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Grand Prize Trip to Svalbard - José Luis Rodriguez III

October 8th, 2012 Posted in Northern Europe, Uncategorized

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Svalbard seabirds

In Svalbard, polar bears compete with seabirds in prominence. Their colonies are truly spectacular. Many different species of seabirds were close to the ship during the voyage.

I checked it around Longyearbyen sail with fulmars, which began flying beside the panoramic window of the boat while the Polar Quest expedition leader, Henrik Lovendahl, along with the rest of his teammates, Sue, Annette, Axel and Ronald, welcomed us in the panoramic lounge.

When I listened to him I couldn´t avoid the wishes of taking my camera with autofocus and try these wonderful seabirds which are never tired of flying. But I had to be calm and suppress my whishes at that moment. Then I didn´t know that at the end of the trip I would have taken no less than 1,500 photos of fulmars in flight, with all the lights and all imaginable positions with various telephoto lenses and up to 17-40 a day when the wind made them fly glued to the deck of the ship.

The fulmars always flew by the window of my cabin and they were guilty for several days that I photographed them at 5 am long before the beloved Henrik awaked us by the ship’s public megaphone with his memorable greeting of “good morning good people ” of everyday. Also he announced us everything interesting that we expected for the day after having breakfast.

Of all the colonies of seabirds in Svalbard, the most famous and best known is undoubtedly the colony of Alkefjellet, in which take place the reproduction of several hundred thousand Brunnich’s guillemot. At this time, the sea didn´t allow us to get landed or approach the zodiac, but we could see them very close thanks to the skill of the captain, who approached the ship to an incredible distance. At this time, in late August, many couples of seabirds had already finished their reproduction and vertical rock walls of Alkefjellet were less populated of birds than it would have been desirable.

Breathtaking Svalbard
Svalbard landscapes are really awesome. And as a photographer, at first I wasn´t able to get it into my camera what my eyes were watching. It seemed to me that the photos taken didn´t do justice to that spectacular wild scenery. I decided to opt for the panoramic treatment of those places where the mountain peaks are mixed with glaciers and sea water. And also to include some element of comparison to give an idea of the real proportions and the magnitude of the forms. The zodiac boats helped me to fix it and that´s why they appear in many of my photographs. Even the ship M/S Quest was useful for that purpose. The panoramic treatment is hard work later in the study, but compensates by getting a wider, not as one-sided as those of single frame.

The ship, the M/S Quest, was the ideal boat all the way to a trip to the Arctic with these characteristics. It is convenient and comfortable, very welcoming especially after going out with cold wind and snow. And the food on board … more than enough to get your strength (and even win a kilo), varied and rich, so it was very pleasant to go on time for appointments that Herman announced with great sense of humor over the intercom.

I was struck by the professionalism of all the guides, who knew all the time what a professional photographer needs to take their best shots.

Like I said before, this trip to the Arctic with Polar Quest and Wild Wonders will be indelible in my memory until the end of my days.


Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.

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