Svalbard 26.03-03.04 2016


Day 0 – 25.03.2016 For our second Svalbard Winter expedition, hosted by Roy Mangersnes and Martin Enckell, we made sure to arrive a day early to make sure all was set for our departure. The evening and morning was spent in the field shooting Arctic Fox and Ptarmigan in their white winter coats.

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Svalbard Ptarmigan near Longyearbyen. Nikon D4s, 400mm + TC14, 1/2500 sec, f/4 @ ISO 160

Day 1 – 26.03 2016 Leaving Longyearbyen in the evening, heading south to Bellsund.

Day 2 – 27.03 2016 First morning  we headed south to Bellsund, to cruise in Van Mijenfjord. The fjord ice had broken apart letting us move far into the fjord without breaking ice. The conditions were perfect for landscapes as the ice made some increasable patterns as we passed. Late in the evening we headed to Rechechefjorden to spend the night and as the light were fading we spotted our first Polar bear swimming in front on the fjord ice.

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Ice patterns in Van Mijenfjorden. Nikon D810, 24-70mm, 1/500 sec, f/8 @ ISO 400.


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Martin searching for wildlife. Nikon D810, 24-70mm, 1/250 sec, f/8 @ ISO 400

Day 3 – 28.03 2016 Next morning the bear was gone but the surroundings were stunning with new ice forming around the ship. We moved towards Van Keulenfjorden and pretty soon found a second Polar bear resting on the ice. Eventually he stood up and started moving along the shore and we had our first close encounter with a winter Polar bear.

During the night we moved north and were surprised to see three Orcas in Forlandsundet, our first ever sighting on Svalbard.

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Large male Polar bear in Van Keulenfjorden. Nikon D4s, 400mm + TC20, 1/2500 sec, f/7,1 @ ISO 800

Day 4 – 29.03 2016 In the morning we left the northwestern corner of Spitsbergen and headed for the ice. Passing 80° North in heavy swell without seeing any ice on the radar we decided to turn around and move east to Woodfjorden. We later learned that the ice had moved extremely far north and our journey would have taken us to record latitudes.

In the afternoon and early evening we sailed into Woodfjord in beautiful conditions and continued into Liefdefjorden with the Monaco Glacier in the distance. Several places we had Walrus and Bearded seals on ice floes. Positioned at the ice edge near Texas Bar we spotted a female Polar bear with a year old cub walking along the beach. The distance was far, but it was a nice sighting.

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Wintery blue mountains in Liefdefjorden. Ion D810, 24-70mm, 1/400 sec, f/8 @ ISO 200


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Polar bear mother with cub near the Monaco glacier. Nikon D4s, 400mm, 1/3200 sec, f/7,1 @ ISO 800

Day 5 – 30.03 2016 We decided to spend the night and hoped the bears would come visit, but there was no activity. Later in the morning we moved north and headed into Bockfjorden and Woodfjord where we had lots of Walrus and Bearded seals on ice, giving us some nice images in the wintery landscape.

In the late evening we moved along the eastern side of Woodfjorden shooting stunning landscapes when we discovered tracks in the snow. As we eased our way in through the pancake ice we saw a second female Polar bear and her year old cub resting in the hillside. As the light was fading we made the decision to anchor nearby.

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Walrus on ice floe in Bockfjorden. Nikon D810, 24-70mm, 1/800 sec, f/8 @ ISO 400


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Afternoon light in Woodfjorden. Nikon D810, 24-70mm, 1/640 sec, f/7,1 @ ISO 400


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Last light on mountains in Woodfjorden. Nikon D4s, 400mm, 1/1250 sec, f/7,1 @ ISO 500

Day 6 – 31.03 2016 Next morning we woke up to fog and really bad visibility, but as we were lifting the anchor the Polar bears were spotted on the beach. We dropped the Zodiacs and eased our way closer. By then the bears had moved back into the hillside, but the light was getting better with light snow. We waited along the shore for an hour and eventually the animals stood up and came down to have a closer look at the photographers. The next couple of hours we could enjoy some incredible behavior and constantly shifting light conditions.

In the evening we went back out to work with different light conditions. The last glow from the winter sky gave us an amazing blue and pink scene and again the bears came to visit us. This day really showed the potential that comes with the winter expeditions.

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Polar bear mother and cub coming down the hill in deep snow. Nikon D810, 70-200mm, 1/640 sec, f/8 @ ISO 320


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Polar bears in deep snow. Nikon D4s, 400mm + TC20, 1/2000 sec, f/7,1 @ ISO 1000


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Female Polar bear walking along the frozen beach. Nikon D4s, 400mm, 1/1250 sec, f/5 @ ISO 1000


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Mother and cub Polar bear walking into the hills near Woodfjorden. Nikon D810, 24-70mm, 1/400 sec, f/7,1 @ ISO 800


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Returning to the ship after a good outing in Zodiacs. Nikon D810, 24-70mm, 1/250 sec, f/5,6 @ ISO 400

Day 7 – 01.04 2016 After a second night at anchor we left Woodfjorden in the morning cruising along the northern coast visiting several bays and fjords along the way. The conditions were crystal clear and several Walrus were sighted before heading into Fuglefjorden in the late evening. In the last hours of the day we enjoyed the stunning light on Svitjodbreen.

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Walrus taking life easy on an ice floe. Nikon D810, 24-70mm, 1/1250 sec, f/7,1 @ ISO 320


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Evening in Fuglefjorden. Nikon D810, 14-24mm, 1/500 sec, f/6,3 @ ISO 400


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Evening reflection in Fuglefjorden. Nikon D810, 1/500 sec, f/9 @ ISO 500

Day 8 – 02.04 2016 During the night we had steamed down to Kongsfjorden and went for a short Zodiac cruise near Blomstrandhalvøya to photograph the glacier and some of the newly arrived birds.

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Iceberg in Kongsfjorden. Nikon D810, 24-70m, 1/640 sec, f/6,3 @ ISO 400


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Common Eider taking off. Nikon D4s, 400mm, 1/2500 sec, f/4 @ ISO 500

Day 9 – 03.04 2016 Arriving Longyearbyen in the late evening all agreed that this expedition had been an amazing success and really showed the potential of these winter trips.

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Martin Enckell and some of our happy clients. Nikon D810, 1/250 sec, f/4,5 @ ISO 800

Let us know if you want to travel with us on a similar photo expedition to Svalbard. See more info about the winter photo expeditions HERE

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