Leica contributor Oliver Vogler took a trip to Antarctica. He was accompanied by Travis the traveling trinovid. We interviewed Oliver to learn more about their adventures at the south pole.
Leica Sport Optics: How come you travelled to Antarctica and why was Travis with you?
Oliver: We frequently accompany the tour operator ‚Oceanwide Expeditions‘ on trips to Antarctica and the Arctic. I deliberately chose Travis as my travel buddy, because I wanted to observe biodiversity at this special place. Also, I borrowed Travis to our clients and crew so they could convince themselves of its supreme precision and uncompromising performance. Especially the MV Plancius-crew and Captain Levakov and his crew made extensive usage of this offer.
Leica Sport Optics: What was the most impressive view you had with Travis?
Oliver: Definitely a pod of about 15 orca whales with their calves that played about an hour with our boat. I’ve never seen anything like that in my whole life. Orca whales are one of several species in the dolphin family. Sometimes they jump high out of the water, just like in that movie „Free Willy“. It’s pretty amazing. Although they’re also called ‚killer whales’ they seemed rather peaceful to us. The whales were all moving in different distances from our our ship, but thanks to the easy handling of the focusing wheel and the excellent optical performance I was able to permanently keep them in focus. I could make out all the details: splashing drops of water glistening in the sun, the small eyes, the blowholes and even the teeth.
Leica Sport Optics: What kind of birds did you see?
Oliver: Gentoo penguins, Macaroni penguins and Adélie penguins breed on the Antarctic continent. There are about 20 species of birds that are able to fly. Among them the Southern royal albatross, snow petrel and Southern fulmar. Many of them breed on the ice-free inland mountains. These rugged mountaintops literally stand out of the white snow desert. With the Trinovid I was able to observe the Southern royal albatross, the black-browed albatross and the wandering albatross.
Leica Sport Optics: What are the Trinovid’s assets for these extreme climatic conditions?
Oliver: The Trinovid is built to function reliably in blistering heat as well as in severe cold. We had temperatures between −10 and −15 degrees Celsius. Yet I was able to operate the control elements without any problems. The handling of the eyecups, the diopter compensation, the interpupillary distance and the focussing wheel worked as smooth as always. And Travis is so elaborately constructed, that it is easy to use even when I wear thick winter mittens. The nitrogen-filled magnesium body resists internal fogging, and also it is lightweight, handy and splash-proof.
Leica Sport Optics: How did Travis perform under the extreme lighting conditions?
Oliver: First of all – if the sun is shining it gets really really light at the Antarctic. Ice and snow reflect the sunlight and everything seems to be just endlessly plain white. But you can still make out subtle color shades. The Trinovid depicts these shades of white, blue and green in an absolute realistic way. I could always find these frail contrasts and details in the vast plains. Backlight was no issue at all. Even with the sun being low I had a plastically view that was rich in contrast.
Leica Sport Optics: Where will Travis go next?
Oliver: I will take Travis with me to the Northern hemisphere, to Spitzbergen. New challenges are waiting there for us. I am planning on observing polar bears and seals. Also, mammals like caribou, musk ox, wolf, Arctic fox and Arctic hare live in that region. It’s definitely gonna be very exciting.