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54 Degrees South - Petra Gut Contemporary AG

David Yarrow

54 Degrees South

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54 DEGREES SOUTH
South Georgia - 2018

South Georgia is raw and exposed. The mountains rise from the most intimidating of seas, and there is a palpable feeling of life on the edge. Meanwhile, the wind on the island is often its most defining characteristic. Wind is not easy to convey... show more
54 DEGREES SOUTH
South Georgia - 2018

South Georgia is raw and exposed. The mountains rise from the most intimidating of seas, and there is a palpable feeling of life on the edge. Meanwhile, the wind on the island is often its most defining characteristic. Wind is not easy to convey in a photograph, but it’s a challenge one must take on if a true sense of place is going to be portrayed in a single still image.

It’s tough to do a good job in capturing the enormity of it all, the wind, and the sense of the final frontier. This was my best chance, as these magnificent king penguins offered scale and perspective and they were in a perfect spot. But shooting in high and violent seas from a Zodiac boat in limited light is as tough as it gets.

You just hope that one shot comes out. I don’t think there was much skill involved—just an appetite to get soaking wet and very cold. But I have learned one important lesson over the years, and that is never to compromise on shutter speed. With modern cameras, ISO ratings must always be compromised first. A little more noise is far better than camera shake, and on a boat in these seas, anything longer than 1/2,500th of a second is dangerous. I have made too many mistakes in the past in these situations. It is so disappointing, as the moment is lost forever.

The high seas near land are a test of everything in the camera bag, but that’s good. As Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

This is not the most commercial photograph, but it was the only printable image captured from the most challenging 20 minutes of photography.
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