One big happy family...from a distance
Every year we take a photo of the crew, or most of the crew, and it's always a challenge to come up with a shot that's different from what's been done in previous years. As the winterover group gets larger, it's also harder to figure out a good vantage point from which to set up the camera but this year, Robert Schwarz and Denis Barkats came up with an ingenious idea: mounting a camera on an old weather balloon and sending it aloft to take the picture.
Here's Robert making his way from the BIF (balloon inflation facility) over to the ceremonial pole where about 50 of us were assembled. The camera was tied to the end and set to take a photo every 5 seconds. He kept it warm by wrapping a sock around it and stuffing hand warmers inside. Otherwise, at -80F, the battery in the camera will freeze in a matter of minutes.
There were a few kinks to work out so we were just standing around waiting for the whole assembly to go airborne. The short person in the red parka...that's me.
Finally, the balloon was reeled out and manuevered into place, snapping away photos on its way up. We have a lot of shots that are off-centered because it was a little tricky getting right position and angle for the balloon.