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World Photo Travels | Photography Tours and Expeditions

Using Various Focal Lengths in Arctic Wildlife and Landscape Photography

July 30, 2023

On the first visit to Svalbard, most photographers concentrate on portraits of polar bears, walrus, and other “locals.” While a good portrait will show a polar bear’s phlegmatic muzzle expression and richness of thick, white coat, or a walrus’s wrinkled skin, prominent tusks, and funny whiskers it won’t show the Arctic itself.

While taking a good portrait is an engaging and thrilling task, the wider frame would not only portray Arctics’ mighty inhabitants but will stress their belonging to this unique habitat – The Arctic. A place where the world turns icy and vast, time seems to slow, and silence resonates through the frozen landscape. The ultimate solution to achieve this goal is always to have two cameras (one with a telephoto and the other with a shorter zoom lens) handy. Otherwise, you will miss the perfect frame while changing the lenses.

The idea of using a broad focal length spectrum also works well for the landscape, where close-up sometime may look more appealing than wide-angle shots. This concept is a part of the regular pre-trip briefing I give to my Svalbard expeditions participants, and worked well for many, resulting in creating interesting photo stories.

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