By Karen Billing
Few people can say they’ve been surrounded by a sea of penguins. Carmel Valley resident Steve Gould can and has amazing photographs as proof. Gould recently published a book of photography from his memorable trip to Antarctica, called “To the End of the Earth, A Journey to the Southern Ocean.”
While Gould has photographed sea turtles in Hawaii, monkeys in a Bali forest and lion cubs in Kenya, his absolute favorite subject has been the Antarctica penguins.
“Nothing can really beat the penguins,” Gould said. “My wife and I think of that trip as a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We dreamt about penguins and icebergs for weeks after we got back. We really went to the end of the earth, that’s how we felt…we felt like we weren’t anywhere normal or usual. You really can’t beat those penguins in their own environment.”
In addition to his book, on sale at blurb.com, Gould’s work will be on display at the Pacific Southwest Wildlife Association’s 38th Annual Open California Wildlife Art Fest at Liberty Station on Feb. 12-13. Gould is one of 18 artists in the juried event and will display works from his Antarctica trip and new underwater life shots from a recent trip to Indonesia.
Gould has taken photographs since 1965, but spent most of his working life as a chemistry professor at Oregon State University. He retired from teaching in 2003 and was able to focus on his art more seriously.
“This is what I call life after life,” Gould said.
Gould specializes in landscape and wildlife photography, particularly the under sea world, as he is an experienced diver.
He became a certified diver in 1981, but didn’t start doing underwater shoots until 1991. It is an indescribable feeling, he said, of being underwater, weightless, surrounded by photogenic and colorful fish and coral.
Gould has completed diving shoots all over the world—places such as Fiji, Galapagos, Red Sea and Palau.
Along with his wife Mary Marshall, Gould traveled to Indonesia in September for five weeks, spending most of that time underwater.
“It was just incredible,” said Gould of the some 70 dives they did in different parts of Indonesia.
He took more than 3,000 pictures in Indonesia, which is nothing compared to his haul from Antarctica. He took 20,000 pictures in his 26 days on the Antarctic cruise.
It’s a huge undertaking to look through all those photos and find the real “hero shots,” he said — the ones meant to be shown and sold.
With his wife, Gould left for Antarctica on Christmas 2009. They flew to Lima, Peru, to the tip of Argentina, a city called Ushuaia that is considered the southernmost city in the world.
“It was a 35-hour odyssey from San Diego to Ushuaia,” Gould said. “We spent a few days there and then we got on the ship. It was an expedition, an absolute adventure.”
The Cheesemans Ecology Safari cruise included stops in the Falklands and South Georgia Islands before reaching Antarctica, where they stayed for seven days.
“Once we got on land we were on our own and we could go anywhere we wanted as long as you don’t interfere with the wildlife,” Gould said. “We could not approach any closer than 15 feet, but if the animals want to come up and give you a kiss they can and they did.”
The penguins were a highlight, coming right up to Gould as he watched. Some are small, others like the King penguin are more like 3 feet tall. The king penguins have striking yellow features on their black and white bodies — the chicks are covered with fluffy brown feathers.
The photos were on display at an August 2010 show at Gallery 21 in addition to being put into the new book.
“The show was incredibly successful, it averaged 145 visits a day during the 12 days of the show,” Gould said. “The response I got from everybody was so positive that I knew I had to do the book.”
He completed his first draft before leaving for his Indonesia trip and it was published through Blurb.com in November. Check out the book at
- For more photographs and information, visit