Behind the Photo: Paul Nicklen’s Leaping Penguins

Paul Nicklen
Come up with any caption you want, only Paul Nicklen knows what was really going on. (Photo by Paul Nicklen)

When you see a photo like Paul Nicklen’s shot of leaping penguins above, it’s not difficult for a narrative to form. The photo is so clear and action-packed that it feels suited for a caption contest or a Far Side cartoon.

But there is a real story behind the photo, and the man behind the camera has it.

“I was in the Ross Sea in Antarctica working on a National Geographic story about emperor penguins. I was photographing the penguins launching themselves onto the ice from the water. I would point my camera at one spot, wait, and then ten penguins would fly up to the right, six to the left, and one would fly over me—it was extremely hard to get a good shot. It became quite comical to see hundreds of penguins flying out of the water and knocking the air out of themselves when they landed on their bellies. I felt a little bit sorry for them, but they were fine. This is what their bodies are designed to do. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen —> Read More Here


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