Monday, 2 September 2013
In July I hosted a Svalbard expedition for WildPhoto Travel with a great group of clients. It was a truly magic trip and some out of this world wildlife encounters. The Arctic never ceases to stun me, and as soon as I get on the plan home, I dream about going back. Later this September I will, but for now I enjoy the memories of my previous trips. Follow this link to find the full report and the images from the July expedition http://www.naturfokus.com/2013/08/19/trip-report-svalbard-2013-2/
For those who missed it, I also did a Nikon 800mm lens review on this trip. You can find it in the previous post on the blog.
Sunday, 28 July 2013
|Male Polar Bear on ice; Nikon D4, 800mm, 1/3200 sec @ f/7,1 and ISO 640|
The good guys at Nikon Norway was friendly and crazy enough to lend me the new (in April-May 2013) Nikkor 800mm f/5,6E FL ED VR lens to try on my latest expedition to the Arctic. This time I travelled as a host on a specialized photographic expedition organized by WildPhoto Travel, and we spent 10 days in the Arctic oceans around Svalbard.
I have never been a big fan of technical reviews, though I do take a sneak peak every now and then. Therefore, I wanted to give you my initial impression of this new Nikon “power tool”.
To give you an insight of the conditions I was working under I will give you some hard facts. I was hosting the trip with 12 guests on a small expedition vessel departing from Longyearbyen. We spent 10 days circling the Svalbard archipelago in the arctic summer. The conditions varied from plus 10 to 1 degree Celcius, some rain and a lot of salt-water spray (sorry Nikon). I shot about 3500 images with the lens and it was my preferred tool during the entire trip. I also carried the 300mm f/2,8 with converters and shorter options. All images with the 800 were shot with the Nikon D4 camera.
Normally I use the Nikkor 500mm f/4 and I am very pleased with the results it gives me. I have also used the 600mm f/4, which is a brill lens, and in the early days I have tried the Canon 800mm.
To be honest I was getting rather cold feet on the flight, leaving my favourite 500mm at home, but I really wanted to give this beast a chance.
First I found the lens rather heavy to work with, being used to 500mm, but I do realize it is almost 0,5 kilogram lighter then the 600mm f/4 and as a travelling photographer I really appreciate that Nikon is moving in that direction. A lot of the photography is done from the vessel itself, but we also use Zodiacs to get the low angel. From the ship I used the Sachtler tripod most of the time, but I also used it handheld with and without alternative support. From the Zodiac I did not have the option of tripod and also being the Zodiac driver I had to trust in my ability to handhold the 800mm, supported only by the vibration reduction.
|Little Auks; Nikon D4, 800mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/5,6 and ISO 1250|
From the first shots of Little Auks I was really impressed with the sharpness of this lens. Based on my previous stated concern I did not expect revolution, but I must admit this blew me away. Displayed on my 15” Macbook Pro Retina screen the images really pop, and the detail is stunning even at f/5,6.
|Arctic Tern at midnight; Nikon D4, 800mm, 1/1000 sec @ f/5,6 and ISO 2000|
Just working the focal length was a bit unfamiliar but after a couple of days it felt natural to work with such magnification, and it felt really good. Especially when approaching courting Polar Bears in the pack ice the 800mm came really handy. Tight framing of the action was no problem without disturbing the behaviour of the animals.
|Intimate moment with Polar Bears; Nikon D4, 800mm, 1/2500 sec @ f/7,1 and ISO 640|
|Young Bearded Seal on the ice; Nikon D4, 800mm, 1/1250 sec @ f/5,6 and ISO 2000|
|Arctic Fox cub; Nikon D4, 800mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/6,3 and ISO 1250|
|Black-legged Kittywake on ice; Nikon D4, 800mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/5,6 and ISO 2000|
|Ivory Gull in flight; Nikon D4, 800mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/6,3 and ISO 1250|
One might argue that f/5,6 is not enough to shoot wildlife but with the ISO capabilities of the latest cameras this is no problem in my opinion. I usually find myself shooting at 5,6 or higher anyway to get more depth of field and detail in the subjects.
A 800mm lens would probably seem enough for most people, but Nikon have added a 1,25 converter in the case as well. This is a highly specialized piece of equipment were every converter is perfectly matched with its lens. This I had to try and what else was there to shot then Walruses? I sett up my tripod and worked with tight crops of these massive creatures with 1000mm @ f/7,1. I did find the lens a bit soft on full opening but by stopping down to f/9 or higher the images were back to sharp - sharp! Very impressive and very handy.
|Walrus entering the beach; Nikon D4, 1000mm, 1/640 sec @ f/7,1 and ISO 1000|
|Click image for a 100% crop (1400px) of Walrus using Nikon D4, 1000mm, 1/320 sec @ f/10 and ISO 1000|
To conclude I am very impressed with this lens and I cannot wait to get my own!
Despite being comparably lightweight the 800mm do fill some space in the bag. During the last months I have been travelling with the F-stop Literoom Roller to South-Africa and twice to Svalbard. This bag has really made my travelling easier and on my latest trip I filled it with Nikon D4 and D800 bodies, Nikkor 800mm f/5,6, 300mm f/2,8, 70-200mm f/2,8, 24-70m f/2,8, 14-24mm f/2,8, 16mm fisheye as well as TC20, TC14 and TC800-1.25E converters, some LEE filters, SB900 flash with bracket and a few other little things. Of course my Macbook Pro 15" was going in the lid with my memory and documents. I was not using the ICU, to fit more gear, but made sure to secure the lenses from scratches with soft tissue. I do use the Literoom Roller in the Zodiacs but on land I prefer the F-stop Satori fotobag. I get my F-stop bags from fotobag.no.
|Stuffed F-stop Literoom Roller|
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Published by Roy Mangersnes kl. 17:59
Saturday, 29 December 2012
Just wanted to add this recap from my test trip to Galapagos in Nov-Dec 2012, on assignment for Naturfokus (now named WildPhoto Travel AS). If you would like to go on such a trip with me or my colleague check out www.wildphoto.com
Arriving from Quito to Baltra in the Galapagos we were all excited to see what the expedition would bring. With 16 passengers, two zodiacs and a crew of 8, the boat that will be our home for the next 11 days seem spacious and nice. Already the same evening we would have our first landing with amazing wildlife encounters. Magnificent Frigatebirds were still displaying, while Blue-footed Boobies showed off along the path. Birds were all over the place and under the cactus huge Land Iguanas were feeding undisturbed by our presence.
Next morning we landed at the Tower at dawn. On the beach we were met by several endemic birds of Galapagos included the rare Lava Gull, wandering among Sea Lions. Along the path in the mangroves Red-footed and Blue-footed Boobies raised their chicks while the Nazca Boobies defended their nests on the ground. Night-herons, Darwin’s Finches and Mockingbirds were numerous. Our first Marine Iguana was also spotted.
At noon we had a nice first try in the water with loads of colourful fish and an octopus for us to see. The water was clear and nice.
In the evening we landed on the other side of the Tower caldera and had a great time with Nazca Boobies and Red-Billed Tropicbirds until the sun set on the horizon.
We woke up to a stunning sunset over Santiago Island and landed as the morning sun swept across the beach. “Blu-bies” and Brown Pelicans watched us from the nearby rocks while Ghost Crabs scattered across the beach. This is the spot to view Galapagos Fur Seals up close and we watched them play alongside Marine Iguanas, Sea Lion and a couple Galapagos Hawks.
Some of us went snorkelling at midday, while others played with the crabs on the beach.
The evening was spent at a stunning beach with beautiful mangroves in the dunes. This is the breeding ground of the Sea Turtle, but also several endemic birds. We stayed until the sun disappeared in the Pacific Ocean.
In the morning we passed the northern spit of Isabela. From the boat we observed Killer Whales and Bryde’s Whales from as distance as Storm Petrels and Galapagos Shearwaters followed the vessel.
The following snorkel in crystal clear waters, accompanied by almost hundred Sea Turtles, Galapagos Penguin, Sea Lions, Fur Seal and even The amazing Ocean Sunfish.
The evening was spent at a most amazing place called Punta Espinosa with enormous number of Marine Iguana and also Sally Lightfoot Crabs. The occasional Mockingbird and Lava Lizard were added to the list.
The Sea Turtles had already left the beach when we landed in the morning, but just behind these Isabela dunes we found our first Giant Tortoise. The walk also provided nice encounters with Land Iguana, Galapagos Hawk, Passerines, Brown Pelican and the endemic Flightless Cormorant.
The snorkel gave us some great encounters with huge Stingrays and more Sea Turtles in clear waters.
During the evening we entered a stunning mangrove landscape and observed several groups of Spotted, Golden and Mantled Eagle Rays, as well as Sea Turtles and sea birds from the zodiacs.
Due to bad weather we had a slow start, but upon landing on the south end of Isabela we had a great encounter with 28 White-tip Reef sharks in a shallow lagoon. Great for photography!
The walk to the nearby Sierra Negra Volcano was cancelled due to very low clouds and a drizzle. Instead we visited the nearby wetlands and photographed the beautiful Flamingos.
The evening was spent on the beach with Sea Lions, Pelicans and wetland birds in low light.
On Floreana we went to look for more Flamingos in the lagoon, but they had already left the wetland. Therefore we went to the nearby beach to work with the many Stingrays feeding in the shallows.
On the tiny island of Champion we saw the extremely rare Charles Mockingbird with no more than 150 birds remaining in the world, before we jumped into the ocean for a snorkel. There we had our first shark encounters, as well as a tremendous amount of colourful fish and Barracuda.
During the evening we had a nice zodiac cruise among the lava rocks and lush mangroves. The evening was finished with a cultural stop and a nice sunset Pelican.
On Santa Cruz we went into the highland and walked among the prehistoric Giant Tortoises in beautiful Scalesia landscapes. After a visit to nearby crates we had a good lunch and a visit to the Darwin Foundation. The rest of the day was a free day in Puerto Ayora.
Another highlight was the landing at Espanola with its stunningly colourful Marine Iguanas and Lava Lizards. The island is also the home of the Waved Albatross. The 20.000 pairs breed only on this island and provide good views both on land and in flight. The Espanola came close to check us out as we stopped by one of the many Booby nest along the path. Even the Tropicbirds gave us some good photo opportunities here. The snorkel of the day was quit exciting with several Eagle Ray and Galapagos Shark sightings, even up close. The evening was spent with Sea Lions on a stunning white sandy beach until the sun set.
The morning started with a pleasant walk into the higher lava landscape of San Cristobal, were we saw our fourth and last species of Mockingbird.
The snorkel of the day was particularly exciting with a group of 40 Galapagos Sharks, several Spotted Eagle Rays and the larges Hammerhead shark I have ever seen.
The evening photography on the beach gave us some good light with Sea Lions and fishing seabirds along the shore.
The last morning we entered a sandy islet just as the sun rose above the horizon, giving us good silhouettes of Sea Lions and nearby seabirds. The played with the many pups for a couple of hours before we had to pack up and head back for breakfast.
From there it went rather smoothly to the airport. It sure was a happy bunch of people that boarded the aircraft for Quito later that day. All smiles and plenty of images on the hard drive.
Monday, 30 July 2012
I just returned from an amazing expedition to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. I was traveling as a photo guide together with my good friend Ole Jørgen Liodden (www.naturfokus.com), and a fun group of photographers from Russia. On this ten day trip we only had a rough outline of our route. Instead of setting up a detailed plan we go with the changing conditions to provide the best photographic opportunities for our clients, and ourselves. On this expedition I believe we did quit well.
|Perfect reflection in Adventsdalen. Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 1/200 sec @ f/9, ISO 250|
I started on my own with a couple of days in Longyearbyen. Spending the nights out around the settlement can really provide with some great photography. The nights are usually calm, and with a hint of midnight sun it came together on a few occasions. Several arctic birds and an Arctic Fox were captured in pleasant light.
|Arctic turn on the run. Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/8 sec @ f/11, ISO100|
Boarding the small vessel M/S Origo on the 15th of July we set up a rough outline of the trip and convinced the guests that we should go as fast as possible northwards. So we did, only stopping to check of a couple of Polar Bears on the way.
|Northern Fulmar following the vessel on the way north. Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/8, ISO 800|
What surprised me on this trip was how far north we needed to go to find ice. At one point we even crossed 82° North. The next few days we moved slowly eastwards in the drifting ice. Constantly using binoculars to spot wildlife, Liodden, the crew and myself were scouting on shifts. You might think finding Polar Bears and other wildlife are easy in the Arctic but it does need some real effort. Just to make a point I will sum up our trip at ones. We met some Germans that was in the ice and was lucky to find one Polar Bear. We found a total of 38 on our ten days! Of course this is not normal, but it shows that with knowledge and some effort you will have more success.
It is a
special feeling to go slowly through the drifting ice, as the summer mist makes
visibility hard. The only sound except the engine is of ice floes getting
crushed against the boat. Suddenly, as you feel like you are getting closer to
the top of the world, a yellowish shape is moving across the horizon – the Polar
Bear. The difference between bears in the ice, and on shore is huge. The Polar
Bear belongs in the ice, with plenty of food to go around. Three of the bears
we found in the ice actually had a seal kill. At one point three bears were
hanging around, partly sharing a large seal carcass. An amazing sighting in
“the middle of nowhere”.
ice being far north we passed over Nordaustlandet and continued down the
stunning Austfonna glacier. This is one of the largest glacier fronts in the
world measuring over 200km from north to south. We were of course hoping to get
Polar Bears on blue ice along this cap, but instead we were blessed with four
Humpback Whales bubble net feeding and eventually breaching close to our
vessel. Even the chef got the photos to prove it!
|82 degrees north - top of the world. Nikon D800, 16mm fisheye, 1/400 sec @f/10, ISO 160|
|Polar Bear tracks on drifting sea ice. Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 1/400 sec @ f/13, ISO 160|
|One of the many Polar Bears we met in the northern oceans. Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/8, ISO 320|
|Feeding Polar Bear at night. Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 1/250 sec @ f/7,1 ISO 320|
|Summer swim in the Arctic. Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/2000 sec @ f/7,1, ISO 800|
|Two large male bears sharing a seal kill. Nikon D4, 500mm and 1,4 ext, 1/1600 sec @ f/6,3, ISO 800|
|Waterfalls from Austfonna Glacier. Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/2000 sec @ f/11, ISO 800|
|Feeding Humpback Whales. Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 1/160 sec @ f/8, ISO 320|
|Humpback Whales east of Svalbard. Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 1/400 sec @ f/7,1, ISO 320|
|Zodiac cruise in a "secret bay". Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/ 3200 sec @ f/10, ISO 800|
|Getting close to the Polar Bear. Nikon D4, 24-70mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/7,1, ISO 800|
|Resting Polar Bear at night. Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/1000 sec @ f/9, ISO 800|
|Getting to know my neighbor on the beach. Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 1/50 sec @ f/8, ISO 320, and flash|
|Still room for one more. Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 1/160 sec @ f/11, ISO 250|
|Brünnich's Guillemots by night. Nikon D4, 14-24mm, 1/1250 sec @ f/7,1, ISO 400|
|Alkefjellet cathedral. Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 1/1000 sec @ f/8, ISO 250|
Later that evening we woke up just in time for dinner, and realized we anchored up near the always stunning Monaco Glacier. After a solid meal we headed out on a Zodiac cruise among the ice. Getting closer to the glacier we heard the rumbling sound of the calving glacier, but always at a safe distance. The waves formed by the falling ice was the only thing that moved the water in the fjord this evening. The guests were happy to stretch their legs and to use those tripods. There were some brilliant landscape photographers among the Russians. Leaving Liefdefjorden we were followed by no less then 30 Belugas. My first encounter with this white whale among the ice.
|Midnight reflection, Liefdefjorden. Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 1/800 sec @ f/7,1, ISO 250, Polarizer|
|Bearded Seal on ice floe. Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 1/250 sec @ f/5,6, ISO 400|
|Blue ice. Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 1/320 sec @ f/6,3, ISO 500|
|Arctic Fox cub, taking life easy. Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/1250 sec @ f/5,6, ISO 800|
This was a perfect trip!
I will be guiding a similar trip in 2013, but all spots have been reserved. (http://www.naturfokus.com/2011/12/23/svalbard-1-2013/) Contact Naturfokus for enquiries on future photographic expeditions to Svalbard.
Photographic equipment on this expedition;
16mm fisheye f/2,8
24mm tilt/shift f/3,5
105mm f/2,8 macro
SB 900 flash
R1C1 macro flashes
Nikon EDG binoculars
And tons of little things...
Photographic equipment on this expedition;
16mm fisheye f/2,8
24mm tilt/shift f/3,5
105mm f/2,8 macro
SB 900 flash
R1C1 macro flashes
Nikon EDG binoculars
And tons of little things...