挪威春季北極生態探險歸來(Back from the Svalbard Spring Expedition 2018)
隨著今年2月份挪威Lofoten群島風景極光之旅後，緊接著是再度去挪威斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)群島的生態探索，After the February Lofoten Island Norway photography tour, in April I went out again to Svalbard Norway for a wildlife and landscape cruise with a small ship “Arctica II”,
2016年是我第一次搭 “Arctica II”機動帆船，雖然在生活的舒適上無法與大船相比，但由於人數不多在航線的安排或探險活動的機動性上卻較為靈活，在近距離觀察生態、景色上有其優點，一趟航行下來雖然有些不適如食物、睡眠等，但在拍照方面小船的確比大船較有收獲，因此蘊釀了今年(2018)春季再次的挪威北極行，2016年答應領隊Svein Wik先生會在不同季節再來北極斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)群島探索冰上的北極熊、北極狐狸，Svein Wik先生近年來的隊務已有較多的發展，他從事挪威北極斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)攝影探險的工作10多年來已累積豐富的經驗，如今已不再限於小船也利用一些中大船如MS Strønstad、MS Freya、MS Malmö等來招攬喜歡從事北極生態攝影的人士，經歷兩次的小船探險還是覺得小船比較適合真正要從事生態攝影工作的人，小團體和靈活的航程能拍到令人印象深刻的照片。
comparing to the big ship, there are not such comfort but the flexible expedition activities and close-up observing the wildlife with small group are its attractiveness, normally we can have more exciting photography results, I joined Mr. Svein Wik (our group leader) in 2016 and told him I will come again in different season, now a day his Svalbard workshop tour have expended along the years, with different ship such as MS Strønstad、MS Freya、MS Malmö he invites more photographers and hobbyists by his expertise and experience, through the 2 times cruise with “Arctica II”, I think there will be more exciting photography results with small group and flexible itinerary.
旅程簡述：此次正值北極的春天時刻，挪威斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)群島的四週大部份被薄冰包圍，航程中須根據衛星的海冰分佈圖來確立航行路線增加了行程的不確定性，同時因春天氣溫仍低 (約0ﾟ~ -5ﾟ攝氏度) 北極地區生物的活動不很頻繁，看到較多的是海象、海豹 和一些鳥類，至於北極熊還是在行程過半後在回程的航程中在斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)群島的最大島Spitzbergen的西邊(北緯79ﾟ)發現，因此可以了解在北極地區氣候、生態及環境的不可臆測，一年中的每個季節都有不同的風貌和生態狀況，在行程中大部份人都將注意力放在北極熊的搜尋，因此其他動物如北極狐狸、馴鹿或種類繁多的鳥群較不被關心，我想這就是此類行程不管大小船的一般情形，另外拍攝生態須有耐心和耐力，能長時間的等待並能承受極地的低溫，在春季氣溫較低動物出現的機率比較低更須具備此種耐力，在這次航行中感受到的插曲是航行到北極80度附近時船四週都是薄冰，船的引擎散熱系統故障須要零件更換，但此處距離停泊港口有上千公里之遙，既使運送零件也要相當時間，但斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)群島的意外救援系統確實另人刮目相看，在船長緊急呼救後約1個小時左右直升機就將零件送達，因此不至於對行程影響太大，另一個重要因素是要有一位經驗豐富的船長，除了開船還兼機械修理的能力，這次的船長也是我在2016年來時的船長Heinrich先生，他是一位全方位的人才，不但會修理船隻同時也對整個斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)群島區域了若指掌，了解什麼季節在什麼地點能觀察到那種野生動物，這些能力若沒幾十年以上的航行經驗是無法獲得的，但野生動物是在各地自然成長的生物，它們的出現不是任何人能預知的，因此Heinrich先生常說的一句話是 “各位如想看北極熊在各地動物園都有不須要大老遠跑到北極來“，這句話或許有些揶揄的成份，但其本意應是來北極探險是一種對陌生事物自我挑戰和期許的旅行，並非僅僅是要看到北極熊而已，對我們這群攝影專業或愛好者而言更是如此，不過無論如何這次大大、小小、遠遠、近近也共發現了7.8隻北極熊，另外值得一提的是特殊的季節景色，此時在斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)群島已是永晝，由早至晚太陽並不下降只是由東邊移到西邊，但春天太陽上下的角度較大，因此早晚時陽光的色彩較為繽紛，早上的粉紅和傍晚的橘紅色陽光灑在厚厚的雪地上如同在一張白色畫紙上作畫般。
Tour itinerary： The tour this time is in the Spring time of the Svalbard archipelago, which are surrounding by the shallow sea ice, it needs closely examining the sea ice map during the cruise, so the tour itinerary can be amended accordingly, the wildlife seemed not very activated and easily found owing to the low temperature (0ﾟ~ -5℃) in Spring, we found more walrus、seals and birds, most of the group members were eager to find polar bears, but the first bears found was not in the northern part of the Spitzbergen but the west coast of it, we experienced that it is not possible to predict the wildlife and nature, frankly speaking, most of us paid more attention in the cruise on the polar bears than other wildlife such as walrus、seals and reindeer etc., Be passion has been always mentioned in the wildlife photos shooting, more of it are proper clothing and the abilities resisting the cold surrounding, this time in Spring was even harder, there was an interlude during the cruise that the engine of the ship got problem in its cooling system and couldn’t running further, the anchor position is in the north of Svalbard in latitude around 80ﾟnearly thousand KM from Longyearbyne, the amazing rescue efforts in Svalbard happened after one hour that the spare parts arrived by the helicopter, although we lost some time for waiting but overall not really effected, on this event we found another concern that is the skipper of the ship who should be very much experienced in many respects including mechanics and maneuvering the ship, Heinrich our skipper who are the same skipper in 2016 is a very experienced captain in my opinion good at not only in driving the ship but also in mechanic repairing, he knows very well the wildlife appearing on different spots and in each season with his experience over decades in this area, but anyway nobody can predicts the wildlife, his platitude is “You don’t need to take a long way coming here to see the polar bear, there are many in the zoos”, although it is a kind of teasing but isn’t he right? I think we take this expedition is willing to challenge our will facing the strange environment and different things, I think most of our group members will agree it, anyway we still found 7 to 8 polar bears during the cruise although some of them were in distant.
except the wildlife shooting, the landscape here in Spring Svalbard were splendid with those white night Sun shine, the pink in dawn and deep orange in the Sunset although there are no really Sunrise and Sunset, those colors on the thick snow looks like a nature painting.
相機(Camera)：Canon 1Dx MK II, 5D MK III
- 200-400mm/f4+1.4x extender
- Canon 1.4x extender
- Canon 2x extender
腳架(Tripod)：Gitzo GK2580 traveler tripod
- Gitzo G2272M,3D low profile Head
- 4th Generation M-3.6 Mongoose Action Head for Larger Lenses
- Gura Gear Bataflae 26L Backpack (Black)
攝影內容： 此次拍攝的內容還是以北極熊為主，希望在春末時刻在斯瓦爾巴(Svalbard)群島北方的海冰區能拍些北極熊在浮冰上的活動，這段時間會有機會遇到母熊帶著小熊出來覓食並教導如何生活及尋覓食物，但冰層沿岸結了廣大的碎冰區船隻無法靠的很近，當然橡皮艇就更無用武之地，由於距離遠使用Canon 200-400mm/f4L+1.4x變焦鏡再加2x加倍鏡，總共焦距為400mm(1.4x)→560mm(2x)→1120mm來拍攝，但這個焦距無法使用相機自動對焦功能須用手動對焦，必須使用三腳架同時光圈也縮小到鏡頭的中間部份只剩f/11，一旦四周光線不佳時不容易對焦且須提高ISO值，有時雖然陽光出現但北極熊仍是在睡覺也是無法拍到生動的畫面，這次拍攝倒是發現不少隻北極狐狸，在冬天身上毛髮呈現白色與環境融合不同於夏季時的紅褐色，但由於距離遠無法拍到一些特寫的鏡頭，另外在航行中也拍了些極地的鳥類，較多的是北極海燕(Northern Fulmar)、藍綠海鷗(Glaucous Gull)及海雀(Common Guillemot)等，這次還拍到難得一見的的國王絨鴨(譯自維基百科)(King Eider)，公鴨色彩鮮艷母鴨則一身褐色很容易分辨，由於鳥類移動速度很快須有專業的三向平衡雲台(gimbal head)來跟焦拍攝，這次我使用專業的美製三向雲台(4th Generation M-3.6 Mongoose Action Head)它適合較長焦距的望遠鏡頭，它的結構簡單手放即平衡且重量輕，適合我這種搭遠程航班的旅客，有關極地風景的拍攝由於大片冰層不適合登陸使用腳架，因此無法使用慢速快門的長時間曝光，大多使用手持拍攝，由於船隻搖擺快門不能太慢會造成影像的模糊。
Shooting contents：The main contents of my shooting this time are still the polar bears, looking forward to shoot some different activities on ices of the polar bears in Spring, I think there should be more chances to find the female bears and the cubs in this season searching for foods and teaching the cubs, we did find several polar bears but they were all far away on the snow which blocked by large area sea ice, the ship couldn’t get close to and no need to say using the Zodiac, I use Canon 200-400mm f4L+1.4 ext. plus Canon 2x extender, bring total focal length range up to 1120mm, but losing the auto focusing and the exposure narrowed to f/11, then it is hard to have more light with the small exposure, and always struggling with the manual focusing, furthermore, when the light glowed but the polar bear were still resting has no activities for the photography, we have found also several arctic foxes, their hairs turning white merging to the environment and different from the brown color in Summer, It is a little pity we couldn’t have some close-up photos of the wildlife in this cruise because of the floating sea ice along the shore.
I have shot also some birds except the polar bears、arctic foxes、reindeer、walrus and seal etc. most of them are Northern Fulmar、Glaucous Gull、Common Guillemot etc., it was thrilled that I have shot some photos of the King Eider other than last time, the male ones looked splendid in color and the female’s color are deep brown which easily to be distinguished, birds moving fast it needs a gimbal head panning the subjects, I use this time the 4th Generation M-3.6 Mongoose Action Head a US brand, which is a very versatile gimbal head for long focus range lens for birds photography, it is also light weight in my gears package for a long flight from Asia.
As to the landscape photos, the landing condition was poor in Spring time for us to shoot with tripod, so the long exposure shutter was not possible for a better landscape images, I shot most photos by hand held and the shutter couldn’t be too slow for avoiding the blur shoots.
The highlights：In the cruise this time, we have a lady member from Holland, she is German and an entrepreneur in consultant business, and very succeeded in her career, except the photography shooting, she took 2 times swimming in the frozen polar sea around 80ﾟNorth, it really amazed all the rest of the group members, what a brave lady!!
Something inspired：To us from the Tropical area, the Polar wildlife photography expedition, regardless of North pole or Antarctic, is always a hard work, the long distance and heavy gears tolerate you in every travel, but it also annoyed is you can’t expect to photography satisfied wildlife photos during those 10 more days cruise, you can never foresee the result of the cruise including wildlife and the landscape, according to my last 4 cruises in Svalbard, I experience the only way to get satisfied is go again and again until you are familiar with them, last but not least, to join the group with experienced guide should be also important.