Skip to main content

An Unexpected Portrait of a Chinstrap Penguin

By Chris Linder
Chinstrap Penguin by Chris Linder.

The Palmer Station Antarctic Research Base is located on a narrow peninsula at the foot of the Marr Ice Piedmont glacier. The nearest penguin colonies are scattered on tiny islands and accessible only by small boat; no penguins actually nest on the peninsula near the base. So on my first evening at Palmer I had pretty low expectations for wildlife when I headed out to explore the “backyard” area behind the station. Past experience, however, has taught me that bad weather can often yield surprising images. As I made my way to the base of the glacier, postholing through deep snow, I spotted a lone Chinstrap Penguin toddling along. I sat down in the snow and waited. The penguin, completely uninterested in me, proceeded to preen its feathers. Using the snowy background and flat light to my advantage, I focused on the graphic shapes of the black-and-white plumage. The resulting image was my best chinstrap portrait from a month at Palmer Station.

How did photographer Chris Linder capture such great images in the harsh conditions in Antarctica? Science editor Hugh Powell explains. See more of Linder’s Antarctic images, and read about the expedition in On the Antarctic Peninsula, Scientists Witness a Penguin Revolution.
The Cornell Lab

All About Birds
is a free resource

Available for everyone,
funded by donors like you

American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library

Get Living Bird Subscribe Now