Rosemarie and Pat Keough’s two hour presentation, Passion and Obsession, on their life and photography in Antarctica on October 31st was one of the most inspirational, beautiful and enriching experience I’ve had in a long time. It was truly a privilege to be in their presence and learn so much about the highest continent through their eyes. Some facts that would interest you:
- The interior of the continent is technically the largest desert in the world and the snow feels like sand.
- 24 hours sunlight throughout the day can easily cause insomnia.
- 99.6% of the continent is ice with 70% of world’s freshwater.
- 200 people get to go every year.
- Antarctica is home to more than 70 lakes that lie thousands of meters under the surface of the continental ice sheet. They are at 22 degrees Celsius with honey comb structures of ice.
- Antarctica does not have a cloud cover (due to global warming) unlike the Arctic.
- Antarctica is home to many volcanoes, only Mount Erebus is known to be active.
It’s almost unfair to talk about their work without the actual photographs. Rosemarie talked about how she spent five hours in the snow with her chin sticking out for almost a month just to focus on and photograph a section of the largest penguin colony. Pat explained his amazing relationship with his wife and how it helped saves their lives in the worst of storms and many other narrow near-death experiences such as hanging off cliffs! Everyone in the audience noticed how both of them would complete the other's sentences very seamlessly. When they first met, it was on a one-month cruise so they had no choice but to get along, and more than 2 decades later their love has only grown.
I explored twenty four months of their lives, as they switched between the pictures of the polar plateau of the interior, the majestic mountainous coast, multitudes of off-lying islands, icy seas, stormy Southern ocean, and delightful colonies of different penguins species, fur seals, mosses, lichen, and many types of algae.
White, with hints of subtle colours, had never been so beautiful before. At one point during the presentation, I was quite moved, longing to take the daring trip myself. You do not have to be a photographer to appreciate the depths of the Keough’s unparalleled photography that included a variety of perspective, geometrical contrasts, panoramic views and close-ups all taken with their plain 30-year old Nikon camera!
The presentation ended with Pat and Rosemarie talking about their cause- Donating all the profits from the books sales to the Save the Albatross Foundation, and other international wildlife charities. There’s much work to be done, if we want to save our environment.
You can visit their website at: http://www.keough-art.com/ and read more about their work.
Time Magazine: http://www.time.com/time/2003
Los Angeles Times:
I wanted to know how this affected them spiritually. They responded that both of them were not religious, but there's definitely that sense of smallness, and the supremacy of nature when they are out there. Pat said that it's extremely energising (and he did a light bounce) and wondered why people get into drugs- all they need is a trip down there! Subhanallah. In winters the ice doubles to twice the original distance. It's easy to tell the different species of penguins apart, especially the Macaroni (hair-styled) penguins. The abandoned shacks preserve the smell of sweat and tobacco until today. Aren't these miraculous signs of Allah (swt)?
I thought about the challenges a Muslim would face if he/she would venture into the cold- How to pray, and how many times a day? In which direction? Our religion has answers to all these questions, Alhamdulillah.