On their feet, the adult Emperors stood 3.5-4 feet tall. We often found them resting upright and observing the scene of the colony. It was an incredible sight to see on the pure white ice with blue icebergs in the background. Their method of transitioning from gliding on their stomach to standing was quite comical. They often put their beaks into the ice to brace themselves and then used their flippers to push against the ice until they could generate enough force to lift their bellies.
They then lifted their head and rocked back onto their feet, occasionally taking a mouthful of ice with them as they stood upright.
Sometimes when they had enough strength, they were able to push themselves vertical without the use of their beak or head. You can see this process in the video below.
Once they made it on their feet, they frequently stretched fully, allowing us to get a true grasp of their 4-foot stature.
We also captured glimpses of them shaking and ruffling their feathers. It was quite a sight as they turned their heads back and forth several times with their wings spread out to the sides.
As described in an earlier post, there was a lot of preening time, typically when standing. It gave me an opportunity to photograph the beautiful curves in their feather coloration.
Their balancing acts were quite impressive as well. I never saw one fall during these preening sessions although I did see some stumble a few times when traversing the sea ice.
When they walked, it wasn’t always with the grace of some of their poses. At times, they were hunched over as if in deep thought.
Other times, they were a bit more upright. When the background scene added to the overall composition, I zoomed out a little and waited for just the right moment to capture them with their foot out during a step.
When the penguins paused in their walks, I watched for pleasing backgrounds to add to the images. It gave me a chance to include some of the actual land of Antarctica, as you can see on the left in the image below. Although we were walking around on a hard surface, I had to keep reminding myself that I was walking on water and that the ocean was beneath me.
At times, the penguins climbed the icebergs and posed on them. Although the Emperors were the highlight and main reason I was there, I enjoyed the textures in the ice and tried to capture that in my images.
Despite their down-to-earth manner of getting up and walking, they were truly majestic.
You can view these images individually and more not posted here in my portfolio located here.