NatGeo Arctic Expedition
by Len Johnson
In the Summer of 2019, Len took an 18-day trip to Iceland, Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic on the National Geographic Explorer ship. This ship is relatively small with only 148 guests plus crew. The expedition team of experts included a naturalist, two NatGeo photographers, and regional specialists that shared their knowledge and insights on the wildlife, landscape, and local culture.
This journey included a street festival in Reykjavik, Iceland to celebrate their 24th Annual Culture Night, and a visit to the Whale Museum that features a life-size replica of a great blue whale. There was a short flight from Reykjavik to a small landing strip in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland where the expedition group was transported by Zodiacs to the National Geographic Explorer ship.
We then cruised down the length of Kangerlussuaq Fjord en route to Sisimiut, a former whaling port on Greenland’s west coast. This small-town features brightly painted colored buildings from the 18th century.
We began our exploration of the Canadian High Arctic with a visit to the small Inuit community of Pond Inlet where we saw a cultural and arts presentation by village children and elders. We then sailed to Dundas Harbor where we hiked on the tundra. The ship continued its voyage into Lancaster Sound where we saw polar bears on the drifting icebergs.
As we continued the voyage to Dundas Harbour on the Southern shore of Devon Island, we experienced a magnificent cliff exposing a three-billion-year long geological history of the area.
As we continued to explore the Arctic and the Russian Far East, we sailed to Fram Fjord, Ellesmere Island. We continued on our journey to Philpots Island where we saw massive icebergs that recently calved from the huge glacier descending from the Cunningham Mountains.
A highlight was Buchan Gulf, Baffin Island with its dramatic cliffs carved by Ice Age glaciers that had clouds hovering over their peaks. As our journey continued, we set anchor in the town of Ilulissat on the West coast of Greenland. Here we visited the archaeological UNESCO World Heritage-designated Ilulissat Icefjord in the Sermermiut Valley.
The trip ended sailing through Greenland’s ice cap and picturesque waterways until we returned to Kangaamiut airstrip for the journey home.
The Member’s Forum video presentation will be a selection from Len’s photos that feature his favorite images including polar bears, whales, soaring icebergs, and massive glaciers. The presentation also includes colorful buildings in Greenland’s Sissimiut community and photos of the World Heritage site of Ilulissat Icefjord captured on this expedition.
Len Johnson Bio
Len Johnson received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Illinois and then enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968 during the Vietnam War. He was sent to Fort Monmouth New Jersey for training as a photographer. Upon completion of his training, he was assigned to a base in Okinawa, Japan where he photographed military ceremonies, Bob Hope’s USO Tour visit, and local cultural activities. While in the Far East, he also traveled to India, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Expo 70 World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan.
After his military tour of duty in 1971, he and his wife settled in Arlington, Virginia and Len began working at a three-person graphic design firm. After ten years as an employee, he purchased the firm upon the owners’ retirement. He then grew the firm to a 15-person integrated marketing communications firm called JDG Communications. JDG had clients in the government, corporate and nonprofit sectors and he sold his company in 2009. Since his retirement, Len has served as a volunteer for the Washington DC chapter of SCORE that mentors small business entrepreneurs.
He has been a member of NVPS since September 2015 and appreciates the educational and social opportunities it provides. He photographs using two Fuji X-T3 cameras and likes to shoot landscapes, nature, and wildlife. On previous photo journeys, he photographed wildlife in Africa, wildflowers in the Arizona desert, landscapes in Tuscany, and architecture in Rome and Florence. Len’s next photo adventure will be a photography workshop in Argentina and Chile in March and April of this year.