Tonight we had a guest speaker who gave a photo presentation on his trip to the Antarctica. It was a fascinating two hour presentation. I felt I had learned a lot about one specific type of travel photography from this man. His website is at "davidburren.com". Here, you can find the pictures that David showed this evening at the camera club. In the two weeks of his travel, David shot 11,500 pictures, storing them in two 500GB hard drive (one for backup). Apart from being treated to beautiful shots of the Antarctic, I got to learn about how pros go about their business, some of the cameras they carry, the equipment casualties encountered by some, etc. David also brought his gear to show us.
Tips I picked up:
David explained why he prefers to shoot manually. What I picked up was that he uses a programmed mode such as Aperture Priority to get some tests shots, and he refers to the on-camera histogram to check for highlights. Then he starts to shoot everything in manual mode. That way, there's less changes to exposure as the camera tries to interprete each subject when shooting different areas of light and dark composition.
For white balance he uses a little gray card ("WhiteBal" card), which he shoots for reference to calibrate his pictures later in Photoshop. (A quick search on the internet when I got home shows that there's quite a bit of scepticism out there about using Whitebal card, versus using just any gray card from the camera store. Hence, I now learned to use the Gray Eyedropper tool in Levels to do this. But I think I'll stick to my Expodisc for manually setting white balance as I shoot. I am not fond of extensive post processing)
To prevent condensation (in extreme cold condition), put the camera in an airtight bag for the camera to slowly acclimatize to higher temperature. Going from warm to cold is OK. No problem on the camera. This tip will be useful for going to the snow. To keep the sea spray away, David draped a towel over the camera and hooded lens.
David had a polarizer with each of his lens for the Antarctic trip, but he does not use it all the time. I had always wondered about the use of a polarizer in the snow. I suppose this answers my question.