Departing for Polar Bears of Svalbard 2016 Expedition

It seems like only last week that I returned from the South Island of New Zealand (I am sure time is accelerating as I get older) but in a few minutes time I will be piling into a taxi with all my gear and heading to the airport for the long haul flights to Oslo and then onto Longyearbyen for my 2016 Polar Bears of Svalbard expedition. Svalbard has become one of my favourite destinations in the world for both Wildlife and Landscape photography. It is an incredible area located deep within the Arctic circle that offers the possibility for fantastic polar bear photography as well as other Arctic species including Walrus, Arctic Fox, Reindeer, Whales and more. The landscape of Svalbard is also very much an untapped gem and there are limitless possibilities for photography in this remarkable Arctic environment.

On this expedition we are using a small ice hardened vessel that will enable us to get in nice and close to drift ice around Svalbard. Importantly, it has nice low decks so we can get down to eye level with our subjects. With this expedition being limited to just twelve participants we will have plenty of room for everyone to photograph at once from both ship and zodiac and I am super excited to share this experience with all aboard. As well as Polar Bears, we will also likely photograph Walrus, Arctic Fox and a great many Arctic sea birds during our expedition.

After I finish in Svalbard I am headed directly to Iceland for two back-to-back workshops in the Highlands. Each of these workshops covers a different area of the Highlands and each has something different and unique to offer. The highlands are the real heart of Iceland and at least to my mind offer some of the most stunning scenery and photographic opportunities to be found anywhere. It is also a wonderful chance to get off the main roads and into less visited areas of the country. Daniel Bergmann and I planned these two workshops more than three years ago now and I am looking forward to sharing the experience of these wonderful locations with all of our participants. I am of course, ever hopeful that the long overdue Hekla volcano might also put on a show for us…You never know!

My 2016 Svalbard expedition has been sold out for some time, but there are still a few places remaining on next years 2017 expedition before it to will be sold out.  If you would like to get an idea of what this expedition is like you can read the trip report from the 2015 expedition. A full itinerary and additional information can also be downloaded HERE. If you would like join us you can register your interest by dropping me an email at any time. Places are filled on a first come, first served basis.

On the way to the End of the World - AntarcticaWatch Kingdom of the Ice Bear Expedition MovieKingdomoftheiceBearPreparing for both Svalbard and the Highlands of Iceland presents some packing and equipment challenges as I need to pack both long telephoto lenses for the wildlife and a more ‘hike friendly’ light weight system for hiking in the highlands. As such I am taking three different camera bodies on these trips. Two Canon EOS 1DX MKII’s will be my primary cameras for the Polar Bears of Svalbard expedition. The Canon EOS 1DX MKII is the perfect tool for Arctic wildlife photography and I am looking forward to using these cameras for the first time in the Arctic (I did recently take them to New Zealand – Read the Trip Report) I am also carrying the 50 mega pixel Canon EOS 5DSR camera for the two Iceland Highland workshops after I finish in Svalbard. The Canon EOS 5DSR is actually more about weight saving than pixel count for me. Its light weight body is preferable for hiking to the Canon EOS1DX MKII; although quite honestly I prefer the files from the new Canon EOS 1DX MKII cameras.

F-Stop Lightroom Roller Camera Bag

  • Canon EOS 1DX MKII Pro Body Camera x 2
  • Canon EOS 5DSR Camera
  • Canon 24mm F3.5L TSE MKII Lens
  • Canon 16-35mm F4L IS Lens
  • Canon 24-70mm F2.8L MKII Lens (The MKII version of this lens is an amazing piece of glass)
  • Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS MKII Lens
  • Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII Lens
  • 2 x Spare Batteries for the 1DX MKII
  • 2 x Spare Batteries for the 5DSR
  • Canon 1.4 TC MKIII Tele-Extender
  • Leica Ultra-Vid HD Binoculars
  • Cable Release
  • Assorted CF, CFAST and SD Cards totalling around 300 Gigabytes
  • Rocket Blower and Dust Cleaning paraphernalia
  • Complete LEE Foundation and Filter Kit with Soft and Hard ND Graduated filters and LEE Polariser

I am carrying the TSE lens specifically for landscape photography in Iceland. I am primarily carrying the 600m and 300mm lenses for Polar Bears and other wildlife in the Arctic, but also intend to use them to photograph birds at Jökulsarlon in Iceland.

Chobe Bag: (carry on luggage)

  • 15″ Macbook Pro with Lightroom and Photoshop
  • MacBook Power Adapter
  • Canon 300mm F2.8L IS MKII IS Lens
  • 2 x Sandisk Extreme USB3 2TB SSD Hard Drives for in the field Back Up.
  • Various Power Adapters / Chargers and Associated Cables
  • Canon 1DX MKII / 5D Battery  Charger
  • USB CF, CFAST and SD Card reader
  • Passport / iPhone / Wallet
  • A lot of these items I store inside Etcetera cases inside the Chobe. (These cases are fabulous for organising accessories)

Tripod: (checked luggage)

  • Really Right TVC33 Tripod
  • Arca Swiss Z1 Ball Head with Levelling base for landscape work
  • Satchler FSB-6 Fluid Head with Levelling base for long telephoto lens work
  • Really Right Stuff Tripod Spikes (For mossy ground and rock claws for ice and rock)

In addition to the above camera bags I am also packing the brand new F-Stop ‘Red Bull’ Ajna for hiking in Iceland. My thanks to F-stop for supplying me this brand new hiking pack specifically for these workshops.

I am going to do my best as always to update my blog whilst I am away; but posts may be somewhat sporadic, particularly when I am at sea in the Arctic. For now, I have nearly thirty six hours of travel ahead of me and it’s time to make a start. See you in Svalbard.

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