The Penguin Project

As someone who has explored the drama, the mood, and the abstraction of landscape, I haven’t spent as much time working with the animals that are in the environment.

 

During my time visiting the Antarctic, every landing had loads of penguins and other birds. Penguin colonies are irresistible (with the exception of the smell) and they accept a human presence quite easily.

 

Now that I have been in the less hectic environment of my studio, the penguins with their comic dignity, their stoic survival struggles, their social bonds, and apparent hierarchies have inspired me to go outside my normal genre to present a collection to the public.

 

The birds mostly ignore humans and go on about their business of nesting, feeding, breeding (and occasionally fighting). I captured a lot these animals’ images because I was there and it was exciting, but didn’t spend too much time on them while I produced my landscape exhibitions.

 

I have seen a number of species of penguins: Adélies with their black heads and beaks, Chinstraps—a descriptive moniker!—and the familiar orange-beaked Gentoos.

 

These birds live in large colonies in the islands and bays of the Antarctic peninsula. They are small and often comical, sliding down icy hills on their bellies, waddling and clumsy on land, yet powerful and graceful in the water.

 

They hunt in the sea for krill, small fishes, and squid; they emerge from the water cleansed of the droppings they collect from their nesting sites.

 

The stately Kings have large populations on South Georgia Island. They have silvery coats, yellow “ties” and head markings, and breed in giant colonies that are often mossy and muddy in the spring.

 

They live in harmony with the vicious and aggressive Fur Seals and the enormous Elephant Seals. I was astounded by South Georgia’s biomass (but a “little” anxious around the young, territorial Fur Seals).

 

The true grace and dignity of the Kings enchanted me. I remember telling my shipmates after my landing at South Georgia Island’s Salisbury Plain: “There are many important photographic experiences. Today was one of my most important life experiences.”

Copyright © 2016, Sam Krisch. All rights reserved.