Places, Experiences and Objects to Dream About

This post is the first in the series Places, Experiences and Objects to Dream About, which profiles marvelous locations, unique life experiences and objects of interest to modern explorers that Kike discovers during his travels.

Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella). Stromness (South Georgia). Photo © KIKE CALVO


The idea for this new column came up as I was staring at a small fur seal puppy playing with my rubber boots in a remote island of the South Atlantic. I felt compelled to transmit the emotion, admiration, surprise and ¨overwhelmness¨ of experiencing life as a photographer. The result is a series of colorful vignettes that I will be sharing with my readers as I come across the new and unexpected.

Stromness was a former whaling station on the northern coast of South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic. It was also the destination of one of the greatest polar explorers, Sir Ernest Shackleton, during his unprecedented rescue journey in 1916 . I cannot even imagine what went through the mind of this intrepid Irish explorer when he first stepped on these distant islands.

Hundreds of fur seal pups surfing the waves. As far as I could see, both on land and in the sea, my visual canvas was filled with these curious creatures.  I started using my telephoto lens, but after a while, I decided to get in the water while still wearing all my heavy winter clothing gear, to capture such scene with a wide angle. I did not take into consideration that the task would draw me in much deeper than knee level, and soon enough all the freezing water started entering my boots. I stayed in the water shooting, lowering my self to the surface level, while the waves crashed against me. It was not until my ship, the National Geographic Explorer, made the last call and my colleagues threatened to leave me there overnight, that I decided to step out. Stromness captured a little piece of my heart. And for this reason, I decided to launch this new series with the surfing pup seals at this remote destination.

And remember: Never Stop Dreaming!

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Stromness in South Georgia by KIKE CALVO
Antarctic fur seal pup (Arctocephalus gazella). Stromness (South Georgia). Photo © KIKE CALVO


Stromness in South Georgia by KIKE CALVO
Antarctic fur seal pups (Arctocephalus gazella). Stromness (South Georgia). Photo © KIKE CALVO


Learn more:

Kike Calvo’s visual diary as a National Geographic Expert on the South Georgia and Falklands Expedition aboard the National Geographic Explorer


Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Award-winning photographer, journalist, and author Kike Calvo (pronounced key-keh) specializes in culture and environment. He has been on assignment in more than 90 countries, working on stories ranging from belugas in the Arctic to traditional Hmong costumes in Laos. Kike is pioneering in using small unmanned aerial systems to produce aerial photography as art, and as a tool for research and conservation. He is also known for his iconic photographic project, World of Dances, on the intersection of dance, nature, and architecture. His work has been published in National Geographic, New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair, among others. Kike teaches photography workshops and has been a guest lecturer at leading institutions like the School of Visual Arts and Yale University. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic blog Voices. He has authored nine books, including Drones for Conservation; So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?; Staten Island: A Visual Journey to the Lighthouse at the End of the World; and Habitats, with forewords by David Doubilet and Jean-Michel Cousteau. Kike’s images have been exhibited around the world, and are represented by the National Geographic Image Collection. Kike was born in Spain and is based in New York. When he is not on assignment, he is making gazpacho following his grandmother’s Andalusian recipe. You can travel to Colombia with Kike: