Alex Cornell’s 5D Mark II Back-Up Proves Itself in ‘Flipped Iceberg: Shooting in Antarctica’

by Karin GottschalkLeave a Comment

Multitalented creative Alex Cornell of San Francisco agency Moonbase shares how he did it in his video about shooting flipped icebergs at the disappearing Antarctic ice shelf. An old back-up camera, Adobe Lightroom, a couple of great lenses and “an incredible bag” by Lowepro helped him pull it off.

There isn’t much that I miss from the old analog film era but there is one thing that has irked me just a little since the DSLR moviemaking (and stills photography) revolution began in 2008 with the release of Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II. The need for equipment upgrades to get the audio, cinematic and photographic quality you really need.

We’ve lived through a few years now of ‘almost but not quite’. Sometimes it feels as if some camera makers are crippling successive camera models, making the latest one almost good enough but not quite enough to hold on to, forcing the need for constant trade-ins until the one you've been wanting all along is finally here. Big difference to the analog era when many working pros relied on cameras and lenses years if not decades old.

I bought the 5D Mark II on the say-so of my best friend who was in photo-optical R&D at the time and was adamant that this would finally be the way to go. Not quite. The mirrorless revolution that kicked into gear several years afterwards was what I had been waiting for and I am grateful that now it is in full swing.

But I’m not one to trade-in old gear because it doesn’t live up to the hype. I’d much rather repurpose it and use it for what it is really good for. As did Alex Cornell when shooting the photographs for Flipped Iceberg: Shooting in Antarctica.

As Alex says of his venerable Canon 5D Mark II, “I consider it a good back-up camera.” And not one that he’d miss if it fell into the icy waters of the Antarctic. It proved its worth in documenting the intense blues and high-key landscapes of the melting Antarctic ice shelf. [bctt tweet=”Canon EOS 5D Mark II proves itself amongst the icebergs in Flipped Iceberg: Shooting in Antarctica”]

Adobe’s Lightroom also proved its value in extracting those blues and that high-key subtlety he saw with his own eyes. Alex walks us through how he exclusively relied on Lightroom for post-processing his raw stills and raw video footage. Like many Australians I learned Photoshop years ago in my magazine era and stick with it, so that was a great reminder of Photoshop’s other iteration, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and its capabilities.

Alex follows by sharing the lenses he used in the Antarctic and why, and then completes his video by showing us how he publicized his project though a number of blogs and social media sites. Informative, entertaining and a glimpse into a place few of us will ever have the privilege of visiting, at a time when it is undergoing such massive change and will never be the same again.

Flipped Iceberg: Shooting in Antarctica


Via Youtube Description:

This is a brief overview of what it was like to shoot in Antarctica and some behind the scenes of my flipped iceberg photos. Gear overview, video of the iceberg, Lightroom editing screencast, and a little bit on press outreach and analytics.


Intro: 0:00
Outerwear: 1:09
Camera:: 1:54
Iceberg Video: 2:41
Lightroom Screencast: 3:21
Lenses: 9:25
Camera Bag: 10:35
Press: 11:39
Conclusion: 14:00

Large format, fine art prints of the iceberg photo are available exclusively here:

Alex Cornell - Flipped Iceberg

This stunning glacial portrait was photographed in Cierva Cove, Antarctica. An incredibly rare sight–this photo reveals the beautiful colors and pure surface of the underside of an iceberg.

First, I must mention that these photos are incredible because of the subject matter: an upside down iceberg. There wasn’t anything remarkable about my technique. The video provides a lot of great information, but it’s worth noting that this was a particularly rare and unusual sight. It was really cool to see an image of nature go viral, without the need for any gimmicks. Of all the things I’ve made in my life, I would *not* have expected a photo of ice in water to end up being covered so widely.

Antarctica is not a normal place. Shooting there requires a lot of specific gear augmentation. In the video you’ll see my normal get-up. I wore a balaclava and sunglasses for the cold and sun protection, a chest mounted GoPro, Hestra snow gloves, and Arcteryx outerwear. Antarctica is cold, but the Peninsula is relatively warm at 2 degrees celsius. The biggest problem is the unrelenting sun being reflected off of every surface imaginable.

When we would explore coves we’d travel on Zodiac boats. These boats are awesome; they are fast, bouncy, and scary as all hell if it’s wavy. As such, I’d bring my old Canon 5DMKII any time I’d go out on the boat. There was a lot of splashing, rain, snow and general chaos on the boats, and I figured it was the safer bet. I alternated between the 16-35mm 2.8 and the 100-400mmm II, recently released.

This stunning glacial portrait was photographed in Cierva Cove, Antarctica. A tabular iceberg floats calmly in a moody Antarctic sea.

This stunning glacial portrait was photographed in Cierva Cove, Antarctica. A tabular iceberg floats calmly in a moody Antarctic sea.

I was alternating between shooting video and images when we came upon the iceberg. I haven’t previously shared video of the experience so it’s in the video above for the first time. In both video and image mode, I shoot RAW, so the images you are seeing are duller than the final ones.

Read full story at “Flipped Iceberg: Shooting in Antarctica”

(cover photo credit: snap from Alex Cornell)

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