2022 Edition

Kirstin Jones

The Great Trek, 2019

Port Charcot, Antarctica

Category - Polar Wonders

Category winner
The Great Trek, 2019

In the last decade the conservation status of Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) has improved from “near-threatened” to “least-concern” and the population is currently considered stable. However, as for so many species, habitat loss, human disturbance and climate change all pose significant threats. In order to nest, these small, flightless birds must trek several hundred metres, often across expanses of snow, to establish their breeding colonies on snow-free rocky ridges at a distance from the coast. I have spent hours watching these penguins struggle and slide their way up and down to the sea, and admire their tenacity and spirit. On this grey Antarctic day I had been photographing near the colony and was heading back to the boat with cold, wet feet when I saw this trio trudging across the snow. I wanted to capture the sense of scale and the way the penguins were dwarfed by the stark mountains in the background. I enjoy using black and white and felt that this image would be more dramatic in this format.

80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 Lens - 1/800 sec at f/11 ISO 400