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Contentment II

Contentment II

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Snow Hill, Antarctica – 2010

LARGE: 65” x 56” • 80” x 71” (Framed). Edition of 12

STANDARD: 43” x 37” • 58” x 52” (Framed). Edition of 12

This is a sister image to one that was first published in my book Wild Encounters. I
have never talked with much enthusiasm about this photograph, because it was
taken in the middle of the day on a 300mm lens and the picture-postcard cliché is
something of an outlier for me. It is far from my favorite work, but the reality is that it resonates with many parents, and I do understand its popularity.

In any case, it doesn’t really matter what the photographer thinks. We can suffer
from being horribly subjective with our pet photographs and then miss the appeal
of images that others like. This photograph is popular presumably because it is cute
and allegorical. It is also in sharp focus, which was not a challenge on this day, as
there was so much light. The best light gives the cameraman freedom to do
whatever he likes.

Emperor penguins are not easy to access. It involves a commitment of
time and money to travel to Antarctica, which is the only place to find them. Even then, the vast majority of the 60,000 annual visitors who travel to this massive continent will not run across an emperor penguin. Getting to the Antarctic Peninsula is relatively easy, but getting to a rookery is another leg of the journey— and a leg too far for most. I guess that is why this image has not been repeated time and time again. It really involved no skill at all; I just had to get there early in the season, lie on the ice, and wait.

I think the best time to visit Antarctica is very early in the spring. I really don’t like going to polar regions wearing a T-shirt. It seems only fair to feel the cold when there.

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