Book Talk: German photographer aims lens at polar wildlife

Wed Dec 9, 2009 9:07am EST
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By Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Earth's polar extremes may seem monochromatic and hostile to life, but a new book shows they are teeming with colorful creatures.

"Antarctic" includes some 180 images, each spread across two large-format pages. It aims to elicit an emotional reaction from wildlife enthusiasts -- and anyone concerned about the environment -- by showing animals in often intimate close-up, contrasted with panoramas of the icy landscapes they inhabit.

Despite the title, about half the pictures are from the northern Arctic. None were altered, but photographer Michael Poliza occasionally tricks the eye.

One image seems impossible, unless the penguin aimed a camera at its own feet. In fact, Poliza took the shot, then flipped it upside-down.

Poliza has published two photo books on Africa, and aims to do one for each continent. He spoke with Reuters about the Polar regions, how digital photography has changed his craft, and why shooting in Europe is a challenge.

Q: Very few people ever get to go to Antarctica. Most get their impressions from popular culture, like "March of the Penguins" or the Werner Herzog documentary. Does Antarctica show evidence of global warming? And did you set out to document endangered places and places?

A: "My exposure was mostly limited to the Antarctic peninsula, where most of the life is happening. Further into the Antarctic, it becomes just ice and not that interesting to a photographer. I visited four times. Have I personally seen climate change and global warming? I have not.

"I was getting a lot of feedback about the effect images have on people. I wanted to give attention to an area that has not really been getting much coverage in terms of images, and   Continued...