Archives For Expedition

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Nikon just announced three  1″sensored premium compacts: the Nikon DL18-50, DL24-85 and DL-24-500. They have all the bases covered and at a great price. The two smaller cameras promise to produce great images and still fit in a pocket, so a great option for expedition and travel. The big brother is still relatively compact but offers an amazing zoom range. One huge benefit of these types of cameras is no dirty sensors as they never get exposed to the elements. A big bonus when on the road

The  electronics of all three models appear to be very similar (sensor, processor, AF system), and what attracts me as a filmmaker is that they all support for 4K video. Add to that, they have a clean HDMI output so I can use an external recorder if I want to up the recording quality even more. I  often use a monitor like the SmallHD 502, which will also be great with these cameras, but for unobtrusive street shooting, just stick with the built-in tilting screens.

All have  3″ touchscreen OLED displays, the 18-50 and 24-85 offer just tilting options but the screen on the 24-500 is  fully articulating. I am also keen to try the improved capabilities of  ‘SnapBridge’. This allows a more robust connection to a smartphone so you can control the camera or instantly share images through social networking.

I am about to test a Nikon D500 and will be pushing the new AF system to the limits as I shoot a wildlife story, it is good to see the DL range also sports an updated system which combines 105 phase-detect points with 171 contrast-detect points. The specifications say this will allow for continuous shooting at 20 fps!

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I am most interested in the 18-50 version as it is equipped with a ND filter that will be of great assistance when shooting video, while maintaining suitable shutter speeds in outdoor conditions (1/50-1/60 sec to mirror the look of a film camera). The lens is also fast f1.8-f2.8, so should be good in low light. I can see this being a really useful camera for shooting from the waist when you want to capture street scenes and stay low profile. Also good for us video shooters is the fact that the camera has full manual control. Along side this it also offers  Raw support for stills. I would love to see a 42mp sensor as seen in a competing camera, but for the price, this is a great feature set.

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The DL24-85 is perhaps more suited to those of us who shoot more stills than video, although the quality fo the images would be great from this or its wider lensed sister. It lacks the ND filter, which makes it less handy for video, but adds macro capabilities. I guess you need one each of these cameras and grab the one most appropriate for the task in hand.

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Less pocketable but superbly equipped for travel is the DL 24-500. The 24-500mm equivalent lens offers a great range for travel and anyone interested in wildlife shooting.

These cameras should  be available in early summer. For more information go to the Nikon site

 

Pre-orders

 

Cotton Coulson

January 16, 2016 — Leave a comment
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Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson on assignment in the Arctic

Apologies in the long gap since I last posted a story. We took an unscheduled break after the tragic loss of colleague and close friend Cotton Coulson , who helped establish this blog. It is still hard to process the loss and perhaps the best tribute to our wonderful friend and  talented photographer is to post a selection of his images. In a following post I will link to a article about Cotton, which wife Sisse Brimberg helped to write and is a great tribute to our much loved friend and colleague.  God speed Cotton…

 

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Cotton Coulson died May 27, 2015, while on a diving expedition off the coast of northern Norway. See more of his and Sisse Brimberg’s photography at keenpress.com.

 

Traveling to location is not getting any easier, especially if you have to fly. To help you prepare for your next shoot, I just wrote a blog piece for Nikon Cinema

Although it would be great, my dog Rosie does not travel with me. She doesn’t like me to leave and hates to see the bags being packed but she stays by my side until the very last minute.

Exploring the Kamchatka coast

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I just returned from exploring the rugged coastlines of Chukotka and Kamchatka to photograph native villages, wildlife and the region’s landscapes in this far outpost of the former Soviet Union. Based on board an expedition ship, life is easy, but each day, trips ashore meant transferring into a zodiac and braving the turbulent oceans, relentless salt spray and waves crashing over the bow. This is followed by a ‘wet landing’ on a beach, dodging the surf and attempting to get onto dry land as soon as possible.

On shore, we then faced the uncertain weather conditions that the wilds of Siberia would send our way. There to take photographs, it meant keeping camera equipment safe in these challenging conditions, one mistake could mean it is swamped by salt water and ruined. I watched this very thing happen a year ago while making a landing at Gold Harbor in South Georgia. It is a truly spectacular wildlife location as the beach is home to hundreds of thousands of king penguins. Eager to get a shot, a fellow traveler has his new digital camera around his neck and ready to shoot as we approached the beach. Six foot swells pounded the landing site and as the zodiac hit the beach, it was pushed sideways by the powerful swell and a wave dumped right on top of us. In an instant, $6000 of camera equipment was lost and to make matters worse, the photographer no longer had his camera to use and we still had two weeks to go, visiting some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife locations on the planet. This must have been heart-breaking.

 

 

D24wXeds_000140Over the years of doing this kind of expedition D24wXeds_000139everywhere from the heat of the Kimberley coast in Australia, Antarctica and now the Russian coast of the Bering Sea, I have tried many different combinations of cases, dry bags and packs. The pile of packs in my office closet tells the story of never finding quite the right solution. Then on a recent trip to start shooting a story on the water crisis in the Owens of Valley of California, I decided to take a look in an outdoor equipment shop in the town of Bishop. A pack immediately caught my eye. Light weight, waterproof and made of a very durable material it looked ideal for my ship borne adventures. Produced by Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I researched the company and to my surprise found out that is based in my home state of Maine. Its great to see such a well made product that is made locally. Their innovative product line is ideal for everyone from hikers wanting to keep the weight of their packs to a minimum, to adventure sports fans that play around the water as the roll top closures make the bags waterproof.

During my trip to the Russian Far East, we visited villages like Tymlat and Lorino where I shot a portraits of the villagers, we also hiked in the mountains of Kamchatka experiencing everything from sun to torrential rain. My new Hyperlite 2400 accompanied me on all these adventures, providing a ideal way to get my camera gear ashore safely, as well as giving quick access through the roll top when I needed to quickly change lenses or a battery. Although the model I have is designed for ice climbing, the outside pockets and straps also provided an ideal place to keep a can of bear spray handy, essential as we passed dozens of brown bears on our shore trips.

I have more adventure planned that include sailing around the coast of New Zealand and Macquarie Island, back to the Kimberley and also exploring the coast of Chile. The Hyperlite pack will be with me all the way.

 

Special thanks for the photographs go to fellow adventurer Luca De Santis. A talented photographer & graphic designer, he also helps produce the Italian travel magazine Meraviglia Paper

Traveling Drives

August 25, 2014 — Leave a comment
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Transcend 500Gb drive

 

Traveling the world shooting video, we have seen cameras evolve from shooting on tape to card based memory such as SD, CF or even the latest like CFast cards. While its great to see the results of each day’s shooting, it also means that you can no longer simply hand a shot tape to the producer to take home to the edit room. Instead, it means late nights backing up to drives. That means fast write speeds are essential if you want to enjoy dinner, a good night’s sleep and to avoid hovering over your computer.

I set up a nightly routine of backing up both video and photographs to a drive. Starting with a folder for each day, I then create sub-folders for each camera. I also take the precaution of taking the drives in pairs and cloning the folders, so I have a back-up in case a drive is damaged or lost.

With growing file sizes from both video and still cameras, this means I can easily fill a 1Tb drive on a shoot, along with its twin for safety. On documentary shoots for television clients, it can easily exceed this….

I often travel to places where there is no replacing items in the field. This means the drives have to be reliable to minimize the chances of one failing. While I try to hand carry the drives, it also seems gate checking bags on small planes is getting to be the norm. I split the cloned pairs across my two bags, so sometimes get forced to trust one set to the airlines. Seeing the injuries that baggage handlers can inflict on my otherwise indestructible Pelican cases, I was immediately drawn to the products from Transcend when I saw that they are rated to withstand use by the armed forces. Although the jury is out to whether they are as dangerous as the airlines! But so far, so good….

As a result I just took a pair of Transcend drives on our expedition to the Russian Far East. Shooting images of the wildlife, landscape and people of the region was a great experience and detailed in two previous stories on Tymlat and Lorino villages.

Each unit worked flawlessly and with a USB3 connection, cut down the transfer time from my memory cards to the drives.

Transcend make a wide range of drives and I would recommend heading to their website for specifications. In general I would recommend the 500Gb or 1Tb units with the fastest connection that can be utilized by your computer. Bottom line…. I would thoroughly recommend these military spec drives to anyone and will be buying fresh units for each of my upcoming expeditions.

One addition to the mix would be a small USB hub if your computer has limited built-in connections when cloning from one drive to another. It seems Apple are saving money by limiting the connectors on their new designs…

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

 

 

 

 

During the summer of 2013 we sailed from Trinidad to Buenos Aires on board the National Geographic Explorer. Named the “Epic South America” voyage, we explored seven different countries and traveled more than 6500 miles. Along the way we taught a digital story telling workshop….

Lindblad just posted a short video about the program. Stay tuned for 2014 date and locations