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Adelie Penguins On Ice Floe © Digmem
CREDIT: Digmem

A Photographic Exploration

A Photographic Exploration of the Svalbard Archipelago and the Antarctic Peninsula

Adelie Penguins on Ice floe © Digmem

In April of 2023, just a few short weeks after Svalbard opened its doors to travellers following the COVID pandemic, I found myself boarding a small ‘expedition’ ship sailing out of Longyearbyen. We were absolutely delighted to be there as we had tried and failed to visit the archipelago on three previous occasions, thwarted by vessel issues and by COVID.

The trip was an incredible photographic experience, with sea ice at its maximum extent in early spring creating wonderful foreground options. Early and late season expeditions are often advertised as chances to experience golden hours which last for many hours, as well as good opportunities for polar bears sightings. But most wildlife watchers will know that sightings are a privilege cannot an expectation. Living in Scotland we were unsurprised that the bears did not perform to order, and very little soft golden light was seen. Some of my fellow travellers were disappointed by the light and lack of wildlife. I could think of nowhere that I would rather be than on the ship’s deck in that incredible wilderness, waiting for the light to change, ice formations to shift, or a fox or bird to appear out of the vast whiteness of its homeland.

Later, in the Autumn, a trip previously cancelled was rescheduled, so there was an opportunity to view Svalbard in another season. With the sea ice largely gone we were able to approach cliffs and glaciers more closely. I came home with a haul of images of the High Arctic in a variety of weather conditions, which allowed me to submit a successful fellowship panel.

I was absolutely delighted to be awarded a fellowship but felt that a bit of my story was still missing.

In January 2024 I was again waiting to board a ship, this time in Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, at the southern tip of Argentina. As we walked past the larger cruise ships to approach our vessel, my husband looked a bit apprehensive, and was heard to mutter “You aren’t booking any more trips!”. Our ship was the Polar Pioneer, a much smaller 50-passenger vessel, which did look tiny against the rest! His concerns may have been slightly justified as when crossing Drake’s Passage we faced waves of over 10 metres, throwing our gear, and myself around our cabin.

The Antarctic Peninsula experiences just as variable weather as any other mountainous and high latitude area. I was able to make more landscape images, in what some of my fellow travellers regarded as less than idea light! I also wanted to tell a bit of the story of some creatures that make these inhospitable lands their home.

Leapard Seal Sleeping On Ice Floe © Digmem
CREDIT: Digmem

Leapard Seal Sleeping On Ice Floe © Digmem

Rough water on some days did not deter the guides from getting us ashore in the Zodiac inflatable boats, cameras tightly wrapped in dry bags to keep the waves, which soaked us, from reaching them. Heavy snow falls made drying towels essential photographic equipment. To sit in a small inflatable boat in heavy snow and minimal visibility in the company of humpback whales, and then for those whales to swim towards you and surround the boat whilst bubble net fishing for their prey, was a most incredible experience.

The penguin colonies with their unforgettable smells and sounds, stretch up the hillsides and colour the snow and rock pink with spilt krill (the marine crustaceans on which they  feed), providing amazing photographic opportunities. Leopard seals, whose formidable reputation is significantly enhanced by their facial  expressions (they have evil smiles). They were often found snoozing peacefully on ice floes, quite undisturbed by passing human visitors.

Gerlache Strait © Digmem
CREDIT: Digmem

Gerlache Strait © Digmem

My travels in the Polar Regions have allowed me to build up a bank of images, which I hope will illustrate the beauty of these landscapes in different weather conditions and provide a glimpse of some of the wildlife that survives these tough conditions.

I have published a book sharing my impressions of both polar regions. I am incredibly lucky to have visited these places and I want to make my work do something for those less fortunate. 100% of the purchase price of every book (not just profit) will be donated to the charity CRISIS.ORG.UK.

If you would like to see a few sample pages please have a look at

or email me at

Price £16.00 plus £4.00 for post and packing to UK addresses, for addresses outside UK  please enquire.