Ducking and Diving
The Norwegian coast provides critical foraging habitat for eider ducks (Somateria mollissima) overwintering during the coldest, stormiest months on the Baltic and North Seas. Great rafts of these gregarious seabirds ride the waves in protected bays and fjords—the males dashing in piebald plumage, the females demure in marbled brown. Pål Hermansen has been photographing eiders along the coast of Norway’s central Trøndelag region for three years as part of an ongoing project. The incoming tide brings foraging birds close to land, and, for a brief window, they dive for crabs and sea urchins in a man-made channel that once powered an old tidal mill in the village of Straumen. Hermansen positions himself along the bank next to the busy ducks and carefully lowers a pole-mounted, remote-controlled camera into the icy water. The birds are fast, the light is low, and he cannot see the viewfinder, so he fires off a lot of high-speed shots with mittened hands—and hopes for the best. This time, he captured exactly the shot he wanted.
Pål Hermansen regards the exploration of nature as the highest form of photography, revealing new things about life and fresh ways of seeing the world. In his work, he aims to blur the traditional boundaries between nature imagery, documentary, and fine art photography. Hermansen’s photographs have been published and exhibited worldwide, and he has garnered prizes in such major competitions as World Press Photo and Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He is featured as one of ten photographers in the 2013 international portfolio book Masters of Nature Photography.