Photographing Penguins on South Georgia Island

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My first South Georgia Island expedition was in 2012; we circumnavigated South Georgia before heading to the Falkland Islands. It would be three years before I would return for my second visit. South Georgia is located in a remote part of the world and is fairly difficult to get to, for me it required several flights. My journey started in New Jersey where I took a flight to Dallas Texas. Next I flew to Santiago Chile. I spent a two days there before continuing on to Puerto Arenas and then to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands where we boarded our vessel for the 3-day, 900 mile sea crossing.

The raw, natural environment provides a beautiful sanctuary and breeding ground for the plentiful wildlife found on the islands. During both of  my trips we made several landings, including; Right Whale Bay, Gold Harbour, Fortuna Bay, St. Andrew’s Bay and Salisbury Plain. I tried at most of the locations to include the landscapes to give a sense of place to my images.

Gold Harbour is a small bay that is located 5 miles south-southwest of Cape Charlotte, along the east end of South Georgia. It was named for the golden light that would hit the cliffs in the morning. It was also one of my favorite landings. While I was there on my second visit the conditions were difficult for photography. It was wet/slushy and messy. Visibility from time to time was almost zero.

My targeted subjects for both trips were the variety of penguins that call South Georgia home. I had the opportunity to observe and photograph six different species of penguin, including; Gentoo, King, Macaroni, Rockhopper, Chinstrap and Magellenic. The King Penguins were my favorites and just seeing one up close in-person was way more than I had ever hoped for. During our time at the big colonies we saw many “Oakum Boys.” The young King Penguins were named because their brown color that looks like the rolls of oakum (rope made from hemp fibers) once used to caulk old wooden ships.

Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Island

Oakum Boys ~ Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Island

Have you been to a remote location just to photograph the unique flora and funa? If so feel free to share your own images in the comments below.

About Author Denise Ippolito

Denise Ippolito is a full time professional photographer, international workshop leader, and creative artist living in New Jersey. Most recently one of Denise’s images was selected as the "Birds" Category Winner in the prestigious Nature's Best 2016 Windland Smith Rice International Awards Competition. In 2015 she also won the Category for "Art in Nature" in the Nature's Best 2015 International Awards Competition.
In 2010 and again in 2014 Denise received a Highly Honored award in the same Nature's Best competition. Also in 2014 one of her images was selected as part of the People's Choice Awards Top 50 Images in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. She has also won several PSA (Photographic Society of America) awards. Her images have been published in magazines and text books, sold as greeting cards, calendars and most recently featured in a Sierra Club Documentary. Six of her images hung in the distinguished Birds of the World Exhibit featured at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Denise travels extensively presenting slide shows, lectures and seminars and teaching photography and Photoshop. Her workshops feature a variety of subjects including: avian, flower, landscape and urbex (urban-exploration) photography.


  • James Fennessy

    Spectacular images and cool backstory. I can’t wait to photograph penguins in the Falklands with Denise Ippolito later this year. Denise runs great workshops like this all over the world. I recently returned from her Brown Bear workshop in Katmai National Park with over 7,000 of my personal best bear photographs and great memories. I will attend her big cats workshop in Kenya later this month, and expect it to be at least as fantastic and unforgettable as the bear workshop.