Polarised Sky


Svalbard, Norwegian ArcticFrom the blog

This sky was particularly beautiful. Sometimes it’s not about the extraordinary landscapes that are under my feet, but the canvas of ever changing colour and texture above in the sky.

Photographic Details: Shot at the brightest exposure I could allow myself in order to capture the most detail, I also used a circular polarizer. A handy little filter known for darkening the blue sky in order to get the sky to pop. If the sun is in the right direction often the piece of sky 90 degrees perpendicular to it is greatly effected by the polarizer, adding a bit more drama to the image.

The best way to visualise which part of the sky will be greatly effected by a polariser is by making a 90 degree angle with your thumb and index finger, like making a pretend gun with your hand. If you keep your thumb pointed directly at the sun at all times, any direction you can then point your index finger will tell you where the sky is mostly effected by the polariser, voila! Your hand is a polarised sky finder!

1/125s f/9.0 ISO100 16mm

Explorer's silhouette


Svalbard, Norwegian ArcticFrom the photo of the day at

Exploring the arctic tundra is somewhat of a contemplative activity. Mostly bare rocks will seem uneventful to the inattentive eye, but if you take your time you will become aware of the subtle flora that populates the land. As guides, we establish a perimeter where it’s safe for us to explore, investigating the land for polar bears and keeping armed guides within view of everyone and everything just in case. This group was looking out into the horizon to our expedition vessel, the Akadamik Sergey Vavilov.

Click for larger image

Photographic details: I noticed how at this moment everything seemed to just fit together. I often use the “rule of thirds” to line my subjects up and this is a great example. I split the image into thirds and my subjects are placed in the intersections of these divisions. The silhouette of the group and the ship are both important parts of the image but they are both 1 third of the way into the image. In addition the sky takes up the top third, the ocean the middle third and the land on the bottom third. The eye has a lot of paths to follow, from one subject to the other. The centre of the image has nothing in it, it forces the viewer to look around and linger a little longer on the photograph.

The original full colour photograph was interesting but I wanted more drama, it had a lot more details and I could even see the faces of the silhouettes. In lightroom I shifted to black and white and increased the blacks, this gave me the the contrasty look I wanted.

1/400s f/8.0 ISO100 100mm

Original colour version: Click for larger image

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230 degree Arctic vista


Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic In the hopes of pursuing a polar bear a great place to look is the very platform that bears depend upon for hunting: sea ice. Our vessel being ice strengthened we have very little to worry about when navigating around frozen areas like this. In fact given that we had some time and wanted to scan the horizon for bears, we end up ramming into the sea ice to park the ship, with no need of an anchor we can rest here and take a look at the view.

Photographic Details: I was admiring this view when I thought I would have fun with a panorama. Taking multiple photos with my wide angle lens I was able to capture over a 230 degree view, which as a photo tends to play with the mind. It looks like two ships are right beside each other when in reality it’s just the left and right side of the main deck I was standing on. Each photo was automatically stitched together by photoshop after being processes in lightroom.

1/125s f/9.0 ISO100 16mm

Click for full image

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Heavenly arctic rays


Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic It was a grey day up in the norwegian arctic as we tromped around the snow and rocks in search of arctic enlightenment. It was nice to stretch my legs and explore the contemplative landscape of the north, but I still felt like I was holding my breath, like I was waiting for something to happen. I didn’t know what I was expecting but I was going to be ready for it.

As our group walked between a valley towards an old hut the view of the mountains in the distance greeted us. This is when the sky opened up to reveal these beautiful rays of light pouring out of the grey clouds. Everyone just stopped to look in.

This is where I was glad to have other people in this photograph. The woman in purple on the right is also taking a picture, further expressing this is a scene worth photographing as her shadow is cast behind her like a spectator of a nuclear explosion.

Photographic details: Shot in raw I was able to get all the details I wanted in this scene with one exposure. I had to darken down the brighter portions of the image, and brighten up others to get the photograph to look much more like how I saw it. The magic with shooting and processing in raw with lightroom is that I can correct the mistakes that my camera makes. It’s nowhere near as intelligent and advanced as the human brain and eye; a photograph needs human direction to be a human photograph. Sure it’s nice when a photo comes out looking perfect without a bit of processing, but most of the time an untouched photograph is something that is just done by a robot. I am not a robot.

I shot this at f16 to make sure everything is as sharp as can be for this landscape photo.

Canon 5D Mark II 1/80s f/16.0 ISO100 16mm

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Two seasoned fox


Norwegian Arctic: Svalbard In the winter, the arctic is a veritable snowy world covered in white. And likewise many animals including the Arctic fox has a white coat to blend into their surroundings. In the summer months, the land returns to a brownish red hue, and so does the arctic fox! This little guy was photographed while he was in transition to his summer coat, with a patch of white lingering on his body and tail.

Photographic Details: It was such a joy to see such a different style on a fox. This guy popped up out of nowhere and was out of there before I could get a decent close up shot of him. The best I could do was line him up with the rule of thirds and incorporate the background to express that he was in this arctic environment. I kept him on the lower right hand corner to give him room to run into the photo; the white of the snow actually has minute details but I chose to leave them as inconspicuous as they are to make the fox pop out of the frame more.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1/500s f/8.0 ISO200 400mm

For #wildlifewednesday

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Polar Bear Tracks


Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic Left on the sea ice from a polar bear that we could just see on the horizon in Svalbard. This is going to be a much rarer sight as the extent of sea ice is diminished every year, which is the important platform polar bears need to hunt for seals.

The fact that the bear has left his prints on the very surface that it depends on creates a very powerful narrative about the problem these animals face today.

Looking for a unique approach to polar bear photography I saw these tracks I knew this would help complete my polar bear portfolio as nobody really shares photos like these. So much about these animals is written in the snow: The long hair around the paws of the bear have brushed the surface of the snow and left streaks in exquisite detail, illustrating how the bear seems to shuffle across the ice. They can walk at great speeds on the ice but have to be careful not to overheat given the relative warmth of the Arctic summer and their great adaptations in conserving heat. The wide spread of the 12 inch paws act like natural snowshoes keeping the bear above the surface for optimal arctic travelling.

Photographic details: Taken with a 400mm lens shooting downwards from the bow of the ship as we parked ourselves in this ice flow. The tracks were actually barely visible with the naked eye given the flat light. I had to open the raw file and darken down the image considerably to get more detail out of the image. The results were far more detailed than I could have ever seen in real life, making for an image that actually captures the drama behind these animals.




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