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On thin ice

I started my career shooting the great migration in the Serengeti in the late 1990s, but then switched subject matter to sports for a while, among other things. These photographs of emperor and king penguins are my return to wildlife photography: in this project, I wanted to confront the demanding domain of the Antarctic and try my tool of preference – the large-format 4” x 5” Linhof Master Technika camera – in such a difficult environment. The first and third photographs in the sequence you’ll see here were taken on Coats Land, in Antarctica, and the second is from South Georgia. I needed no special strategy to get close to the penguins, except the patience to wait until they became interested enough in my assistant and I to approach. Before the trip, I asked our guide, David Rootes, if I could fly over the penguin colony for aerial shots. He firmly refused. He is a seasoned polar explorer, but has also chosen to become a sort of custodian of Antarctic nature. The impression Antarctica made on me means that I support this view: I found it was magnificent, pristine, blue and white, but also very fragile. These photographs capture a perennial natural phenomenon – the penguin colonies – but also a potential turning point in the history of the species. Melting ice means their nesting grounds are under threat. I hope these images convince readers that the penguins’ unique habitat deserves to be preserved.

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February 2018 Issue of Lonely Planet
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