Everyone likes to share their travel photos, but when one takes a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula, armed with two Canon cameras and three lenses, the resulting photos belong in an actual book, not just on Facebook or in a family photo album.
Rick Burritt, a Bakersfield High School graduate who now lives in San Diego, knew he had something special in his photos from the trip he took in 2016 with his father, Dick Burritt, who lives in Bakersfield. Now he's self-publishing "White Wilderness: The Antarctic Peninsula," a book that was a year in the making.
"It was like being in a nature wildlife documentary," said Rick, a graphic designer who owns Burritt Design Studio and has always been interested in photography. "It's 360 degrees of wildlife and this incredible, dramatic, scenic place around you. The air is so pure; as a photographer, it's rare to get an opportunity like that, where you can pick your camera up and see (for miles)."
For both Burritts, the trip to the Antarctic Peninsula let them check off their seventh continent visited, though Rick only got his sixth on the way there, with a brief stop in Argentina before boarding the boat to Antarctica. Dick was eager to make the trip, but his wife and usual travel partner, Joan, didn't want to go because of the cold.
"I asked Rick if he would accompany me and he accepted, so we went on a father-son trip," Dick, 86, said. "I was really very happy he agreed to go with me. He provided companionship and, at my age, security."
Any trip to a place like the Antarctic Peninsula is sure to be remarkable, but it meant even more for the two because of their companion.
"It was a very special trip to go on with my dad," Rick, 52, said. "It'd been a long time since the two of us were together (on our own), and experiencing something that is once-in-a-lifetime — it was unique and special."
The trip was about two weeks total, with the two flying from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires, followed by a four-hour flight to Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world), where they got on the expedition ship that took them around the peninsula. They slept and ate on the ship, with shore visits once or twice a day.
Rick's kit included two Canon EOS bodies (a 5Ds and a 5D Mark II), three Canon lenses (a 70-200mm, a 24-70mm and a 17-40mm) and a tripod.
"We were told by the ship leader to spend as much time on deck as possible, and that's what Rick did, all the time," Dick said. "He became a minor celebrity because he was out there so much. One guy would follow him to take pictures of the same places."
While there are photos of the wildlife in his book (including penguins and an elephant seal), Rick was mostly drawn to landscape photos. Many of the panoramas have surprising colors, like tints of green in the water, a bright blue cave and pink skies, brighter and purer than the pink skies Bakersfield sometimes gets from pollution.
"When you visit a place like that, you realize as a human being, you're really kind of insignificant," Rick said. "It felt like Mother Nature allowed us to see things, as opposed to we made a decision to go and see them."
Rick said every day he would see a sight that made him think "It can't get better than this," only to be proven wrong time and time again. One sight that struck him was a vivid magenta he could see through a porthole, the light turning out to be the sunset.
"I'd never seen anything like it in my life," he said. "It was so beautiful. The image doesn't really do it justice. Being on deck and seeing that — it was crazy. It was like the sky was on fire."
One of his favorite photos is the one on the book's cover, with the snowy landscape miles away peeking out through layers of clouds and fog.
"It started opening up and you get a glimpse of the beautiful Antarctic Peninsula in front of you," Rick said. "It was like Mother Nature teasing you. 'OK, I'll let you see.'"
Although a camera was never far from his reach, Rick did take some time to see the antarctic beauty with his own eyes, not just through the lens of his camera.
Rick believes it is critically important for people to realize the responsibility and obligation to protect the remaining wilderness, especially in the polar regions and oceans. He hopes his book, which he is self-publishing, will carry that message.
"The issue of protecting the environment has become a political thing," Rick said. "I don't know how anyone can go to a place like Antarctica and not go away thinking 'This place needs to be preserved.'"
And Rick aims to help how he can: Not just by showing the beauty of the Antarctic Peninsula but also by donating a portion of the proceeds of his book to charities like SeaLegacy and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.
Before Rick finalized his book, he gave his father a prototype of it, which Dick said "evoked tears of gratitude."
World travel is in Rick's blood. He was born in Nigeria, and while he and his sister were young, the family lived all over the world, including Indonesia, Libya, Great Britain and China, for Dick's work in international oil.
"It was an amazing experience," Rick said of living in different countries. "As an adult looking back, I wish I had the same appreciation as a child (that I do now). My perspective on travel and the world in general is based on traveling as a kid and experiencing different cultures."
For future photography trips, Rick wants to return to Iceland soon, and possibly go to Namibia. Based on the success of "White Wilderness," he'd consider publishing another travel photography book.
To anyone considering a trip of their own to the Antarctic Peninsula, Rick has some advice.
"Go with eyes wide open (and) a sense of adventure, spend absolutely every waking minute on deck or ashore and know that you will fall in love with the place."