“Polar Porthole” – Snow Hill Island, Antarctica – David C. Schultz – Featured Photographer
Happy Birthday Mom! Our mom turns the big 60 today and I bet she is thrilled to know we just told the whole world (or maybe just the 10,000 people that follow this blog) So for her birthday David presented us with an amazing penguin (her favorite animal) image.
David has been to Antarctica so many times I think he has started collecting mail there. If not he surely is collecting an amazing portfolio at www.westlightimages.com . Please read his story below and find out that photographing penguins can be pretty difficult to reach, but they are more than willing models once you arrive!
The photograph was taken during a voyage to Antarctica’s, Snow Hill Island which is located along the peninsula in the Weddell Sea. This was my fourth trip to the continent but the first time to this particular location. The emphasis of the trip was reaching and photographing the Emperor penguins. To do so an icebreaker, The Kapitan Khlebnikov, along with two helicopters and a bit of hiking across the sea ice was required.
Once we arrived the ship is parked in the fast-ice as close to the known location of the rookery. In this case it was about a ten mile helicopter flight to reach our base camp set up among the massive icebergs which had been frozen in all winter. From there a hike across the ice brought us to the penguin colony. Several days were spent here in a wide range of weather conditions, none being warm.
On the fourth day out I noticed a brilliant blue and well defined hole in a relatively small iceberg about fifty yards from one of the penguin rookeries. I knew it could be used to frame a shot if the penguins would cooperate. Yah, right. It was the wrong time of day with the light coming in from behind me when I first discovered this opportunity. I knew the blue of the previously melted ice which formed the hole would record much more intensely if the light was not direct. I returned late in the afternoon, much better light, and I proceeded to see if I could coax some penguins into the shot.
Fortunately Emperor penguins, especially the gray, black and white fluffy chicks, are very curious. I laid down on the ice near the penguins and each time they approached me I slid back away slowly making my way to a pre-determined spot in front of the hole. At one point I had about thirty penguins, both chicks and adults, following me across the ice. I only wish I’d set up my video camera ahead of time to record the procession! What an incredible experience!
It took over an hour but once I’d reached my mark I slowly stood up and made my way around to the opposite side of the iceberg where I had one of my cameras set up on a tripod ready to go. At first there were too many penguins framed within the hole. I took a few shots and then just waited around for them to get bored. After about twenty minutes I had what I was after, a profile view of a single penguin perfectly framed by Mother Nature.
Here are links to images which show the group of penguin chicks that started to follow me and a front view of the actual iceberg.
http://youtu.be/rLcpYeiQ_DQ Video I shot of the Emperor penguins
I’ve been to Antarctica seven times now and have two more trips coming up in November. I’ll be taking clients down with me this time on photo tours. Information can be found on my website, www.westlightimages.com
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