Finding our feet
So despite a delayed flight and a mad dash at Oslo airport to catch our connecting flight we have made it to Longyearbyen, Svalbard… Yas! We’ve spent the last couple of days finding our feet and trying to get used to the 24 hour daylight (no mean feat) and generally wandering about and getting a feel for the place.
Yesterday we took a wander down to the reservoir and said hi to our barnie pals… and their super cute fluffy chicks… amazing to think that in a couple of months they’ll be getting ready to head off on their 1600 mile journey to the Solway. We’ll be back down in the next day or two to do some proper filming.
Today we looked at some different parts of town with more of a focus on the old cable ways for shifting coal from the mines. Amazing structures with loads of weathered wood, paint and rusted metal… lovely.
We also spent a bit of time setting up our work space at Galleri Svalbard.
Week 1 - Exploring
The big development this week has been that we have hired a vehicle. As well as meaning we can venture further afield to film and records it also acts as a portable bird hide… not the most discreet colour but the geese seem to get used to it after 30mins or so.
We’ve been making the most of having wheels, exploring and scouting out locations for shots. We’ve also been speaking to a few of the locals and have been arranging interviews for next week when the weather is forecast to be not great. One of the people we are due to interview is Eva Grøndal, one of the few people to have been born in Longyearbyen. Eva is currently archiving her parents photographs of Svalbard. Her father used to work in mine 2B.
Week 2 - Knuckling Down
We’ve settled into a bit more of a routine, generally filming and recording late at night once things have quietened down. At the moment our main efforts have been out in the Adventdalen area, there seems to be a steady amount of Barnie activity around Isdammen and the flats. We’ve also been spending a fair bit of time filming and recording along the coast and by the cliffs around Bjørndalen. There are plenty of pretty relaxed Barnies hanging out near the campsite with their wee fluff balls and loads of little Auks nestled up in the cliffs that sound awesome.
We were also sad to say cheerio to Janne Tolstad, a Norwegian photographer that has been staying at Galleri Svalbard as well. Janne is based in Oslo and has been coming to Svalbard for years and has been super helpful in hooking us up with folk to speak to and providing us with loads of advice and tips for our stay.
The team has been busy meeting and interviewing various Longyearbyen locals and Svalbard regulars. Yesterday we met Bjørn Frantzen, a bird enthusiast that has spent much time in Svalbard over the years and managed to fit in an interview down at the local bird observatory where he and a friend were building an extension to the viewing platform. The bird observatory has been built by volunteers and provides a place for locals and visitors to take time out, slow down and view the fantastic birdlife here.
Here’s a few shots from the extreme ends of the road system around Longyearbyen, out towards Bjørndalen at one end and up by Mine 7 looking down Adventdalen at the other end.
Week 3 - Barnies Co-operating
We’ve had a couple fo really good stints out filming/recording this week. First off, the Tri-GoPro set up captured a lovely group of Barnies out in Adventdalen… complete with wee goslings. This was already a brilliant shot but it we also got an appearance from a red throated diver landing in the pond right in front of the camera… nice.
Secondly, out by the campsite the Barnies have again being playing their part and decided to hang out by the camera/mic set up. Lots of fluffy Gosling closeups and frantic grass eating.
We also very much liked this massive crane. Some really impressive industrial structures that are very much part of the landscape here. We’re off to Pyramiden tomorrow, an abandoned Russian Mining town… expect lots of windows, rust and weathered paint content.
Bird Cliffs, Glaciers & Pyramiden
So in the final week of our residency we arranged a trip to Pyramiden along with our wonderfully patient guide Marion. During the boat journey over we passed the bird cliffs at Diabasodden, home to thousands of Guillemots and a few opportunistic Arctic foxes.