Arctic Moss Campion © Mattia Cialoni
Mattia has co-led photo excursions with me to his Italian homeland in the Abruzzo National Park in search of wolves and bears. In June 2019, we decided to join forces and turn our attentions north to Svalbard for the Arctic Adventure of a lifetime.
Arctic Fox © Mattia Cialoni
Following our first visit to this beautiful Norwegian archipelago in 2018, Mattia says that "the rich variety of wildlife and the sense of peacefulness that this island gave me brings me back to document the Arctic's pure beauty".
No animal embodies the call of the wild more than the Arctic Fox. Luckily for Mattia and our two groups of clients, the area where we stayed this year is a prime spot for them - with no fewer than five foxes on our doorstep! Every evening we all looked forward to the sunset "fox watch", where we were blessed with many close encounters under the glorious lemony light of the midnight sun. Spending time in the company of this charismatic creature is a privilege that few forget, and these occasions delivered some exceptional images.
Arctic Fox © Mattia Cialoni
On the first day of each trip, our guests tell Mattia and I what photos they'd like to achieve, and then we take them out on an orientation of the local area. It's amazing that in less than one hour you can go from watching ptarmigan in the snowy mountains to photographing little auks and whales in the coastal fjords. This initial outing is a great opportunity for everyone to get classic photos "in the bag" and then make more creative images.
Svalbard Rock Ptarmigan © Mattia Cialoni
Little Auk © Mattia Cialoni
Arctic Tern © Mattia Cialoni
Running our trip in the summer time means that guests can photograph a variety of breeding birds and mammals, under perfect sunlight conditions, to their hearts' content (sleep is clearly optional for some!). Mattia and I are always on hand to give photo guidance on composition, lighting and finding that extra "wow" for your images.
When 10 of these adorable phalaropes swimming towards us, beautifully backlit with the snow-capped mountains behind, and a supporting case of king eiders, red-throated divers and long-tailed ducks, it was all we could do to contain our excitement and stop our cameras going into overdrive!
Red-Necked Phalaropes © Mattia Cialoni
King Eider © Mattia Cialoni
Red-Throated Diver © Mattia Cialoni
It's always fun to play around with different ideas, and with persistence it can lead to some very striking photos. When Mattia flew his drone high up above the tundra, none of us were expecting to see this landscape. Even though we'd walked this tundra every day, it was really eye-opening to see the retreating ice and the change from winter to summer shown in such a graphic way.
Ice And Tundra © Mattia Cialoni
I think it is fair to say that everyone was blown away by the beautiful locations and photo opportunities, all just a short drive from our warm lodge where we laughed and reminisced each night on that day's highlights. Some of our guests are even hoping to return on our 2020 Arctic Adventure - so if you would like to join Mattia and me for some fantastic photo opportunities and wildlife encounters that you will never forget, please book here.*
*Full details will be released in Autumn 2019 for the 2020 Arctic Adventure.