Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Gales of November site is LIVE!

The Gales of November site is LIVE!

We've settled on the weekend of October 20th, 2016. There's room for a dozen photographers and as I write this, I know of 5 who have already booked, and Rock Island Lodge implied that there are a couple of others they haven't told me about yet.

So if you want to attend, you'd best hop to it. First come, first served.
 (I COULD do a second weekend if enough people want me to.)
Here's the link: check it out!

Revised Banner shot

If you check out the banner picture at the top of the blog, it's an abstract rendering of a shot I was trying to make on New Year's Eve but then I experimented after the fact in Photoshop. The original was an attempt to isolate the dead tree against the snowy background... it was "OK", but needed something.

Here's the old blog banner that I replaced (I post the old ones in the blog so they don't disappear forever):

Haven't tried it yet...

I mentioned a few weeks ago that when doing timelapses using my iphone to drive the camera through TriggerTrap, the phone battery was the limiting factor. I could only do about an hour and a half, the camera battery lasted longer. So I searched eBay for an external battery pack and paid the princely sum of $5.88 US including shipping for this one:

not my picture. Screen capture from the eBay page. 

The specs say it's got about 3x the capacity of the regular iPhone battery so it should do. Now I need to wait for some clear skies for a chance to give it a try. It was a little confusing at first because the cable didn't match the new "Lightning" connector on the phone (which I like because you don't have to worry about which way around it is, it plugs in both ways, but I dislike it because none of my old charging cables will fit!). Then I realized you use the regular iPhone charging cable and plug it into the USB connector on the power pack.

If I want to do serious day-long timelapses, I'll have to look into external power for the camera too. On the list...

It comes in various colours. I was going to buy pink but then I though...

I wrote that a few days ago. I have tried it now and it works... but I haven't pushed it to see how much power it's providing. I ran about 200 images for a timelapse and had 93% power left on the iPhone. I'll do more later.

More Pine Marten pictures!

They're so deceivingly cute. I went up to Algonquin Park yesterday with Ron Goodlin and Rob Kline in search of wildlife, and I'm glad they weren't disappointed! Neither of them had seen Pine Martens before and the machine gun sound of Ron's D4 at 11 fps or whatever was more or less continuous!

I commented to someone that I was tired of seeing someone's endless cat pictures (s/he shall remain nameless). Cute enough, if you like cats – which I don't – but the're all the same. The response was, "yeah, should we talk about Pine Martens"? Guilty as charged!

Frankly, I don't understand how he does it. I went with the pressure and when I got home, discovered that I had shot 340 images. But as I culled and rated them there were so many identical. It was hard to decide which to keep and which to discard. I ended up throwing out about 200 shots. That said, there was one sequence where s/he opened and closed his or her mouth and I might have missed this shot if I hadn't been shooting in burst (my D800 only does about 4 fps — enough for me!).

I opined that these animals (Pine Martens are members of the weasel family. They may look cute but they're really mean like minks and fishers. They're carnivores, but these particular ones have become too accustomed to humans and our garbage.

Still, they make fine photo subjects, so here are a few more shots.

I suspect these are siblings from this year's litter. I posted this image on FB with the caption, "OK, here's the plan, sis. I'm going to run that way and stop and pose for the cameras every now and then. You go the other way and see if you can pick up some food for us without them spotting you. Ready? On 3...."

I think this is my favourite from this batch. I've long known that wide angle shots which include more of the environment tell a story better than closeups. I took some artistic liberties with the background to make it stand out less.

By the way, some people preferred to shoot other things. To each his own...

Ten feet away from where the Pine Martens were playing, this was set up to photograph chickadees. Sorry, I don't get it! There are a million of these around everyone's bird feeders, why go to Algonquin and ignore the martens to shoot these. Bird photographers are quirky! 

Nikon D5/D500

Nikon has announced the new D5 ($6500 US) and D500 ($2000 US, same processor and sensor, but DX not FX and "Prosumer" not professional build. It's the successor to the D300). Available in March. OUTRAGEOUS ISO capability: ISO 3,480,000 and 1,280,000 respectively. I remember thinking you could shoot 1/1,000,000 sec at f/16 in the dark!

I haven't yet seen any images posted of any high-ISO shots, other than a sneak peek someone caught of an LCD at the Consumer Electronics Show. But I'm just imagining the noise performance at more "normal" levels like ISO 6400 or 12,800. I think these cameras are going to mitigate the need for big aperture lenses for certain applications – I'm thinking about those $15000 monster telephotos. You'll be able to shoot at f/8 all day.

We live in interesting times!

...speaking of Snowy Owls...

We were, right? My bad, I guess not! 

Only one I've seen so far this year  

When I came across this ladybird, there was a group of conservation types hanging around. They were there, banding the owls. I asked how! They use traps baited with pigeons. I hung around for a while (until it was too dark!) hoping they would capture one so I could photograph the affair: that would be awesome! Too bad they didn't.

While I was waiting, the setting sun illuminated these greenhouses behind me. Check it out!

It actually looked even BETTER through the viewfinder but this was the best I could do, with a multi-shot HDR and Topaz software.

One for the road.

Snowflakes are TOUGH! There's quite a bit of post-processing work in this one and I haven't yet really nailed the focus. Thought I'd share anyway! 

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