Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weathering the weather

Bull Muskox in blowing snow
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 500mm f4.0L IS, 1/500 sec @ f7.1, ISO 400

I just returned from a week of photography in Alaska's arctic. Surprisingly, late March and April still deliver significant sub zero temperatures in the far north, even as the sunlight rushes back at a rapid pace. I'm finding, as time goes by, that waiting out long periods of weather becomes increasingly more difficult. Mainly due to the boredom of waiting for light, which can be considerable in length of hours and days. This is when Podcasts on the IPhone become real valuable--no radio in that country.

I'm usually dressed in many layers, capped off with a big down parka and fur hat. On one excursion in very strong winds, I was hot from trudging around on snowshoes and pulled off my parka hood and hat for a second. That resulted in a light frost bite to my left ear. It only takes seconds in those conditions.

Below are a few photos from the venture. In 6 days, I took less than 1000 pictures, pretty slim shooting. But, I captured a few keepers, and actually photographed the aurora borealis, which has been an elusive subject this winter due to the absence of solar storms. This was also my first chance to test out Canon's new 24mm 1.4L II, which in quick summary, seems immensely improved over the previous version for sharpness. I'll explore that in a later post.

Crescent moon over the Brooks range
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 500mm f4.0L IS, 1/10 sec @ f4.0, ISO 800

Boreal Chickadee
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 500mm f4.0L IS, with 1.4x, 1/1250 sec @ f6.3, ISO 400

Male Pine Grosbeak
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 500mm f4.0L IS, with 1.4x, 1/250 sec @ f6.3, ISO 400

Aurora borealis and star trails over the Brooks range mountains.
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 24mm f1.4L II, 15 min @ f8, ISO 800

Aurora borealis over the Brooks range mountains.
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 24mm f1.4L II, 20 sec @ f1.4, ISO 1000

Semi tractor travels the Haul road in high winds and blowing snow
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 100-400mm f5.6L, 1/640 @ f9, ISO 250

Wind blown snow and spruce trees
Canon 1Ds Mark III, 16-35mm f2.8L, 1/800 @ f11, ISO 400


9 comments:

Troy said...

Patrick, what an amazing trip! A very nice variety of subjects too. The bull muskox looks like he is really struggling against the wind; great effect.

Sorry about the frostbite, I hope there is no permanent damage. What kind of accommodations did you enjoy? Tent or cabins?

I am glad the Aurora came out for you, at least a little. I am also glad to see the new lens worked out well. Did you find the need to micro adjust the lens?

I have been learning B&W photography from someone in my unit that has never used Photoshop before. It's quite enlightening to discuss and apply film and darkroom techniques to digital capture and render. Although, it sounds like printing still remains the constant factor between both. The hook is set though, he quickly started drooling over the digital darkroom. (more to follow).

Welcome back, awesome work as usual. What's next?

-Troy

Emily said...

Enjoyed the photos as always. The picture of the chickadee looks altered...or just a bit surreal. Looking forward to seeing you on Friday, Emily

wheatie93 said...

Breathtakingly beautiful!

Tad said...

I have been a fan of your work for a while but that picture of the musk ox is one of the coolest pictures I have ever seen. That just shows people how harsh of an envoronment that can be.

Suzanne said...

Patrick,
WOW! What a fantastic blog. I am a two-time visitor to Alaska (2006 and 2007) and plan to be back during the summer of 2010. I first learned of you through my trips aboard the Discovery, but I just found your blog today. Your photo tips are great and your photography is absolutley amazing--an outstanding tribute to the natural wonders of "The Last Frontier."

Patrick said...

Hey Troy,
The arctic always seems to deliver something of interest. Its extremes keep luring me back, in light of the deep chill. Frost bite was very slight, just a burning ear for a few days, I should know better after all these years....

I'll post some comments about that new 24mm soon, but in general, it worked great right out of the box, much sharper, and no camera focus correction necessary.

Not sure what is next, I've got a few things on the list. Salmon hatchery, Mt. Redoubt, Aurora, and the last of winter! The weather will dictate probably, as it usually does.

Patrick

Patrick said...

Suzanne,
Beware. Alaska can be an addiction, and there are no recovery groups.
Patrick

Patrick said...

Tad,
I'm glad you have enjoyed some of my photography. An interesting tidbit of interest regarding the muskox photo. It is tough to get a shot of them in which one can actually see the legs, let alone the feet. Notice that the animal is walking on the surface of a very hard, wind packed snow. That tells much about the surface composition of the snow, and is a big indicator of typical wind activity in the area. It was about 15 below zero ambient temperature, but I hate to make the wind chill calculation. On the other hand, I've been told that muskox are never cold. Wish I could claim the same!
Patrick

Smarry said...

I have been a fan of your work for a while but that picture of the musk ox is one of the coolest pictures I have ever seen. That just shows people how harsh of an envoronment that can be.

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Smarry
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