Sunday, November 28, 2010

Daily photos: November 15-21, 2010

Catching up on the backlog, here's another week of daily photos.

November 15, 2010 - Fortuna Bay, South Georgia

Just a snap showing some of the workshop participants enjoying the serenity of Whistle Cove. Many photos from this workshop will be appearing online soon: this is just a taste.

November 16, 2010 - Prion Island, South Georgia

There were unusually few Wandering Albatrosses around on Prion Island, traditionally one of the their nesting strongholds. We did find a few chicks nestled in the tussock grass, and occasionally they would lift their heads and stretch their wings (usually accompanied by the machine-gun stutter of camera shutters). Here one is just over the rise, and a camera in video mode is being used to work out exactly where.

November 17, 2010 - Gold Harbour, South Georgia

A bull Southern Elephant Seal throwing sand over himself in an attempt to stay cool. Our landing at Gold Harbour was magical, with temperatures in the 20s (Celsius) and bright sunshine.

November 18, 2010 - Scotia Sea

Having departed the islands of South Georgia to head for Antarctica proper, most of the weather was just grey fog. But at one stage we did see this huge tabular iceberg in the distance to port (this is actually a stitched panorama of lots of 600mm photos). This iceberg was many kilometres in length.

November 19, 2010 - Scotia Sea

Another day of grey weather and rolling ocean. Some of us did spend a lot of time in the ship's bar processing and organising our photos from the preceding days.

November 20, 2010 - Elephant Island

Having bypassed the South Orkney Islands due to bad weather, we finally passed Elephant Island (legendary from Shackleton's odyssey) late in the evening. The sunset over Mount Pendragon was magical.

November 21, 2010 - Deception Island, South Shetland Islands

With a raging blizzard outside, this photo was made inside one of the huge oil drums at the old whaling station inside the volcano. Most of the photos outside ended up as monochromatic studies, so the colour of this one made me select it for the daily photo.

This post is part of my 365 project. See the introduction for details.
Continue reading "Daily photos: November 15-21, 2010"...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daily photos: November 8-14, 2010

We're back from an amazing trip to the Falklands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula! While I've been away I've still been making new photos, so here's the first update of a week's worth of photos.

November 8, 2010 - Tierra del Fuego

An infrared landscape taken on the way to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. It was overcast and raining, but using my IR-modified G1 camera showed me a different world.

November 9, 2010 - South Atlantic

A Black-browed Albatross following our ship.

November 10, 2010 - Falkland Islands

An Imperial Shag flying over Bleaker Island in the Falklands.

November 11, 2010 - Stanley, Falkands

An unusual fire-hydrant on the streets of Port Stanley.

November 12, 2010 - South Atlantic

A Cape Petrel following our ship. These lovely birds (also known as Pintado) were our constant companions.

November 13, 2010 - South Atlantic

A Royal Albatross (second in size to the Wandering) out on the open ocean.

November 14, 2010 - South Georgia

The greeting party on our first beach!

This post is part of my 365 project. See the introduction for details.
Continue reading "Daily photos: November 8-14, 2010"...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Going dark

This is just a house-keeping note to let you know that there'll probably be no updates to this site now until the end of November. As soon as I've returned from Antarctica things will pick up again (including catching up on all the intervening daily photos).

In the meantime, you can set up automatic monitoring of the blog so you don't have to check daily for new updates. The RSS links on the right panel of the site will let you use any RSS reading program (try clicking on them to see what your browser does with them) or if you're using Facebook you can follow the blog there.

See you soon!
Continue reading "Going dark"...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 7 - Pre-departure ship

November 7, 2010 - Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego

Not the "prettiest" photo I took today, but the content made the selection as daily photo obvious for me.

This afternoon we hired helicopters for some aerial photography in the nearby mountains. As we returned to the airport we passed over the port, and this shot shows the Polar Pioneer (which will be our home for the next 3 weeks) sitting at dock in Ushuaia. It's a small ship when compared to the Kapitan Klebnikov icebreaker which left port this afternoon.

Tomorrow we'll be settling into our new "home away from home"...

This is part of my 365 project. See the introduction for details.
Continue reading "Day 7 - Pre-departure ship"...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 6 - Ushuaia lights

November 6, 2010 - Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego

As expected, today has been a VERY long day, starting in Australia and ending up in Argentina. This photo was taken from outside my hotel's restaurant, looking towards the setting sun over the Beagle Channel.

The rest of my workshop group were inside the restaurant ordering dinner, and when I came back in I had a couple of people do the classic "what were you photographing out there in the dark?" thing.

This is part of my 365 project. See the introduction for details.
Continue reading "Day 6 - Ushuaia lights"...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On the move

The LuminOdyssey Photo Expeditions Antarctica 2020: A Photo Odyssey is about to be underway. This will involve travel a long way from home, and I've resurrected the online map we were using during my 2009 Norway trip.

Down in the sidebar on the right side of this site you'll see a "Where is David?" map, shown larger here. This is a dynamic Google map displaying the last month's positions (the most recent point is displayed in green) scaled around the last week.

Where possible, I update the map even when away from the Internet (through the magic of SPOT). Unfortunately the SPOT satellite coverage does not extend all the way to Antarctica, so during mid-November there will probably be a gap where the map does not update. Maybe one day...

The positions for the last few weeks aren't particularly interesting (just around Melbourne) but new positions should be showing up by the time this post is published.
Continue reading "On the move"...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 5 - Au revoir Melbourne

November 5, 2010 - Melbourne, Victoria

On my way home from college, the only camera I had with me was the basic one in my phone. As I crossed the pedestrian bridge over the Yarra River I was struck by this iconic portion of the city skyline. The spires of St. Paul's Cathedral (where I was baptised all those years ago) tower over the Flinders St train station, but are dwarfed by the office buildings.

It's not an image that usually springs to mind when I think of home, but as it's the last time I'll see the city for a while I was moved to capture it and share it with you.

This is part of my 365 project. See the introduction for details.
Continue reading "Day 5 - Au revoir Melbourne"...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4 - Fig leaf

November 4, 2010 - Prahran, Victoria

I seem to be on a theme of square compositions lately! This is a detail of a fig leaf, lit by the late afternoon sun from behind.

It's been a hectic week so far, racing to finish a bunch of projects before Antarctica. This was an opportunistic photo on my way back to my car from a client meeting.

This is part of my 365 project. See the introduction for details.
Continue reading "Day 4 - Fig leaf"...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 3 - Uffy

November 3, 2010 - Melbourne

I only got to grab a couple of photos today, including this portrait of the tiny friend of one of my students. She rarely paused enough to get a decent shot in the indoor light, but I like this one.
Continue reading "Day 3 - Uffy"...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 2 - Clouds

November 2, 2010 - Melbourne

The weather today's been a bit variable. Clouds, sunshine, a bit of light rain, it almost couldn't make its mind up. This afternoon as I was walking up our driveway this sliver of blue sky disappearing behind the grey clouds grabbed my attention, and I "just happened" to have an SLR on my shoulder...

For anyone thinking that the way the date is shown twice at the top of these blog posts is silly: just wait until next week when I'm travelling in a different timezone to the blog (which remains on Melbourne time)!
Continue reading "Day 2 - Clouds"...

Rain covers and customer service

Those of you who know my work won't be surprised to know that I'm sometimes out and about in "inclement weather". Taking care of my cameras and making sure they're going to keep working is quite important (otherwise my insurance premiums would probably go up!). I use lots of different products as part of my photography kit, and friends and family sometimes joke that I'm a "gadget freak". But almost every piece of equipment is there for a reason, carefully researched before I decide to invest both money and space in my camera bag.

Drenched Koala
Rain protection is a serious issue for me. The Canon 1-series cameras and many of their 'L' lenses are designed to be used in harsh conditions, including out and about in rainstorms. However these cameras are too big and bulky for me to be interested in carrying them, and for years I've been using the EOS 5D and xxD bodies instead. While I'm not afraid to take them out in light rain (I do wipe the rain off when I can) I do need to take care of them. Some (but not all) of the lenses I use are L "weather-sealed" models which does help, but I know of even 1-series cameras that have died due to moisture ingress in severe rainstorms. So whatever camera/lens I'm using, I need the option of some additional protection.

At times (e.g. photographing fungi in rainforests) I've used the simple trick of poking a hole in the end of a big garbage bag and sealing it around the hood of my macro lens with a rubber band. It's cheap and cheerful, and quite effective. The bags are large enough to also cover the tripod ballhead, and even your head when looking through the viewfinder! But around here it's proven almost impossible to get large clear bags, so we make do with the black or green ones (I usually have a roll of garbage bags in my kit on photo workshops to provide to participants).

The Rainsleeve from OP/TECH USA is another option: a clear plastic bag shaped for cameras/lenses and with a drawstring for the lens. I've used these in the past (including in downpours on the South Shetland Islands near Antarctica) quite successfully, but like the garbage bags they do wear out fairly quickly.

In 2009 I started using the Kata E-702 cover, which is my current favourite. It scrunches up to fit into a corner of my bag, and is easy to attach/detach around the camera and a wide variety of lenses. Even with the 100-400mm lens on the camera it's big enough: the optional E-704 lens extension is overkill for that. Note that having neck straps for your camera with quick-release clips (such as the mixture of OP/TECH USA straps I use) lets you quickly thread/unthread the straps through the hand-holes at the sides of the rain covers. In 2010 I also got a smaller E-690 which lets me leave my Lumix G1 unattended on a tripod (e.g. taking timelapse photos) without worrying about it.

But it's not just rain we have to worry about. When working in cold climates, snow is usually not a problem (unless it melts on the camera) but condensation when the cold camera comes into warmer humid air is. One of things I like about the Kata bags is that it's easy to see through the transparent cover when condensation is building up inside. It's easy to think "sure, I'll remember to pack the camera back into the backpack before I go inside" but things don't always work out that way. And even when out in the cold and rain, with your damp hands inside the cover to operate the camera it can be surprising how quickly the warmth and humidity can build up in there. With the condensation easy to see, it's let me know to remove the cover (or just mop inside with a microfibre cloth). I'm pretty sure that I've seen several cameras (not mine) die because this wasn't done.

Anyway, this post was prompted by a recent positive customer-service experience. An E-702 I purchased in mid-2009 had developed a fault (the transparent portion was becoming "milky"). After an email exchange with Kata's support people (which started off with me asking about cleaning techniques) they identified that my E-702 was part of a batch with a manufacturing fault, and they sent me a replacement free of charge. I didn't have to wait long either: they had their Australian distributor ship it to me, even though I'd bought it in the US. The replacement showed up yesterday: just in time for the next Antarctic trip. That's good customer service in this worldwide economy!

Incidentally, the photo in this post is of my 5DmkII sitting in the rain with both the camera and the ballhead protected by an E-702, during a lull in one of my recent jobs photographing trains. It was taken with my iPhone 4, using the new HDR function which does a quite good job at extending the dynamic range of the phone's camera. Without HDR the grey sky blew out to white!
Continue reading "Rain covers and customer service"...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 1 - Fenced

November 1, 2010 - Melbourne

The high fence around our back yard is topped by loose netting which keeps our cats safely inside. They have free rein of the house and the garden (which they share with the chickens) but that's it.
I recently finished an upgrade to the fencing (thanks to one of our felines being related to Houdini) so it was an obvious target when I headed out for a photo walk this afternoon.
Continue reading "Day 1 - Fenced"...