wildlife,  NATURE,  Environment,  PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS


bird glacier

Paierlbreen Glacier 01






David J Slater,  SVALBARD, Norway, August 2010


Black Legged Kittiwake

Black legged Kittiwake 06 crop


One of the special moments of my trip was spending an hour up against the leading edge of a glacier.  Meltwater was falling into the sea at various points, which was disturbing the sea floor, giving easy pickings for Black Legged Kittiwakes.



Paierlbreen Glacier 08


The day was dull making it difficult to get sharp shots (without raising the ISO to undesirable levels), not just because the birds were moving but the ever present boat rocking as well.  I had many failures but I am more than happy with the images shown here.




Paierlbreen Glacier 10


I soon realised that I could use the movement of the birds to good effect by using a very slow shutter speed.  The only problem was to hope the birds not flying were still.  This was the only shot I got that I like.  In the hour that I was allowed here by the boat, this took up almost half of that time!  Photography on board tourist vessels can get frustrating when the captain has somewhere to go in a hurry.



Paierlbreen Glacier 16 (crop)


black guillemot 

Paierlbreen Glacier 05



The Black Guillemot is a small bird and very difficult to photograph up close.  Here I chose a more environmental setting, and one of very few birds I ever saw sitting on floating ice.  Below is a similar shot with the bird typically zipping through the scene.



black guillemot 

Paierlbreen Glacier 17

One very common companion on a sailing trip in the Arctic is the Fulmar.  I have often been impressed at images of theses birds skimming over a lovely silky blue sea, but I wanted to capture the amazing pattern of ripples as well.  This was not easy, believe me, with my best efforts needing to be cropped quite a bit.

Fulmar SV 06 (crop)

The Ivory Gull is THE arctic bird.  Often shown standing atop floating ice, I was unlucky and never saw that happen.  I only encountered a couple of birds one morning during a landing and was rushed as usual to get a shot before the group left for a stroll about.  This was about the best I could do in such a short time before I was hurried away.

ivory gull
Ivory Gull 02

I love exposing photographs to just burn away the whites of a subject when it is against a white or even grey sky.  A little extra help with levels in photoshop and I can create what I think is a beautiful shot.  The above shot of the Ivory Gull is one example but the shot below of an Arctic Tern is another.  Here I have burnt out quite a bit of detail in the bird's wings to good effect.

arctic tern
Arctic Tern 08

red throated diver
Red Throated Diver SV 01

I was allowed almost 1 hour one morning to take a small group of photographers to a small lake on a very remote island to photograph Red Throated Diver.  This is a bird I've wanted to photograph for many years and thanks to our careful approach was delighted when the birds came quite close.  They were breeding late, maybe due to a first clutch having failed, and the female were playting hard to get when approached by the male.  The photo below is the result of one such chase, the male just out of shot to the left.  With a little more time I would have got some really good images, but as always I was rushed away before time!

Red Throated Diver
Red Throated Diver SV 03

I only saw two Arctic Skuas in a whole two weeks of travelling, which I think is unlucky.  However, this was the second of only two times I was allowed a short time for photography whilst the non-photographers went on a walk.  They are very obliging birds and will let you get very close if you take care.

Arctic Skua
Arctic Skua SV 05b

Arctic Skua
Arctic Skua SV 01

There is a famous bird cliff called Alkerfjellet that is home to tens of thousands of Brunnich's Guillemot.  We were late in the season and many of the birds had already left on migration, leaving the cliffs uncanily empty.  Thankfully, there was still plenty of opportunities for a photograph even if it wasn't as spectacular as it can be. 

Brunnichs Guillemot
Brunnichs Guillemot 02

I was really hampered on our visit, as the captain never stopped the boat.  The cliff is a kilometre or so long and it was practice for this tour to make a slow crawl forwards some 50 metres away from the cliff.  Not only that but there was quite a swell on the sea that day, and we visited when the cliff was in deep shade with the sun in our eyes!  Just think what can be done if the tour had photography as a priority!

Brunnichs Guillemot                 Brunnichs Guillemot
Brunnichs Guillemot 07                                                                                                                                     Brunnichs Guillemot





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