Well, last night was the coldest night of the year but I had to try to capture the meteor shower. I brought out extension cords and plugged my camera in after trying a number of shots. The first part is still light while the moon is setting. I’d say the time is from ~ 2:30am to 7:30am.
A few of the streaks are airplanes, and one gets the sense that if we had had one more hour of darkness, we’d have been able to see a ton more meteors.
I finally got to sleep around 5 am, glad I wasn’t still out there changing batteries. So here’s what an all-nighter in sub-zero can get you. Thirty seconds of this…
This summer, my wife and I will be hiking, mapping, photographing, and filming our journey along the Janapar trail, a trail that runs through the heart of Nagorno-Karabakh. This is a self-proclaimed semi-autonomous region located between Armenian and Azerbaijan.
You can find out more about our project and become a supporter here. We’re using a great new funding platform called Kickstarter, which is beginning to revolutionize the way independent artists support their projects. Check it out as, we’re offering great rewards for those that support us.
Here’s the full link:
We’ll be hiking for two weeks, gathering all the film, photos and info, and we’ll be spending another week to ten days, traveling around the region by car, gathering info on hiking, food and lodging, and the history of the area.
At the end of the project we will have a guidebook, map set, photos for a number of exhibitions and a 20 minute documentary-slideshow.
If you have any experience in the area, definitely let us know. My wife Julia lived here for about a year, so we’re lucky she knows the area and can speak the language, which is a variation of eastern Armenian.
Thanks and be sure to check out our Kickstarter project!
Well, we did this almost two months ago, but think it’s high time to share it. My in-laws gave my wife and me a hot air balloon ride as an engagement gift a number of years back. We finally decided to do it this winter, and I thought that since I’m working on the Kickass Guide to Skiing and Riding Vermont we might as well use the ride to get good aerial shots of one or multiple ski areas.
We decided to choose Balloons of Vermont out of Quechee. We met Darrek our pilot and Jeff our balloon chaser early in the morning at Quechee, VT. We climbed into his big extended cab pickup and drove over to Killington, then Rutland and back to Killington before the weather finally cleared. We drove up the Killington access road to an empty restaurant lot. Quickly, we pulled out the basket and the balloon, as well as a generator, big fan, burners and propane tanks, which all fit in the back of truck.
Within ten minutes the fan and propane had filled the balloon (I actually think it’s called the envelope), we jumped in and were off! They skies had cleared, and even though it was in the teens that day, with very little wind and a ton of sun, and the propane burners going off intermittently, it was actually pretty warm.
Interesting tidbit: Darrek says most people are surprised at how calm balloon rides are because the balloon is traveling at pretty much the same speed as the wind, so in effect there is no wind chill!
We slowly floated up towards Killington peak and the K-1 gondola. There was ample time for photographs and shots of Middleton’s Irish Whiskey, which at $150 per bottle, is a purchase that we treat ourselves to once per year. While we were serenely floating over Vermont’s second highest peak, Darrek maintained communication with Jeff in the chase vehicle.
As we were floating over Killington, we noted that they had stopped the Superstar high-speed quad chair as well as the K-1 gondola. Soon a snowmobile chased us up the mountain and yelled “what are you doing?!” Darrek yelled back “we’re flying!” which we thought was pretty clever. Apparently Killington was nervous about us being so close and they actually shut down the lifts for over ten minutes. According to Darrek, we need to be at least 500 feet above buildings or things on the ground in rural areas, and it seemed to me that we were. Oh well.
I recently purchased a Panasonic FZ-100 superzoom camera. Why would somebody like me, who is obsessed with image quality buy a small-sensor all-in-one camera? It goes back to the number one answer to the number one question that I always get…”what camera should I buy?” I always respond…”buy the best camera that you will always bring with you.” What good is an $8,000 Nikon D3x when you feel encumbered by the weight and don’t have it with you when that crucial shot arises.
Anyways, I say that the FZ-100 can do everything except take great photos. I say that tongue in cheek, because it actually can take pretty good photos in decent light. You can find the specs anywhere on the web but the main reasons I bought the camera were the versatile range (an equivalent of 25mm-600mm), 11fps shooting (great for sports), Raw file format, full 1080 HD video with autofocus and zoom, a flip out lcd allowing for above the head and ground level shots, super close macro ability, optical stabilization, electronic viewfinder (for sunny conditions) and extremely light weight. Yes the sensor is very small and even at the lowest iso you’ll see some noise. But for anything small, or used on the web, the photos look pretty darn good. And all this for around $375-$400. Seems like a pretty good deal. Check out Michael Reichmann’s
Overall I’m very pleased with the camera. Which brings me to the subject of this post. My mother, who is really getting into photography and has an amazing eye, wants a camera that is light weight and won’t strain her back and shoulders. I mentioned this camera to my father and he mentioned in return a small Leica camera with similar specs. Well obviously Leica is a great camera maker and an even more amazing lens maker so I had to check it out. The camera is called the V-Lux 2.
Now, I’m already a little suspect of Leica, as their D-lux 5 is just a rebadged Panasonic LX5. The Leica is about $800 while the Panasonic is $400. Yeah, you get a few extra accessories but it’s the same camera for twice the price! Well, lo and behold, the Leica V-lux 2 is a rebadged Panasonic FZ-100! You’ll find Leica fanboys on the web forums saying that Leica added their own tweaks to the jpeg engine. I doubt this is true, and if you’re shooting raw it’s irrelevant. How much does the V-lux 2 cost. $850!!!
I’m all for great cameras, and I understand certain brands have a cache that may add to one’s personal value of a particular object. But how in the world does Leica get away with charging over twice the price for Panasonic cameras? Obviously people are buying them, or they wouldn’t do it.
If you’re a purchaser of any of these cameras, let us know what helped you make your decision. I for one cannot understand the logic, and feel that Leica is misleading well-meaning consumers, like my parents.
So how much is the red dot worth? Looks like it’s about $400. Ouch! I think I’ll draw my own red dot.
I’m working on a number of projects now and I’m getting into doing virtual tours. I’m just learning Autopano Pro and PanoTour and it’s fairly intuitive. Below, check out my first panorama. It’s from Mather Pass which is on both the John Muir Trail as well as the Sierra High Route. It’s pretty high resolution, so may take a little while to load. It will only work where flash is enabled
So, Lightroom 3 is out. One of the features I’m most enjoying is the new ability to export a slideshow to video, with sound.
Yes, it was a long time in the making, but glad it’s here. You can even time the slides so that they end just as the music does. Neat.
But everything’s not totally rosy here. Let’s imagine that you have 100 photos that you’d like to show in a slideshow. Let’s say you want each image to have around 4-5 seconds. With fades, you’re probably looking at a 10 minute slideshow. But wait, Lightroom can only use one song. What are you to do?
Watch my video tutorial or read the step by step instructions at the end of this post.
Over on Luminous Landscape, a wonderful in-depth article on digital photography and mountain climbing by Alexandre Buisse has been posted. The discussion ranges from technical concerns to aesthetic decisions and everything in-between. The article is accompanied by a number of wonderful photographs from his recent trip to Peru. Be sure to check out his portfolio and blog. (Right now, since I don’t know the rules about posting other people’s photos, I can’t add any here, but I’d like to. If you know of a good resource about proper usage and crediting of images and content, please let me know!)
I’ve been thinking a lot about digital photography in the backcountry and hope to use my upcoming hike of the Long Trail, where I will follow the fall foliage southward, to begin to articulate my ideas from many hundreds of days shooting in the backcountry. (By “backcountry” I mean anyplace where there is no access to electricity. Usually these situations occur many days in a row.) Stay tuned!
All photographers get it, and for good reason. The sensors in today’s DSLR’s can pretty much outresolve most lenses on the market. In fact, the sensor in the D5000 is no worse than, and some may say better, than the top of Nikon’s DX lineup, the D300. What many users of the D300 know, but most likely users of the D5000 do not, is that that tube of plastic and glass attached to your camera makes all the difference.
Initially one may think the sharper the lens, the better. Sharpness may be of the utmost importance to a landscape photographer, however in many other applications, other factors may be more important. A list of these include, but certainly are not limited to: weight, maximum aperture, light falloff, focal range, bokeh, color rendition, contrast, minimum focus distance, ease of focusing, build quality, image stabilization, filter size, autofocus speed, autofocus accuracy, flare, chromatic aberrations and of course that hard to describe “rightness” of a lens.
It is true that although I love my trusty 18-200mm workhorse that accompanies me in the backcountry, I can instantly tell when I’m viewing a photo shot with one of my pro lenses, such as the 14-24mm. I could go on forever about this topic and people can get very animated over lenses. But where do you go when you want to make the first steps toward deciding if a lens meets your needs?
That’s a very good question, and although there are endless “reviews” out there, there are only a few that I feel are clear and consistent. Use these as a starting point and then read a FEW opinions online. Once you’ve made a decision, use your lens as soon as you get it and don’t be afraid to return it, or try out another copy.
And if any of you readers out there know of other sources of of good lens reviews, please let me know!