Michael Hrankowski  

PENGUIN TAI CHI by Michael Hrankowski

January 2022 - PENGUIN TAI CHI

About the Image(s)

One of our shore excursions while visiting South Georgia took us to a huge colony of King Penguins - tens of thousands of them. Our time on shore was up and I was hurrying back to the Zodiac, I happened to look up and saw this little guy/gal on the top of a ridge. S/he was just standing there and I took a couple of static images. I was about to stash my camera when s/he struck this pose and was able to fire off a couple of shots. Editing was limited to cropping, denoise and sharpening with some dodging and burning. Hope you all enjoy it.

Location: South Georgia
1/500 sec at f/16 @ ISO 1250
18-135 @ 135 (205mm FFE)

This round’s discussion is now closed!
9 comments posted

Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Hi Michael, What a great pose this penguin did for you! These unexpected opportunities are always the best images. I really like how the edge of the grassy area and the rock lead the eye right to the penguin. The yellow color on the penguin also lead right into the pose. My only suggestion is to take down some more of the brightness in the water behind the penguin a bit. I really enjoy taking and viewing wild life photos and this one is very special!   Posted: 01/11/2022 04:23:05

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thanks, Mary Ann, for your comments. The background is actually a snow covered mountain and a glacier ("glass-see-ur", as our British guide pronounced it). Definitely challenging lighting conditions! That was the best that I could do with the brightness of the background. First adjustment was global with the highlight slider all the way to the left. Then I did a luminosity mask and further reduced the highlights. I tried using the exposure slider with the luminosity mask active, but that just made the snow look a very unnatural gray. Best I could do under the circumstances.   Posted: 01/11/2022 05:31:18

Kieu-Hanh Vu   Kieu-Hanh Vu
Hi Michael,
Great shot! I like the clean background, the crossing areas of the ridge, and the sole penguin (out of 10,000 penguins) in Tai Chi pose. The snow over the mountains and the glacier in the background are quite a challenge for getting a sharper image. I am glad that you did not miss this shot, and I do hope that you can fix the overexposed areas in post processing.   Posted: 01/14/2022 23:31:47

Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
Ha! What an amusing shot! Who knew that penguins would move like that? Glad you had your camera out and ready. Otherwise a quick movement like that would be lost. Certainly the bright glacial ice in the background presents a challenging light situation. One option is to crop some of the bright sky out, so the eye moves straight to the penguin. With that kind of crop, it is more identifiable that glaciers are in the background.   Posted: 01/19/2022 16:45:43

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thank you all for your comments. Regarding the bright background - the image depicts the lighting conditions quite accurately, even with me bringing down the highlights to the maximum. However I didn't want to lose the contrast between the penguin and the snow - intent was to give somewhat of a silhouette effect. On Ruth's suggestion, I changed the crop to a 4x5 ratio to eliminate as much of the bright snow as possible. Does this improve the image?   Posted: 01/21/2022 09:33:55
Comment Image
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
I like the original image better. The new crop is a great idea, but it takes away valuable negative space this image needs.   Posted: 01/24/2022 09:20:52
Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Michael, I like both versions of the photograph. The negative space is nice and in the second version, the penguin really just stands out. I also read with interest your comments about perspective....the view of the artist and that of the audience. I struggle with that myself! One of my teachers advised me to treat my photographs as art and I am the artist. Some will like and some will not and that is ok, it is my art. Her words have really helped me as I develop my skills and style.   Posted: 01/30/2022 15:20:14

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Hello Michael,

What a fantastic trip you had and what great memories you will have forever!
I have read and understood the point of view of the others in the group. In my opinion, we sometimes have to let go of the rules and embrace what is before us as we see it. I like your image as a documentary-style photograph. I consider what is in the background as valuable to this image's story. The raging water and light do everything to draw my eye away from the subject. But the pose of the penguin says, to me, "come back and look at me."

Well done, Micheal, I love it!!

LT   Posted: 01/24/2022 09:18:36

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thank you, LuAnn, for your comments. It's all about perspective, isn't it - that of the artist vs. that of the audience. The conundrum for an aspiring artist is always when to take guidance from others and when to trust one's own gut. What is great about the DD groups is getting insight into how others view one's work.   Posted: 01/24/2022 09:42:42