Svalbard 2014: Land of the Polar Bear
The High Arctic. A place that is steeped in adventure and thrilling to the senses. As a boy, I was transfixed by the exploits of the great Arctic explorers. Parry, Amundsen and Franklin are all names familiar to anyone with a love of this area. A t one time or another a ll of them used Spitsbergen in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard as a base for their expeditions.
Join us for an eight day voyage through this remote and beautiful place. Photographing the magnificent polar bear in its element – the largest (and most charismatic) land predator on earth – is our main objective. A secondary focus of the trip will be the dramatic land-and-ice-scapes of the area.
From our floating base on a comfortable expedition ship, chartered specifically for this workshop, we will explore the dramatic landscape and seascape of the region. Nowhere else can the polar bear be seen more reliably in its natural habitat. We will also search for walrus and the other wildlife of the region. It should always be noted that when looking for wildlife, especially polar bears, nothing is guaranteed. They can be elusive. However, the crew on the ship we will have at our disposal has years expertise in finding bears, and will extend every effort to maximize our chances. Dramatic glaciers, plunging cliffs and beautiful drift ice will also feature prominently.
This is an remarkable opportunity to see the northern polar region on-board a small ship with a small group, all dedicated to capturing the best images possible. The photographic leaders and instructors, Peter Cox, Kevin Raber, and Morten Jørgensen our expedition leader will make sure that you return with the most amazing images. Our ship is ideal for photographing in this region as it is close to the waterline and allows access from many areas on deck to capture the wildlife. Most ships venturing into this region are for 50 or more passengers. Ours is for just twelve.
If you are looking for an intimate and very focused photography workshop then this is it.
Dates for 2014are:
July 13 – 21, 2014
July 21 – 29, 2014
Peter Cox wrote atrip reportfor the 2013 trip which you may find insightful.
Polar Bear on the pack ice, north of Svalbard 2013
At this high a latitude in the Arctic, one can almost describe the seasons as: June = spring, July = summer, August = fall, and the rest is winter. Our time of travel is pretty much considered the peak season. The birds are breeding, the flowers are flowering, the land is snow-free enough to allow for landings and walks, and the sea-ice often has melted far enough back to allow access towards the east, but still remains in enough quantity to allow us to have encounters with seals, walrus and polar bears.
This is the time of the midnight sun – we will have daylight 24 hours a day. If the weather conditions are good, we may reverse the ship’s schedule and operate primarily at night, when the sun is at its lowest, and the quality of light at its best. If not, we will still take advantage of wildlife sightings, whatever the time of day or night.
If ice conditions allow, we may complete a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen or explore the spectacular island of Nordaustlandet. This unique expedition will be totally dedicated to the interests of nature photographers. We have full control of the itinerary and the only passengers on the ship will be members of this workshop.
Svalbard On The Map
Our goal for this trip is not only to give you once-in-a-lifetime journey through some of the most isolated and dramatic landscapes on the planet, but to improve your photography as well. We’ll be on hand to talk about subjects ranging from composition, planning location shoots, technical operation of the camera through to post processing the final results.
Please note that this is not primarily an instructional course. When photographing wildlife we’ll need to be very silent, so instruction is not practical on shoots. When photographing the landscape there is more flexibility, but you should be at least an intermediate level photographer who is reasonably comfortable with the use of your camera. We will be providing guidance on how to hone your skills, rather than step-by-step instruction.
Polar bear inspecting one of our Zodiacs, Svalbard 2013
You’ll leave with great images and an increased understanding of how to get better photographs for yourself in the future – whether it be in the High Arctic or anywhere else in the world.
Walrus, Nordausterlandet, Svalbard 2013
Accommodation and food:
Our home for the trip will be the M/S Malmö, a small expedition ship with room for 12 passengers. There are several different types of cabin, which are identified below with their prices.
In the dining room you are treated to delicious meals in between landings. The ship has spacious observation decks where you can enjoy the beautiful vistas and search for exciting wildlife. As this is a smaller ship, the decks are lower than they might be in other vessels, giving an intimate perspective on any bears we might encounter in the ice.
Traveling with this small expedition ship offers a more relaxed and informal atmosphere and a much greater focus on the destination than is the case with larger vessels.
All meals are included.
Due to the nature of the location, we will keep the itinerary flexible. The ship will go where the ice allows and where we are most likely to encounter polar bears and other wildlife. We will aim to make daily landings via the two Zodiac craft. Here are some examples of locations we may visit:
Lilliehöökfjorden, Northwestern Svalbard 2013
Northwestern Svalbard is an area of dramatic mountain peaks and glaciers in narrow fjords. There’s plenty of opportunity to make dramatic landscape images from the deck of the ship. We may explore some of the fjords by zodiac and make landings here also. It’s also the origin of several attempts on the north pole.
Further south, closer to Longyearbyen, we may also have a chance to encounter and photograph Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox.
Northwestern Svalbard, 2013
Alkhornet, Northwestern Svalbard, 2013
A pack-ice experience, we enter an environment that few people have seen. A harsh and majestic icescape, our chances of polar bear encounters increase as we sail among the ice floes. We may also encounter several seal species on the ice, including walrus.
Bear on Sea Ice, North of Svalbard, 2013
Hinlopen and Alkefjellet
If the ice allows we may enter the Hinlopen Strait. Here we’ll find Alkefjellet, a sheer, dolorite cliff, home to perhaps 100,000 pairs of Brunnich’s guillemots and one of the great wildlife spectacles of the archipelago.
The island of Nordaustlandet is partially covered by an enormous ice cap and fascinates naturalists as well as historians. There are huge glacier fronts here, intersected by hundreds of melt-waterfalls. We may also continue into the beautiful bay of Palanderbukta – scenery of true High Arctic desert in all its barren majesty. We are also still firmly in polar bear country here, with a good chance of encounters.
Bråsvellbreen Icewall, Nordaustlandet, Svalbard 2013
Bear on sea ice, Svalbard 2013
Our ship for this voyage will be the comfortable M/S Malmö; a traditional vessel, built for the Swedish Maritime Administration as an ice strengthened pilot vessel. She is currently undergoing careful refurbishment for a career as a small and comfortable expedition ship. 2014 will be her first year operating in this capacity around Svalbard. Her sister ships, M/S Origo and M/S Stockholm, have been operating as expedition vessels in the area for over 20 years and have an excellent reputation.
Malmö takes 12 passengers in 6 cabins, all with sea views. The ship has spacious observation decks and much of our photography will take place from the ship or the pair of Zodiacs that we’ll have for our use.
Incredible Light, Beautiful Clouds = Superior Landscapes
Iceberg and Glacier On One Of Our Zodiac Cruises
Peter is a professional landscape photographer – one of only a handful in Ireland. He was the only Irish photographer to travel to Iceland in 2010 to photograph the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption.
Peter received a Fellowship from the Irish Professional Photographers Association (IPPA) and also a Qualified European Photographer award from the Federation of European Photographers.
He has a passion for both photography and for teaching, and he leads photography tours year-round, both private and group workshops and courses – all on digital landscape photography. He has also taught a short Winter course on digital post processing techniques at Williams College in Massachusetts in the USA.
Kevin has been passionate about photography since 12 years of age. His passion and enthusiasm is unmatched. His career in photography has run from operating a large commercial studio, writing some of the first photography software for the Macintosh, being Business Development Manager for Burrell Professional Labs (one of largest networks of US color labs), then 13 years as Vice President for Phase One. Kevin is now CEO and Publisher of Luminous-Landscape. He developed the PODAS workshop programsa claimed by many as the finest workshops available. One thing that has remained a constant is his skills as a fine art landscape photographer. Having photographed in both polar regions many times Kevin knows the light and region. You can view his images from this past years Svalbard tripHERE.
The Expedition Leader and Our Guide: Morten Jørgensen
Morten was born in Copenhagen and has always loved the natural environment and especially its wildlife. He has traveled throughout his life, as a child living with his parents in Afghanistan, Tanzania and Malaysia, while later as an adult he has visited all seven continents.
He has been working in the Arctic since 1997, on small cruise ships as guide, lecturer, Zodiac driver and expedition leader. He has also worked in the Antarctic and the Indian Ocean, among other places.
Since the mid-eighties, Morten has been an active ornithologist, a passion that has been supplemented with a love for marine mammals, whales and dolphins, seals and polar bears alike. But there are no areas of nature that do not fascinate him. He is also a keen photographer.
Morten is a skilled and very keen observer of wildlife, be it birds, mammals or other living beings. He is also very comfortable with the role of guide, interpreter or lecturer. He enjoys sharing the adventure of visiting remote areas with fellow passengers.
Morten is superbly experienced and is a real pleasure to travel with. He and Peter will be driving the Zodiacs and lecturing on the ship; Morten on the ecology of the area and Kevin and Peter on aspects of photography.
All three of these fine instructors have worked together before and collectively will make sure your experience is exceptional.
Iceberg abstract, Nordaustlandet, Svalbard 2013
Your Fitness Level:
This workshop will cater to all fitness levels, however a basic level of mobility is required. We will be scrambling in and out of the Zodiac inflatable boats and walking over rough ground. Depending on weather conditions and interest, there may be some moderate hikes to the interior, and there will be an alternate program for those that don’t wish to hike.
Bear on sea ice, north of Svalbard, 2013
You’ll be expected to bring your own camera equipment as well as cold weather gear. Temperatures in Spitsbergen average around 6 degrees centigrade (43 Fahrenheit) during the Summer months. Thermal underwear, a good warm middle layer and windproof outer coat and pants are required, as are waterproof boots (a solid pair of Wellington boots for example). After you’ve booked, you’ll receive an equipment checklist with required and recommended gear.
The price of this workshop depends on the cabin type selected. The prices are listed below. The fee must be paid in US dollars.
There is a limit of 12 participants on this workshop.
TRIP 2 Is Sold Out – Two Berths Available on Trip 1
Cabin Type Price (per person – berth)
Superior Twin (Private WC) $9,690
Twin Cabin (Shared WC) $8,890
Twin Cabin (Private WC) $9,290
Single Cabin (Private WC) $14,100
DOWNLOAD A REGISTRATION FORM HERE
Cabins are provided on a first serve basis. All cabins have one upper and one lower berth, including the single cabin. Prices above are per person.RATE INCLUDES: 8 nights on board the M/S Malmö. All meals. Two Instructors, Kevin and Peter, as well as expedition leader (Morten) on hand for guidance and discussion. Lectures on board and ashore. All shore excursions and activities by Zodiac.
NOT INCLUDED:Flight to/from Longyearbyen. Travel and cancellation insurance. The customary gratuity to the ship’s crew. Personal expenses such as bar and shop charges.
We will have land packages available and these will be offered upon registration. The package will include transportation to the hotel from the airport as well as to the ship with a night in the hotel befor the trip. Transportation from the boat to the airport will also be included.
To secure your place, a deposit of $2,500 is required within a week of registration. A second deposit of $2,500 will be required by the end of February 2014, and the final balance is payable by the end of April 2014.
Cancellations up to the end of February 2014 will forfeit the first deposit of $2,500. Cancellations after that date will forfeit the entire deposit. Cancellations from the end of April 2014 will forfeit their entire payment. However, your fee will be refunded, less a $1,000 cancellation fee, if your berth can be resold.
Luminous-Landscape workshops are exclusively facilitated by USA-based Rockhopper Workshops. Rockhopper will handle all transactions and arrangements for this workshop. Any questions please contactKevin Raber
Meltwater Waterfall, Bråsvellbreen, Nordaustlandet, Svalbard 2013
Sign Me Up!
If this trip sounds perfect for you and you’re ready to embark on an odyssey of magnificent wildlife and beautiful landscapes with friendly and competent instruction, thenCLICK HEREto download our registration form. If you have any questions, feel free toASK. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Photographing ice, Svalbard 2013
This workshop is being offered by Luminous-Landscape and is exclusively facilitated by Rockhopper, our USA based workshop provider.
All payments and arrangements for this workshop will be handled through Rockhopper.
“I recently had the great fortune to be part of a photographic expedition to Svalbard. The primary objectives were to photograph polar bears, other wildlife and landscapes. The objectives were not only met, but greatly exceeded. I got more “portfolio quality” images from this expedition than from any other photographic workshop/expedition I have been on. The success of this expedition was due in no small part to two exceptional individuals: Peter Cox and Morten Jørgensen.
Peter Cox is not only a talented photographer, he is a gifted teacher and workshop leader. He is one of the few professional photographers I know whose technical knowledge of the craft is matched by his talent behind the lens. More than that, he is very attentive to each and every one of the participants on the expedition. Top that off with his delightful Irish sense of humor, and you have a winning combination!
Morten Jørgensen was the expedition leader. His knowledge of the wildlife and polar natural science was exceptional, as was his ability to share it with the expedition participants. His knowledge of the science and politics of polar bear ecology is nothing short of brilliant, and I look forward to hearing lots more about his efforts to improve the situation.”
— Stephen Wheatcraft, Svalbard 2013
“Several weeks ago I returned to Canada from participating in the Svalbard Photo Workshop led by Peter Cox, Daniel Bergmann and Charles Glatzer, with Morten Jørgensen heading-up the excellent team of guides and a phenomenal crew steering and operating the M/V Quest. I often think back on that journey as an experience of a life time, created and enhanced as it was by the excellent leadership qualities of the whole organizing team. When I think of all the elements that need to be managed for such an undertaking to succeed, my respect for what these folks did only grows. Safety was job #1, great photo ops job #2, and good chemistry between all the people in the boat, the icing on the cake. They made it happen.
Peter’s photography speaks for itself; but above and beyond that, I much appreciated his unstinting, affable and understated way of helping people really enhance their photographic experience and results. Morten just knows the terrain like the back of his hand, understands Mother Nature so well and expertly coordinates the procedures and teamwork needed to combine safety with opportunity and enjoyment. Both of them, and their colleagues, were always “on the job” and always had time to converse with and help the participants so graciously. Throughout this trip I felt most comfortable in their hands and had total confidence in this team to do the needful with aplomb; but more than that, they went the extra mile – many extra miles in fact, to insure a fantastic photographic and human experience.
The cost and effort required to offer one of these workshops insures they will be rare opportunities, and I can only recommend this team most enthusiastically to anyone considering an Arctic experience in Svalbard and beyond.”
— Mark D Segal, Author, “Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop”
“This whole trip was truly amazing and all the effort you put into it definitely made a big difference in our experience! As a friend put it: “Passionate people are enthralling”. Thanks for sharing your passion with us – of wildlife, of photography, of nature… I have learned a lot with you and not a single day passes without bewilderment. Thanks for your patience and care, either when approaching wildlife or when helping us tame our misbehaving cameras.”
— Caroline Mestrallet, Svalbard 2013
“Peter – The trip was a wonderful experience for anyone interested in photography, the environment, and nature. The combination of all the above, with competent and enthusiastic instruction, and extraordinarily knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides and a very capable and cooperative ship commander made for a most memorable expedition. The opportunity of seeing the Arctic while it still exists as we have known it should be grasped by anybody who may be fortunate enough to be able to do so.”
— Sean O’Laoire, Svalbard 2013
Updated on: Jan. 2, 2014