Archives For Arctic

During the last two weeks of exploring the remote coastline of Chukotka and Kamchatka with Silversea, I have been running photography workshops and giving my fellow explorers an insight into the documentaries we have shot over recent years. One of the best things about these trips are the other travelers you meet. Amongst the many new friends I connected with were Ralph Grizzle and his son Alex. Ralph runs a very popular blog, Avid Cruiser, followed by a huge readership from around the world. He and his son had the mission of shooting a series of shoot films while on board the Silversea Discoverer that would review the trip and share the many adventures we experienced. They very generously and offered to feature me in these videos, in particular, the visits to meet the native peoples that live along this remote coastline.

As readers will know, one of the highlights for me was visiting the native villages. (Tymlat was featured in a recent post from the ship). In both villages I had the pleasure of taking Alex with me as I shot, along the way teaching him some of the tricks of the trade. Here is the short video they produced. In the coming days I will post a gallery of the images from the villages of Lorino and also Teller.

Arctic Options

July 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

I am working as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded group, Arctic Options. Our goal is to raise awareness about the changing face of the Arctic. We are focusing on several areas for the study, including the Bering Straits, Western Greenland and the Central Arctic Ocean.

Regional map

The upcoming voyage from Nome, Alaska, to the Russian side of the Bering Straits will provide a great opportunity to see a part of the world that is very challenging to visit and falls right in one of our areas of interest. Stay tuned for updates from the expedition.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear - Ultra Light Hiking Gear

Its great to support a US based manufacturer and even better when they are from our home State of Maine. We are about to test out a new pack from Hyperlite Mountain Gear. These packs are super light weight but waterproof, which makes them perfect for using in bad weather or on a boat where spray and breaking waves can be an issue. Can’t wait to test it on the upcoming trip to the Russia Far East!

Details from the Hyperlite website

Having been all over the world, including Antarctica, the 2400 Ice Pack is the choice pack for technical ice climbing, sport climbing or alpine day trips.  Weighing in at 33.8 oz (958 grams), this 40 liter, minimalist designed climbing pack has everything you’ll need for carrying ropes, rack, crampons, helmets, and winter clothing for alpine adventures.

The 2400 Ice Pack is constructed from our Cuben/50d Poly hybrid fabric and includes two vertical daisy chains, four side compression straps, a spectra hardline crampon patch with shock cord crampon keeper, two ice axe holders, y-top compression over the roll-top closure, two vertical compression straps, an internal zippered pocket, and a removable hip-belt with optional pockets or gear loops with slots for ice clippers.

New features for 2014 include fully sealed side seams for improved water resistance, a more durable double-reinforced 150d pack bottom, added hip-belt length and the optional re-designed hip-belt pockets for improved utility.  Recommended carrying capacity range for this pack is 20-40 lbs and as with all HMG packs, a rain cover is not required, however we do highly recommend Cuben fiber stuff sacks to compartmentalize your gear and as an added level of water resistant security.

Note: This pack can be custom-fitted to carry skis upon telephone request.

2.1lbs : 33.8oz : 958g

 

 

 

 

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Two highly immersive photo expedition cruises

Embark on a voyage that takes you well off the beaten path, to destinations that will excite your imagination like no other. Your Silversea Expedition to the Russian Far East or New Zealand will inspire your sense of adventure, introducing you to mesmerizing landscapes and charming coastal villages alike. You’ll encounter wild animals, exotic flora and fauna, and fascinating cultures.

The experiences you’ll have on your voyage aboard Silver Discoverer will create a lifetime of memories—one that you’ll undoubtedly want to immortalize on film. And having an award-winning photographer help you capture these unique moments can make the difference between a good picture and a great one. So join us on one of these two highly immersive Photo Expedition Cruises with professional photographer and expeditions specialist David Wright.

With more than 25 years of professional experience that have won him Emmy, BAFTA and Chris Awards, David has worked with the BBC, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel. He’s covered a wide range of stories spanning natural history, adventure, and history, on BBC/Discovery’s Frozen Planet, National Geographic’s Untamed Americas and the BBC’s Natural World.David will provide you with tips that will help you compose the most visually striking photographs, and how to get the most of your camera’s settings to create an extraordinary image.

©Photo Credit: David Wright

See In A New Way

February 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

Our last post dealt with capturing sound of walrus for a new BBC documentary. While most of what we do is in the wild, these captive animals gave me the opportunity to try out the news lens from Lensbaby up close. You may recall Cotton posted a review a few weeks ago from out in the field….

I was shooting with my Nikon D800 with the Composer Pro, with both the Sweet 35 and Edge 80 optics

I have owned an older Lensbaby for several years and have to say the Composer Pro is a step up. There is greater control of the focus shift and the optics are much improved. This means it is much easier to control the wonderful selective focus look that gives a whole different aesthetic to your photographs. The optics are not for everyone, they are designed to take advantage of the controlled soft focus and blur that is altered by manipulating the ball joint at the centre of the lens. Their website has some great instructional videos for all the different products in the range.

I think you will agree the photographs speak for themselves. Its a style choice but for me the blur and controlled fall off of focus really add a dynamic look to these pictures. Bottom line…. If you like to take photographs that have a different look, I would thoroughly recommend this lens system!

I look forward to trying it out for portraiture and landscapes. Stayed tuned for updates

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We are currently in production of a climate change documentary based around the work of biologist George Divoky and his 40 year study of seabirds in the Arctic. As part of the project, several industry magazines recently printed a story about the project and the choice of Anton Bauer products to power equipment in challenging locations. Here is the story as it appeared-

(Cooper Island, Alaska–July 19, 2012) When award-winning filmmaker David Wright of Planet Earth Pictures agreed to travel to Alaska and film the upcoming educational documentary, An Uncertain Future, he chose batteries from Anton/Bauer®, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company, and a premier global provider of batteries, chargers, lighting and other mobile power systems for the professional broadcast, video and film industries, to power his equipment. Wright traveled with a supply of Anton/Bauer’s DIONIC® 90 and CINE VCLX batteries to support his Panasonic HDX900 and Canon XF105 cameras, as he embarked on a month-long excursion to Cooper Island, a remote location off the coast Alaska, as well as a voyage around Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic, to shoot a documentary on biologist Dr. George Divoky who is conducting climate change research.

For the last 40 years, Dr. Divoky has made the journey to Cooper Island each summer to study the migration and feeding patterns of a colony of seabirds. By studying this colony, he has gleaned a wealth of information about how climate change is affecting the habitat they live in, as well as the lives of other creatures living in and around the surrounding Beaufort Sea, including the sea life serving as food for the birds. Over the last five years, Divoky has witnessed the arrival of starving polar bears, which feed on the birds and their eggs. The polar bears seek refuge on the island due to a loss of habitat caused by the increasing lack of sea ice in the warming Arctic basin.


Photo Credits: David Wright

Wright met Dr. Divoky in 2011 during the filming of the BBC series Frozen Planet. Intrigued by Dr. Divoky’s work, Wright agreed to document him in action, with the goal of producing a film that would educate climate-change skeptics on the growing peril climate change presents to the planet and its inhabitants. Wright served as cameraman and field producer, spending a month with Dr. Divoky in his small, 10 x 12 foot cabin on the remote island. With few resources available, facing a mix of below-freezing and unusually warm temperatures, as well as weeks of fog, the trip presented quite a challenge to the filmmaker. Thanks to help from Anton/Bauer’s batteries, however, Wright was able to power his camera through the entire trip.


Photo Credits: David Wright

“I have been a big fan of Anton/Bauer products for the last 20 years,” explains Wright. “I travel to some of the world’s most extreme environments, which tests my equipment to the absolute limits. Not only have I used Anton/Bauer batteries in the frigid temperatures of the Arctic but also in the tropics of Central Africa and the heat of Central Australia. I always travel with a supply of DIONIC batteries as my main power source. They are light and powerful for their size, plus the positive lock system is far superior to other mounts when working in arduous conditions. I have also started using the high-capacity CINE VCLX when I need to run equipment that draws a high current or needs to run for extended periods. It has performed wonderfully.”

For this trip, as he does for many others, Wright traveled with eight DIONIC 90s and keeps them charged with an Anton/Bauer TWQ four-bay simultaneous charger. According to Wright, this is more than enough for a day’s shooting and provides enough power for the LED lighting that he also uses.

“When you don’t know when you will next get a chance to find a power source, it is so great to have some reserve energy,” he says. “Even in the cold of the Arctic, the fully charged Anton/Bauer batteries have held their energy for days without a problem.”

The DIONIC 90 was designed by Anton/Bauer to deliver consistently reliable performance even in the most challenging shooting environments on Earth. It offers a RealTime® display that continually updates the operator on how much run time remains and on the state of the current charge. Weighing only 1.7 pounds, the DIONIC 90 can be transported without restriction under the IATA and DOT safety regulations (http://www.antonbauer.com/Support/TransportationInformation). The 95Wh battery can handle a maximum load of six amps, and offers run times ranging from six hours at 15 watts to a little over 2 hours at 45 watts.

CINE VCLX batteries provide superior run time and service life for the power demands of today’s cinema production and lighting equipment. Known for providing extended run-times for some of the most popular film and digital cinema cameras, including ARRI, RED, Sony and Panavision, CINE VCLX batteries provide all the safety and high power-draw performance of Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) cell chemistry technology in a power package specifically designed for the integration of 24V film and 14V video equipment. The high-power 28V output is also capable of powering 200 W HMI lights, lighting panels and portable microwave units. The CINE VCLX batteries feature a RealTime® LCD that accurately displays remaining run-time and a visual LED warning indicator when 15 minutes of run-time remain.

An Uncertain Future is currently in post production, with a projected release for later this summer, available for free, online at the film’s website: http://www.changingourclimate.net.

In addition to his work on An Uncertain Future, Wright recently finished shooting a feature film, Blind Pass, in Ireland and Florida. For that project he also used Anton/Bauer DIONIC 90s to power a RED MX and 1×1 Litepanels. He also specializes in high-speed work, using the Phantom, which requires a 24V supply. The CINE VCLX provides an excellent solution for this camera, or if he is traveling to more remote locations, he will use two DIONIC 90s. For more information about David Wright’s work visit http://www.planetearthpictures.com or follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/LunaSeaFilms.

For more information about Anton/Bauer’s roster of products, visit http://www.antonbauer.com.

For the last couple of years we have been shooting a story with ornithologist George Divoky. You can see more about the project at our website www.ChangingOurClimate.net. He has been working on the same remote Arctic island for the last 40 years (www.CooperIsland.org) Starting out with the intention of studying the region’s sea birds, the research has grown into much more and has become an amazing window into climate change across the Arctic.

George monitors a population of black guillemots that have become his spies across the Arctic ocean.

In his latest studies George has been using geolocators that the birds carry on their daily foraging trips. He knew that the disappearance of sea ice was impacting the birds ability to feed, but this new information confirmed just how serious the situation really is. They are making trips of more than 1000 miles to feed. You can read more about this startling revelation on George’s blog

The most dramatic change has been the regular arrival of polar bears on the island. Each summer, as the sea ice now retreats further and faster, the bears have to flee to land and don’t have access to the regular food source of seals out on the pack ice. Its  a tragic situation for polar bears that are now facing seemingly insurmountable problems across their whole range, but also not good news for George or the birds he studies. For several years the hungry bears completely wiped out the birds’ colony, killing just about every chick. This put the researcher in danger and meant the 40 year study may come to an abrupt end. Thankfully George came up with a unique solution and thanks to the folks at Nanuk, the colony has been saved and the study will continue.

George now has several hundred Nanuk camera cases placed across the island, each converted into a guillemot nest box. They provide an ideal site for birds to escape from marauding bears, and even if a full grown polar jumps up and down on the case, the birds remain safe inside.

Having tried just about every camera case on the market, and in some of the world’s harshest environments, I have to say Nanuk have come up with a winning formula of strength, while still staying low in weight, as well as having a great catch design. But as rough as my field tests can be, George has definitely come up with the ultimate, if a full grown polar bear can’t break one of these cases, its your best chance to protect your camera gear!

If you interested in purchasing a Nanuk case, visit our own Amazon store, they are top of the list.

For more about our adventures on Cooper Island, go to David blog entry at Adventure in Climate Change

Contributor- David Wright