The Holy Grail of Antarctica photography is the full-frame, head-on shot of penguins porpoising. I tried over and over to get it and came up with bupkis.
Penguins porpoise when they swim fast through the water and leap into the air. They porpoise in rafts, and they do so quickly. I’m not sure why penguins porpoise—maybe to get a clear look at their surroundings, or to escape predators, or because they can—but it is great fun to watch. Penguins are as graceful moving through the water as they are clumsy on land.
Image search “porpoising penguins” on the internet and you will see lots of great photos– but none of them are the Holy Grail.
There are two challenges to getting the perfect shot. I already mentioned the first; it is hard to snap porpoising penguins because they move through the water so quickly. The other challenge is distance and setting. It is hard to know where the penguins are and when they will pop up, and typically the setting is a huge distraction anyway. To illustrate this point, here’s one of my average photos of porpoising (I have a zillion such images from our trip):