Monday, December 31, 2007

Canon 1Ds Mark III file renaming

Canon's 1Ds Mark III offers a means to customize the factory specified four-digit camera name that precedes the four digit file name. In the process of implementing this option, I encountered a problem which had no answer in the documentation—at least not that I could find. Under the Tools 1 menu, I set the custom four digits to my preference (In my case, four numbers). However, after taking pictures and downloading them, the custom four digit included an unwanted underscore character “_”. I later found out from Canon that the underscore is a default naming convention for the Adobe RGB color space, the custom file renaming option only works if the color space is set to sRGB. If you shoot in RAW, the color workspace does not really matter since you can change that if and when your processed files are output to another file type. The color space is set through the Camera 1 menu.

Canon 1Ds Mark III file renaming feature requires an sRGB color space to work correctly.

Friday, December 28, 2007

White on white

Today while taking a break from processing photos taken months ago, I glanced out the office window and saw this Willow Ptarmigan feeding on the grasses sticking through the snow. The office is situated on a south facing slope surrounded by a boreal forest, with plenty of habitat protection for birds and animals. I decided to grab a few photos with the new Canon 1Ds Mark III, which offers amazing 21 Mega pixel files. Ptarmigan are members of the grouse family, and turn completely white in the winter, save for a few black highlights on the tail feathers visible only when in flight. This "cryptic" arctic camouflage is critical to their survival from predators. Over the years I've photographed many of these birds from different regions of Alaska. They favor the dense vegetation found at tree line. See those ptarmigan photos here

Willow ptarmigan in winter plumage, Fairbanks, Alaska
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 500mm f4.0L, 1/50 sec @ f4.0, ISO 400

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beginning a day

Photographing in Alaska's summers introduces a problem for sleep-lovers. The quality of light that delivers color, warmth, and pleasing shadows happens when most are sleeping. The late hour of both the setting and rising sun blows any sort of normal working schedule. Some time ago I adopted a little guideline when in the field photographing: "always camp by water if possible". This affords a hasty opportunity at the least, of getting up quickly to catch color in the sky and its reflection on the land when the sun rises.

This mountain landscape, sometimes mistaken for Mount McKinley, is actually Mount Blackburn (16,390 ft.) of the Wrangell St. Elias range in southcentral Alaska. After many failed attempts to capture this scene, this visit proved successful and the clear skies, clouds, and colorful sunrise synchronized for an interesting photo. I woke up about 3:30am and waited for the sun to rise, and shot this scene at 4:30am. I continued to take a variety of landscapes until about 6:00am, and upon returning to my car met some tourists who were just waking. I like sleep as the average person does, but there is a strong lure found in the solitude and brilliance of an Alaska sunrise.

Sunrise over Mt. Blackburn, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska
Canon 1Ds Mark II, 24-105mmIS, 2.0 secs @f16, ISO 100

Monday, December 24, 2007

Thoughts of summer

Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge is an oasis for birds and wildlife in the Fairbanks area. The refuge offers habitat protection and public use for nature viewing, education and research. You can learn more about it here.

It has taken me a few years to get the timing down to capture a Savannah Sparrow perched on a stalk of fireweed in full bloom. Look closely and you will notice the band on the bird's leg. The Alaska Bird Observatory has operated a migration-monitoring station at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge since 1992. This study will help document long-term trends in the abundance of landbirds at Creamer’s Field as well as provide information on the life histories of passerines migrating through interior Alaska. To date, more than 65,000 birds of 72 species have been banded at this site.

Savannah Sparrow perched on a stalk of fireweed,
Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, Fairbanks, Alaska.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 500mm IS with 2x converter, 1/250 sec @ f8.0, ISO 320

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Season's apart

On the eve of winter solstice, I'm reminded of a photo I took during the summer solstice, June 21, 2007. Fairbanks celebrates the summer solstice with many events and activities, one of which is the Gold Panners semi-pro baseball game that plays until midnight under natural daylight.

Midnight sun baseball game, June 21, 2007, Fairbanks, Alaska

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Entering the Blog world

On this inaugural blog-creation-day the temperatures in Fairbanks, Alaska are on a slow but steady slide into the very "minus" category, at the moment that is -38 degrees Fahrenheit . Frost accrues on the trees and pink afternoon light is just a few days from the winter solstice. These are good times to do the tedious work that follows time in the field making photos. Editing, processing, and keywording, things which most photographers procrastinate quite well, myself included.

Aurora Borealis over tundra bond in the Brooks Range, Alaska.
Canon 1ds Mark II, 16-35mm f2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 500

This photo was taken in Alaska's Brooks range in early September 2007. If the conditions are right you can see the aurora in latter August-early September as darkness returns to the night sky. Although there is generally no snow to define the landscape features at this time, the water in ponds is not yet frozen and this gives the opportunity to work with reflective foregrounds near lakes or ponds. The aurora display was not particularly active, but the classic silhouetted trees of the taiga against a slightly foggy pond surface proved interesting.