2021 Press Highlights: Suzanne Plunkett

One of CNN’s  final stories of last year was a showcase of their best 2021 coverage from female photographers. Featured in this story was Suzanne Plunkett’s remarkable image of a boulder dropping into the sea captured from aboard Greenpeace ship Esperanza.

CNN  - See 2021 through the eyes of 12 women photographers

Image ©Suzanne Plunkett

Suzanne recalls her experiences on this mission:

“The ship’s horn blasted and I could hear a scraping sound as the metal slide was lifted and the massive boulder began to descend. Seconds later it whooshed past, plummeting towards the sea where it landed with an almighty splash. As the ship pitched and rolled, I desperately tried to keep my lighting rig upright and dry, I hunted for that split second when the rock hurtled into view, and hit the shutter.”

More of Suzanne’s superb coverage from this campaign were selected for

GREENPEACE - 2021: Year In Pictures

Image ©Suzanne Plunkett

“I have been working with Greenpeace on their #Protect the Oceans campaign over the past two years. Basing myself aboard their ship The Esperanza, I lived and worked with their amiable crew. 

As part of their Protect the Oceans campaign, Greenpeace have been placing boulders on the seabed to deter destructive fishing in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). These areas are set up to safeguard vulnerable marine ecosystems. When destructive fishing vessels, called bottom trawlers, drag their heavy nets along a MPAs seabed, they tear up fragile natural wildlife habitats. Allowing bottom trawlers to fish in a supposedly protected area is like bulldozing a national park on land. 

Greenpeace crewmembers chart the locations of each boulder and immediately report its precise location to the authorities, so fishing companies know they need to avoid these underwater natural parks.”

Image ©Suzanne Plunkett

“Between 10-15 stones are usually placed per day from the ship. I wanted to capture these drops from as many angles as possible so my photos didn’t all look the same. I played with remote cameras, external lighting, different angles and taking advantage of the light at different times of the day to keep my pictures looking fresh. Also, when the weather was right, I would take a small “rhib” boat out and photograph it from afar, so that you could see the whole ship. Shooting from a rhib is very unpredictable and very wet. Communication with the rhib driver needs to be precise and waterproof covers for cameras are a must.

Speaking of waterproof covers, I discovered that hotel shower caps were the perfect cover for my lights, which I had rigged to the side of the boat. Because obviously, when a boulder drops, there is always a big splash! ”

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