2017 A Retrospective and 2018 Whats in Store?

As is tradition on my blog, I like to do a “What’s in Store” post for the coming year as well as reflect back, and wrap up the year that was (its a great way for me to keep a record of my travels and photography and also helps me prepare for the coming year. 2017 was a jam packed year and when I look back at all the destinations and all of the photography its actually hard to reconcile that it all happened in a single year. It was a year that included some absolutely fantastic photographic destinations and some really incredible experiences.

In equipment or ‘gear’ terms 2017 was relatively quiet for me with no major changes to my camera line-up. To date, I haven’t bothered with the 5D MK4; quite honestly (and as I wrote last year), the Canon EOS 1DX MKII remains the best DSLR camera I have ever used regardless of price, brand or model. In resolution terms the the 1DXMKII is more than sufficient for the vast majority of my work and my only justification for a 5DMKIV would be a lighter weight body for hiking (and I already own the 5DSR for that purpose). I did add the excellent Canon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS MKII lens to my arsenal; primarily for ship based photography where I wanted something lighter and easier to hand hold than the Canon 200-400mm F4L IS. More recently I also purchased the outstanding Canon 400mm F2.8L IS MKII. I have been on the fence about purchasing the 400mm F2.8L IS MKII for some time and finally decided to pull the trigger and add this lens to my wildlife kit. My hope is it will prove more versatile than the 600mm f4L IS MKII with the addition of the 1.4X and 2X teleconverters. I was also lusting after that creamy bokeh of the f2.8 aperture.

My gear pick for the 2017 year (I always choose something I actually own) is somewhat of a tough choice. I am torn between the 400mm f2.8L IS MKII and the 100-400mm MKII lens. Both offer outstanding optics and both are industry leading in their categories. Both are also relatively recent purchases so its hard to be definitive as I have not spent a lot of time in the field with either as yet. Certainly both are destined to become long term keepers for me with specific needs for each piece of glass.

2018 should be a very interesting year in equipment terms. It is an Olympic year which means I expect to see several new L series lenses from Canon (although I highly doubt we will see any new pro bodies). Rumours remain persistent of a new 600mm F4 DO lens (a patent has been filed by Canon and they have shown a prototype) and I am starting to think it may actually eventuate in the later half of 2018 (just my gut feel).

Last year I gave my book pick of the year to the very deserving Adelie by Vincent MunierAdelie was an absolutely superb presentation that deserves a place in any Nature photographers library. If you don’t yet own a copy you should pick one up immediately. This year I am giving the nod to Ragnar Axelsson’s excellent Faces of the North. Although I haven’t had time to review it, I definitely recommend you check it out and consider adding it to your library.

2017 also marked the year I published the open soft cover edition of Melrakki. The culmination of three years of winter photography in the extreme north-west of Iceland, Melrakki is available now as a soft cover (Limited Edition hard bound fine-art book is long sold out). Copies can be ordered online HERE.Over the course of this year I also published my own favourite twelve photographs here on my blog. Please be sure to check them out and let me know what you thought. I don’t usually have an overall favourite from a given year, although I definitely have a soft spot for the photographs I made in Svalbard in Winter. Be sure to check out the full portfolio of images at my website www.jholko.com in the Winter Svalbard Portfolio.In competition terms, 2017 was a solid year for me with the overall win as the Victorian Documentary Photographer of the Year. This year I was also a finalist  in the Epson 2017 Professional Science, Wildlife and Wild Places Photographer of the Year. I was also short listed in BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and was also a semi-finalist with multiple photographs in Natures Best Photography 2017 Polar Passion Category. Overall, it was a solid year and I am very pleased with the results.

2017 was also another huge year for me both with destinations visited and sheer number of international miles travelled. The year kicked off in early February with a winter scouting trip to Kuusamo in the North of Finland (my first visit to Finland). The purpose of this trip was to scout out the opportunities and set up a future workshop for both winter wildlife and landscape. The trip was a great success with some superb wildlife and landscape and as such I will be offering a new workshop to the north of Finland in the winter of 2019 (I will have full details next year – but you can get a sneak peak now on my website at www.jholko.com).

From Finland I travelled to Iceland where I lead my annual winter workshop with Daniel Bergmann (Read the Trip Report). This was actually the last year for the foreseeable future that I will be running this workshop. Iceland has in recent times become over run with general tourism and much of the magic of the south coast has been lost (perhaps when the next economic collapse hits or a major volcano explodes tourism may drop off again). In order to minimise the tourist factor we chose to base ourselves predominately in the north-east of Iceland which provided us with some  great photographic opportunities.At the conclusion of my Iceland landscape winter workshop I travelled north to the remote Hornstrandir Nature reserve  in the extreme north-west of Iceland where I lead my annual expedition to photograph Arctic fox in winter. Unlike most of Iceland, the Hornstrandir Nature reserve is only accessible by boat in winter and as such it is mercifully free from tourists. During our expedition we stayed in a small cabin on the remote peninsula and had fantastic encounters with several arctic fox over the course of our stay (Read the Trip Report).In March I travelled to Svalbard where I spent a week with my good friends Abraham and Dom from Untitled Film Works photographing and filming Ghosts of the Arctic. The short film on the hunt for Polar Bears in the winter landscape has subsequently been a runaway success and has been screened at film festivals all around the world. In addition it has been featured on countless news sites including Daily Mail, National Geographic, Peta-Pixel and many more.After the filming of Ghosts of the Arctic I lead my new winter expedition in Svalbard for stunning ice covered landscapes and Arctic Wildlife (Read the Trip Report). Svalbard in winter is nothing short of breathtaking (Its not just the cold that steals your breath away either!). The landscape is plastered in snow and ice and the low angle of the sun bathes the landscape in sublime golden light.From Svalbard I travelled to the South Island of New Zealand (with only a brief stop in Australia in between) to lead my annual South Island Masterclass (Read the Trip Report). I have been leading this workshop to the South Island for quite some years now and the landscape in this part of New Zealand never disappoints. In late May I returned to the north of Iceland and Grimsey Island to lead a new workshop dedicated to the photography of Atlantic Puffins and other Arctic birds (Read the Trip Report). We actually had over fifty species of birds during the workshop and Grimsey Island (located north of Iceland, inside the Arctic Circle) proved to be a fantastic location for both Puffins, Razor Bills and landscape and I am looking forward to returning again next year.In July I returned to Svalbard to lead my annual summer Polar Bears of Svalbard expedition (Read the Trip Report). Svalbard has become one of my absolute favourite places in the world to photograph. With everything from Polar Bears to Walrus, Arctic Fox, Reindeer, countless bird species, many different species of whales and incredible landscape there is just about something for every genre of outdoor photography. Garnish it all with fantastic light and you have photographic nirvana.In late September and October I lead back-to-back expeditions with Daniel Bergmann to Greenland and the Scoresby Sund fjord system (Read the Trip Reports).There are few places on our planet as spectacular as the remote and wild east coast of Greenland. Its precipitous and towering glacier scarred mountains that line the many divergent fjords have created an otherworldly landscape that is just about photographic paradise. The entire primordial setting is festooned with a plethora of gigantic icebergs that drift slowly on currents through the system and that provide an endless and ever-changing series of subject matter for the photographer. These two expeditions were a runaway success and Daniel and I will be returning to Greenland and Scoresby Sund in September 2019. We will have further details on this expedition early in the new year.I finished up the 2017 year with back-to-back expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula (Read the Trip Report) – Antarctica White Nature. The expeditions were deliberately timed as the first of the season as typically this is when the weather is still quite unstable in Antarctica and there is the greatest chance of dramatic weather and light. Expeditions later in the season (December, January and February) typically have more settled weather and far less snow coverage on the ground. For wildlife photography this can be problematic as it can be difficult to find clean snow backgrounds for the penguins (Read my guide on how to choose a photographic expedition to Antarctica).

I had planned to have a week in Atacama at the end of the expeditions, but quite honestly I was pretty exhausted by the end of the second expedition and was glad of my decision to put down the cameras for a while and have the extra week at home.All up I led a total of ten separate international workshops and expeditions in 2017 spread across the globe (not including some local private workshops to the Great Ocean Road as well as one-on-one Print workshops). A brief count tallies up well over fifty plane segments and just over fifty thousand exposures (not all keepers unfortunately!) It was a fantastic year and I just want to thank all of you who I was fortunate to meet, travel and photograph with throughout the year. It was real privilege to share in such remarkable destinations with so many fantastic passionate photographers – thank you.

2018 is shaping up to be pretty full on and I am really excited about whats in store. In February I will be heading back to the Lofoten Islands in Norway to lead my second (SOLD OUT) workshop in this picturesque location. I was last in Lofoten in 2016 (Read the Trip Report) and found it to offer amazing opportunities for landscape photography. In fact, Lofoten is very much landscape paradise and the combination of precipitous mountains, dusted with fresh winter snow and the stunning Aurora Borealis can make for incredible photography.From Lofoten I will travel directly to northern Iceland where I will lead my annual (SOLD OUT) expedition to the Hornstrandir Nature reserve to photographic wild Arctic Fox. Arctic Foxes are unfortunately hunted and shot across most of Iceland making them extremely shy and difficult to find (and even more difficult to photograph). In the remote north-west however the Arctic Foxes are protected inside the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve and can be more easily approached and photographed. We will be staying in a small remote cabin that is rustic, but functional and clean and we will have up to 10 hours of good light during the day with which to photograph the Arctic foxes. With luck, we may also see and photograph the spectacular Northern lights.After Iceland I will spend the remainder of the Arctic winter in Svalbard where I am going to be working on a combination of personal work from snow mobile and a SOLD OUT ship based expedition. The Arctic in Winter is a place to inspire the imagination. It is a white landscape bathed in golden light. The ship based expedition is unique and is the only one of its type to venture north of Longyearbyen by ship in winter.The main focus of this expedition will be Arctic winter light, landscape and wildlife. In March and April the light conditions in Svalbard are magical. Usually winter to Svalbard are limited to day trips on snow mobiles quite close to the town of Longyearbyen. With our expedition ship we will explore a much bigger area including the western and northern areas of Spitzbergen. This expedition has been sold out for some time, but I am now starting to take bookings for 2019. You can register your interest by dropping me an email.

This expedition has been designed to provide the very best possible opportunities to experience and photograph Svalbard in winter light. We expect to meet wildlife such as Polar Bears, Walruses, Seals, Arctic Foxes and Reindeer. At this time of year the sea birds will also be returning to their breeding grounds. Its a very exciting time to be in Svalbard and I am looking forward to it very much.

In May I am going to make the short hop across to the South Island of New Zealand to co-lead a Masterclass workshop with friend and New Zealand local, Phillip Bartlett. We have some really exciting locations lined up for this trip that include extensive helicopter access into the remote back country and aerial photography over the spectacular Southern Alps. I always look forward to any chance to photograph in this beautiful country. We only have two places remaining before the trip will be sold out and this will be the last year that I offer this workshop for the foreseeable future. Please drop me an email if you are interested in joining us. There are more details on my website at www.jholko.comIn early May I will be based in Australia and will be the keynote speaker on both Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th at VAPS  – The Victorian Association of Photographic Societies – convention in Warrnambool. I will have more details on this convention next year, but am very much looking forward to presenting at the conference.

After the VAPS conference I will be heading straight back to Iceland to co-lead my Arctic Wings of Iceland workshop with Daniel Bergmann. The workshop is dedicated to photography of the Atlantic Puffin and other birds of Iceland including Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Guillemots (Murres), Arctic Terns and Razorbills (Read the 2017 Trip Report). Iceland is one of the best places in the world to photograph Puffins and other Arctic birds in their natural environment. We will visit a number of different locations during this workshop where we will have outstanding access to the Puffins living in burrows on the edge of sea cliffs. We have timed our 2018 workshop to ensure we are in the best locations at the best times to photograph these wonderful birds. We will have hours of golden light under the spectacular midnight sun – ideal conditions for photography of the Atlantic Puffin. We still have a few spots available before the workshop will be sold out. Please drop me an email if you have any queries or are interested in joining us. In July I will head back to the Svalbard archipelago to lead my annual summer Polar Bears of Svalbard Expedition (only a couple of places remaining before it will be sold out). We will depart from the small town of Longyearbyen and sail up to the edge of the permanent pack ice where we will spend out time searching for and photographing the king of the Arctic. With 24 hour daylight under the midnight sun we will have hours and hours of light for photography.

We will search the sea ice north of Svalbard for Polar Bears, Walrus, Arctic Fox, Arctic Birds and spectacular Arctic landscapes. Whilst Polar Bears and other wildlife are the main attraction on an expedition such as this it needs to be said that the landscape opportunities in Svalbard are nothing short of breathtaking. Soaring bird cliffs, plunging glaciers and dramatic mountainous scenery means there is quite literally something for every photographer. If you have never been to Svalbard you should absolutely put it on your bucket list.In September I will be travelling to Finland as guest speaker at the international Finnish Nature festival in Kuusamo. I will be speaking both about my polar photography in Antarctica as well as the landscape and wildlife opportunities in Australia. Whilst there I will also take some extra time and maximise the opportunity to try and photograph Bears, Eagles and Wolverine.

In October I am heading back to Africa and the epic desert sands of Namibia. I was last in Namibia in 2016 (Read the Trip Report) and very much look forward to returning to this incredible country. I have lead three workshops to Namibia in recent years and have absolutely fallen in love with the desert and wildlife found across this dramatic country. We will be visiting the surreal ghost town of Kolmonskop, the massive dunes and seemingly endless sand dune landscape of Sussesvlei as well as the wildlife rich region of Etosha. There are already only a few places remaining before the workshop will be sold out. Drop me an email if you are interested in reserving one of the remaining places. After Namibia I will be heading back to New York to speak at the Photo Plus convention (more details to come later). I was last in New York in 2016 and am looking forward to returning to the big apple and catching up with friends in the states.

Finally, I will finish up in November with my third visit to the remote sea ice at Gould Bay in Antarctica to photograph the mighty Emperor Penguins .We will be travelling by privately chartered transport jet deep into Antarctica where we will land on a pre-prepared ice-runway at Union Glacier. From our basecamp only 600 miles from the South Pole we will then take a privately chartered Twin-Otter ski aircraft to the remote Emperor Penguin colony on the sea ice. We will establish a field camp on the sea ice and spend our time photographing the Emperors and Emperor Penguin Chicks on the sea ice against a backdrop of incredible mountains, icebergs and pressure ridges. We will photograph throughout the night when the light is soft and golden in an expedition opportunity dedicated to photography of Emperors. If you are excited by the idea of travelling to one of the remotest regions in Antarctica to live and photograph with the majestic Emperor Penguins now is the time to register for the last available place.  On top of all of the above it is my hope that 2018 will be the year I publish my new fine-art book on Antarctica. The preliminary layout is mostly complete and I hope to finish most of the text and final details early next year with a view to publication in the later half of 2018. It is going to be a very exciting (and very busy) year and I am looking forward to getting underway.

For those of you who have made it this far – A sneak peak into 2019 includes brand new workshops to the Faroe Islands and Finland as well as new expeditions to the remote east coast of Greenland and possibly something new and special to Greenland in winter. More on this later.

Lastly and certainly not least, I want to wish all of you a very safe and happy New Year and may 2018 be one of amazing light and experiences for all of you. See you in the New Year!

Travel and Outdoor Photographer of the Year Finalist 2016

On the eve of my departure for South Georgia and the Antarctic peninsula this November I received the very exciting news that a number of my photographs had been selected for the finals in both the 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year and the 2016 Outdoor Photographer of the Year competitions. This is the fifth year in a row I have made the finals in Travel Photographer of the Year (with multiple photographs) having first entered back in 2012 and subsequently 2013, 2014 (winner in the Wild and Vibrant category) and 2015. This year I am honoured to have two photographs in the final round of judging (currently underway). I am continually inspired to enter the Travel Photographer of the Year competition as it is one of the few photographic competitions remaining today that still judge the ‘print’ rather than a compressed jpeg. I wrote several years ago of my disillusionment with so many of the photography competitions that make their judgements solely on a compressed jpeg file. The craft of producing a beautiful fine art print is one of the most enjoyable aspects of photography for me and is how I prefer to have my work viewed.

I first entered Outdoor Photographer of the Year back in 2012 and subsequently won the Spirit of Adventure category in the same year with my photograph of mountain climbers near the summit of a spectacular Antarctic peak. I went on to make the finals again in 2014 (commended in the Wildlife insight category), 2015 and now again in 2016. I am especially thrilled to have had a total of thirteen (out of fourteen entered) images shortlisted this year in the competition. I cant as yet share which images are in the final round of judging for Travel Photographer of the Year, but I look forward to doing so in the coming days.outdoorphotog2016-1 outdoorphotog2016-2 outdoorphotog2016-3

Photo of the Month December 2016 – King Penguins on the Move

This morning I returned home to Australia after two incredible back-to-back expeditions to the Emperor Penguins in a remote part of Antarctica and a South Georgia / Antarctic Peninsula expedition on board Polar Pioneer. I will have full trip reports on both expeditions in the coming weeks (once I catch up on my back log and overcome another bought of jet lag). In the meantime, I wanted to post up the belated December photograph of the month (and final image for the 2016 year). This particular photograph was taken on my South Georgia expedition last year (November 2015 – Read the Full Report) and is of King Penguins all in a row and on the march (or belly slide) to the water. It was snowing heavily when I made this photograph. What really appeals to me about this image is not just the gesture and position of the penguins, but also the abstract nature of the mountain snow patterns in the background and the monochromatic pallet. There is just the slightest hint of yellow in the Penguins to give away that this is a colour photograph. I chose the background when I was composing the photograph and made a series of images as the King Penguins moved through the scene. The photograph scored a coveted Silver with Distinction at the 2016 Australian Professional Photography Awards.SouthGeorgia2015-8201-Edit

Testimonial from Rulian Fiske – South Georgia Expedition

“Hi, Joshua, Thank you very much for the South Georgia Expedition!!  The South Georgia trip with you was indeed the BEST and most rewarding trip we’ve taken, and this includes the Around the World in a Private Jet trip with Nat Geo! The best part was the photography part. The opportunities and emphasis on photography was utterly wonderful! And the people on the trip were just so nice! And the atmosphere on the ship! Everything!”  – Rulian Fiske

You can read the full trip report from our last South Georgia Expedition online. If you have been wanting to visit Antarctica don’t miss out on our just announced White Nature expedition. There are now only very limited places remaining before we will be sold out.

Iceberg in Antarctica
Iceberg in Antarctica

South Georgia Island Expedition Report November 2015

In November 2015 I co-lead an extended 15 day expedition to South Georgia Island with my good friends and partners Ole Jorgen and Roy Mangersnes. As is customary for me I like to write up a trip report on our experiences; both, so that there is a record of the trip for the photographers aboard, but also so I can share the experience with a wider audience.

I have lead expeditions to South Georgia Island in past years, but this was the first time I had spent an extended period of time at the Island. Our plan for a 15 day expedition took a fair amount of logistical planning and permitting, but the end result was a fantastic amount of time for photography in what is in all likelihood the best location in the world for wildlife photography. As it so happens South Georgia is also home to some incredible landscapes with soaring Himalaya style peaks that provide the perfect back-drop.

At the conclusion of the South Georgia Island expedition I lead a week long extension in the Falkland Islands for a small group of photographers. During this expedition we flew to both Saunders and Sea Lion Islands where we spent a number of days exploring the area and photographing the bird life. I will have a seperate report on this trip in the coming days.

Photography guide and co-leader for the South Georgia trip Roy Mangersnes has actually beaten me to the trip report writing on this occasion so I am going to share  his report from our expedition as it provides a really nice day by day insight into the expedition. I have added in my own thoughts and comments where appropriate.

South Georgia Expedition 2015 Trip Report Notes by Roy Mangersnes

Day 1-2 – 7-8.11.2015 We had very favourable winds and not much swell so the majority of people on board enjoyed the crossing eastwards. Unfortunately the lack of wind resulted in fewer seabirds following the ship, but some Wandering, Southern Royal, Black-browed and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross were photographed. Also different petrels were sighted and documented including the Diving Petrel.SouthGeorgia2015-0578Day 3 – 9.11.2015 In the morning of day three we passed Shag Rock (which was hidden in fog) and soon after we spotted Bird Island and the north western point of South Georgia. After lunch we headed to shore in Right Whale Bay for our first landing of the trip. On the beach we were welcomed by a good number of Fur Seals, Elephant Seals and King Penguins. With some snow still on the ground several of us took the opportunity to photograph the Kings against a white backdrop. During the afternoon it started to snow lightly and the clouds covered the dramatic mountains. The last Zodiac left just as it was getting dark. A Great start.SouthGeorgia2015-8365-EditAddendum: This was in my opinion our best landing during the expedition. The opportunity to photograph King Penguins in snow was something I and many others aboard had really been hoping for. I personally spent my entire landing with the King penguins in the snow and made several photographs that I am extremely happy with.SouthGeorgia2015-8462-EditDay 4 – 10.11.2015

Strong winds and a bit of rain made landing at Salisbury Plains at dusk difficult and we waited until after breakfast before heading to shore. As we landed the wind died of and the clouds scattered, leaving us with beautiful weather. As photography in these conditions rarely is rewarding several of us took the opportunity to enjoy the extreme wildlife density at Salisbury by talking walks in the area. In addition to the King penguins and the seals on the beach there was also a good number of the endemic South Georgia Pipit and South Georgia Pintail. Both seem to do well, as the final rat culling has been very successful.

Addendum: I was extremely pleased to note the significant increase in the South Georgia Pipit as a result of the rat cull. Just twelve months prior on my previous South Georgia voyage I spotted very few of these small birds. Now, with the rats gone their population seems to be rebounding.

In the evening we were lucky to get access to Prion Island. Here we would follow the boardwalk to the top of the hill. The view over Bay of Isles is amazing up here, but the target was the breeding Wandering Albatross. Everyone was treated with a couple of large chicks on the nest near the trail, being very photogenic. The size of this bird is difficult to grasp until you stand next to it. With a wingspan of 3,5 meters it has the widest reach of any bird in the world.

Day 5 – 11.11.2015

After breakfast we headed for the old Norwegian whaling station at Grytviken to register with the authorities. During the few hours we spent ashore several of us enjoyed shooting the local wildlife that has taken the bay back after the whalers left it in the late 60’s. Pintails and Antarctic Terns were numerous, and also seals and penguins were found among the rusty buildings and stranded ships. Some also took the opportunity to update themselves on the dark history of whaling in the southern ocean at the local museum.

The evening was spent in the small bay of Godthul. Some took the opportunity to hike up to the Gentoo rookery and got some really nice sunset colours up there. Others shot birds and seals from the zodiac while others spent all the time on the beach with Gentoos and seals. The last boat returned to the ship long after sunset.

Addendum: Personally I hiked to the top of the cliff to photograph backlit Gentoo Penguins at sunset with several other photographers. This was a fabulous shooting session that resulted in some really interesting images. Back light is something I look for more and more in my wildlife images. Used effectively it can make for some really dramatic images. It was back light that lit the Polar Bear on the sea ice in Svalbard in winter that helped me win the 2015 Global Arctic photographer of the Year award.SouthGeorgia2015-2022Day 6 – 12.11.2015 St. Andrews Bay is possibly the best wildlife destination in the world and after detailed planning and a bit of luck with the weather we were able to land everyone on the beach long before sunrise. The operation started before 2am and by 3 o’clock everyone was ready to shoot. 15 minutes later, when the sun washed over the beach, thousands and thousands of King penguins and seals were covered in golden light. The photography was out of this world and we were only back for breakfast 5 hours later.

Addendum: I would agree with Roy that St. Andrews Bay is quite possibly the best wildlife location in the world. The opportunities at this incredible Bay for both wildlife and landscape photography are breath taking.SouthGeorgia2015-9593-EditAfter a well deserved rest mid day we landed on Moltke Harbour after lunch. This small beach is a peaceful place compared to St. Andrews, but the many Elephant seals kept everyone busy until the night.

Day 7 – 13.11.2015 The weather was good and the team was on a roll, and already the next morning we did another sunrise landing. This time we had moved to another hotspot – Gold Harbour. A bit of drizzle in the early morning didn’t stop us, and as the sun broke through we were even rewarded with rainbow in front of the classic glacier backdrop. The King penguins were lined up along the river and displayed eagerly as the sun sent warm light through the colony. People spent the time onshore well and went for hikes to discover their own little paradise. Gold Harbour has many of them.SouthGeorgia2015-0816Mid day we arrived in Cooper Bay. The area is exposed to the weather and since the conditions were favourable we went for a mid day landing at the Macaroni penguin rookery. This is one of the easiest places to see this flamboyant bird at the nesting place. A short climb over snow and tussock grass we found ourselves pretty much in the colony. Heading out some of us were also treated with a Chinstrap penguin on the nearby rocks.

As expected the wind picked up as we headed for the Drygalski fjord in the evening. All around we saw large icebergs coming up from the Antarctic Penninsula, and they made perfect subjects for photography in the rough conditions. We decided to spend time with the icebergs and not go into the dark fjord. As the evening came to an end we were lucky to spot a small group of Chinstrap penguins on a beautiful iceberg, and we all enjoyed some great photography in the last hour of the day.

Day 8 – 14.11.2015 As the conditions seemed to improve during the night we went for another sunrise morning at St. Andrews Bay. As the sun was painting the mountains in the background everyone was scattered around the beach and enjoying their own little paradise. It was incredible to think that many travel down here without being able to land on St. Andrews due to heavy swell and strong wind, and we were able to land twice before sunrise.

As a slight contrast from St. Andrews we landed late in the evening at Ocean Harbour. The wind had picked up, but this bay was nice and sheltered. Here we photographed seals and cormorants, as well as some nice landscapes from the zodiacs.SouthGeorgia2015-2056-EditDay 9 – 15.11.2015 We did try for our fourth sunrise landing, but the weather was grey and wet when we got up. Therefore we waited until after breakfast before landing at Salisbury Plains. Its was still wet, but after a couple of hours the clouds lifted and we had some very nice moods as the mist and clouds covered the nearby mountains. Just as we packed up and started bringing clients back, the katabatic winds came falling from the mountains and within minutes we had 60 knot winds offshore. It did make our departure difficult, but with a sturdy expedition leader everyone was relaxed on the beach.

The evening was rather windy and we cruised with the ship in the Bay of Isles, shooting petrels following the ship in beautiful evening light.

Day 10 – 16.11.2015  The morning was rather brutal with a landing at a very dense Fur Seal colony. When we made it through the first ranks of territorial seals, the valley was perfect for a scenic hike or for shooting seals and Giant Storm petrels.

Being able to spend this much time on South Georgian beaches is quit unique and we wanted to make the most of it. Therefore we went for one more landing at Salisbury Plains in the afternoon on our last day. The light was very nice, but some clouds deprived us from the sunset we were hoping for.

Addendum: The opportunity to spend so much time in South Georgia was a very special experience that provided us multiple opportunities for different landings. We were able to choose based on location, weather and light when really maximised our time in the area.

Day 11-14 – 17-21.11.2015

The forecast for our crossing back to the Falklands was not very good, with strong winds straight ahead. We decided to start one day early to make sure we reached the only flight that leaves the Falklands per week, but as we started our crossing the storm died of as we were looking. It turned out to be just another normal crossing with a bit of rock and roll, but nothing big. We think most people were happy for this.

South Georgia can be a quit challenging destination due to exposure to heavy weather systems. This is one of the reasons we wanted to spend more days here, and make sure we could land on all the prime locations. In the end we were extremely lucky and spent a total of 60 hours on the beaches and did 14 landings in just over 8 days. This must be some kind of record!

Addendum: To those of you who have already enquired about the possibility of a future expedition to South Georgia Island. I will be leading an expedition this November to both South Georgia Island and Antarctica – Photographers First Light. The expedition will run from the 19th of November until the 6th of December. I will have details on my website (which is about to be updated) in the workshops section within the next week. If you are interested in joining this expedition you can also email me for further information.