Arctic light – Svalbard, Norway

Happy New Year everybody! Christmas came early the day I received a postcard from one of the worlds leading, highly decorated and awardwinning nature photographer, Roy Mangersnes, Wildphoto, Norway. Please read, look and enjoy his postcard from Svalbard:


Svalbard is something very special – it is an Arctic jewel. I have been lucky to go there on several occasions, but I always want to go back.


Monaco Glacier in evening light. Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 1/640 sec @ f/11, ISO 160

I’ve been on photographic expeditions in the winter, summer and fall, and they all have something very special to offer. Of course there is the variable wildlife, but most of all it’s the light that pulls me back.


Svalbard is a very special part of Norway. The archipelago is one of the northernmost land-areas in the world. Svalbard is defined as a land area situated between 74 and 81 degrees north, between 10 and 35 degrees east. The archipelago consists of islands of various sizes, the largest of which are Spitzbergen, Nordaustlandet, Edgeøy, Barentsøy and Prins Karls Forland.


Animal species in Svalbard have adapted to the severe conditions of the Arctic. Many of them endure extreme cold, periods of lack of nourishment and long Arctic night. Svalbard has only two species of land mammals: the Arctic Fox and the Svalbard Reindeer. As for the Polar Bear, it spends most of its time on ice floes and is thus considered and ocean mammal. For all three survival is key.



Bearded Seal on ice floe. Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 1/250 sec @ f/5,6, ISO 400


In the high Arctic, there are relatively few bird species compared to places further south. Yet, although species may be few, the number of individuals in some of them can be extremely high. There are three to five million nesting seabirds in Svalbard. At certain locations several hundred thousand birds nest in coastal cliffs. The midnight sun makes these cliffs glow as if they were from a different world. Light, sound and smell makes a few hours near these cliffs a truly unforgettable experience.


The Arctic winter has always been appealing to me, but I am very aware of the struggle involved when working in conditions like these. Working as a photographer in minus 30 degrees Celsius and gale force winds is a surreal experience, but the resulting images are rewarding! It is also an advantage if you are able to enjoy the serenity of the Arctic wilderness.


Mum and her two youngsters. Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/1000 sec @ f/11, ISO 1000

A summer or autumn cruise around the archipelago is something very different. You go as the weather and ice dictates and you really are on a true expedition. Even in summer the Arctic can be devious, and winds can bring ice floes large as countries from the north, making travel difficult. During the last few years however the ice has not stayed long around Spitsbergen at summer. Every year we need to go further north to find the good floes, were the Arctic King lives. Polar Bears still seem to thrive in the northern parts of Svalbard in summer, but as sea temperatures rise (and they doq) life become ever more hard for this stunning creatures. Many travel to the Norwegian Arctic today because they are afraid that Polar Bears might disappear in the near future. Unfortunately they might be right…


Getting close to the Polar Bear. Nikon D4, 24-70mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/7,1, ISO 800

Alongside a friend of mine, Ole Jørgen Liodden, I am running WildPhoto Travel, specializing in photographic travelling around the world. One of our specialities is Svalbard and we have already run several successful expeditions. In 2013 we will run 4 trips to this amazing place, and we still have a few open seats.


Waterfalls from Austfonna Glacier. Nikon D4, 500mm, 1/2000 sec @ f/11, ISO 800

© Text and all photos: Roy Mangersnes, Norway

Roy Mangersnes


er profesjonell naturfotograf  bosatt i Sandnes i Rogaland. Roy er leder i Norske Naturfotografer, er ambassadør for verdens ledende kameramerke Nikon og regnes blant de mest innflytelsesrike naturfotografene i Norge i dag. Han har rukket å gi ut tre bøker og har å blitt premiert i flere store internasjonale konkurranser, inkludert BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 og i 2011, samt Årets Europeiske Naturfotograf (GDT) 2010 og 2009 samt Nature Best (USA) i 2012. I 2011 ble Roy mestvinnende fotograf i Nordic Nature Photo Contest med tre kategori seiere i tillegg til to premierte bilder. Roy har hele verden som sitt arbeidsfelt, og bilder blir publisert i tidskrifter og bøker i inn- og utland. Han er i tillegg en habil foredragsholder som har forelest på flere større internasjonale fotofestivaler. Sammen med Ole Jørgen Liodden driver Roy foto-reiseselskapet WildPhoto Travel AS. Selskapet spesialiserer seg på fotoreiser til verdens mest spennende destinasjoner.


For meg handler fotografering om mye mer enn å glede seg selv. At man selv er fornøyd med et bilde er selvsagt viktig, men ofte knytter det seg en opplevelse bak bildene som forsterker det inntrykket fotografen sitter igjen med. Det som skiller et godt bilde fra et mindre godt bilde er om denne opplevelsen blir formildet til en betrakter. I så tilfelle har man tatt et godt bilde og kan klappe seg på skulderen. Et bra bilde må ha et budskap og/eller vekke en reaksjon hos betrakteren. Om man i tillegg har tatt et bilde som blir husket, da har man virkelig tatt et godt bilde. Jeg er veldig opptatt av innhold og budskap i bildene mine og ser på kamera som et svært kraftfullt våpen om det brukes riktig. Et bilde kan si mer enn tusen ord.

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WildPhoto is run by Roy Mangersnes (1978), a professional nature photographer living in Sandnes, southwestern Norway. Roy is part of the Nikon Norway team and is considered among the most influential nature photographers in Norway today. He has published three books, as well as won several national and international awards including BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 and 2011, and also European Wildlife Photographer of the Year (GDT) 2010 and 2009. His latest achievements have been in Nordic Nature Photo Contest were he won three categories and had two awarded images in 2011. Roy is working around the world and his images are being published in magazines and books all over. He is also an experienced presenter and has been displaying his work at several international photo festivals.

Philosophy; “For me nature photography is not all about pleasing my own need to create. Of course being happy with a picture is very important, but very often there is a story behind it that needs to be told. What separates a good image from the rest is when this story is being told to the viewer. If I succeed in telling the story I will be happy. A really good image needs to tell a story, and at best create a response from the receiver. If the image is living through the receiver, and not forgotten, I have really taken a good picture. I am always aware of the message sent through my photography, and consider my camera a very powerful weapon if used correctly. One picture tells more than a thousand words.

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150 thoughts

  1. dear Roy Magersnes, dear Dina, this is a wonderful serie in the beginning of 2013. I am really amazed about the beauty in the north. One time I have to go in wintertime, I only know parts of the no´rth in summertime and I am dreaming to spend one year, from midsummer to midsummer.
    Thank you so much to share this beautiful views with us.
    I like the photo of the sleeping huskies very much … and you are right, a lot of your pics are telling stories.

    to both of you, have a friendly new year, with much joy and love …


    • Hi liebe Ulii,

      herzlichen Dank und liebe Grüße mit den besten Wünschen zurück zu Dir und Deine.

      Thanks for enjoying and liking the storytelling photos. We appreciate it very much.

      Greetings from the Far North, cold and mysterious, quite magic, the way we love it.

      Dina & Co
      Roy says hello too….


  2. These photos are absolutely stunning. I would really love to go to Svalbard, but I’m really frightened of the polar bears even if I had a gun with me! 🙂 Happy New Year to you all!!! Make the best of it! I’m looking forward to many beautiful guest(postings).


    • Thank you, all the best to you as well.

      I’d really like to go to Svalbard, most of all I’d like to join Roy on one of his Travelphoto expedition, polar bears included. 🙂


  3. “Svalbard is something very special – it is an Arctic jewel”
    Totally agree, a wonderful place – been there 2 times, love it and will be back… 🙂

    Wonderful shots… 🙂

    Happy New Year to You and Yours… 🙂


    • A jewel indeed.
      Maybe you’d like to share your arctic impressions with us?
      Happy New Year to you too, Andrikken. 🙂
      Take care and stay happy.


    • Thank you so much, dear Sally.
      Roys dedication is what really makes his works so outstanding, his skills are beyond anything I have seen so far, keeping my eye pointed to the North.
      Wishing you a happy 2013.


  4. Wow, what a wonderful series! Thank you for sharing them, Dina, and congratulations to Roy on a wonderful photo shoot.
    Svalbard has been on my list of go-to places for a while now and his pictures are certainly a big motivator to make it happen and go!
    Happy New Year!


  5. Als erstes wünsche ich dir ein gutes Neues Jahr; Gesundheit, Glück, Zufriedenheit und Inspiration!
    Wunderschöne Fotos zeigst du uns da, Dina!
    Habe ich das richtig verstanden? Du gehst 2013 viermal auf Foto Tour? Oder finden vier Foto Touren statt?
    Liebe Grüße von Susanne


    • Liebe Susanne,
      dir wünsche ich auch eine gutes, erfolgreiches, fröhliches neues Jahr. Möge es spannend werden! Ich hoffe, wir sehen uns bald. 🙂

      Nee, leider, leider gehe ich nicht 4x auf Photo Tour. Roy und seinen Partner bei Wildlife Travel bieten 4 Foto Expedtionen zu Svalbard dieses Jahr. Die Plätze sind heiß begehrt, die Trips sind bereits mehr oder weniger ausgebucht; wenn er seine Reisen anbietet, gehen sie weg wie heiße Semmeln, verständlich, wer hat schon die Möglichkeit unter seiner Leitung Eisbären mit der Kamera zu schießen… Schon für 2014 sind viele Plätze/Optionen fort. Ich muss noch ein ernsthaftes Wort mit dem Weihnachtsmann reden… 🙂
      Liebe grüße


    • Liebe Dina,
      das glaube ich dir, dass diese Touren schnell weg sind! Es ist sicher ein großes Erlebnis für jeden. Ich drücke dir die Daumen, dass der Weihnachtsmann auf deine ernsthaften Worte hört….

      Ich bin vom 27.8. – 1.9. in Köln. Da ergibt sich sicher eine Möglichkeit, dass wir uns treffen. Ich freue mich schon darauf und die Zeit vergeht bekanntlich schneller als wir denken….

      Liebe Grüße und einen schönen Abend wünscht dir Susanne


  6. Such an extraordinary landscape, and horrible, freezing temperatures…. the photography techniques must have to quite specialized – or at least the right kind of gloves??? And how do you stop the camera lenses from fogging up? The wildlife pix are just incredible, and one can almost feel the ice in the air. I love the glaciers and their geology, the shape and textures, the extraordinary brooding nature of the place. How fabulous to view these photos…. thank you!


    • Thank you so much, dear Rhythm. Did your Mum and the One with the goodies get back home safely from California? 🙂
      Happy New Year to the whole family and all the visitors in the library!


  7. Danke für diesen Beitrag! Ich habe gerade Ransmayrs. Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis gelesen, der ja zum Teil auch auf Spitzbergen spielt. Da passen die Bilder wunderbar!


    • Ach, wie toll! Noch jemand der den Ransmayr mag.
      Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis ist ein absolutes Highlight in meiner Eissammlung, eine literarische Perle. Jedoch sehr viel schrecklicher als die schönen Photos, wenn man Ransmyar liest oder hört, lernt man das Fürchten.. 🙂


    • oh ja, oh ja, da bei mir die geschichten immer als film im kopf mitlaufen, habe ich einiges an bildern in der vorstellung gehabt… wird bald online gehen, die besprechung.. eigentlich müsste ich ja bis zum 12. april warten, das wäre dann ja ein jahrestag. aber das dauert mir zu lange! 😉
      alles gute noch für´s neue jahr!!


  8. Your post brings back thoughts of winter in northern Canada where I lived when I was growing up. Even though the winters were bitterly cold and the sun rarely made an appearance, I close my eyes and try to remember what it felt like to be alone in the middle of wilderness. Ahhh…a wonderful way to begin a new year.


    • Yes, I’m sure the canadian winter can compare with the north of Norway, I’ve been told so lots of times, real cold, brrrrr…


  9. Incredibly gorgeous. Roy is an amazing photographer! I often think, judging from photographs I have seen, that Norway might just be the most beautiful place imaginable. There is magic in the light and landscape.


  10. Hallo Dina,
    auch Dir auf diesem Wege alles Gute im neuen Jahr, und danke für die wunderbaren Fotos und den hochinteressanten Artikel!
    Liebe Grüße aus einem nasskalten [3 Grad] südlichen Texas,


    • Lieber Pit,
      herzliche Grüße zurück zu dir und Mary und den Vierbeinern. Ein frohes neues Jahr von uns in Norfolk.
      Hanne und Klausbernd,
      Siri und Selma


  11. Incredible photos! The landscape is as distant and different from my tropical garden as you can imagine, but SO beautiful. I hope the Polar Bears survive. They are so magnificent. Happy New Year!


    • Oh yes, this is very different from beautiful Jamaica.
      Let’s hope the polar bears are going to survive alright. Roy and Klausbernd are presenting them in the next post
      I wouldn’t mind being in the Caribic right now…. 🙂

      Happy 2013 to you too!



    • I look forward to the polar bears. I have these images of them swimming, swimming…through the melted ice… Yes, it’s nice here but when I see these photos – I yearn for the cold! 🙂


  12. These are wonderful photographs. I’ve shared them via my Twitter feed @TheOutdoorTimes with appropriate credits to you and to Roy.


  13. Yes, the photos are unbelievable. There is no way I could contemplate going there in the Winter. I like my serenity a little warmer. I wish the polar bears luck. Thanks for sharing. Hope your 2013 is kind.


  14. Hej from Sweden,
    Happy New Year Gott Nytt År !!
    I love this post this post and really wish to make a trip there. Photos are fantastic.
    Thank you so much for posting such beautiful photos.
    All my best to you for this New Year !


  15. Stunning pictures … thank you for sharing these beautiful and unique impressions with us!

    Liebe Dina, ich wünsche dir alles erdenklich Gute und ganz viel Glück und Freude im neuen Jahr 🙂 🙂

    Ganz liebe Grüße zu dir, und ein sanfter Nasenstupser vom Lisa-Monsterchen,


    • Herzlichen Dank, liebe Ocean!

      Dir und Deine wünche ich ebenfalls alle Gute für 2013. Dicken Knuddler für mein Lieblingsmonsterchen.

      Liebe Grüße von uns in Norfolk


  16. He is very skilled and the photos are all magnificent! A friend of mine went to Svalbard last year and had a great experience. I’m enjoying the photos instead…nowadays my fingers unfortunately turn white and ache terribly when the air turns too cold. The reports from several scientists say the polarbears might not survive, no. This is a catastrophe, but I’m afraid they could be right. Mankind is not very good to the wonderful nature we were given.


    • Danke schön für diesen tollen Kommentar, Andreas Hendrik. Du hast es richtig erfasst, mich berühren diese Aufnahmen sehr, wie es alle “Eisbilder” tun.


  17. Happy New Year – another gorgeous and inspiring post from you. thanks for reminding me that there is someplace colder than my own backyard right now (-20 yesterday)!


  18. My God! I am new to blogging, and I just love seeing all of these people’s talents displayed. Gives me faith in humanity. Your blog is just gorgeous. The photos are incredible. I would love to be able to capture my world they way you are able to capture yours! Thank you so much for sharing.


  19. Wow, stunning photography. I would love to visit there one day! Roy is extremely talented and I truly identify with his philosophy. The stories behind the photographs make them all the more intriguing. Thanks for sharing.


  20. Hello Dina and Roy,
    Thank you for sharing these stunning photos of a place most of us will never visit in person. They really tell the story of the landscape and the animal who live there.


  21. Die Bilder sind super! Ich wollte nächsten Winter auch nach Svalbard reisen weil ich 5 Monate in Tromsø studiere, weiter bin ich da mit meiner Planung aber noch nicht, nach den ganzen schönen Bildern auf deinem Blog mach ich da vielleicht auch eine Fototour mit 🙂

    Liebe Grüße


  22. Pingback: The North in Literature | kbvollmarblog

  23. Pingback: Northern Mindscapes | The World according to Dina

  24. I watched a couple of programs recently about Svalbard. Of special interest was the Seed Bank.

    The photos here are special and of such high quality. It was a pleasure to see them.


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