the Southern Seas soothed the fears of the wary with stories of the 'Great Drake Lake'.

A palpable excitement filled our first zodiac cruise as we silently rode to shore on New Island in the Falklands. A small walk and we were greeted by mammoth cliffs covered with the nests of Black Browed Albatross. Rockhopper Penguins interspersed throughout the cliff faces as Albatrosses soared above, below and around us. Caucau harriers battling for dominance of the skies above saw many aerial dog fights ensue.

Returning to the ship we sailed to our next location. West Point Island to a private farm property where we scales the hill to descend over the ridge line to intimately photograph the Rockhopper penguin colony and nesting Albatross.

With our fill of Rockhopper penguins we sailed onto Stanley the capital of the Falklands for an espresso a stroll through the museum and a few minutes of prehistoric speed Internet access.

Heading out to open sea to South Georgia Island a number of lectures are presented to keep all entertained and well rated before we arrived at the South Georgia Island coastline.  Docking in Grytviken, we explored its historic derelict whaling station and paid respect at the final resting place of Ernest Shackleton.

  Landings at Fortuna Harbour, Stromness Harbour, Gold Harbour and the magnificence of St Andrews Bay and Salisbury Plain provided magnificent photographic opportunities for King Penguins, Elephant Seals and Fur Seals.  The awe of the sheer biomass of King Penguins and their brown fluffy chicks was irrepressive. Walking around these rookeries, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of these majestic creatures. With their curiosity piqued, King Penguins approached photographers who remained motionless, watching intently and pecking at cameras and boots alike.  Fur Seals put on displays of bravado, whilst Male Elephant Seals surprisingly moved their hulking masses rapidly to defend their harems from other male Elephant Seals with wandering eyes.

  King Penguins South Georgia Island

  Casting off from South Georgia we set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula and all its glory.  Our first stop was at Point Wild.  It was hard to comprehend that 22 of Ernest Shackleton's team survived 105 days there after their ship Endurance sank in the Weddell Sea.  It certainly lived up to its name.

Zodiac cruising in Cierva Cove provided some stunning icebergs to photograph with much calmer weather than we had been experiencing in previous days. Landing at Neko Harbour provided the first opportunity for people to set foot on the continent on Antarctica. For many it was their 7th and final continent to set foot upon. Gentoo Penguins cavorting and hopping through the water provided more amazing photographic opportunities.  Paradise Harbour was majestic and calm providing a great opportunity for some quiet contemplation of the enormity of our surroundings.

After returning to the ship we set sail to cruise the Lemaire Channel.   Our intrepid crew deftly navigated our trusty vessel through this narrow waterway  jam packed with Icebergs.  The decks were laden as all were out photographing the amazing sights as the sun slowly set directly behind us in the Lemaire Channel casting pink and orange tones over icerbergs and ice encrusted mountain peaks like. Our final landing at Cuverville Island provided a true taste of Antarctic weather. The wind was up, the temperatures were down, minus 30 degrees celsius in the open.  Any spray from the ocean was turned to ice within milliseconds.  The bite of the chilling winds felt like needles on ones bare face.  The snow and ice blown by the wind looked like the start of a dust storm as it blasted past ones legs. These amazing environmental conditions provided amazing photographic opportunities as the colony of Gentoo Penguins walked single file along the beach and carried on their every day lives in the rookery un-phased by the piercing winds.  A perfect end to an amazing experience on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Our last few days were spent reflecting the numerous highlights of this amazing expedition as we crossed the powerful Drake passage around Cape Horn and back in to the Beagle Channel to dock in Ushuaia.

Another amazing photography expedition and another amazing group of photographers to create some more beautiful memories with.

In a few days I'm headed back down to the Antarctic Peninsula for a second expedition.  I must say I'm very excited to be sharing this experience once again with some more fellow photographers, some for their first time, to this majestic continent with all its beauty.

Jobu Design Jr. 3 Deluxe Gimbal Head Review

Recently I purchased a Jobu Design Jr. 3 Deluxe Gimbal head.  I'd spent quite some time searching for a gimbal head.  There are quite a few well known brands out there, Wimberley, Really Right Stuff, Manfrotto, Kirk, Benro, Induro just to name a few.

I wanted something light, I hate hiking long distances carrying heavy gear and I've already got a Really Right Stuff BH-55 which weighs a tonne, so I didn't want to add too much more weight to my pack weight and at 1.5lbs (680grams) it comes in as quite a light gimbal head.  But it had to be able to support a 1D Series Canon, 2x Extender and at least a 500mm f/4 IS lens, along with a 580EX with compact battery pack along with a Better Beamer.

I wanted something strong and the  Jobu Design Jr. 3 Deluxe Gimbal head has a one-piece hollow, cast, heat-treated body, making it extremely stiff.  Its curved design and tubing has a very solid feel. The main body has a matte black textured finish which gives you confidence when holding it.

Jobu Jr.3 Deluxe Gimbal

Jobu Jr.3 Deluxe Gimbal



I wanted a gimbal head that fitted with all my existing lens feet, base plates L-brackets etc, so the Jobu's swing arm has an integrated Arca-Swiss compatible quick release mount which helps keep the overall gimbal head weight down and is finished matte smooth black finish.  I'd have preferred a similar finish as the swing arm body, but the differing surfaces do not detract from my appreciation of this gimbal head.

The swing arm has an adjustable offset for the swing arm giving configuration possibilities to suit balancing different lens setups with the use of an allen key.  Combined with my 4th Generation CRX-5 Low Mount replacement foot it was easy to find a comfortable balance for my Canon 500mm f/4 IS Mk II and 1D Mark IV.

The custom-designed fluted knobs give the two drag knobs on the main gimbal assembly a nice feel.  The swing arm itself has a smaller plastic knob  which matches the smooth black finish of the swing arm, but doesn't have the same tactile feel as the main body knobs.  Given that the rubberised knobs are used for adjusting drag where as the smooth plastic is for fixing a lens to the swing arm so I'm more than willing to pass over the difference in feel.

Adorned with a small orange jobu design logo on the main body and a website and model number on the top of the tripod mount , the gimbal head is relatively unadorned and inconspicuous.

I've seen various configurations used for mounting a gimbal head.  Some people put a quick release plate on the bottom of it for easy mounting to a levelling base or tripod head. Others like myself go with the tried and proven (and recommended) method of screwing the head straight to the tripod.   It does take a bit longer than a quick release plate when it comes to changing from a ball head to a gimbal head, but in my opinion, its makes for a more stable mount.

Overall I've been extremely happy with my Jobu Design Jr. 3 Deluxe Gimbal Head,  a welcome addition to my bag and now travels everywhere my 500mm goes.
Veiðivötn, Iceland
Canon 5D Mark III 17-40 f/4 L ISO 100 @ f/11 for 5 seconds

Veidivotn, Iceland – Back in Black

Covered with vibrant green moss, volcanic rock and gravel, mirror glass finished lakes and for most part a layer of fog, (Veiðivötn), Iceland is an amazing area photographic experience.

Spending two days in this marvellous location giving me time to experiment and visit a number of locations in the area. Our first night of camping, we were exhausted after a long drive into Veidivotn we'd set up camp in the fog. Exhausted and starting to falling asleep when out of the fog comes the feint sound of music. As it got louder it became clearer, it was AC/DC's 'Back in Black'. Louder and louder it got until an SUV drives past our tent full of inebriated Icelandic men singing at the top of their lungs "Coz I'm back in black!". A surreal experience when we hadn't seen a single soul for 12 hours.

In honour of this surreal experience, and AC/DCs Back in Black this image was produced at Veidivotn, Iceland. It includes no fluorescent green moss no lake but its back in black ... and white. Enjoy!

Veidivotn, Iceland Canon 5D Mark III 17-40 f/4 L ISO 100 @ f/11 for 5 seconds

Veiðivötn, Iceland
Canon 5D Mark III 17-40 f/4 L ISO 100 @ f/11 for 5 seconds

Antarctica Ushuaia

Ushuaia: Gateway to Antarctica

Ushuaia Argentina, it's the gateway to Antarctica and its hard not to see it. Walking down the street there are signs everywhere talking about Antarctica.
Looking down to the docks from the vantage point of my guest room, I can see a number of Antarctic bound vessels including ours, the trusty Polar Pioneer.

Its hard not be be excited. Theres a palpable air of excitement on the streets as I run into friends, clients and fellow travellers all eager to set sail tomorrow on our Expedition. Flying into Ushuaia a few days ago to 0 degrees Celcius and snow has been a bit novelty with the last day or so been sunny and warm. The snow on the surrounding streets has melted but the snow capped mountains surrounding Ushuaia are glowing with their white caps in the afternoon sun. Sampling some traditional Argentinian marinated meats, walking up and down the streets, visiting a number of sights around town has given me a great feel for this small port of Ushuaia.

Tomorrow we'll sail out via the Beagle Channel towards the Falklands then onto South Georgia Island and Antarctica. I must admit, spending time in South Georgia Island is what has been creating a well of anticipation. My impatience to set sail has become overwhelming. I'm ready to go. Only one more sleep .... I feel like a child on the night before Christmas, but luckily for me, tomorrow will the first of many consecutive days of wondrous and joyful presents.

May good light and calm seas be with us for the next 20 days.