Antarctic Images by Anthony Powell

July 14, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Posted in antarctica, Photography, Wheater | Leave a comment
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If you are reading this just right now, there is the chance that you have asked yourself, at some point, how would it be leaving in the North or South Pole. Since my friends know that, today Xarxes sent me this very cool site created and mantained by Anthony Powell. Anthony has been working as seasonal contract worker since 1998 as a Satellite Communications Tech. Just for personal pleasure, h’es been doing photography and time-lapse photography, figuring out systems that work in the extreme cold that will last over long periods of time. And this personal effort received finally recognition since he received the NSF Artists and Writers Grant to work on time-lapse footage full time.

Next year a comprehensive film of a time-lapse “Year on Ice”, edited thanks to this grant, will be released. You can start taking a look at this project through his site Antarctic Images, where you can find images or videos like this one, not to miss!

The photo gallery with pictures from the Northern Lights kept me speechless for a while. The world must beat differently there. And if you are half as curious as I am, I’ll be probably interested on his Youtube Channel or his blog Frozen South.  Thanks to Internet, no limits to satisfy your curiosity on what’s up in Antarctica 😉

Sundog Light Phenomenon in Manitoba

July 21, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Posted in Photography, Wheater | 1 Comment
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I just received this at my inbox from National Geographic:

Photo shot on assignment for, but not published in, “Refuge in White: Winter in a Canadian National Park,” December 2005, National Geographic magazine

A solar phenomenon known as a sundog arcs over the tundra in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Sundogs are fairly common occurrences in the Arctic and Antarctic. They form when the sun is near the horizon and ice crystals high in the sky line up in a way that bends the solar rays like a prism.

This is amazing, isn’t it? So I continued searching:

A sun dog or sundog (scientific name parhelion, plural parhelia, for “beside the sun”) is a common bright circular spot on a solar halo. It is an atmospheric optical phenomenon primarily associated with the reflection or refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Often, two sun dogs can be seen (one on each side of the sun) simultaneously.

Sundogs typically, but not exclusively, appear when the sun is low, e.g. at sunrise and sunset, and the atmosphere is filled with ice crystal forming cirrus clouds, but diamond dust and ice fog can also produce them. They are often bright white patches of light looking much like the sun or a comet, and occasionally are confused with those phenomena. Sometimes they exhibit a spectrum of colours, ranging from red closest to the sun to a pale bluish tail stretching away from the sun. White sundogs are caused by light reflected off of atmospheric ice crystals, while colored sundogs are caused by light refracted through them. White sundogs are also thought to be caused by the light from the sun reflecting off of water on the ground and focusing the reflected light on the clouds above.

More info on the Wikipedia.

Arctic photographers

March 14, 2008 at 1:25 am | Posted in Links, Photography | Leave a comment
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I am not the only one who has the head on the north and the body in the south. This couple, Bryan and Cherry Alexander, are specialists in arctic and antarctic photography, and they made a living of that. You may take a look at their website here. They have also a very interesting FAQ section:

What film do you use?

Bryan prefers to use Fuji Astia for his shoots as it gives the flesh tones and snow colours he likes, he is still testing other films now that Astia is being withdrawn.

Cherry uses a combination of Fuji Provia and Velvia depending on the colour saturation required, she will use the Provia 400F which is good in low light.

What camera does Bryan use?

Because Bryan frequently works for weeks on end in temperatures of -40 and lower, he chooses to use his old manual Canon F1’s. They use zinc and air batteries, have fast, light lenses and he doesn’t have to carry a ton of batteries with him. In more temperate climates he uses a Leica M5.

What camera does Cherry use?

Cherry works with the Canon EOS system using EOS1N bodies and 17-35mm/2.8 28-70mm/2.8 80-200mm/2.8 and the 300/4 IS lenses. This is possible because she usually has access to battery charging facilities and doesn’t work below -40. The Blue iceberg picture was taken on a Canon T90 with the manual 80-200mm zoom.

What accessories do you use?

Working in the extreme cold makes it tough to work with fiddly accessories, filters often lock onto the lens at temperatures below zero, so Bryan tends to rely on nature for special lighting effects. Cherry however, when time allows, uses polarisers, ND graduated filters, starbursts and fill flash, all carried in a backpack.

Can I carry your cameras?

You wouldn’t want to! They carry heavy backpacks, work long unsociable hours and get really mean when they don’t get the shots they want!

How did you start specialising in cold areas?

Bryan and Cherry met while they were both studying photography at the London College of Printing in 1967. Bryan did his thesis on ‘Photography in Cold Climates’. He also won a Royal Society of Arts bursary which allowed him to spend three months in the North of Greenland living with the Inuit people there. Bryan & Cherry travelled together with a Sami family on their spring migration in 1972. In 1980 Bryan photographed a book on North West Greenland for Time Life Books and they gave up their other jobs and concentrated on photography. Every year finds them visiting new, exciting places.

How do you keep warm?

Layers! Good thermal underwear close to the skin and a suitable selection of thin layers under a windproof outer garment. For serious extremes a hooded down jacket and padded trousers are welcome.

Summer in the arctic or Antarctica doesn’t require nearly as many clothes, but you will need a windproof outer layer and good insect repellent for the sub Arctic.

How do you keep your cameras working in the cold?

Bryan’s manual cameras usually stay outside any tents at the ambient temperature. minus whatever. Care needs to be taken about condensation, taking a freezing camera into a warm environment will result in a layer of condensation. Never take off a lens or change a film in these conditions or you will get moisture in side your camera. When changing temperatures either leave your camera bag closed for many hours until it is the same temperature as the room, or put the equipment you need into sealed plastic bags, the smaller amounts of equipment warm up much quicker.

Cherry recently had her Canon 5D and 20D at the South Pole with her and they worked well at -25C. All her L lenses continued working and autofocusing at that temperature but the 28-135mm wasn’t at all happy and refused to autofocus.

The Canon 511a batteries soon got cold and stopped working and to avoid the inconvenience of constantly swapping batteries from warm pockets into the camera, Cherry had purchased external power packs from Digital Camera Batteries The 40 Watt NiMH never ran out on her even when she was using it to run both the 5D and the 550 Flash gun for several hours and many exposures. The power pack is slim and fits snugly under a warm jacket, they are so unobtrusive that Cherry often didn’t bother to take them off while indoors for meals, she just unplugged the camera and left it outside in the camera bag. This is an excellent piece of equipment that overcomes many of the problems of working with battery powered cameras and flash at low temperatures.

Handwarmers are very good for keeping the ambient temperature of a camera bag above zero and Cherry put several in her camera bag both for overnight and before starting shooting in the morning but the LCD displays weren’t as unhappy in the cold as she had expected.

What is your favourite Charity?

Survival International, the charity that supports indigenous people.

Do either of you do talks?

Not without the offer of huge amounts of money or unusual locations!

I have to find more information about that charity, for a next post!

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