Going wild in Antarctica


“Everywhere we went, my mouth would open in awe – it’s such an amazing place full of breathtaking scenery and wildlife.”

For award-winning National Geographic nature photographer Michaela Skovranova, shooting in Antarctica is one of the world’s greatest photographic assignments. As part of the OPPO Uncover Antarctica expedition, she says she was fortunate to spend a good deal of time on the ice where she and other members on the expedition were able to see a plethora of wildlife.

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Capturing the perfect moment: a shaft of light pinpoints a lone penguin.

“We visited some gentoo penguin colonies and I was able to get some beautiful portraits of the penguins and their plumage, in intimate detail. The fledglings were covered in their new growth and were getting ready to go to sea. And what was amazing, was none of them feared humans.

“They had likely never seen humans before and didn’t consider us predators, especially on land. It was quite incredible to see them go about their day and seem completely oblivious to our presence.”

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Gentoo penguins have streamlined bodies and strong, paddle-shaped flippers that propel them up to 22 mph (36 kph), faster than any other diving bird.

This indifference to the presence of the expedition team wasn’t limited to the penguins.

During the trip, a pod of over 20 humpback whales began to circle the expedition ship, just as the team were setting off in their kayaks to go exploring. “Mothers and their calves would ever so slowly rise beside sea-kayakers,” says Skovranova.

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A humpback whale ventures close to the expedition ship.

With the wildlife so assured, photographing these Antarctic creatures was a pleasure for Skovranova, who was in the White Continent to road-test the newest OPPO flagship smartphone, the OPPO Find X2 Pro, in some of the most stunning yet harshest conditions on the planet.

“With the Find X2 Pro, you’re able to modify exposure, giving you as much control of the picture as possible. It handles low light really well and focusses very efficiently, which is very handy when you’re photographing wildlife.”

“The beauty of shooting with a smartphone was I could totally immerse myself in Antarctica because it’s a camera right there with you and you can get really close to things, so the way you capture images changes.”

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leopard seal lazes on the ice.

Working with an experienced team in Antarctica was also critical to this photography expedition. The team knows the region and understands how conditions can change quickly with minimal notice. “A lot of success in photography comes from having people around you who can help with shots,” Skovranova explains.

“For example, as we explored small bays in the Zodiacs (inflatable boats), the expedition team knew how close they could maneuver us to icebergs and wildlife and they were always aware of changes happening around us.”

Ultimately, photographing wildlife is all about being ready. “I always had my phone ready to shoot, which is key for any wildlife photography.”

Learn more about Michaela Skovranova’s journey with the OPPO Uncover Antarctica expedition here.

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