Departing for Polar Bears of Svalbard Expedition 2018

Tomorrow afternoonI am going to be leaving Australia for the long trek up to Longyearbyen at 78º north to lead my annual Arctic summer expedition for Polar Bears, Walrus, Arctic Fox and of course Arctic landscapes. I have been in Australia for two months now – the longest stretch I have had at home in more than five years and I am feeling rested, fully recharged and super keen to get back up to the Arctic.As some of you are aware I have been battling with a badly torn lateral tendon in my right elbow (the result of continued repetitive strain with cameras and lenses (No! I will not switch to mirrorless!) that has precluded me from much serious photography since I returned from winter in the Arctic earlier this year. After very intensive physiotherapy I finally feel like I have started to turn the corner and have taken the first steps on the road to recovery.  It will be many months before the tendon is fully healed and I have to be careful how I use my arm, but I can now lift my camera again and that means I am ready to get back into the game with both er… feet….as it were.Its tradition for me to do a packing list for each expedition and so included below is my gear choice for this particular trip. All of this will pack into my F-Stop Lightroom Roller which I will use to get the equipment through the transit stage of my expedition (I no longer wish to lug a backpack through airports without rollers). I will then re-pack it on location into my F-stop backpack.

F- Stop Lightroom Roller Camera Bag:

  • 2 x Canon EOS 1DX MKII
  • 2 X Canon EOS 1DX MKII Spare Batteries
  • 1 x Canon 11-24mm F4L
  • 1 x Canon 24-70mm F4L IS
  • 1 x Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS MKII (I am unsure if I will upgrade to the MKIII at this stage)
  • 1 x Canon 400mm F2.8L IS MKII
  • 1 x Canon 1.4 TC MKIII Teleconverter

In my checked luggage I am bringing the following:

  • 1 x Sachtler Carbon Fire Tripod (the new model I have not as yet tested in the field)
  • 1 x Sachtler FSB-6 Fluid Head
  • 1 x Ortlieb Dry Bag (for zodiac excursions)
  • 1 x Canon 1DX MKII Battery Charger and Lens Cleaning Kit

The astute gear gurus amongst you will probably note that I am taking the 400mm f2.8 instead of the 600mm f4. The primary reason for this is I have been doing some testing with my physiotherapist and am finding the 400mm better balanced for my elbow as the weight is not so far forward. The addition of the 1.4TC gets me out to almost 600mm in any case and provides both a super fast aperture as well as a flexible focal length.

Summer in the Arctic is an incredible time. With the midnight sun we will have 24 hours of light available for photography and that means a huge amount of opportunities. The ice is quite far north at present, which means we may have to go as high as 82º this year. Either way, I cant wait to stand on the bow as we push through the pack ice and raise my camera for that first polar bear of the expedition. See you in Svalbard!

Addendum: There are now limited places only on next years High Arctic Expedition. If you are keen to join us and secure a spot for the best available Arctic expedition experience please let me know as soon as possible.

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