This week at the station

This week at Mawson: 22 March 2013

Mawson, a photographer's dream

According to Wikipedia, photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light (photons - hence, "photo"-graphy) or other electromagnetic radiation, either chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film or electronically by means of an image sensor. Photography has many uses for business, science, manufacturing (e.g. photolithography), art, recreational purposes and mass communication.

Well, down here - more than most locations around the world - photography can take on a life of its own whether it's capturing a perfect sunset again and again to a few sly pics taken on a misfortunate camera left alone at the bar. Snapping away in our frozen playground allows those who wish to hone their skills time to do so and a constant stream of muses on which to practice. I would say there would not be a single soul who visits these southern shores whose personal effects would not contain a camera of one sort or another. Photography is also taking on a new life globally with the advent of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. Now more than ever people can take a simple photo easily without object criticism and share it with the world seconds later. Mobile phones, laptops, iPods and other devices have made sharing our lives visually with others as simple the click of a button. The price of semipro DSLRs has also come down in recent times, which is a big draw for those of us wishing to learn a few extra skills down here. I would say half the station now has DSLRs, including an upgrade from our illustrious leader, while the others have high end point-and-shoots. Darren even has a 3D point-and-shoot that takes sensational images.

The landscape around Mawson lends itself easily to the taking of photos. With the towering ranges that push through the plateau just behind station, to the islands that make up our winter playground and of course the wildlife that abounds on our shores here in the warmer months. Just a few weeks ago, Craig and Pete L. took some awesome shots of killer whales off West Arm, engaging in what comes naturally to them: hunting. Jeremy captured some fantastic scenes underwater using his GoPro, taking in the curiosity of a juvenile Weddell seal. Keldyn snapped a beauty one night of an aurora and the way our days are getting shorter, I guess there will be a lot more of us doing the same soon enough. So with the station news, blog posts, social media and just the sobering email home, photos are becoming an inexpensive and accessible option for all of us down here to share our experiences. Now it’s about time I actually read the manual properly. Oh yeah, Cliffy learned (maybe this time) a hard lesson on the practice of camera setup and configuration. Let him tell you his story one day - you’ll like it.

Iceberg at Mawson
'Berg in East Bay
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Dead snow petrel frozen in ice with wings sticking out
Circle of life
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
A large bright aurora australis above Mawson station
Last week's aurora
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Penguin feather close up all in a row
old moulted penguin feather
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Tip of a penguin feather close up
Penguin feather
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Two killer whales, one with head poking out of water and the other with head in water but blowing water and air out of blow hole
Petes' orca
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Sunset is reflected off ice which is the focus of this close up image
Sunset on ice
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Young Weddell seal photographed underwater and facing camera
Curious visitor
(Photo: Jeremy Little)
Young Weddell seal underwater with one flipper over face looking towards the camera
Underwater poser
(Photo: Jeremy Little)
An underwater shot of a Weddell seal playfully facing camera
"Look at me, look at me!"
(Photo: Jeremy Little)

What's in a name?

The Framnes mountains behind Mawson have always attracted expeditioners, drawn to climb the steep scree-covered slopes or to simply stare and be amazed by the craggy peaks. Not all the peaks in the area have been named and each year new expeditioners like to think that they could have at least something named after them. It's not quite that easy as there are guidelines that need to be followed when naming something in Antartica. In the past it was a little different. Today we look at the names of some of the peaks in the Framnes and who or what they are named after. 

Mount Parsons

An outstanding pointed peak, 1060m above sea level, lying to the north of the main summit of the David Range in Mac. Robertson Land. The range was named from the sea by Sir Douglas Mawon in 1930 and photographed from the air by the Lars Christensen Expedition (1936-37). The peak was visited by an ANARE party led by J.M. Béchervaise in January, 1956 and is named for N.R. Parsons, cosmic ray physicist at Mawson in 1955.

Mount Elliott

The highest point of the northern ridge of the David Range in Mac. Robertson Land, 1236m high. Discovered from the sea in 1930 by Sir Douglas Mawson it was climbed for the first time by an ANARE party led by J.M. Béchervaise in January, 1956. It is named for F.W., Elliott, weather observer at Mawson in 1955.

Mount Coates

A peak at the southern end of the northern massif of the David Range, it was discovered and named on 13-14 February, 1931 by Sir Douglas Mawson, BANZARE.

Mount Lawrence

A peak in the David Range, Mac. Robertson Land just north of Mount Coates it is named for J. Lawrence, diesel mechanic at Mawson, 1959

Mount Hordern

A peak about 1,500m high, about seven kilometres south of Mount Coates in the David Range, Mac. Robertson Land it was probably first seen together with other peaks of the Masson, David and Casey Ranges on 4 January, 1930, and again on 5 January, 1930, by BANZARE (1929-31) under Sir Douglas Mawson, who plotted and named it about 14 February, 1930. It is named after Sir Samuel Hordern of Sydney, a patron of BANZARE and was first visited by an ANARE party led by J.M. Béchervaise in 1956.

Mount Henderson

A mountain about 11km northeast of the northern part of the Masson Range, in Mac. Robertson Land it was first sighted from the crow's nest of the Discovery on 3 January, 1930 during BANZARE (1929-31) and again seen from the air on 5 January, 1930. The position was plotted and the mountain named by BANZARE on about 14 February, 1931. It was named after Dr. W. Henderson, Director of the Australian Department of External Affairs, a member of the Australian Antarctic Committee, 1929.

David range of mountains with 5 peaks, rocky with snow in foreground
Unnamed peaks except for Mt Parsons on right
(Photo: Graham Cook)
Mt Parsons, an imposing rocky peak juts out from snow
Mt Parsons
(Photo: Graham Cook)
Mt Elliot, a dome shaped peak dusted with snow
Mt Elliot
(Photo: Graham Cook)
An expeditioner walks up a snowy hill at the David Range under an overcast, grey sky
More unnamed peaks with Elliot and Parsons on left
(Photo: Graham Cook)

Foreign film festival

I am falling back into an old routine. When I was at Casey during the winter of 2008 we had a weekly movie night. I wasn't showing the mainstream Hollywood blockbusters but, in my opinion, the more sophisticated and much underrated foreign movies. Most of them were European and Scandinavian. This proved to be a huge success on station and we decided to do the same here at Mawson.

We kicked off with "Lila dit ça" (A French movie from 2004 starring Vahina Giocante). This was an immediate success. Lila has been the talking point for weeks now here on station and she became that popular that we have decided to send her an invitation for our midwinter festivities! You never know...

The second movie was "Nói albínói" (Noi the Albino), an Icelandic movie from 2003. Who could forget the scene were Nói is throwing, by accident, a tub of blood over his relatives when they were making sausages!

Due to increased pressure from the audience I decided to put on another French movie again starring Vahina Giocante: "La blonde aux seins nus". We had to re-subtitle this movie as it was originally subtitled in Dutch.

Last week we watched a Swedish movie, "Så som i himmelen" (As it is in Heaven) from 2004. A very enjoyable movie indeed.

As you can see, there is a lot of variety and every week we've had between 11 to 13 people in our cinema. A really good score as there are only 15 of us.

Oh yeah: TNFMN stands for: "Thursday night - foreign movie night".

Film poster for Noi Albinoi showing a man juxtaposed in front of a beach scene
Noi Albinoi poster
Sa Som i Himmelen film poster showing a smiling couple
Sa Som i Himmelen poster
Lila dit ca  film poster showing a beautiful young blonde woman with her arms crossed and slightly smiling
Lila dit ca poster
This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.