Guest Photographer: John Hurshman Svalbard Winter Expedition 2017

Following on from Dallas Thomas’s guest post I wanted to share some thoughts and photographs from John Hurshman who also recently accompanied me on my Winter Svalbard Expedition. It was a pleasure travelling and photographing with John and all aboard this expedition and I just wanted to again pass on my thanks to him for both his participation and for sharing some of his thoughts and photographs from this expedition here on my blog. I will have my own expedition report early next week from this remarkable expedition. All text and photographs by John Hurshman.

In March 2017, I fulfilled a “bucket list” dream of traveling to the Arctic Circle to see Polar Bear in the wild… while they still exist in that environment. The trip was organized by Joshua Holko, Australian wildlife photographer http://www.jholko.com, and, from my point of view, the workshop achieved all I had hoped for. The trip was timed to allow us to experience a glimpse of winter in the Arctic Circle, and also a potential for seeing Polar Bear and other wildlife in their natural habitat. The glimpse of the Arctic winter meant it was COLD… air temps bottoming out at -29º C (-20º F) with a 20kt wind for effective temp of -40º C/-40º F. We had daylight for more than 12 hours/day since we started out after Vernal Equinox (March 21), but the sun did not climb very high in the sky, so we had mostly very photogenic low angled light. It was cold, but ruggedly beautiful. We saw limited wildlife, three Polar Bear, a number of Walrus, Arctic Fox, and numerous bird species. While one of the purposes of this trip was photography, I found that I often put the camera down and experienced the moment through my eyes rather than through the view finder of the camera. Also, sometimes I didn’t have a choice, since my camera didn’t play well with the cold temps and sometimes decided to throw a temper tantrum. The following are some of the times camera was working and I was looking through the viewfinder…This was my first sighting of Polar Bear. Our keen eyed guides saw them from quite a distance and maneuverer the ship to our encounter. These two, a large male and small female stayed near the Origo for 48 hours, at which time we had to leave, because the ice was closing in behind us.The Convergence of ice and open water dusk.

Another male shows-up in the vicinity of the male and female we have been watching for 12+ hours. This interloping male show signs of a fight with blood streaks on his shoulder and under jawLate evening light on snow covered mountain. What photographers refer to a the “blue hour”, that time before sun rise and after sunset when the sky glows with color, was not an hour long… but more like 2+ hours long . By the end of our trip in the first week of April, it never really got dark. At 2AM, you could easily see. The formation of sea ice.Our Ship, M.S Origo parked in the ice for the night. To see more of John’s photographs from the expedition please visit his website.

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