The Art of Conception
Stefan was lucky to find this isolated couple courting – many pairs had already mated by the time conditions allowed him to access this remote spot. The serene backdrop of sea ice and a distant stranded iceberg softly lit by the setting sun gives no hint that the Antarctic winter is about to intensify.
Emperor penguins form a new bond each year and are monogamous for the season. Males perform a courtship call until chosen by a female. The female lies on the sea ice and signals that she is ready before the male climbs onto her back. ‘The male struggled to keep his balance,’ says Stefan.
Nikon D810 + 400mm f2.8 lens; 1/400 sec at f5.6; ISO 800
Atka Bay, Queen Maud Land, Antarctica
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Stefan Christmann, Germany
Receiving a photography scholarship from the North American Nature Photography Association in 2005 was a life-altering experience for Stefan. Working as a scientist in Antarctica in 2012, he used every free minute to document the life of a nearby emperor penguin colony. He returned in 2017 to complete a comprehensive body of work about one of nature's most gripping survival stories.