Svalbard with an iPhone

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 2 Comments

“One of the oldest dreams of mankind is to find a dignity that include all living things. A way to do this is to pay attention to what occurs in a land untouched by human schemes, where an original order prevails.

As I moved through the Arctic I thought often about a rhythm indigenous to this land, not imposed on it. The imposed view, however innocent, always obscures. The evidence that there is a different rhythm of life here seemed inescapably a part of the expressions of the animals I encountered, though I cannot say precisely why. A coherent view of the pervasiveness of such a rhythm is elusive.”
~ Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

* * *

There are no better words to describe how I feel about my recent Svalbard Expedition.

It was absolutely beautiful!

This was my fifth year guiding and hosting in the Arctic, a place I continue to grow exceedingly fond of and for many reasons – ranging from the amazing people and incredible shared experiences to quiet moments on deck and more honest, personal reflection than I have allowed myself to entertain for quite some time – this trip has left me with a lot of food for thought.   Change the way you see the world comes to mind but I’ll share more on this in due course.

Like on every Wild Eye trip I host I used my iPhone to capture the moments that take place in between the images we share.  Sometimes a large camera and worrying about settings get in the way of these moments and, let’s be honest, travel and wildlife photography should be about so much more than the images we create with our big, fancy gear.

This is not my trip report from our 2017 Svalbard expedition but rather a chronological diary of some of the special moments I captured during my time in the Arctic a week or so ago.

Looking through these images I feel truly grateful to have shared this adventure with a remarkable group of people – both guests, EL’s and crew – and it’s humbling to know that I played a small part in making memories that will, for everybody involved,  last a lifetime.

Svalbard with an iPhone

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Arriving in Longyearbyen with my brand new FOM backpack.

This… is when I know I’m back in Svalbard.   My obligatory polar-bear-at-the-luggage0-carousel-selfie.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

 A morning hike through Longyeabyen before boarding our expedition vessel.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Catching up with a great friend and awesome EL.  Look forward to many more adventures together Christian!  #WatchThisSpace

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Svalbard.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Here we… go!

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Thinking about the adventure ahead of us.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Sudden coffee!!  Thanks to the San Francisco crew for supplying the stash.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

If you follow my Instagram stories and Snapchat you’ll get this!!  If not, follow me here and here.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

24/7 awesome photography opportunities.  Literally!

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Yes, there were a few cameras.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Shoot – process – have coffee / drink – repeat.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

David – our viking guide and totally awesome guy!

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Learning more about the rich and diverse history of Svalbard.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

At every meal – a briefing of where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Zodiac time.  12 pax for transfer to land and 6 pax per zodiac for photography cruises.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Henning and I.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

The sharing and learning on these cruises are simply awesome! #ThisIsWhyWildEye

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Lunch.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Om crushing another long exposure.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

David and I on one of our land excursions.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Cold selfie.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

A snowy D810.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

So how do I pull the blues in this image?

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Coffee station which always includes some sort of cake or biscuit.  Yes!!

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Briefing time.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Ny Alesund.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

On site lecture at the Ny Alesund museum about the history and many polar expeditions which was launched from there.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

A legend in polar exploration. Amundsen, not me.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Polar history.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Not gonna lie… I was a little cold on this image.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Dinner on board the M/S Stockholm is always awesome.  Always.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Snowy zodiac

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

This was #NotShit

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Deidre and I.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Bev stepping onto the ice.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Captain Magnus. #Legend

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

The Arctic Om.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Three South Africans in Svalabrd.  Jaco, Deidre and I.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Walking on fast ice.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Parking the boat in the ice and having a walk – always a great experience!

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

iPhone landscape.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Lecture on polar mammals.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Hasselblad.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Fujifilm.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Leica.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Leaving the Stockholm for another excursion.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Whale bones.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Another arctic selfie.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Coats and boots.  Easy access for each time we head outside.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

I need to read this.  Absolutely stunning writing.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

With Bev.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Rowing on ice?

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Arctic adventures.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

When the food is so good that you HAVE to take a picture.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

iPhonography in the Arctic.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Christian and I. #WatchThisSpace

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Jaco and I with some proper blue ice.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Blue.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Glacial ice for whisky.  A must!

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

The boot butler because taking off your boots when your hands are cold is just not cool.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Working on their 18 image portfolio for the presentation on the final day.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Chef presenting the final dinner.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Starters.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Dinner.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

The ladies.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

The gentleman. (Kind of…)

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Our viking invited me for a drink!

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

When guests and crew meet in the crew bar for drinks on the final night – priceless!!

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Longyearbyen from the sky.

Gerry van der Walt - iPhone - Travel - Svalbard - Wild Eye

Leaving the Arctic.  Until next year. #YesBookingsAreOpen

Svalbard.

I absolutely love that place and can’t wait to board the M/S Stockholm next year and join Christian and David on another amazing journey around the Arctic.

Once I get back from the Timbavati where I’m hosting a private guided photo safari I will be sharing a whole lot more from not only Svalbard but also my Gorilla and Chimp safari which I hosted directly after leaving Svalbard.

It has been a crazy few weeks and I still find it quite surreal that in two weeks I have helped guests to see and photograph polar bears, gorilla, chimpanzees and, from tomorrow, Africa’s Big 5.  Some might call it a dream job which sometimes feels like it dismisses how serious and passionate we are about what we do but I like to simply think of it as changing the way my guests see the world.  It’s what I do, it’s what the Wild Eye team does and it’s something I hope to share with as many people as possible.

Hope you are all doing well and will be back soon with more images, posts, podcasts and a whole lot more!

Until next time.

Gerry

About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at www.gerryvanderwalt.com or follow my journey on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Periscope.  I look forward to changing the way you see the world! Have you checked out The Wildlife Photography Podcast?

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Comments 2

  1. Christian

    It was an absolute pleasure to have you, Gerry, and your guests on board. And even if it was the very start of the season, this could easily become the best trip of the Svalbard season. Stunning diversity, beautiful fresh snow and great guests made up for this. Looking forward to the next year( s)…

  2. Pingback: Images from Svalbard - Wild Eye

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