I have been in Svalbard last year joined the Aurora Expedition’s Arctic cruise, started from Iceland through Greenland ended in Sptisbergen, it was a successful experience on the Arctic world, its wild life、landscape、floras etc. were very much impressed, but the pity was haven’t met the king of the wild life – polar bear.
此次懷著必能拍到北極熊的期望，因此所準備的器材自然與以前不同，使用的鏡頭為Canon的200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT，它具有內建的1.4倍增距鏡，由於是內建因此可保有自動對焦功能，易於攝取較銳利的影像，但付出的代價則為曝光降為f/5.6，但在實際拍攝現場須更遠的焦距，因此須再裝上2.0x的增距鏡，此時無法自動對焦且曝光能力也降到f/11，因應的對策為使用腳架方便手動對焦，另外須提高ISO值來改善曝光。
After the information collected on line for the possible presence of the polar bear, I figured that the “Spitsbergen Odyssey” can be a choice, for the gears of the photography this time, I brought Canon 200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT, it has a build-in 1.4x extender which can offer the auto focus in an extending focus of 560mm, it is good for a sharp image catching although the f stop goes down to f/5.6, but for a further distance focusing, it might need further a 2.0x extender, than the total focusing distance reaches to 1120mm, the downsides are the further down of the f stop to f/11, and no more auto focusing available, I need to use tripod to help the manual focusing and the ISO should be raised for compensating the f stop.
Natural are just amazing that everything is following the natural rules, we are all imaging can see the king animal of the Arctic, but we have to understand and collecting enough information about them, find out the correct season、direction and area to meet our wishes,In Svalbard, you can see all the advertising equipped with the polar bear, but when you ask the locate people that the possibility to see the polar bear, no one offers a confirmed answer, isn’t that weird? that concludes we are not able to interfere the nature, and nobody can expect what will happen that when we encounter a bear in a short distance .
由於來以前對在Svalbard群島的北極熊棲息收集了些相關資料，因此心裡有一股強烈的感覺在最大島Spitsbergen四周的海冰區域一定能與北極熊相遇，果不其然第三天7/27一大早約6點，即在船的左前方發現了海豹，迅速在船的左舷架起腳架，想想北極熊應就在附近了，約攝氏5度低溫寒風凜凜，使按快門的手指更形僵硬了，果然約8點從艦橋上傳來領隊興奮的呼聲發現了此次旅途首隻北極熊，是一隻雄性距離約在500公尺開外，以Canon 200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT再加一2x加倍鏡焦距約1120mm，拍攝到它正在大快朵頤它捕捉到的海豹，這….難道是先前看到的那隻嗎嗚呼….，這可是千載難逢的拍攝適當距離，此時清晨的陽光提供了充足的光線以ISO800就可應付f/11的光圈。
(Courtesy Norwegian Polar Institute)
Before I came to this cruise, I have had collected some information through the Svalbard Polar Institute, that their records on the moving of the polar bear in this area, so the feeling to encounter the bears this time become strong, on 7/27 I got up early at about 6am., at the top deck we have found a seal floating up and down in the sea, immediately a feeling of seeing polar bear just burst into our mind that they are closing already, now what I need to do is to set up my tripod and waiting, the cold breeze in the northern land nearly frozen the fingers, time is passing on and on until at around 8am., we heard a shouting from Christian – our expedition leader in the bridge that at the portside a polar bear is killing a seal, when the ship approaching we could see a big part of red dragging of blood on the ice, it was about 500 meters away, holding my Canon 200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT plus 2x extender offering 1120mm focus distance, got the pretty sharp images, normally it is not often you can meet the seal kill scenario, Oh! my God if the prey was the one we just saw not long ago, since the morning sun help the exposure I could have the bright image without very high ISO on the limited exposure f/11.
Again around the noon time there was an announcement from the bridge a seal found on the sea ice, at the same time found the no.2 bear wandering on the sea ice not far from the seal, a surviving game of the seal was on, the bear sneaking into the water but the seal finally won the game, the exhausted bear stumbled along and moving away from the ship, the first encountering of the bear had come to an end, this morning total 3 bears were found we all harvested a bunch of images and felt certain that we are going to see more bears.
隔天船隻巡航在Spitsbergen島西邊峽灣區時，又發現一隻雄性第四號北極熊，懶散的趴在岸邊，此難得的機會領隊要大家立即登上橡皮艇來個近距離拍攝，北極熊看到有人類接近也好奇的朝水邊漫步而來，由於橡皮艇的機動性我們能接近到約百公尺內，根據北極公約觀賞北極熊距離須30公尺以上，此次以Canon 200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT約560mm焦距即可清晰拍攝，且降低ISO值至400，光圈增至f/5.6，快門也提升到1/1600秒，畫質較昨天提高很多，給此次北極熊拍攝添加了紅利，此次攝影之旅除了北極熊也拍攝了一些其他特有的野生動物如馴鹿、北極狐、海象，鳥類有善知鳥、北極燕、海鳩、賊鷗、三趾鷗等，使這一次的北極攝影收穫豐碩，另外北極風貌、植物、花草也儘收眼底。
The next day on 7/28 when we cruised through the fjord along the western coast of the Spitsbergen, no.3 bear was found by the shore lied down on a small hill, when the zodiac approaching to the shore the bear seemed became curious and walked down to the shore, during the walking he dragged some weeds with his month but not ate them, seemed play with them, when he moved to the water bank the distance between us was within 100m., this time with my Canon 200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT without another extender, I could get the sharp images with ISO 400,F/5.6 and 1/1600s speed, the images’ quality improved with low ISO and higher shutter speed.
Along the cruise this time we also visited many other wild life’s’ habitats, including Raindeer,Walrus,fox and the Arctic birds as Little Auk, Atlantic Puffin, Black Guillemo, Arctic Fulmar, Barnacle goose, Skua and Kittiwakes etc. Among all the shooting there are also many flora plants etc..
- 拍攝野生動物Canon的200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT鏡頭是很好的選擇，其內建的1.4x加倍鏡以其自動對焦功能可精準的攝取遠處的目標，且畫質銳利、精細，f/4的大光圈可降低ISO值減少雜訊，200-400mm的變焦使拍攝範圍選擇增加但不損於畫質。
- 這次相機使用Canon的5D MK III搭配200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT鏡頭，相關的設定可參考攝影師Arthur Morris 的Youtube， 拍攝時快門速度是影像是否銳利的關鍵，至少應有1/1000秒以上，如拍鳥禽更須1/1600秒以上，在使用外加加倍鏡時由於須手動對焦，應不斷檢查對焦以防影像模糊。
- 此行拍攝快門按鈕採用”機後按鈕”的快門控制 (將另闢blog說明)，將一般的快門控制移到機後按鈕使測光和快門分開可更有效的連續拍攝鎖定目標。
- 在拍攝鳥類時由於目標的移動非常快速，拍攝時須將相機固定一焦距，然後採取”連續自動對焦”(Al Servo Focus)和”快速連續快門”，攝取進入焦距範圍內的目標，對焦模式採”中央單點”來追蹤目標。
- This time is my second expedition to the Svalbard although we were not a photography group but the cruise routes seems planed for getting good images, specially the polar bear searching, but the polar photography need duration of time to accumulate the experience and lucks, then can obtain better plans to fulfill the shooting contents.
- For wild life’s shooting, I think the Canon 200-400mm/f4 IS USM EXT lens are the good choice in the polar photography, it’s build in 1.4x extender offers extra focus distance and auto focusing ability, with f/4 fast lens we get a very good quality including sharp and low noise images, 200 to 400mm focus length can equip with a different possibilities to shoot nearer or farther objects.
- This time I brought Canon 5D MK III together with 200-400mm/f4 for the wild life’s shooting,for the setting in detail, can check the following connection Youtube of Arthur Morris , the key point in the wild life’s shooting is the shutter speed which should be at least 1/1000s, for birds 1/1600s is the lowest limit, when use 2x extender than you need tripod because of no auto focusing, I use fluid ball head to hold the camera body and lens combination, since the manual focusing is the must, you need to always check the focusing point as the distance altered.
- The “back button focusing” mode is the very important way for the wild life shooting, the main point of it is to separate the focusing from the shutter button, and use the “AF-on” or “star” button on the camera back to focus, and then the shutter button to take the pictures.
- In the birds shooting, to conquer the high speed subject moving, the better way is to fix the focus distance and use “Al servo” auto focusing mode to continuing tracking the subject and use multiple shutter, the focusing mode use central spot focusing which can very precisely nail the subject image.
- For shooting on different projects should prepare different plans with lens such as landscape, glaciers with wide,wild life’s with telescope angles, or the flora, plants with Marco lens etc. for the suitable operation.
北極熊見聞：(資料來源: 挪威北極學院 – Norwegian Polar Institute)
- 北極熊的主要獵物為海豹，主因為海豹具有豐富的脂肪，北極熊可存活至少半年無須食物，主要依靠減少新 陳代謝和體內的油脂。
- 目前世界上存活的北極熊數量約20,000-25,000頭之間，在白令海(Barents Sea)包括挪威及蘇聯等地區約有1,900-3,600頭棲息。
Polar bear facts: (Source: Norwegian Polar Institute)
- Polar bear can live about 30 years old, the adult bear weight 300-600Kg and can be 800Kg the female weight half of the male bear.
- The polar bear are marine mammal, spend most of their life time in the sea ice of the ocean and survived with the marine prey.
- They feed mainly on seals because of the seals own much fat, the polar bear can survive half an year without foods.
- The polar bear are wide spreading in Svalbard, Greenland, Russia and North America.
- There are 20,000-26,000 polar bears in the world, among them 1,900-3,600 bears are in the Barents sea including Norway and Russia.