Polar Bear

Day 1 By The North Pole

Photography has taken me all over the world, but I never thought I would ever shoot by the North Pole. My latest trip was to Svalbard, just 600 miles south of the North Pole. When I first mentioned to friends and family that I was headed to Svalbard, they all said "where?"

Svalbard is really no man's land. It is not part of any country, as no country owns the North Pole or the arctic ocean surrounding it, but Norway governs this area. To get to Svalbard, I flew from Los Angeles to London, London to Oslo, Oslo to Tromsa, Tromsa to Longyearbyen, and then finally onto an ice cutter ship to head north to Svalbard.

This expedition was extreme so it was critical that I had the best camera gear. I took three Sony camera's bodies along; A Sony A7R with a vertical grip, a Sony 7R body and a Sony A99 body.  I love using these camera's because they offer me the ability to capture amazing images without getting in the way or slowing me down. While other photographers are looking at the backs of their camera's to see if they have an image, I'm concentrating on getting great images every instant I can.

For example, on day one of our expedition, we saw a polar bear taking a nap. We were in a Zodiac raft when we spotted him and started photographing him. One moment he was napping and the next moment he was up on his feet. This image was taken as he got up and started to move.

I love my A7R because I get an instant preview as I shoot. This way I don't have to worry about looking on the back of the camera to see if I caught the moment. The polar bear is backlit by the sun, which can be hard to capture, but a fast adjustment with my eye still glued to the action was easy and simple to do. If I had to look at the back of my camera on a very bright day I would have missed this shot.

To create this image I use the Sony A7R camera with a 70-200mm zoom lens and a 2x converter. On my A7 body, I had a 55mm lens to capture a wider version of the image. Shooting wide shots, (the 55mm lens) and close shots with the zoom is something I always try to do in situations like this. Many photographers are concerned with only getting the close shots but you never know how you will tell your story until you are back at your computer and editing your images. Shoot wide and close as much as possible. If you think you have a powerful image, change you lens and rediscover a different way to tell your story.