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SVALBARD LAND OF THE POLAR BEARS NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER

MICHAEL NICHOLS

EXPERT MICHAEL NICHOLS 9 NIGHTS OF ADVENTURE


Photo by David Trud

Thanks for choosing Better Moments for your next adventure workshop. Better Moments was founded in 2011 by Philip Boissevain and me, two experienced veterans of the international professional photography industry. We met when working at Hasselblad, Philip as the Global Marketing manager and me as the Global Photographer Relations manager. Today Better Moments has become the leading photo workshop platform organizing high-end workshops for photo enthusiasts worldwide. You will learn from the world’s most experienced photographers within their fields to refine your personal style and sharpen your technical skills. Additionally, we want you to share your excitement for photography and enjoy great moments in life. And we want you to explore your passion and expand your photographic skills and vision.

Better Moments CEO and founder: Christian Nørgaard Graphic design: Anders Lundgren Text editor: Jeff Grant All images and text in this catalog are under International Copyright Legislation. However, Better Moment’s guests and potential customers may download the catalog for private use, but not for any commercial use. Any violation of the International Copyright Legislation will be reported to the International Court of Justice of International Copyright Legislation Cover photo by Christian Nørgaard

Better Moments mission is to deliver exclusive workshops in landscape, wildlife and travel photography at unique locations around the world. I want you to explore your passion for photography and work and earn from the world’s most renowned photographers who all have excellent teaching skills, local knowledge and experience. Photography with passion, Christian Nørgaard


PHOTOGRAPHY WITH PASSION


Photo by Christian Nørgaard


LAND OF THE POLAR BEARS Svalbard is a place of deep fjords, snow-capped mountains, massive sheets of ice, and magnificent polar bears. It is a Norwegian archipelago situated in the Arctic Ocean between the North Pole and Norway. Travel under the midnight sun on board M/S Malmö and experience nature in its purest form. Polar bears thrive here. Roughly half the estimated 3,000 bears in the Barents Sea population raise their young on the archipelago’s isolated islands. Humans are warned not to venture beyond town without a rifle as protection against ursus maritimus. Seabirds migrate to Svalbard in the millions. Five species of seals and 12 kinds of whales feed in the waters off the coast. Atlantic walruses prosper on the rich clam beds along the shallow shelf of the Barents Sea. On the open tundra of Svalbard’s plateaus and valleys, reindeer forage and arctic fox hunt free from predators. Photo by Christian Nørgaard


TRAVEL Better Moments’ mission is to deliver exclusive workshops and we want you to explore your passion for photography and work with the world’s most renowned photographer, Michael Nichols during your Svalbard expedition

HIGHLIGHTS

optimize your wildlife photography.

Explore the arctic landscape of Svalbard while having the M/S Malmö as base.

How to handle equipment with care on location.

Shoot amazing wildlife photos of whales, seals, birds and polar bears. Excursions onto the pack ice in hunt of polar bears or unique ice landscapes. Discover the old whaling islands of Danskøya, Amsterdamøya Ytre Norskøy. WHAT YOU WILL LEARN You will learn how to approach the unique challenges of wildlife photography at the best place in the world for polar bear and wildlife photography. With private “one to one” workshops and lectures, this expedition will optimize your photographic skills and take them to the next level.

Private hands-on lessons that can help taking your photography skills to the next level. IN CLASSROOM Expert review and constructive criticism of shots taken during the day. Private portfolio review. A Better Moments Certified Photo Instructor is available during the entire workshop to offer assistance with camera settings, the basics of composition, guide and help in general.

PRICE & BOOKING

ON LOCATION Teaching and training in the best techniques and personal hints and advice. Composition and focus on lines, golden section, perspective, foreground. Learning about the lenses that

Photo by Christian Nørgaard

W


WITH PASSION


Photo by Christian Nørgaard


MICHAEL N Nick Nichols uses the power of photography to help with conservation projects, and believes in photography with a mission and is willing to live for months in remote areas to get the one shot that makes the difference. YOUR FIRST CAMERA? Charles Moore (Charles Lee Moore was an American photographer most famous for his photographs documenting the Civil Rights Movement, who sadly passed away in 2010) gave me my break into the business. I’d just been rejected by National Geographic as an intern and he came to Alabama and asked me to come and work with him as his assistant in San Francisco. The first time I went to New York was with him. In 1979 I showed my images to GEO magazine and my career took off from there. I came along right at the rebirth of the picture magazine. WHAT WERE YOUR INSPIRATIONS TO BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER? Before the camera, I studied and tried my hand at painting and fine art. I wasn’t very good at it. I didn’t know then that I had journalism in me but the immediacy of the camera made me think this is what I want to do. As a kid, I read National Geographic relentlessly. I was very influenced by Charles Moore and his images during the Civil War. Eugene Richards, Alex Webb and Jill Perez come to mind as inspirations because I like their images and their commitment.

Photo by private

Explore Svalbard together w National Geographic award winning wildlife photograph Michael Nichols


NICHOLS

with d her

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER

MICHAEL NICHOLS


Photo Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative


YOUR BEST ADVICE ON HOW TO TAKE GREAT PHOTOS? Don’t sit around! The images are out there. My mission is to represent nature in the wild. These wild animals are shy and dangerous and in the past it’s been all about the telephoto lens - whatever you could capture from far away is what you were stuck with. When you’re shooting closer, the images feel really wild.

Photo by Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative

There’s really no front page anymore. You can get your work out if you keep trying. Selecting your images should be done in a highly edited manner. Because I’ve always been a photo essayist, I’ve learned to edit. It’s a very important skill. Shooting a lot of images doesn’t make you good. Improving on the frame makes you good. The individual stamp that makes your images yours is in the editing. Make sure the picture you put out there represents you.


Photo Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative


WHAT IS YOUR SHOOTING STRATEGY? I don’t look at the digital images while I’m shooting. I analyze after the shoot is over when I have time to really look at them. I want to find ways to improve and then go back to the watering hole or whatever and get even better shots. By looking at what wasn’t working, you learn from all the failures. I always say that 99% of what I shoot should go in the trash. Only the ones that rise to the top should get in peoples hands. Every image has to have all the elements come together. But all that is fine, because it wouldn’t be any fun if it were too easy to do. If you have the time to be looking at the back of the camera during the shoot, that’s not good. Think about the image, look through the viewfinder and shoot. Give yourself at least an hour and a half at an event and then edit later. If I had to choose my all time favorite pictures over the past thirty years, most of them would be shots that were accidents and photos that I forced to happen using traps or otherwise. I depend on serendipity and accident. I’ve taken thousands of boring and bad pictures but I stay with it with the hope that eventually, something will happen inside that frame that will be special. I obsessively go back to the same well to get the shot.

Photo by Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative


Photo Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative


WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT EDITING YOUR WORK? Well, I don’t change any pixels. I look at digital editing as a dark room. Enhancing the same why I could do when it was film keeps it real to me. I did chrome for years and you had all these limitations of contrast and shadow details. I’m from an entire generation that said if you don’t put it in there, it shouldn’t be there. But now you have RAW files that are like negatives. I won’t move a pixel, though. I’m not saying it’s blasphemy to move pixels but I think it is to not declare it. I try to make my images look unbelievable but they’re real. You can do whatever you want to for art. There aren’t rules for art. But you shouldn’t sell that as what people perceive as an untouched photograph when the pixels have been changed.

Photo by Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative


ITINERARY DAY 0 GETTING READY We recommend you to arrive at Longyearbyen at least one day before departure. DAY 1 DEPARTURE FROM LONGYEARBYEN THROUGH ISFJORDEN The focus on our expedition will be polar bears on the drifting ice. The ice situation at this time of year usually allows us to explore the northeastern parts of the archipelago. But due to the weather, wildlife etc. we point out that, that changes to the program may occur. We travel onboard our expedition ship M/S Malmö – your base for a truly wildlife adventure. We sail out through the beautiful fjord and the snow-capped mountains – heading towards one of the most remote areas in the world. After welcome drinks and dinner, Michael Nichols will present his first of many lectures – “How to be one of the best wildlife photographer of the world”.

your shots for the next day of photography.

price and all participants with a personal diploma.

DAY 3-4

DAY 9

WALRUSES

LONGYEARBYEN

Weather and ice determine our route, but we plan to sail toward East toward Storøya, where there usually are numerous walrus colonies. Each day we will explore Svalbard with Zodiac Expeditions and today is no exception. From our private Zodiac we will get close to the wildlife and come ashore where we can make landscape and wildlife photography. After dinner, Michael will give constructive criticism on the picture from today.

Back to Longyearbyen in the morning and after breakfast leaving the ship and prepare the travel home.

DAY 5-7

Sailing south toward Bråsvellbreen and into Hinlopen with walruses and bird cliffs. We cross Liefdefjorden with the Monaco glacier, the north-western corner of Spitsbergen with walruses, seals and great landscape. South we pass Lilliehööksfjorden and Kongsfjorden, with glaciers, birds and marine mammals.

DAY 2 POLAR BEARS

DAY 8

Sailing toward the ice, looking for polar bears. Depending on the ice conditions, this will probably be north of Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet.

BIRD CLIFFS

After dinner we show our pictures that we shot during the day and Michael will give constructive criticism – so you can adjust

Due to the weather, wildlife etc. we point out that, that changes to the program may occur. AIRPORT PICK-UP Better Moments arrange one pickup and one return to the airport on arrival day and departure day.

INTO HINLOPEN

Both night, Michael will give constructive criticism on the pictures taken during the day and hold lectures about wildlife photography.

During the day Michael will hold private portfolio reviews and workshops on deck.

IMPORTANT

PRICE & BOOKING

HOME

Sailing south to Prins Karls Forland for our last landing with walruses, and in the afternoon Alkehornet with bird cliffs, arctic fox and Svalbard reindeers. Tonight we hold our diner together with the captain and as a Better Moments tradition will celebrate the expeditions last evening by Michael presenting the top three photographers with a great

Photo by Christian Nørgaard


Photo by Christian Nørgaard


A passionate photographer speaks out “I enjoyed that there are only 12 guests on the boat, it is total luxury for me. Our Better Moments guides know exactly when and where we will sail, so we get the best photo experiences. The trip is well organized with workshops every evening and location photography – I could not dream of more.”

Photo by Christian Nørgaard

– Peter Stenius, from Finland, participant in a previous Better Moment Svalbard expedition


M/S MALMÖ Expedition ship M/S Malmö as been in service for the Swedish Maritime Administration

She was built 1943 in Helsingborg shipyard and has been used as a mooring service vessel for laying out buoys, for marking of fairways, refueling of Kasun light houses with oil and water, for transport of acetylene to gas light houses, and also for ice breaking and pilot training. HISTORY AT SEA M/S Malmö has a lovely patina and has been listed as a traditional ship of cultural value since 2004. During 2013-14 she was gently refurbished to retain her original charm. New navigation and safety equipment was installed and the vessel has passed all neccesary inspections and safety checks requierd. The summer 2014, M/S Malmö joined successfully made her first season in Svalbard as an expedition ship. YOUR HOME FOR ADVENTURE M/S Malmö is a homely ship of maritime historical dignity, already loved by many.She is decorated in a classic style with an old fashioned Captain´s lounge and beautiful wooden decks. A perfect ship for a small group of photographers that need a lot of deck space, or a small family group looking for adventure. After refurbishing the vessel has capacity for 12 passengers. All cabins has upper and lower bunks and portholes with a view. At present five of the passenger cabins are equipped with private facilities. The dining room (mess) has seats for 14 guests.

DECK PLAN Twin cabin with upper and lower bunk and private shower/WC no: 15, 11,8, 4 Twin cabin with upper and lower bunk and shared shower/WC – no: 6, 2, 1 Triple cabin with two lower, one upper bunk and private shower/WC – no: 3


Photo by Christian Nørgaard


GETTING THERE Svalbard’s only international airport, Longyear Airport in Longyearbyen, is served by SAS with almost daily flights from Oslo and Tromsø in Norway. Flight times are 4 hours from Oslo and less than 2 hours from Tromsø. The airport is located about 5 km (3 miles) from the town of Longyearbyen. VISA Norway is a member of the Schengen Agreement. Nationals of EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) countries only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry. All other visitors are required to have a passport valid for at least three months beyond the intended stay, and some will need a visa. Please check with the local embassy. WEATHER Svalbard has an Arctic climate tempered by the warm North Atlantic Current. Due to the convergence of cold air from the north and mild, humid air from the south, weather conditions can change quickly and often, with occasional strong winds and wind chills. Average daily temperatures in Longyearbyen varies from -17.5°C in January to 5.0°C in July. LANGUAGE The official language is Norwegian, but almost all Norwegians speak English.

and an exhibition of Kåre Tveter’s paintings. From time to time there are also sales exhibitions. The Longyearbyen Church is open for visitors every day and there is a service nearly every Sunday. Every Tuesday evening, the church sells coffee and Norwegian waffles. Here you get to know Longyearbyen and the people better. The cable trestles are cultural monuments over the manual driven coal mining in Longyearbyen. At that time, the coal was transported in “kibs” (carriers) on the cable way to the cleaning plant. The Svalbard Islands are home to seven Norwegian national parks: Forlandet, Indre Wijdefjorden, Nordenskiöld Land, Nordre Isfjorden, Nordvest-Spitsbergen, SassenBünsow Land, and Sør-Spitsbergen. Little known but amazing natural attractions of Svalbard are the diverse springs. Fløtspingo and other Reindalen pingos are the highest pingos in Svalbard and some of the highest open system pingos of the world, up to 42 m high. Hot and thermal springs, for example Jotun Springs, Troll Springs and Tempelfjorden thermal submerged spring. One day trip by boat to the Esmark glacier and Oscar II Land and the Russian mining settlement looms on the side of the mountain above Grønfjorden. During the cruise, the guide will provide useful information about Svalbard. EMERGENCY

CURRENCY

Emergency phone number: 112.

The Norwegian monetary unit is the Krone (NOK).

Svalbard is among the safest places on Earth, with virtually no crime.

QUICK GUIDE The Svalbard Museum in Longyearbyen is an impressive, recently inaugurated exhibition space. Themes include the life on the edge formerly led by whalers, trappers, seal and walrus hunters and, more recently, miners. At the gallery in Longyearbyen you can see the Svalbard collection of old maps and books, a slide show from the photographer and composer Thomas Widerberg,

PRICE & BOOKING

HOME

Photo by Christian Nørgaard


QUICK GUIDE We wish you to travel with the greatest possible comfort and to know that you have received as much information as possible


EQUIPMENT Whether this is your first trip or your ”hundredth” workshop with us, it’s always helpful to have a rundown of what items you may want to pack so you have a travel checklist. Bookmark this packing list, because you’ll want to refer back to it to make sure you’ve thought of everything you might want to pack.

CLOTHING A good plan is to dress “layer-by-layer”. You then are well prepared for whatever weather arrives. Wind and waterproof jacket Wind and waterproof pants Rubber boots - with room for extra (wool) socks Hiking boots

Fleece/sweater

NICE TO HAVE

Cap

Sunscreen

Gloves

Sunglasses

Waterproof outdoor cushions - nice to sit on when we sail in the arctics or when we sit and enjoy the scenery on land.

A swimsuit (for hot springs in Iceland only)

A small backpack Binoculars

Wool underwear

CAMERA The camera list is for inspiration, since you know better than anyone what equipment you prefer. Bring you own laptop computer and storage medium Camera bodie(s) Tripod

Cleaning kit for cameras and lenses Rain/dust covers for cameras and lenses

NICE TO HAVE Lens extenders

Charger for batteries

Camera straps for ease of changing from one camera to another

Spare batteries

Graduated filter set

Standard power converter

Filter holder

Lenses, 24-70mm zoom and 70-200mm zoom or similar lenses are very good

Raw processing software

High quality polarizing filter

Memory cards and card wallets

Lens belt

Bag for all camera gear

Memory card reader

Light bag for easy hiking with camera bodies and accessories

USB key to exchange images

Photo by Christian Nørgaard


Photo by Christian Nørgaard


PHOTOGRAPHER Mats Grimfoot was awarded Photographer Of The Month, October 2015 Mats Grimfoot, who participated in the Svalbard 2014 workshop, is a biologist and ecologist with an education in nature photography led by Andy Horner. He is very active in his local photography community, having earned many awards as well as some Honorary Mentions in international organizations like FIAP, UPI and the Norwegian magazine Natur & Foto.

BETTERMOMENTS.COM

OF THE MONTH

Each month we select a photographer from one of our many workshops who deserves special recognition. The Photographer of the Month is chosen by the Better Moments workshop experts, including Better Moments CEO, Christian Nørgaard.

SVALBARD - 2017  

Land of the Polar Bears - 9 nights of adventure with National Geographic photographer Michael Nichols.

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