Svalbard, Norway - a trip of a lifetime

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Post #1  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 1st 2017, 7:25am

Hi all,

Laura and I just returned home from our trip to Svalbard, spending 12 days above the Arctic Circle. Ten days were spent aboard the M.S. Freya, a converted research vessel, for a photography tour of the region as arranged by Natural World Safaris ( https://www.naturalworldsafaris.com/ ) that was about as amazing as could be imagined. There were fifteen tour participants, three excellent nature guides/Zodiac drivers, and two professional photographers who offered tips and assistance throughout the tour. We highly recommend this tour - everyone was first rate.

Our weather was phenomenal, almost always sunny for the 24x7 daylight, and we only had one rough night at sea for the entire trip. The wildlife was the main focus of the tour, and we saw tons, with polar bear, walrus, seal, reindeer and fox being the major highlights, along with countless birds. Beyond the wildlife there was also the amazing scenery, highlighted by the vast number of glaciers in the Svalbard archipelago (greater than 1600 in total).

I'll be back to do lots more updates so you can all get a feel for what we saw. There will also be plenty from me on Facebook and Instagram.

Here are a couple of quick pics to whet your appetite. The focus on the bear is not good because he was shaking, and we were in a Zodiac that was bobbing up and down. There's better bear photos coming soon, but it's fun to see him shake off the water.
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Post #2  Postby George Hejna » August 1st 2017, 1:01pm

Nice! Looking forward to some more pics.

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Post #3  Postby John Chapman » August 1st 2017, 3:46pm

Awesome David. Great pics.

My son and his girlfriend spent a week in Tromso in March hoping to see the northern lights. They were rewarded big time on their final night atop a mountain when the clouds parted for about a half hour and the sky exploded.
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Post #4  Postby Randall McFarlane » August 1st 2017, 3:59pm

Very cool--we're planning on a Svalbard trip next summer. My wife is dying to see some walruses.
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Post #5  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 1st 2017, 4:18pm

We saw lots of walruses on the ice. Pics coming.
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Post #6  Postby brigcampbell » August 1st 2017, 5:16pm

Wow
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Post #7  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 2nd 2017, 9:32am

Lots of photo sorting/editing to do. Picked out a few more wildlife highlights last night. I still have not gotten to even look at my Arctic Fox photos, but picked out some other top wildlife shots.

We saw a wonderful group of Harbor Seals near the end of the trip.
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The Walruses were abundant - all of them on the ice or in the water.
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So much more to come...
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Post #8  Postby KatrinaBI » August 2nd 2017, 10:21am

Fantastic photos. Looks like fabulous bright weather too....
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Post #9  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 2nd 2017, 10:25am

The weather was virtually perfect.
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Post #10  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 4th 2017, 4:59am

FYI - I am not the only photographer in the family
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Post #11  Postby David Wright » August 4th 2017, 8:34am

Great stuff. Keep those pics coming. Any Snowy Owls?
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Post #12  Postby Randall McFarlane » August 4th 2017, 9:05am

Yeah--any good bird shots?
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Post #13  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 4th 2017, 9:13am

Bird shots are going to be the hardest to sort through. We saw lots, but mostly while on the Zodiacs, so they were moving and we were bobbing. I will have photos of Arctic Skua, Arctic Tern and Puffin coming later (among others). We visited several bird cliffs. He's a more up close and personal shot of gulls and their chick.
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Post #14  Postby RyanC » August 4th 2017, 9:15am

This is awesome - thanks for sharing.
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Post #15  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 4th 2017, 9:24am

David Wright wrote:Great stuff. Keep those pics coming. Any Snowy Owls?


No owls of any kind.
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Post #16  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 4th 2017, 9:28am

Puffin (at the guillimot bird cliffs).
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Post #17  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 4th 2017, 9:36am

"Never get between a birder and a pink footed goose."
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Post #18  Postby Randall McFarlane » August 5th 2017, 9:46am

Sage advice! Thanks for all the fine photos, Dave!
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Post #19  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 5th 2017, 10:12am

The glaciers were always exciting
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Post #20  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 6th 2017, 8:10am

Not everything was elegant. ;)
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Post #21  Postby Dale Bowers » August 6th 2017, 8:19am

I thought you're never suppose to piss where you sleep?
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Post #22  Postby John Morris » August 6th 2017, 8:46am

Nice pix. But how were the Norwegian rieslings?
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Post #23  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 6th 2017, 9:56am

I drank a grand total on one shot of some Swedish liqueur during the 10 days on the ship. They had decent wine and beer, but I chose to abstain. I would have skipped the shot as well, but it was ceremonial, and everyone drank it.
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Post #24  Postby Siun o'Connell » August 6th 2017, 3:28pm

These are amazing - wow!
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Post #25  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 6th 2017, 3:57pm

Still thousands of photos to go through. Found some amazing bear pictures in Laura's files today.
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Post #26  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 9th 2017, 6:35pm

More birds-Arctic Tern
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Post #27  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 10th 2017, 6:34pm

Glaucous Gull
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Post #28  Postby LoriMcLaughlin » August 11th 2017, 5:14am

Great pics thanks for sharing.
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Post #29  Postby Alicia C. » August 11th 2017, 7:07am

Gorgeous photos, David! Laura's polar bear image is especially striking. Thanks for sharing!!
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Post #30  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 11th 2017, 4:55pm

My bear photos did not suck... ;)
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Post #31  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 11th 2017, 4:56pm

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Post #32  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 11th 2017, 4:57pm

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Post #33  Postby Siun o'Connell » August 11th 2017, 5:50pm

These are amazing - what a trip!
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Post #34  Postby Steve Nordhoff » August 11th 2017, 8:57pm

Thanks for sharing, looks amazing.
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Post #35  Postby Alicia C. » August 11th 2017, 9:08pm

your bear photos are quite striking, too! amazing!
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Post #36  Postby todd waldmann » August 12th 2017, 8:33pm

Wow. Great pics. Appreciate you sharing!
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Post #37  Postby Ken V » August 21st 2017, 5:16pm

Been watching these go by on FB, but it's great to see them together. What kind of camera equipment did you and your wife use for these shots?
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Post #38  Postby Randall McFarlane » August 22nd 2017, 12:59pm

David, how cold was the weather you encountered? Any words of wisdom on clothing? Also, how big a lens did you use to get those fine photos? Thanks very much!
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Post #39  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 23rd 2017, 12:40am

Hi guys. So first, the weather was gorgeous. It was 40-50 degrees F 24 hours a day. Normally it's gloomier with more mist/rain, but we were insanely lucky. That said you still need relatively cold weather gear because of all the standing around, and the zodiac rides. Waterproof is needed due to spray and Wellington boots are necessary for the landings, which are often in several inches to a foot of water.

As for the camera gear, Laura and I have identical Nikon D5200 cameras, and share 4 lenses. We have the "kit" Nikkor 18-140, a Nikkor 70-300 (Laura's primary lens on the trip), a Tamron 11-16 (barely used it, except for some wide glacier shots), and my new baby, the Nikkor 200-500 which captured most of the intense close ups.
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Post #40  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 23rd 2017, 12:42am

Laura took this with the 70-300 lens at a bird cliff near the end of our trip.
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Post #41  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 23rd 2017, 12:45am

This was with the 200-500mm lens. Wish I could have the higher resolution photos here, but they are also on my Instagram page.
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Post #42  Postby Randall McFarlane » August 23rd 2017, 9:17am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:Hi guys. So first, the weather was gorgeous. It was 40-50 degrees F 24 hours a day. Normally it's gloomier with more mist/rain, but we were insanely lucky. That said you still need relatively cold weather gear because of all the standing around, and the zodiac rides. Waterproof is needed due to spray and Wellington boots are necessary for the landings, which are often in several inches to a foot of water.

As for the camera gear, Laura and I have identical Nikon D5200 cameras, and share 4 lenses. We have the "kit" Nikkor 18-140, a Nikkor 70-300 (Laura's primary lens on the trip), a Tamron 11-16 (barely used it, except for some wide glacier shots), and my new baby, the Nikkor 200-500 which captured most of the intense close ups.


Very much appreciated!
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Post #43  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 23rd 2017, 1:12pm

So between Laura and I, we have over 800 photos of this bear. He was very photogenic!
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Post #44  Postby Jim Brennan » August 23rd 2017, 9:01pm

Do you have a signed release?
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Post #45  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 24th 2017, 1:18am

Paw prints
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Post #46  Postby Craig G » August 25th 2017, 6:12am

Did you spot any Berserkers?
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Post #47  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » August 25th 2017, 4:33pm

This guy should qualify (pro photographer):
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Post #48  Postby Andrew Demaree » August 30th 2017, 6:05am

Thanks for posting a link in the other forum, as I don't think I ever realized that we had a travel forum.

Anyway, I love the photos, David. Norway has always been a place I've wanted to visit, and now only more so.
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Post #49  Postby Terry H a r r i s » September 1st 2017, 9:25pm

WOW!!! David, these all are just spectacular!! Thank you for sharing them with us!! [cheers.gif]
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Post #50  Postby D@vid Bu3ker » September 21st 2017, 4:37pm

Sorry for bumping my own thread, but I had to add this:
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