Photog Goes to Extremes

by Warren Woodberry Jr. on February 19, 2006 for New York Daily News

New York Daily News 2-19-06

On a mission to teach young people about the effects of global warming on nature, a local photographer journeyed to “the white continent” – Antarctica.

What Holly Gordon brought back is showcased in “Antarctica: Journey to the Extreme,” an exhibit on display at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

“I hope people can comprehend the real seriousness of the matter, because Antarctica is far from home,” said Gordon, of Bay Shore.

The debut exhibition features 40 photos of icebergs, adrift in eerie waters, snow-covered mountains under stark cloud cover and festive penguin colonies.

Through her images, Gordon describes Antarctica – the coldest, windiest and driest place on Earth. Yet even with the harsh environment, ice caps have given way to atmospheric changes caused by burning fossil fuels.

“The air in Antarctica is the purest that I had ever seen,” said Gordon, adding, “but the amount of pollution has increased over the past 20 years.”

Antarctica sprawls over an area nearly as large as the U.S. and Canada combined, and more than 98% of it is covered by snow that is more than 2,000 feet thick. Gordon said that more than 90% of the world’s glacial ice is in Antarctica, and it is melting at an alarming rate.

Gordon, 63, photographed Antarctica at the dawn of the millennium between 1999 and 2000 and stayed for several days. Her journey was with a group of photographers guided by the Lindlad ecotourism group.

“I believe nature senses I’m on her side … she gives me these gifts, because I’m not that swift,” Gordon said of the image.

Gordon used 35-mm. film to shoot the photographs, which are accompanied by fact-filled descriptions of the continent’s ecological make-up and history.

After 20 years of teaching middle and high school students, Gordon began shooting in 1995. She has since traveled to such distant locales as Easter Island, the Falkland Islands and New Zealand to take photographs.

“I have this insatiable need to be in places on the planet that people don’t go,” said Gordon. “To me, that’s spiritual and I feel very close to nature [(there]).”

Although Gordon is a retired school teacher, she continues to educate children on the wonders of the world through her imagery. Gordon describes photography as her second career and her first love.

The images will be on view in the Hall of Science’s LeCroy Gallery through March 26. Later this year, the exhibit will be featured at the Long Island Science Center in Riverhead.