Departing for the Jewels of the Arctic Expedition 2014

Tomorrow my co-photography leader Antony Watson and I will be boarding our ship ‘Polar Pioneer’ in the north of Iceland for our 2014 Jewels of the Arctic Expedition. There is always a palpable sense of excitement in the air on the eve of an expedition departure and I am keen to get underway. I have been photographing more or less non-stop in Iceland for more than six weeks now and I am feeling the northern call for icebergs, dramatic fjords and wildlife. It has been a full year since I was last in Greenland and I find myself just itching to return to its amazing landscapes. I wrote last year in the 2013 Jewels of the Arctic trip reports about the incredible geology in Greenland, the monolithic icebergs and the unique wildlife encounters – all of which I am again eager to photograph and share with all on this trip. We have a boat full of passionate and keen photographers and I am very much looking forward to seeing what they produce over the next two weeks.

It was on this Jewels of the Arctic trip last year that I produced the short video in co-operation with Untitled Film Works on what it was like to experience a photography expedition in the Arctic.  Our intention was to capture the feeling and essence of what it is like to travel on a dedicated photography expedition in the Polar regions. You can watch that video by clicking on the image below.

Over the last six weeks in Iceland my body has become accustomed to operating in the small hours under the midnight sun for the best light for photography. As we sail north from Iceland over the next few days the sun will no longer fully set and we will have near perpetual daylight. It has been my experience that the best time of day for photography this far north is late into the evening when the light becomes soft and ethereal. It will likely take me a day or so to find my sea legs once we get out of the harbour and into the Denmark Strait but I am hopeful that I can adjust quickly like last year and slip easily into ship board life with my co-photographers.

This will be the last blog post for a couple of weeks as we will have no internet once we sail out of the Isafjordur harbour. Its going to be a very exciting trip. See you in Longyearbyen in a couple of weeks…

What about the Volcano?

If you have been keeping up with recent events here in Iceland you will be aware that there is currently an orange eruption alert for the Bárðarbunga volcano at the northern end of the Vatnajökull ice cap. I have been monitoring the status of the volcano constantly via the Iceland MET website over the last week and have spent some time in relative proximity observing the ice cap but there has of yet been no clear and certain indication that an eruption is about to occur. Presently there is no evidence that magma is moving toward the surface which would indicate an eruption is imminent. Things can change quickly however and should the volcano erupt whilst I am in Greenland I plan to fly back to Iceland to make the most of the photographic opportunity – ash cloud permitting. For now, there is little else to do but continue to monitor the  volcano’s status as the earthquake swarm continues.

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