I am back home in California after a wildlife trip circumnavigating the Svalbard archipelago in an expedition ship and spending some time in Norway after the photo shoot. The high Arctic is a fascinating place and it can bring out the best and worst in photographers and equipment alike.
The archipelago is mostly ice free in the south and one has to go way north, above 80 degrees to even find sea ice. This proved a challenge to finding Polar Bears and seals. The permanent ice sheets are still there but fast ice is tough to locate. Even though this is the high Summer in the high Arctic, the weather can range from severe cold, well below freezing temperatures with light snow and 40+ knots winds to sunshine, T-shirt weather and BBQ on the deck of the ship. The latter suited this Californian just fine.
I have been to all the Scandinavian countries and find the people friendly and enjoyable. Sadly, some in Norway find no incongruity in going on a whale watching trip and then eating a whale fillet burger after the outing. Thankfully, Polar Bears are now protected in Svalbard now but in the past, they were wantonly slaughtered for their hide and even for fun. Sadly, Polar bears are still hunted for 'sports and trophy' in Canada and other places. You can see more Polar bears photos from my past trips here.
The Canon equipment I brought with me, EOS-1D X, EOS-1D Mk IV, EF 400mm DO, EF 200-400mm f/4L IS and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS, all worked fine under severe field conditions except one of the legs on my light weight Slik carbon fiber tripod broke under very cold temperatures. It was mostly my own fault for loading the tripod with much heavier weight than recommended. Now comes the time that I am not looking forward to after every photo shoot. Trying to get back to the daily routine and going through the photos. Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of time since I am scheduled to go on another wildlife photo shoot in early August to Alaska.
For more posts on photographing other wildlife, you will find Hummingbirds, African elephants, Polar bears, Bengal tigers, Killer whales and Blue whales adventures here. I have been a wildlife photographer for 25 years using Canon gear. You can read my FAQs on equipment and see more of my work on MichaelDanielHo.com. You can also follow my travels on my Blog, Twitter and Facebook.