This was partly because her first view was of 5000 mating penguins, but mainly because there was just so much she wanted to capture.
So it was no surprise that she shot about 18,000 images in the six days she explored the world’s coldest continent.
“I was so overwhelmed by all the seals, the birds, the penguins,” she said.
“Then I thought, ‘this is crazy, we’re at the bottom of the world’. ”
It was a spectacular start to what she described as the greatest experience of her career – leading a 20-person wildlife photography tour through Antarctica.
The tour left from Ushuaia, on the southernmost tip of Argentina, and sailed down the Beagle Channel and Drake Passage before landing at the South Shetland Islands.
“When we first stepped out onto the Antarctic continent, there were about 5000 mating gentoo penguins and it was just amazing watching all their different behaviours,” Cearns said.
Even though it was the southern hemisphere’s summer, the mercury reached a high of only about 5C during last month’s tour.
Strict rules meant the photographers had to be at least 5m from penguins and 30m from seals.
Cearns’ next tour, in June, will be something very different – Cambodian bear sanctuaries.
For more information, go to houndstoothstudio.com.au