Jerry Weimar Photography: Blog https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog en-us (C) Jerry Weimar Photography [email protected] (Jerry Weimar Photography) Thu, 28 Apr 2022 13:13:00 GMT Thu, 28 Apr 2022 13:13:00 GMT https://photos.jerryweimar.com/img/s/v-12/u18321515-o46846579-50.jpg Jerry Weimar Photography: Blog https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog 80 120 Arctic Svalbard: "Scooter" Trip to the Russian Village of Barentsburg https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2022/4/scooter-trip-to-russian-village-of-barentsburg Svalbard is a small group of islands in the Norwegian Arctic, whose northernmost point is 80 degrees north, about 600 miles from the north pole.  I went there for 2 weeks in early April of 2022, mostly to do an 9-day photographic tour on the ice-hardened ship MS Freya with Josh Holko.

After we went out on the ship, I took a really fun 144 kilometer (90 mile) "scooter" trip (we North Americans know them as snowmobiles or snow-machines!) starting at Longyearbyen (the major town there) and traveling through the Svalbardian interior to the Russian Village of Barentsburg.

... a Russian Village on the Norwegian High Arctic Island of Spitsbergen you ask?? ... Why, yes!!  Svalbard operates under the auspices of the Svalbard Treaty which recognizes the sovereignty of Norway over Svalbard, but also grants the signatories, including Russia, rights to engage in commercial activities (mainly coal mining) on the islands.

Barentsburg has about 450 residents currently, both Ukrainian and Russian nationals, most engaged in coal-mining and related support/ families.  The population has shrunk from about 1000 in prior years.

We took this route to Barentsburg and back from Longyearbyen.

The "Scooter" Route from Longyearbyen to BarentsburgThe "Scooter" Route from Longyearbyen to Barentsburg

Getting ready to start the trip at Svalbard Adventures in Longyearbyen - a bright and sunny day!

Getting ready to leaveGetting ready to leave Stopping along the way in the interior atop a snow-covered glacier.

Stopping in the interior - bright and sunny!Stopping in the interior - bright and sunny! An old hunting camp, built in 1943, along the way.  Quite a few folks have "get away" cabins on the route immediately outside Longyearbyen.

Hunting Cabin (1943), Spitsbergen Interior, 10:49Hunting Cabin (1943), Spitsbergen Interior, 10:49 Hunting Cabin (1943), Spitsbergen Interior, 10:49Hunting Cabin (1943), Spitsbergen Interior, 10:49 At one of our stops I was able to photograph the spectacularly beautiful Svalbard Reindeer with a long telephoto lens.  The reindeer are supremely adapted to Arctic life, and were numerous on our route.  They seemed used to the scooters and humans, but would run away if the scooters stopped.  Our guides said there are 20,000 - 30,000 reindeer in Svalbard, and a few limited permits to hunt them.

Svalbard Reindeer, Spitsbergen Interior, 11:22Svalbard Reindeer, Spitsbergen Interior, 11:22 Svalbard Reindeer, Spitsbergen Interior, 11:22Svalbard Reindeer, Spitsbergen Interior, 11:22 Svalbard Reindeer, Spitsbergen Interior, 11:22Svalbard Reindeer, Spitsbergen Interior, 11:22 Svalbard Reindeer, Spitsbergen Interior, 11:29Svalbard Reindeer, Spitsbergen Interior, 11:29

The first thing one sees upon finally approaching Barentsburg is the black, bleching smokestack of a coal-burning power plant and a series of bombed-out-looking concrete buildings like the one below.  One's first thought is kinda "yeah, looks very Soviet-era Russia" ... modern Moscow and modern other Russian cities not withstanding!  It strikes one as very different from Longyearbyen which, though also burning coal for power currently, has no black, belching smokestack.  Though, to be fair, one can see coal dust on the mountain sides around some of the mines in the Longyearbyen area.

The abandoned generator station just outside of BarentsburgThe abandoned generator station just outside of Barentsburg

This is the main street looking back towards the power plant.

The main street, with the power plant in backgroundThe main street, with the power plant in background

One of our two tour guides, Ida, arriving outside the hotel.  The town encourages tourists/ guests of all kinds for another source of revenue.

Our guide Ida arriving in BarentsburgOur guide Ida arriving in Barentsburg

The hotel has a restaurant & bar ...  and a sandwich-board outside in English, advertising the menu of the day!

The HotelThe Hotel

A map of the town greets arriving tourists and new residents.  It's not a big place.  One can walk the whole village in a short while.

Map of TownMap of Town

Our two guides, Ida and Ryan, gave us a town intro and then a walking tour.  The town is up on a hill overlooking a giant fjord.

Guides overview of the town

The hospital is across the street from the hotel.  I've seen some older pictures of Barentsburg that lead me to believe that many of the buildings are brick and, later, they added these colorful façades.

The HospitalThe Hospital

The Red Bear is a restaurant and micro-brewery near the hotel and hospital.  Funny story: our guides gave us 10 minutes to ourselves to walk around town.  As I was walking back I noticed a group of folks with black "Svalbard Adventures" snowmobile suits on, walking into the Red Bear for lunch.  Not having heard the lunch plan for our group, I followed the folks into the Red Bear, walked upstairs to a locker-room like area, went through the laborious process of removing all my heavy/ warm gear, and sat down at a table with other Svalbard Adventures folks.  Looked at the menu - borscht among other things - yum, just what I wanted!  My wife is of Prussian heritage and often cooks Polish food and some Russian - had borscht a number of times and really like it.  Was salivating.  Even ordered a coke ...

... it was then that I realized our whole group wasn't coming in.  I asked at the table "Are you a family group?" to which they all replied "... uh, yeah" with a "what are you doing here" look on their faces.  Not knowing there was a second group from Svalbard Adventures, I'd been fooled!  I jumped up, raced to put on all my gear and get back out to the meeting area for our group.  Much to my chagrin, I was the last guy there and the whole group was staring me down - Ida had gone off to look for me on my own scooter.  Geez... what could I do to recover?  Worse yet... no borscht today.

The inside of the Red Bear was modern and attractive - unexpectedly so given the weathered condition of the outside of the building and the general appearance of the town.  Too bad I had to race out and didn't get a chance for a quick iPhone snapshot... especially of the restaurant's icon - the Red Bear statue.  But a quick internet search will yield some images for you if you want to see it.

The Red Bear Brewery and RestaurantThe Red Bear Brewery and Restaurant

The Red Bear Brewery and RestaurantThe Red Bear Brewery and Restaurant

Shortly after the Red Bear, you come to this building, which I believe is the Hostel.

The hostel, apparentlyThe hostel, apparently

Then you reach the Mine Administration Building which, among other things, houses the entrance to the mine itself.

The new Mine Administration BuildingThe new Mine Administration Building Entrance to the mineEntrance to the mine Mine Logo on top!Mine Logo on top!

Our guides, Ida and Ryan, gave a short talk about the mine outside the Admin Building.  We learned that the mine used to be mostly up under the mountain... but now, it's under the fjord!  It takes the miners about 1 hour to get to their actual working location under the fjord, and it's cold in the mine from ventilation air that has to be pushed in because the mine cannot, obviously, be vented into the fjord.  Working conditions must be ... well, less than appealing!

Guides overview of the mine - tough job!

Then you reach the School, with it's colorful mural paintings on the outside.

The School buildingThe School building

Arctic animals painted on the School:

Arctic Animals painted on the SchoolArctic Animals painted on the School Arctic Animals painted on the SchoolArctic Animals painted on the School

Moscow's Cathedrals and Longyearbyen's colorful houses, painted on the School:

Images of Moscow's Cathedrals & Longyearbyen's Colorful Houses painted on the SchoolImages of Moscow's Cathedrals & Longyearbyen's Colorful Houses painted on the School

More Russian artwork painted on the School:

More artwork painted on the SchoolMore artwork painted on the School

Next is the old Mine Administration Building and mine entrance - now abandoned as I understand it.

The old Mine Entrance BuildingThe old Mine Entrance Building

The mine workers are mostly (if not all?) men.  Many of the women in town are engaged in making crafts, including those for sale.  You can see the Arts and Crafts Building in the background of this image.  I would like to have seen what types of crafts they are making, but time did not allow and the Souvenir Shop (a different building) was closed.

Arts & Crafts Building in the backgroundArts & Crafts Building in the background

Here's a sign on an abandoned building at the harbor.  No idea what it says!  (Workers of the Arctic World, Unite! ... maybe??)  I'll have to figure it out later...

A sign at the harbor ... I wonder what it saysA sign at the harbor ... I wonder what it says

The Russian Consulate Building and a Residence Building.

The Russian Consulate Building and a Residence BuildingThe Russian Consulate Building and a Residence Building

Another Residence Building with the requisite statue of Vladimir Lenin and a "Communism is our Goal" sign out front (not visible in this image).

Residence Building with requisite statue of Lenin out frontResidence Building with requisite statue of Lenin out front

The Concert Hall.  (This might also contain some sport facilities - not sure.)

The Concert Hall (& some sporting facilities?)The Concert Hall (& some sporting facilities?)

The Concert Hall (& some sporting facilities?)The Concert Hall (& some sporting facilities?)

A church that was constructed after a terrible plane crash - so mourners had a place to grieve.

The ChurchThe Church

The Souvenir Shop.

The Souvenir ShopThe Souvenir Shop

The road out of town, with a very old-Russian looking truck carrying a load of coal and coal dust on the road.

The road out of townThe road out of town

A very Russian-looking coal truckA very Russian-looking coal truck

On the way out of town, we stopped for lunch at the bombed-out-looking old generator building.  Had a freezed-dried lunch ... a BIG step-down from the borscht lunch I had hoped for at the Red Bear!

The abandoned generator station outside townThe abandoned generator station outside town

The building used to house two generators.  You can still see where the generators were housed, a crane for generator maintenance, and all sorts of old electrical relay panels with Cyrillic Lettering.  Very surreal!

Lunch! ... inside the old generator stationLunch! ... inside the old generator station The crane for lifting the 2 generators for maintenanceThe crane for lifting the 2 generators for maintenance Old electrical panel with Cyrillic writingOld electrical panel with Cyrillic writing

On the way back, the weather turned snowy with near-white-out conditions at times.  Having lived in upstate NY with decades of white-out driving experience, I wasn't bothered.

Return trip - blowing snow and low visibilityReturn trip - blowing snow and low visibility

On the way, we visited an Ice Cave.

Another Ice Cave on the way backAnother Ice Cave on the way back

Our very-good Guide, Ryan, did a closing briefing at the end of the trip.  The trip had taken us up & down hills, through valleys, across frozen lakes, up a glacier, over smooth terrain & bumpy terrain, fast straight-aways at 45 miles per hour, closed-in tight turns at slow speeds, and in all kinds of weather ... all through fantastically beautiful landscape in the short space of a few hours.  Not a bad way to spend a day in Svalbard - highly recommended!

Closing briefing by our Guide, RyanClosing briefing by our Guide, Ryan

I hope you enjoyed this rather-long virtual tour of Barentsburg and coverage of my Red Bear mishap!  As they used to say on Monty Python "... and NOW ... for something completely different!"

Cheers!

Jerry

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[email protected] (Jerry Weimar Photography) https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2022/4/scooter-trip-to-russian-village-of-barentsburg Tue, 26 Apr 2022 15:20:18 GMT
Arctic Svalbard: Dog Sledging & an Ice Cave https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2022/4/dog-sledging-in-svalbard Svalbard is a small group of islands in the Norwegian Arctic, whose northernmost point is 80 degrees north, about 600 miles from the north pole.  I went there for 2 weeks in early April of 2022, mostly to do an 9-day photographic tour on the ice-hardened ship MS Freya with Josh Holko.

Before we went out on the ship, I took a really fun 20 kilometer (13 mile) dog sledging trip from just outside Longyearbyen (the major town there).  During the trip we also climbed down into an ice cave - pretty "cool"!!

The entrance to the dog sledging camp is pirate themed - ahoy!

Green Dog, Svalbard!Green Dog, Svalbard!

After suiting up in warm body suits, boots & gloves, you get quickly trained on how to lash the dogs to the sledge and drive the sledge.

Then you pick up the dogs and lash them to your sledge yourself.  Nine (9) dogs for the lead sledge with the guide, food, emergency equipment... and the all-important bear-rifle... just in case!!  Six (6) dogs for each guest sledge.

Training! Then off you go!  Two guests per sledge - one riding, and one driving.  You switch-off during the trip to give each a chance to ride and drive. The dog at the rear-right is named Oak. He is an experienced Greenlandic dog - very muscular and strong, with a level-personality. He is one of the Guide's 30 dogs and a crowd-favorite - people come back just to see him! He's paired with a young, high-strung female at the rear-left, to help her get adjusted to the routine. You can see the differences in their running style if you look!

Here We Go!

The minimalistic Arctic scenery along the way is strikingly beautiful!

Through the valley Arriving at Day Camp for Lunch.

At Day CampAt Day Camp

The Guides made reindeer-skin-covered ice-couches in the snow!

Ice Couch!Ice Couch! Lunch!

Lunch!Lunch! Climbing into the Ice Cave!

Climbing into the Ice CaveClimbing into the Ice Cave Climbing into the Ice CaveClimbing into the Ice Cave Looking upwards towards the entrance to the cave.

Looking up towards the entranceLooking up towards the entrance

The ceiling of the cave.

Looking up towards the entranceLooking up towards the entrance

Our Guide at the bottom of the entrance - very cool ice wall!

Looking into the caveLooking into the cave

The narrow passage of the cave.

Walking into the caveWalking into the cave

A small chamber farther in.

Walking into the caveWalking into the cave

Walking back from the cave.

Returning from the Ice CaveReturning from the Ice Cave

Dog teams starting to leave Day Camp.

Second Team Leaving Day Camp

Friendly greetings before departure The trip home!

Return tripReturn trip Return tripReturn trip Visiting the Pups afterwards!

Visiting the Pups AfterwardsVisiting the Pups Afterwards

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[email protected] (Jerry Weimar Photography) https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2022/4/dog-sledging-in-svalbard Tue, 19 Apr 2022 19:28:34 GMT
Photographers Jerry Follows https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2019/12/photographers-jerry-follows   Joshua Holko

Joshua Holko is a polar photographer who offers a variety of Polar and Sub-Polar Photography Expeditions, Josh has been profiled many times by a number of prominent photography sites. 

I went on Josh's 2019 Greenland Expedition which he did jointly with Daniel Bergmann.  See here for my Greenland trip images.

I went on Josh's 2022 Winter Svalbard Expedition.  See here for my Svalbard trip images.

Daniel Bergmann

Daniel Bergmann is an Icelandic/ Polar photographer who offers a variety of Polar Photography Workshops, sometimes together with Josh Holko.

I went on Daniel's 2019 Greenland Expedition which he did jointly with Josh Holko.

Chris Lund (IS)

Chris Lund (EN)

I met Chris on a 2019 trip to Greenland.  He has been photographing Iceland since his childhood, while traveling all over the country with his photographer Dad.  He offers guided photo tours of Iceland, and has a really great book of Icelandic images.

 

 

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[email protected] (Jerry Weimar Photography) https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2019/12/photographers-jerry-follows Sun, 15 Dec 2019 13:12:01 GMT
Recommended Photography Sites, Updated 01/27/2019 https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2014/3/recommended-photography-sites   Photography Life

I've been reading Photography Life for many years now.  Nasim Mansurov and his team do a great job of covering a wide variety of interesting photographic topics.

The site has become my "go to" site for landscape locations/ topics and reviews for cameras, lenses and related photographic equipment.

The site offers many tutorials which are well worth the read including: Tips for Beginners, Landscape, Wildlife, Portraiture, Post-Processing and Advanced Tutorials.

Photography Life also offers a number of landscape workshops, which I've not yet had the chance to join.

Well worth visiting.

Digital Photography Review

Digital Photography Review is the largest camera-gear-head site on the planet, and well worth getting to know. (I've been a site member since 2003.)

It offers some of the most comprehensive camera reviews around, and has a nice side-by-side comparison guide, which allows you to easily compare 2-or-more cameras.  It also has useful Buying Guides for various types of cameras including a DSLR/ ILC Buying Guide, a Mirrorless Camera Buying Guide, and a Compact Camera Buying Guide.

The site has also branched out to other types of reviews, such as lens reviews and even phone camera reviews, but traditional cameras have, IMHO, been its strength.

The forums have a lot of useful information and good folks but, though better moderated than they used to be, trolls still hijack threads there a bit too much for my taste.  Definitely visit and use the forums - just be prepared to sift through the chaff to get to the wheat.  (In dpreview's defense, I'm sure part of the reason is that its just very hard to keep up with the volume of forum traffic.  The site has been a smash hit and gets millions of visits.)

Phil Askey founded the site in 1998, which was relocated to Seattle from London and sold to Amazon in 2007.  Phil left in 2010 to pursue other interests.

Imaging Resource Imaging Resource is a great site for camera reviews and lens reviews.  But it also features many Photographic Interest Items on its main page, and is well worth visiting regularly. Camera Size Camera Size is a little gem that allows you to visually see the size of two different cameras side-by-side.  So, if your question is "how much smaller is Camera X compared to my current Camera Y?" ... then this is the site to visit. DxOMark DxOMark is a great site for camera lens ratings. Sightsmap Sightsmap is hot!  When you go there, press the "heat" button at the top and you will see a "heat map" of the entire globe, wherein the "hotness" of a given location depicts the total number of photographs taken from that location.  Its a very interesting and informative way to see which locations on the globe have been photographed-to-the-max and which locations haven't.  Some of the locations will surprise you, and others not so much.  Have fun with this one.

 

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[email protected] (Jerry Weimar Photography) https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2014/3/recommended-photography-sites Sun, 30 Mar 2014 00:16:30 GMT
Site Kickoff and Dedication https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2013/11/site-kickoff Inspired by the Natural World
It seems we are all inspired to capture and preserve the way we feel  when visiting beautiful places in the natural world.  Those visits clear our hearts and minds, and encourage us to think about things larger than ourselves.
As I kickoff this site in November of 2013, I hope that my images will remind you of your own experiences in the natural world.
My Earlier Days
My Dad instilled a love for the outdoors in us at an early age. We often went on day trips and vacations to the Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence Seaway in Upstate NY where I grew up.
My interest in photography was inspired by the tremendous beauty of the Adirondack Mountains.  As an adult I climbed all of the Adirondack High Peaks and became an Adirondack 46er in 1991 (46er #3031 in the Member Roster).
Gear
I shot film in my earlier days while climbing, but I've been shooting digital since 2001.  From 2005 to early 2013 I used a Canon 1DS Mark II and professional "glass" for most of my landscapes.  In early 2013 I changed teams to Nikon, not-in-small-part due to the phenomenal sensor in the Nikon D800, which is ideally suited for landscape photography.  Like my 1DS Mark II, the D800 was a great system.  Later the new Nikon Z-Series mirrorless camera were released, with an even better sensor for landscape, so I picked up a Z7 in 2018, and a second Z7 in 2020.  I'm shooting with two Z7's to this day in 2022.

I've had a good collection of lenses and flashes over the years.  You can see my gear list on dpreview, if you want to see some of the lenses I use.

After purchasing the D800, I also bought a Fujifilm X-E2 and lenses, as a second backup/ travel system.  It was much smaller and lighter and, as some of you might know, it was a "mirrorless" system with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) rather than an optical viewfinder (OVF).  It was my first mirrorless camera, and was a great experience.  But I gave it to a niece after I purchased the Z7 mirrorless cameras.

Prints
Prints are offered for sale up to 20"x30" directly off the site, except for pre-2005 images which are offered up to 12"x18".
  I do custom prints on an Epson 7900 in my lab (up to 24" x 48").  Use the contact info on the Home page to send me a note if you are interested in a custom print.

Site Dedication

This site is dedicated to you, Dad.  Thanks for teaching us by example to appreciate the natural world.

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[email protected] (Jerry Weimar Photography) https://photos.jerryweimar.com/blog/2013/11/site-kickoff Mon, 25 Nov 2013 14:45:48 GMT