Svalbard #2 2010
08:13 , November 2, 2010
Posted in: Trip Reports

Svalbard #2 2010

Here´s the second trip report from our three expeditions to Svalbard this summer. You can read about the first trip [HERE].


Map of Svalbard with our route.


Before the expedition: After a month at home in Norway, it was again time to fly up to Svalbard for the two final expeditions of the summer. The first expedition from 27/8 – 3/9 consisted of a group of Norwegian photographers. Before boarding the M/S Stockholm for the 7 day expedition, there were some photographers with me who got shots of the Svalbard reindeer [see previous blog], Arctic fox [see previous blog], Parasitic Jaeger (skua), Svalbard ptarmigan, and other goodies. Many of the photographers were very satisfied even before boarding the ship.


Svalbard ptarmigan in sunset. Nikon D3S with 600/4.0 VR, 1/6400 sec, f/4 and ISO 2500


Parasitic Jaeger. Nikon D3S with 300/2.8 VR II, 1/30 sec, f/8 and ISO 200


Day 1 – 27.08.2010: We left Longyearbyen just after 16:00. We headed out through the scenic Isfjorden and then straight north toward the northwestern corner of Spitsbergen.


Dag 2 – 28.08.2010: We arrived at Holmiabukta at 08:30 and we saw immediately 5 Polar bears, including a female bear with her young. What a great start! We used the zodiacs to get closer to the bears, and we were able to get some great action photos. The highlight was when one of the bears dove and attacked a Glaucous gull in the water [see previous blog]. We were also extremely lucky with the light that morning, and all of the photographers were very happy with the start of our expedition.


After Holmiabukta we turned east and later in the evening we met some large whales. Usually, these whales are Fin whales, but this time we were lucky and saw great Blue whales. It was my very first sighting of this huge marine mammal, and it was a great experience for all of us. Again we were lucky with the light and we photographed the Blue whale in gorgeous backlight!

Later in the evening we spotted polar bear # 6, and 30 Iivory gulls, one single Sabine gull, and also the very rare Ross gull!!


“Ice bear”. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/2500 sec, f/9 and ISO 1000


Female with cub. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/800 sec, f/10 and ISO 2500


Polar bears. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/3200 sec, f/9 and ISO 1000


Young bear. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/3200 sec, f/9 and ISO 1000


Reflections. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/2500 sec, f/9 and ISO 1000


Ice bathing. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/2000 sec, f/10 and ISO 1000


Blue whale blow! Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/3200 sec, f/8 and ISO 1600


Blue whale blow! Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/8000 sec, f/8 and ISO 1600


Blue whale fine. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/500 sec, f/6,3 and ISO 1600


Day 3 – 29.08.2010: After a fantastic start to our expedition, the wind picked up to almost 30 m/sec so we had to find a more sheltered location. After a windy night we headed north toward Sjuøyene, but we couldn’t land because of the weather. The ice was quite dense to the east so we headed into the Rijpfjorden, where we found Polar bear  # 7.


Svalbard landscape. Nikon D3X with 14-24/2.8, 1/125 sec, f/5.0 and ISO 800


Roy spotting Polar bear #7


Day 4 – 30.08.2010: We tried to sail to the east side of the Nordaustlandet, and we almost made it. At Cape Platten we encountered dense ice again and had to turn back. This is not very uncommon at 80 degree North. We headed northwest along the ice and we were lucky to find 4 more polar bears. One of the bears was wounded, maybe by a walrus. We anchored for the night near  Scoresbyøya island.

That day I observed my 100th bear on Svalbard, and some of my guests thought that it should be celebrated with an ice bath…


Polar bear in the landscape. Nikon D3X with 70-200/2,8, 1/400 sec, f/11 and ISO 500


Wounded bear. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/1250 sec, f/5.6 and ISO 1600


Day 5 – 31.8.2010: Plan A for the day was to visit Hinlopen to find some walruses or polar bears. Because of the wind we changed our itinerary and explored the Liefdefjorden and Monaco glaciers instead. Here we saw 2 Polar bear females each with a cub, but none of them came close to us. In front of the glaciers we also found a large male laying on blue ice with blue ice in the background.


Mountains in Liefdefjorden. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/1000 sec, f/8 and ISO 1250


Mountains in  Liefdefjorden. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/1600 sec, f/7.11 and ISO 1600


Liefdefjorden. Nikon D3X with 14-24/2.8 (at 14mm), 1/160 sec, f/13 and ISO 320


Day 6 – 01.09.2010: At 04:30 the next morning, one of my guests woke me because of «great» light conditions outside. «We have to jump into the zodiacs and get closer to the glacier» he told me. Ok, no problem, this was a photo expedition, so why not. To be honest, the weather and light conditions were not that «great», but half of the group headed toward the glacier in the zodiak. We photographed gulls and glacier scenery for about 4-5 hours before returning to the M/S Stockholm for a late breakfast.

6 hours later the visibility was poor when we approached Raudfjorden, but I wanted to try a zodiac cruise in this scenic fjord. This turned out to be a good decision because the weather cleared and we got some nice landscape shots. Back on board our ship, we shot a great sunset accompanied with one Fin whale and 3 walruses. Great!


Photographer at Monacobreen


Glaucous gull. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/1600 sec, f/5.0 and ISO 1600


Raudfjorden. Nikon D3S with 14-24/2.8 (at 14mm), 1/250 sec, f/10 and ISO 1600


Happy photographer (Gro Kongsten) in Raudfjorden


Raudfjorden. Nikon D3S with 300/2.8 VR, 1/320 sec, f/8.0 and ISO 1600


Fin whale. Nikon D3S with 70-200/2.8, 1/500 sec, f/5.6 and ISO 1600


Sunset. Nikon D3S with 300/2.8, 1/250 sec, f/5.6 and ISO 1600


Panorama. Nikon D3S with 600/4 VR, 1/640 sec, f/5.0 and ISO 2000


Walrus. Nikon D3S with 70-200/2.8, 1/200 sec, f/4.5 and ISO 2000


Day 7 – 02.09.2010: This was the last day of our expedition, and we headed south to Longyearbyen again. We stopped at Alkehornet where we found some Svalbard reindeer in rut, with red antlers.

Ved innløpet til Isfjorden stopper vi ved Alkehornet. Der er det bastfeiing på reinsdyra og vi får noen flotte situasjoner. Dette blir vår siste stopp på ekspedisjonen før vi igjen var ved kaia i Longyearbyen rundt midnatt. Med 17 isbjørner totalt på reisen i tillegg til blåhval, hvalross, diverse måker og landskap i septemberlys så ble dette en interessant fotoekspedisjon.


Svalbard reindeer. Nikon D3S with 300/2.8, 1/125 sec, f/4.0 and ISO 2500


With a total of 17 bears, Blue whales, walruses, various gulls and incredible landscapes in arctic autumn light, this was one of my best photo expeditions to Svalbard.

NOTE: If you wish to participate in a similar photo expedition to Svalbard, you should book soon! Both Photo Expeditions to Svalbard 2011 are already sold out, but there are still spots available at 15-25/7 2012 and 25/7-4/8 2012!


This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål

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  1. Hallo Ole, many, many, many thanks for showing your images!
    You make me dreaming…

  2. Luca Viola says:

    …and I forgot, while I was dreaming…
    the image with the polar bear spitting is incredible…

  3. admin says:

    Thanks a lot, Luca!!

  4. Superbe,génial.10/10.

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