Polar Bear Feature Image

Polar Bear Photography Workshop – July 2017

Polar Bear Photography Workshop & Expedition - July 2017

Polar Bear Photography Workshop & Expedition - July 2017

Update 1: Only two (2) places remain. We have confined the photography workshop to a maximum of thirty (30) participants.

Update 2: Our ship, Sea Adventurer, is being completed refitted. This expedition will be its second voyage under the new fitout.

Photography Workshop on 2017 Arctic Expedition

This photography workshop is organised by Denis Glennon AO of Iconic Images International, Australia and Shem Compion of C4 Photo Safaris, South Africa, in collaboration with Quark Expeditions.

Iconic Images International (III) and C4 Photo Safaris (C4) attract well-educated, curious people who enjoy experiencing nature and wildlife. Our clientele also tend to be quite well traveled and passionate about their photography. They hail from dozens of countries around the world, including Europe, United States, Australia, New Zealand & South Africa.

Quark Expeditions (QE) need little introduction to the world of polar region exploration. To read more, click About Quark Expeditions.Artic Fox

We have collaborated with QE previously because of their excellent safety record in polar expeditions, common sense approach to pricing, a commitment to ecological conservation and their experience in catering for special groups within their expeditions.

Together, III, C4 & QE have created a ‘top-drawer’ photography workshop within a ‘first class’ Arctic expedition on a great ship, the Sea Adventurer.

If there is such a thing as a ‘classic Arctic’ photographic expedition, this is it. It embraces the best of Spitsbergen (now called Svalbard), by exploring the western edge of the island and venturing to the northern outlying areas, home to polar bears and walrus.  You will photograph colonies of seabirds numbering into the thousands as well as whales. Together with the QE options for snowshoeing and sea-kayaking, this is the perfect expedition for exploring the ‘wildlife capital of the Arctic.’

If you have not been to the Arctic before, you might like to watch this short video ‘A Day in the Life of Arctic Svalbard’; it is a nice snapshot of life of one of our Svalbard expeditions.

Time spent here is always unique from one day to the next. Epic, awesome and majestic, the Arctic region of Svalbard is full of wildlife and amazing scenery. Seasoned travelers to polar regions experience a deep sense of awe and respect on their first glimpse of the much-anticipated world of ice. Even those who have led more than a hundred polar region expeditions, are still overcome by its formidable beauty.

You have full access to QE’s specialist polar region expedition leaders and presenters – a unique combination in the one trip. The expedition is one of only two Quark expeditions on the Sea Adventurer in 2017 and offers great opportunities to capture the iconic images of one of the remotest part of the planet, all within a few meters of your lens. Watching and photographing a variety of wildlife and listening to the crackling and grumbling sounds of icebergs and glaciers will become your daily environment.

During the expedition, Denis & Shem will share their knowledge of Svalbard and its special photographic opportunities as well as providing ‘hands-on’ photographic tuition. But, the expedition is not just for serious photographers.

Photographers of all levels of skill are very welcome.

The Ship – Sea Adventurer

The ship, Sea Adventurer is a sturdy, comfortable home away from home for travelers exploring polar regions – Arctic or Antarctic.

She is being completed refitted and this expedition will be its second voyage under the new fitout.


Designed to carry passengers in comfort to remote corners of the world, she was built in former Yugoslavia in 1976, refurbished in 1999 and had further upgrades in 2002. This is an ice-strengthened ship and carries up to 117 passengers. Her proud reputation is complimented by her well-appointed, elegant interior. She is the perfect expedition ship for people who enjoy a comfortable mix of polar region adventures and some creature comforts.

Sea Adventurer is equipped with zodiacs for shore landings, offers fine dining and all cabins having exterior views and en suite facilities .

There are spacious observation decks from which you can photograph and you are welcome on the bridge around the clock, from where there is always something to see or search for.

Her smaller size allows her to venture into places where larger ships cannot, yet because of her substantial build and design she is at home plying the wilderness of Svalbard.

She meets all SOLAS requirements and is equipped with the latest communication and navigation equipment. With a crew of around 70, your expedition promises to be a combination of fascinating landings coupled with time spent relaxing on board with kindred-spirit travelers and photographers. If you would like to read more about the ship, click: Sea Adventurer.

The Home of Polar Bears

Polar-Bear-LeapingThe high Arctic is a place to inspire the imagination and is most accessible from the archipelago of Svalbard, located deep in the Arctic Circle.

Nowhere else can polar bears be found more reliably in their natural habitat and photographing these magnificent animals in this austere but beautiful environment is for many photographers, a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience.

Beluga whales may rise up in open leads, walrus impossibly crowd on ice floes, and polar bears stalk seals. Be prepared for the unexpected!

Svalbard itself is a place of extraordinary beauty, dramatic scenery and rich wildlife. The Arctic islands in the region are amongst the last remaining great water wilderness areas on the planet. They are in a remote land where glaciers are mirrored in pristine waters. Polar bears create an unforgettable spectacle whether hunting seals on pack ice, shepherding cubs along the beach, or swimming near our ship.

Finding and photographing polar bears is a major focus for the expedition.

As there is a maximum of THIRTY (30) places on the photography workshop, registrations will be accepted in the order they are received.

Photography Workshop Within The Expedition

The photographic workshop leaders/instructors are: Shem Compion and Denis Glennon AO.

Both are experienced, competent wildlife and nature photographers as well as being good teachers.

Being part of a small group of like-minded photographers and assisted by Shem & Denis to help you capture iconic images of this polar region, is an experience that will stay with you for a long time. The location for the workshop itself is a place to inspire the imagination and touch your artistic soul.140908_SCO_8963

Throughout the expedition you will enjoy:

  • On board tutoring, lectures, feedback sessions on your own images. These sessions will be available only to our group and will be held independently of the other passengers on the ship. These will be in addition to the normal on-board lectures presented by the Quark Expeditions team, to which you will have full access.
  • One-on-one interaction with Shem & Denis to help you get the best photographic results possible.
  • More than teaching you just ‘camera settings’, we will share our creative vision, experiences, insights and artistry to help you create more compelling and striking images.
  • Zodiac cruises dedicated to our photographic group with Shem and myself as photography guides. Photographing from zodiacs allows you to experience the Arctic waters at a more intimate level. As there is likely to be great light, sufficient time will be dedicated to capture the stunning landscapes, as well as the wildlife.
  • Access to information on optimal camera settings for each scenario while you are photographing.
  • Guidance on Lightroom and Photoshop post processing techniques.

We work closely with the QE Expedition Leader to ensure that we are at the best locations for the most time, and in the best light. Subject to final decisions by the Captain/Expedition Leader the smaller number of passengers on-board and the availability of sufficient zodiacs means all passengers can be ashore or cruising in zodiacs at one time, should they wish to do so.unspecified

For nine months of the year Svalbard is covered in ice – a frozen and harsh landscape. However, in the summer months it transforms into one of nature’s miracles; bird life abounds to the point of millions of breeding birds, plants flower and animals breed as fast as they can in the short Arctic summer. This is precisely the time we will be visiting, to take advantage of the plethora of life during this time.

Shem and I travel to many places in the world in our quest for excellent wildlife and nature images. We have visited Svalbard on five different occasions. The magic of these islands is what keeps us coming back. The experience we have photographing in these waters will be helpful in getting you into good locations for some excellent photography. We will both share our knowledge and experience with you.

QE’s policy is to try and spend as much time as possible on land at wildlife sightings. Their and our focus will be to have you photographing on shore, amongst the wildlife, for as long as is safely possible.

The photography workshop and expedition are designed to host a small group of nature and wildlife photographers on board one of the best smaller ships in the Arctic to give them the best access to some amazing photography.

Itinerary – no set itinerary for the expedition. A marvellous advantage.

Important Note 1 – Arrive Early: It is highly advisable to arrive in Longyearbyen at least one day before the start of the expedition. Bad weather can delay/cancel flights into this airport, so having a day’s grace means you will commence the expedition in a relaxed frame of mind. For details on where you might stay, see Note 2.

Important Note 2 – Suggested Hotel in Longyearbyen: One of the better hotels in in Longyearbyen is The Raddison Blu Polar Hotel, situated quite close to the harbour and jetty from which the Sea Adventurer departs. We recommend that participants in the photography workshop stay at this hotel as we will endeavour to arrange transport for the group to the ship on 28 June and back to the hotel following disembarkation on 8 July 2017. For the hotel contact details, click: Raddison Blu Contacts. When the webpages opens you may have to hit the translate button for the English version.

28 June 2017: Embarkation Day – board Sea Adventurer in Longyearbyen harbour at 16.00 hrs.Svaldbard-Itinerary---July-2017

Please note you are responsible for finding your own way to the ship in Longyearbyen Harbour. If you choose to stay at The Raddison Blu Hotel you may join the group transport to and from the ship.

As you embark, you will see great views of the mountainous landscape that serves as a backdrop to this seaside settlement. The first evening will be a ‘meet and greet’ followed by an evening of orientation before retiring and the ship sails overnight.

28 June – 8 July 2017: On board Sea Adventurer.

We sail around this magical island, on a constant search for wildlife. The expedition will cover western Svalbard as well as some stunning fjords and outlying islands to the north. From polar deserts to immense glaciers, the natural landscape here is just as varied as the wildlife – a nature and wildlife photographers’ paradise.

Each expedition presents new opportunities, thus we have no fixed itinerary, however we do have some favorite destinations, including 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Phippsoya, Alkhornet and the Hinlopen Straight. The destinations visited will be selected for optimum wildlife viewing, photography and appreciation of the history and geology of the area. Polar bear viewing is almost guaranteed, with Phippsoya being one of their preferred hunting areas and the towering cliffs of Alkefjellet providing many free bird egg meals for both them and the Arctic fox. Torellneset and Phippsoya are great places for walrus photography. Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t forget easily. These lumbering giants of the Arctic create quite a noisy scene, as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.120831_SCO_3571

Heading up the west coast of the archipelago the ship will continue to sail north until it reaches the pack ice where the quest for polar bears really begins. The northward passage provides many photographic opportunities. If the light obliges, we should have spectacular ice landscapes over the wilderness. Every endeavour will be made to spend extended periods photographing polar bears as they hunt, rest and play on the pack ice. Be aware however that polar bears are not easy to find and there may well be extended periods with little polar bear activity. After spending the allotted time in the north region, the ship will begin its return voyage to Longyearbyen arriving at approx. 9.00 am on 8 July 2017.

As previously mentioned, there will be no set itinerary for the expedition. Please treat the itinerary as a guide only; our route and daily program will vary depending on ice and weather conditions – and the wildlife we encounter. Flexibility is the key to a successful expedition.

unspecifiedIf ice conditions permit the vessel will visit the spectacular ice cliffs of Ausfonna, an incredible spectacle. On occasions the ship will operate continually over twenty four hours. At other times the engines will shut down at night in the ice or in a sheltered harbour. This can often be an attraction for bears and frequently they are found close to the ship in the early morning. This expedition offers one the best opportunities for photographing reindeer, polar bears, wildflowers, the sweeping tundra, trapper camps and historical remains of whaling stations.

Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. When travelling in extremely remote regions, QE staff and the Captain must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. The above is a tentative outline of what you can expect to experience on this voyage; no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.

8 July 2017: Disembarkation Day – we return to port with an anticipated time of disembarkation at Longyearbyen harbour of 09.00 hrs.

Cabin Categories

The cabins listed in the table below have been reserved for participants in the photography workshop.Suite on Sea Adventurer
These will be allocated in order of receipt of completed registration forms and payment of initial deposits.
Only two Main Deck Twin Window Cabins were available on an unshared basis; both have been allocated.
All requests for unshared cabins must be indicated on the Registration Form and the appropriate single supplement deposit paid at the time of registration.


Note cabins in our allotment are located on Main Deck, Upper Deck & Captain’s Deck. For more detailed information and some photos on each of the cabin categories, click on: Cabin Categories.

Should you desire a cabin outside those listed in the table, it is possible to reserve one, subject to availability at the time of your registration.

We will provide every assistance to you to obtain the cabin of your choice.


As cabins in each of the categories will be being continually reserved, please check with Nick or Janet Missikos at Our World Travel (OWT), regarding the availability of a particular cabin number, prior to submitting your registration form. They can be contacted at: Nick@owtravel.com.au or Janet@owtravel.com.au.  Alternatively you may phone OWT on +61 8 9221 9977 or Nick on his mobile phone: +61 (0)408 912 884.

Costs, Terms of Payment & How to Register

Cost of Photography Workshop

The cost of the photography workshop is US$700/person (or the equivalent in AU$ at the time of making the final payment). Please note this cost is additional to the cost of the cabin you select.Sea Adventurer Cabin 2

Cost of Cabins

We have now received the final costs from Quark Expeditions and removed the earlier reference to estimated costs.

Depending on the cabin category you select the cost varies as shown in the table below.

Please note that all prices are in US dollars.

Should you decide to reserve one of the two available Main Deck Twin Cabins on an unshared basis the cost is $17,160 (or the equivalent in AU$ at the time of registration). The single supplement of 1.7 times the unshared cost is set by QE.

The request for an unshared cabin must be clearly indicated on the Registration Form. These unshared cabins will be allocated in the order of receipt of such requests.

MAIN DECK TWIN WINDOW214, 221, 223$10,095
UPPER DECK SUPERIOR 305, 307$11,195
CAPTAIN'S DECK SUITE400, 403$13,695


The payment process is as follows: 120902_SCO_4570

1. A non-refundable deposit comprising the cost of the photography workshop of US$700.00, plus 35% of the cost of the cabin category selected, when you submit the completed Registration Form. Payment can be made (i) in US dollars to the OWT US dollar account or (ii) the equivalent in AU dollars at the time of making payment.

2. The remaining 65% of the cost of the cabin category selected, on or before Friday 9 February 2017. Payment can be made (i) in US dollars or (ii) the equivalent in AU dollars at the time of making payment.

3. Should you register after Friday 8 January 2017, the cost of the photography workshop, plus the full cost of the cabin type selected, including the single supplement, if applicable, must be paid at the time of registration.

4. For your convenience and to minimize currency exchange risks, payments should only be made to the US dollar bank account of the travel agent, Our World Travel.

5. Please liaise with Nick Missikos, OWT, at Nick@owtravel.com.au or telephone him on +61 8 9221 9977 (Perth office) or +61 (0)408 912 884 (mobile), regarding your preference to make payment in US or AU dollars.

6. Payment by credit cards is acceptable and attracts an OWT fee of 2%; please check with Nick Missikos on how best to pay by credit card.

As there are places for only TWENTY (20) participants in the photography workshop, registrations will be accepted in the order they are received.


To register, please click the REGISTRATION FORM button in the right hand sidebar, download the PDF, complete all sections of the form and follow the instructions for return of the form and payment of the initial deposit to OWT. Details of how to do this are on the Registration Form.

Quark Expeditions Terms & Conditions Are Applicable To All Passengers

As the expedition is being run by QE, the overarching QE Terms and Conditions are applicable to every passenger aboard Sea Adventurer.

Passengers registering through Iconic Images International and C4 Images are obligated to abide by these QE Terms and Conditions. They outline our and your agreement with QE and contain important information.

The overall QE Terms and Conditions can be downloaded by clicking: Quark Expeditions Terms & Conditions.

In particular we draw your attention to the following three QE Terms & Conditions:

1. Cancellations and RefundsQE-T-&-C-Cancellation

All requests for cancellation must be received in writing. Cancellations received 180 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less an administrative fee of minimum US$1000, AU$1000, £650, €800 per person. If cancellation is received between 179 days and 120 days, the deposit is forfeited. If cancellation occurs less than 120 days prior to departure, all payments are forfeited. If full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and any unpaid balance is due immediately. To protect the traveler’s investment, we recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance.

Cancellations cannot be made online.

2. Emergency Evacuation Insurance

Emergency evacuation insurance, to a maximum benefit per paying traveler of US$100,000, is included in the cost of Quark Expeditions voyages from Travelex insurance company. Included coverage is applicable only to travel occurring between the first and last day of the expedition purchased from Quark Expeditions. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from Quark Expeditions or from suppliers other than Quark Expeditions are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance.

3. Travel Insurance

Due to the remoteness of where we travel, an adequate medical facility could be up to 72 hours away or more, dependent on weather. We do have a ship doctor on board and basic medical facilities. Emergency medical evacuation can be delayed or unavailable in certain areas.120831_SCO_0423

It is a condition of the booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance coverage. Due to the remoteness of the areas in which we travel, travelers must have a minimum US$50,000 (or equivalent) of emergency medical coverage. Quark Expeditions requires proof of coverage prior to embarkation. The travel insurance policy should also cover trip cancellation insurance, trip delay (interruption or after departure coverage), baggage and repatriation. Quark Expeditions will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler.

Participants in the Photography Workshop are required to ensure their travel insurance arrangements comply, in particular with these three QE Terms & Conditions.

If you have any queries regarding them or do not understand them, please let us know, as soon as possible, by email to: denis@denisglennon.com or to shem@c4images-safaris.co.za

Pre-departure Information

To assist you prepare for this photography workshop and polar expedition I have compiled a comprehensive, downloadable and printable PDF. It contains helpful information on:

  1. The Arctic & Svalbard – summary comments only.Polar Bear Hello
  2. Arctic weather & climate in July in this polar region.
  3. The ship – Sea Adventurer.
  4. What to expect on this expedition and photography workshop.
  5. Frequently asked questions.
  6. Clothing and other gear for the Arctic.
  7. Procedures and requirements for zodiac usage and landings – essential reading.
  8. Suggestions for dealing with seasickness, if it visits, on the expedition.
  9. Travelling with and looking after photographic equipment in Arctic conditions.
  10. Camera Equipment Checklist – do not be overwhelmed; this is just a generic checklist I use to assist in packing before every expedition or photo safari.
  11. Suggested camera equipment choices for this expedition.
  12. My recommendations for backing up your images every day – a MUST.
  13. Some reading suggestions on Svalbard and its polar region.Svalbard Sign 2

The information in this PDF will help you with pack your camera equipment and other essential items so that you return home with a great collection of iconic images, and many magnificent memories.

A copy of this PDF will be forwarded to registered participants in the photography workshop, approximately six weeks before the commencement of the expedition.

Svalbard, Norway


If you would like to discuss any aspect of international flights for the expedition, please contact the booking agent, Our World Travel – East Perth, on +61 (0)8 9221 9977 and request to speak to Mr Nick Missikos.

Alternatively, you can email Nick at  Nick@owtravel.com.au or Janet at Janet@owtravel.com.au.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the expedition or the photographic workshop, please telephone Denis Glennon on +61 (0)418 923 103 or send an email to denis@denisglennon.com

If this photographic workshop is not for you, perhaps you might consider forwarding this link to a friend who may like to know about it. Thank you sincerely.

If this photographic expedition is not for you, perhaps you might consider forwarding this link to a friend who may like to know about it. Thank you sincerely.


To reserve a place, download, complete and return the form to Our World Travel.

Download: REGISTRATION FORM (PrintablePDF)


Iconic Images is the exclusive representative/agent for C4 Photo Safaris, South Africa, in Australia & New Zealand.

C4 Photo Safaris provides the on-ground logistics for Iconic Images' photo safaris/tours in Africa and is a SATSA member. The SATSA logo signifies that C4 Photo Safaris offers services that are of the highest quality and the company is deemed to be a credible and reliable provider of services to the tourism industry in South Africa. These services are independently audited on an annual basis. SATSA members are bonded, providing a financial guarantee of deposits held against the involuntary liquidation of a SATSA member.

AIPP Australian Institute of Professional Photographers SATSA Southern Africa Tourism Services Association C4 Images & Safaris
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