David Neilson 1990-91, 2004-05

David Neilson photographing on Welch Island near Mawson Station
David Neilson photographing on Welch Island near Mawson Station (Photo: Geoff Bennett)
Southern Light book cover

David Neilson has taken photographs in a wide range of wild places including Patagonia, Greenland, the Karakoram, South Georgia and Antarctica. Much of his early photography was undertaken during mountaineering and exploring trips, and he was for many years an active rock climber.

He worked for the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) for ten years as a graphic designer and pictorial editor and his early working life was spent as a civil engineer. He has visited Antarctica twice with the Antarctic Division. During the summer of 1990-91 he travelled south to Mawson Station as part of the then titled Humanities Program to take photographs for ACF's ongoing conservation work. He returned to Mawson Station as an Arts Fellow in 2004-05 with the purpose of taking photographs for a planned book on Antarctica and the subantarctic islands.

From 2002 to 2008 David also made three yacht voyages to the Antarctic, sailing from southern South America to South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. In 2009 he visited the Ross Sea of region south of New Zealand.

The result of these six southern journeys was Southern Light: Images from Antarctica, published by Snowgum Press in 2012. This extensive book with both colour and black & white images was launched in Hobart by the Director of the Division, Dr Tony Fleming. David's Antarctic photos have also been used in various other publications and reproduced as posters. They were used extensively in the joint Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery and Museum of Victoria exhibition Antarctica – Secrets of the Frozen World.

David has been the author and photographer for three previous books. South West Tasmania – A Land of the Wild, published in 1975, was an early publication to highlight the threatened wilderness of western Tasmania. Wilsons Promontory — Coastal Wildness, published in 1996, celebrated the beauty of one of Australia’s foremost national parks. Patagonia — Images of a Wild Land, published in 1999, drew on his climbing expeditions to the Andes of southern South America.

He currently lives near Emerald to the east of Melbourne and runs the small photography and publishing business, Snowgum Press.

Antarctic impression

My strongest impression of Antarctica was the profusion of wildlife around the coastal fringe. The sheer numbers of penguins, seals and sea birds were remarkable and the high point of my visit was photographing Emperor penguins at the Auster rookery. One felt quite privileged to be in the presence of these magnificent birds. I was also fortunate to have a brief visit to the remote and hauntingly beautiful Prince Charles Mountains. My visit reinforced my feelings that we must take particular care of the Earth's foremost wild places including Antarctica. 

David Neilson

David launched his book, Southern Light: Images from Antarctica on Friday, 1 June 2012 in Hobart, Tasmania. It is available to purchase at good book stores everywhere and online.

This page was last modified on 14 November 2013.