OP – The Blog

November 1st, 2010

European Visions…and Antarctica

Posted By Kevin Schafer

Adult King Penguin with chicks, South Georgia

If you’re guessing that the penguins in this photo are not in Europe, you’d be right. But I am, however…just heading home today from a meeting of the GDT, The Society of German Nature Photography, where I gave a talk on my work documenting endangered species.  As always, it was an inspiring event. Personally,  I feel that  European photographers have – and this is admittedly a gross generalization – a uniquely refined, even poetic, style.  Some of the best work I saw was also the most deceptively simple, with elegant compositions of flowers, grasses and insects.  Simply said, the “euro-style” tends to ignore our obsession with sharpness and detail in favor of light, composition and…a certain mystery.  Yes, they tend to prefer everything blurry which, in itself, is a kind of obsession, but one that views photography as an interpretive form rather than simply a documentary one.
Anyhow, I came away inspired to broaden my own visual vocabulary, and that’s a gift. I suggest you have a look at some of the work here:  GDT – they should be posting the results soon for their 2010 “European Photographer of the Year” competition.

Meanwhile, back to the penguins. This shot, of an adult penguin lost in a sea of furry chicks, is one I took on South Georgia a couple of years ago. Happily, I have a chance to go back next week, as the NatGeo lecturer on the NG Explorer. Maybe this time, I will try this shot again, only blurry!

Nikon D3 with 70-200mm lens


Please leave a comment

  1. Chandira Says:

    That is a great shot!! Wow.
    How many did you take before he was looking directly at the camera, I wonder? :-)
    Well worth your persistence..

  2. Kevin Schafer Says:

    Hi Chandira,

    You are right : I took a lot of frames before he turned his head right towards me – and made the composition work. The best pictures always take time, thought…and luck. Thanks for your comments!

  3. Chandira Says:

    I did wonder, if that was a first time shot you got VERY lucky! It’s probably one of my favourite shots on this site, it just really makes me smile. :-)

    That’s why I love digital so much, take 100, delete 95. I am working at getting those odds way down, and taking more good shots per 100, but it’s a blessing to be able to take so many and do that.

  4. Kevin Schafer Says:


    I agree completely : digital gives you the freedom to experiment, take chances, and have fun. Thanks for commenting, Kevin

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