Daisy receives a visitor while shooting in Antarctica. (Photo: Gerhard “Guts” Swanepoel)
On where she’s headed next
I just came back from Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, where I was photographing polar bears and their cubs. At this time of year, they’re emerging from their winter dens for the first time. In late March I’ll head back to the Norwegian Arctic and the Svalbard Archipelago, also looking for polar bears. I’ll spend the first week of this assignment scouting the frozen fjords on snowmobile. Then, for three weeks after that, I’ll be onboard a small ship cruising the ice edge. This will be my first time visiting Svalbard at this time of year. I’m looking forward to that special light that characterizes the end of winter and beginning of spring.
On her essential gear
I work in some of the most challenging environments on Earth, so I need to rely on extremely trustworthy and sturdy equipment. Nikon has never disappointed me. I always carry at least two bodies — one half frame and one full frame. One is mounted with a wide-angle zoom lens, usually 24/70mm f/2.8, and the other is mounted with a long lens, usually 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6. This allows me to cover the full range from 24mm to 600mm. Using zoom lenses as opposed to fixed telephotos gives me more flexibility when shooting wildlife, where one’s ability to move is often restricted. I do not travel light! My equipment also includes two Mountaineer carbon fibre Gitzo tripods, a ball head and a fluid head for filming, a pair of Nikon EDG 8X32 binoculars, a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone, an underwater Aquatech case, a boom pole, a GoPro and a Garmin GPS unit.
On how to get the shot
In wildlife photography it’s essential to know your subject, so you can anticipate behaviour and catch the magic moment. It takes time and knowledge to capture their personalities and — in a single shot, in a fraction of a second — freeze those anthropomorphic expressions that are essential to making a connection with the viewer. Returning to the same locations year after year will also give you a better understanding of the light conditions at any given time.