09 September 2021 (A Journey Round Spitzbergen)

On 9th September 2021, we joined Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club for a joint session with their guest speaker, John Nathan, from Tonbridge Camera Club in Kent, England. John joined us by Zoom and told us the story of his trip to Spitzbergen, which gave him the 15 photographs he needed to qualify as an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society (ARPS). This was our first truly hybrid session with a guest speaker, with some members joining by Zoom and some members watching John’s presentation at the Fisherrow Centre.

John flew to Spitzbergen from Norway. He found it to be a place with very few roads, where most of the transport was by ski doo or small boat. It was a land where there was almost constant daylight during the summer, and where there was an ever-present danger from polar bears. All visitors needed to be escorted by guides who would scout out an area to be visited to make sure no polar bears were lurking there. There was also a danger from pack ice, which frequently scraped along the side of the ships used to tour around the islands, but the pilots were used to the environment and confidently navigated through it.

John showed us the photographs he took on his travels around the islands of Spitzbergen, from Longyearbyen, to Poolypynten, to Ny Alesund, alongside the Monaco Glacier, through the straits to Kiepertoya, and then down to Kapp Lee, Gashamma and Bourbonhamma. There were landscape photographs showing the beautiful lighting and reflections, the weird and wonderful colours and shapes of the icebergs and the ragged mountains contrasting with the smooth reflections on calm water. John had also captured some wildlife shots of walrus, seals, seabirds and, of course, polar bears from a safe distance.

John ended his presentation by showing us how he had put together the 15 A4 prints he had submitted to the RPS. The collection was carefully balanced to show both the beautiful scenery and the variety of wildlife living around Spizbergen. For more of John’s work, check out his web site:


Thank you to Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club for hosting a fascination session.

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