In October I was fortunate to be a guest aboard a friend’s boat for 9 days, diving the islands north of La Paz, Mexico. One of our goals was to obtain visuals of the Archipelago Espiritu Santo as part of an effort to support legislative proposals seeking greater environmental protections for the area. The Archipelago, consisting of three islands — Isla Partida, Los Islotes and Isla Espiritu Santo — is considered by many to be the most beautiful island group in the Sea of Cortez. Following is a rough edit, a sampler, of some of the video we obtained. Be sure to click the small gear at lower right and select “1080 HD”. Cheers and thanks for watching!
I recently finished editing still photographs made in the Sea of Cortez in November. While I was shooting photos I also took some time to grab video footage with the Canon 7D that I was using. This is a rough edit that I made from some clips, assembled in iMovie. Be sure to select “720p” in the lower right of the Youtube player. Enjoy …
I recently joined my family for a reunion in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. It was not a photography trip, but I did manage to grab a few photos and some video clips as we visited some of the iconic and touristy spots in both parks. This little video is a test of a Sennheiser mic I am using on the Canon 5D Mark II. Not sure I am 100% happy with the sound quality but its better than the built in mic. Once the video has begun to play, be sure to select 720p HD in the lower right corner, since by default Youtube plays this video only in 480p which is not the best quality.
Here is a short compilation of video clips I made with my dSLR while at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in early December. Most of these birds are snow geese, but there are some sandhill cranes in there too.
Last night we sailed down the Lemaire Channel a second time, after a visit to Peterman Island. This morning we awoke in Paradise Bay. We would remain here for a few hours while we ate breakfast. As I was below in the galley enjoying eggs, cheese, fruit and coffee (the food was great on the M/V Polar Star), I left my camera alone out on the deck shooting one frame every 4 seconds. I slapped them together into a time lapse video, which you see below thanks to Youtube!
I recently made a couple of fantastic hikes in Zion National Park: the Subway and the Virgin River Narrows. I am editing photographs now, but here is a short rough video I shot on our hikes. The highlights were Archangel Falls near the Subway, and the Wall Street section of the Virgin River Narrows. Oh, and the fall colors in Zion National Park were awesome!
Here is one image from the Subway. Those yellow cottonwood trees were in raging color all over Kolob Terrace and in the Zion Canyon. Just wonderful!
Thanks Garry and Don for your great company!
Vogelsang High Sierra Camp and Tuolumne Meadows
My dad and I spent a great several days hiking around Tuolumne Meadows and Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. Vogelsang is one of my favorite areas of the Sierra Nevada, a series of 10,000′ basins filled with beautiful lakes and boasting many 11,000′ and 12,000′ peaks. We had spectacular weather, no mosquitoes, and bagged a new peak and at least a half dozen lakes. I shot this video with a Canon 5D Mark II and the time lapse was shot with a Canon 1Ds Mark III camera, 1300+ frames over two hours to produce about 25 seconds of time lapse video. The video was an exercise to test the function of the Sennheiser MKE 400 mic in an outdoor setting. It worked reasonably well. You can tell I did not get my video perfectly level on some shots — live and learn. Life is good!
Redwood National Park Video
We spent a few days relaxing in Orick, California, in the heart of Redwood National Park. We enjoyed some great hikes among the towering coastal redwood trees, a little horseback riding, some uncrowded and beautiful beaches, and lots of Roosevelt elk that reside in the meadows just outside the window of the little cabin we stayed in. Here is a short film I made to test out a couple aspects of how the Canon 5D Mark II and Panasonic Lumix LX3 cameras record video. I was trying a variety of methods for panning a dSLR while recording video, some of them more successful that others. These passages are basically straight out of the camera, with only minimal assembly and processing in iMovie. I did shoot some “serious photos” but it will take me a while to get them processed and on this website. I was surprised at how simple and fast it can be to shoot video and edit it into a little film, this took just an hour or so to make. What did I learn? I learned that I need a proper external microphone if I want to have any hope of recording decent audio, and that I should turn image stabilization off when I record video since the stabilizer can be heard whirring on the audio track. I also can tell that Youtube uses some heavy compression (not surprising), since the Youtube version of this film below has some jerkiness and compression artifacts that do not appear in the original.
We arrive early in the morning at Paulet Island, our first taste of the Antarctic Peninsula. As we navigate our approach through ice-filled channels around the island, large groups of Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) are seen swimming in the water and gathered on the edges of bergs and fast ice. While the day dawns cloudy, it will clear periodically later today, with broken clouds and beautiful Antarctic weather on and off. Strong currents roil the waters about the Paulet Island, moving bergs and brash ice constantly. It takes the captain of the icebreaker M/V Polar Star some time to make a firm anchor.
When the boat is securely anchored, we venture out in zodiacs for some cruising among the ice. Adelie penguins abound. The island is literally covered with Adelies and their curious stone nests, while groups of them are found on the beautifully sculpted ice everywhere we look. When they leave their ice perches and take to the water, their porpoising across the glassy sea is marvelous to watch. They are like small speedy footballs leaping out of the water, only to disappear and reappear again every few seconds as their sturdy wings propel them forward. They are nearly impossible to photograph while porpoising, for me at least, and I resign myself to admiring them and trying to photograph the ones standing still on the ice. Simple photos for simple photographers.
After returning to the big boat, I gather my gear and take a second zodiac ride to land ashore on Paulet Island. It is still morning, but I decide in advance to skip lunch and just stay onshore all day, knowing that each hour with my feet on the ground in Antarctica is exceptionally valuable and is my motivation for making this journey. What a place, so much life here! A cacophony of penguin sounds fills the air, for the many hours that I am ashore. The colony sections themselves are so dense and vast that we stay along the perimeters, in the thin strip of ice- and boulder-covered beach the penguins traverse as they make their way between the ocean and their nests. In the colony itself, the birds are spaced in a highly-regular fashion, with their nests just a few feet apart from one another. I am struck by this aspect of the colony, having seen it earlier in the trip at the phenomenal black-browed albatross colony at Steeple Jason in the Falkland Islands. It seems that each member of the species has exactly the same tolerance for others of its kind, needs exactly the same room to maintain its sanity, leading to the spatial pattern before me that is repeated as far into the colony as one can see. Indeed, when viewed from the boat, the colony takes on an almost abstract look. Mother Nature employs her wonderful mathematics again, producing yet another example of regularity and order out of the chaos that is Life.
Adelie penguins, nesting, part of the enormous colony on Paulet Island, with the tall ramparts of the island and clouds seen in the background. Adelie penguins nest on open ground and assemble nests made of hundreds of small stones.
Image ID: 25024
Species: Adelie Penguin, Pygoscelis adeliae
Location: Paulet Island, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica
I move to the edge of the island to watch the penguins that are departing to forage at sea. They are not unlike a little river: birds constantly “flowing” from their nesting areas on the plateau above down into the water. Hanging over the cobblestone beach on which I sit is a small cliff of melting ice. Every 30 seconds or so a group of penguins approaches along the edge of this ice, using well-worn paths left behind by thousands of small feet, until they reach a gap in the ice cliff through which they can jump down onto the cobblestone. From there they gather at the water’s edge into nervous groups of 10 to 50 before rushing en masse into the water, strategically using their numbers to foil any predatory leopard seal that may be waiting underwater. I setup my camera and tripod in a location where I am sure the penguins will come by. I then move away, and wait. Soon a curious group gathers around the camera, looking at it inquisitively, clucking softly and gently pecking at it to discover what it might be. As they do so, I use my wireless trigger ($20 on Ebay) to take a few pictures of them — from 50′ away. The camera is set to operate as silently as possible to avoid startling the little birds, and the technique works great. When the penguins finally leave, I am able to go inspect my camera and see the images I got; a few look like keepers. I try my remote-cam technique a few more times and am happy with the results. Here are a couple examples; I could have been sipping a margarita in a beach chair while taking these, if it were not so cold:
Adelie penguins navigate a steep dropoff, to get from their nests down to a rocky beach, in order to go to sea to forage for food.
Image ID: 25020
Species: Adelie Penguin, Pygoscelis adeliae
Location: Paulet Island, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica
As the day passes, I realize that the movement of the penguins here cannot be conveyed in a single image. So I spend my last two hours on shore arranging several time-lapse sequences, composed of hundreds of photos that together are arranged into a short movie. One never really knows how the result of a time-lapse effort will appear until the final product is finished on the computer. I did not finally see the result of these efforts until now, some six months after my day on Paulet Island:
This is a time lapse video of the Milky Way rising in the south east sky, viewed from Death Valley. The Milky Way is our own galaxy, a thick spinning disc of stars with arms that thin as they spiral outward. Our Sun is located in one of the arms. When viewed from our Sun’s location, the Milky Way is viewed “on edge” and so appears as a broad band across the sky. The Milky Way is not aligned with the plane of the ecliptic, so it is not parallel with the paths that the moon and Sun follow across our sky. The central core of the Milky Way, which is the thick disc-like center of the galaxy, lies on the right side of this video. Some satellites and planes can be seen briefly in the video, along with a few shooting stars (meteors) near the bottom of the frame just before dawn. This was shot with two Canon digital SLR cameras over a period of about six hours, and is composed of about 500 photographs.