Eli Duke

Antarctica / Season 2

Antarctica: McMurdo to Christchurch

Six months after I was back on the ice, this time as a Trades Helper, working with electricians, plumbers, painters, welders, linemen, and utility technicians. I had trouble keeping my camera in my pocket. It felt like I was shooting a world that no one had bothered shooting before because for most of my co-workers it was just a job. They'd soldered, welded, and wired things countless times before, and it didn't seem to matter much that this time it happened to be in Antarctica.

My favorite part was showing them a photo of something they'd seen a thousand times, but from a different angle, and watching them smile.

Who knew welding could be so beautiful?

Antarctica: Karl the Welder
Antarctica: Karl the Welder
Antarctica: Karl the Welder
Antarctica: Drain Plug
Antarctica: Karl the Welder
Antarctica: Karl the Welder
Antarctica: Karl the Welder

After a couple seasons working at McMurdo Station, the big city in Antarctic terms, the novelty started to wear off a little. It's kind of a dirty place, and it's loud. The backup beep of heavy equipment is a constant. And despite being in the middle of nowhere, it can get crowded: there are 1000+ people crammed into one tiny little town.

It never stopped being one of the most magical places I'd ever been, but I started to look toward the horizon. I'd heard about people getting "off station" and going "into the field", either by helicopter or plane. They were carpenters or riggers. They were going out into the cold, out into the wind, out where the science was happening. They came back to McMurdo with scratchy beards and hairy legs. It all seemed like a dream to me, but then that dream came true.