Behind the Lens
Penguins are pretty big. Did you worry one might hit you?
I was hit once, quite hard in the head. I was in a safe place—out of their way—but a penguin went way off course, flew through the air, and landed on my head. He just casually stood up and walked away. A 70-pound bird to the head hurts a lot, but I’m lucky I’ve never been injured. I was also hit by a leopard seal. Its strategy is to fly out of the water and knock over penguins like bowling pins.
How close were you to the penguins in this shot?
I was about three feet away. My camera was in a [protective] Seacam housing; they were sending up so much spray and ice it would’ve destroyed my camera. The noises and thuds when they landed on the ice were incredible. They knocked the air out of themselves and made a squeak. We were lucky in that there was really only one opening where the penguins entered and exited the ocean.
Did you enjoy living with them?
The first night in camp, the penguins followed me home. They stood outside and bugled all night. By the third night, I had a hard time sleeping, and the romanticism began to wane.