28 December 2007

International Years

2007 is drawing to an end.

It has been an International Polar Year (IPY), and the UN has drawn a lot of attention to the reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UN was not involved with declaring the Polar Year, but it's hard to mention one without the other up here in Norway. Besides, the UN is very keen to announce International Years for all kinds of stuff. It wouldn't have been unnatural to blame them for this one too.

The real movers of the Polar Year are the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and International Commitee of Science (ICSU). The WMO is part-founder of IPCC as well, by the way. The other main contributor to IPCC is United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

There are lots of other TLA's (Three Letter Acronyms) involved, and perhaps even a couple of four letter... um... words as well. :-)

But that's about enough Bureaucrat Language for one blog entry, methinks. What d'you think they're up to for next year? Must be more of the same, right?

Right. So lets poke some fun at it. With, as they say, all due respect of course...

It seems, from the info floating on the web, that 2007-2009 is a bundle of three International Years together where the Polar stuff and the Climate Panel was just the start. 2008 will be the International Year of the Planet Earth. And so was 2007 and will be 2009.

But UN is certainly not any one-trick pony.

2007 has also been the International Year of the Dolphin, and of Violence Prevention. Wonder if they've got an office in Kabul.

-No, not the dolphin guys...

2008 will be the International Year of the Potato, of Sanitation, and possibly a whole host of other worthy causes.

The UN have also declared that 2005-2015 is an International Decade, entitled Water For Life (little did I know when publishing this).

I must admit I'm amazed by the sheer diversity of programmes. Good thing they stop short of the Century of the Anchovy.

And with that, I'd like to wish the Very Thin Crowd (VTC) of people reading this a Happy New Year (HNY).

Internationally. :-)

Big hugs to both of ya from Norway.

27 December 2007

2007 summary

In two days' time, it is one year since the first post in this blog. I haven't exactly gone out of my way to post regularly, or even to draw much attention to it in the rest of the blogosphere. Some of my friends have graciously linked to here from their own blogs, and on two occasions I've pointed to my blog from discussions at PDML. That's all.

This is accurately reflected in the number of visits per day, which is usually less than 10. The accidental reader will probably shun away after the first post, if readability has anything to do with it. An online test gave my texts a total thumbs-down. Apparently one has to be a genius to understand my writings.

I've tried to give this a bit of thought. Perhaps I suffer from... um... "hyperextended vocabulary"? Silly term, of course. Whatever it's called, I'm pretty sure I picked it up at university, where practically all the textbooks were in English. Biochemistry, ecology, physiology, statistics; the lot. My current daytime job is no better, with terms from medicine and IT. I'll take it as a challenge to improve readability in 2008.

Fewer fancy words, perhaps, and commas. :-)

My photography this year became totally dominated by the trip to Northern Norway in June. More than 60% of my total production this year is from that trip. Another 30% is from shorter trips, and less than 10% is from the local area. Since displaying local photography was the very purpose of this blog, I must admit failure.

I'll just have to improve next year.

16 December 2007

Pentax and telephoto

Got to start with a disclaimer this time: Serious wildlife photography is still not my cup of tea. I stand by my previous post on this matter.

Still, the subject lingered on my mind for a while after the night in company of Brutus Östling and the rest of the Furs & Feathers gang. So much, in fact, that I looked into whether any of the old super-tele lenses from Pentax are still in store somewhere. Globally.

The lenses I looked for were:

  • FA* 600mm f/4

  • FA* 250-600mm f/5.6

  • FA* 300mm f/2.8

According to Boz Dimitrov's K-mount page, the last of the large beasts (dinosaurs?) were discontinued in 2004. It's probably no surprise to anyone that they are now gone from the shops worldwide. Possibly except in Japan, if Pentax runs a different policy for their domestic market. I don't know.

What I do know is that the 300mm f/2.8 is still listed on the webpages of Pentax Japan. The 600mm f/4 also features there, on a "by order" status. Pentax Europe, however, has told me by email (Dec. 2007) it cannot be ordered anymore, and that the japanese webpage is out of date.

So Pentax is no longer a player in the field of wildlife photography, eh?

Take a look at the Pentax Gallery, then.

Here's some numbers as of 16. December 2007:

  • FA* 600mm f/4: 20 photos

  • FA* 250-600mm f/5.6: 4 photos

  • FA* 300mm f/2.8: 23 photos

  • Sum: 47 photos

  • Wildlife photos total: 446

  • Other lenses: 385

Pentax shooters seem to be quite capable of taking good wildlife shots without those prestigious, large-aperture dinosaurs.

Another long-lens contender is of course the FA* 300mm f/4.5 and its F* sibling. Together they contribute 110 images to the gallery, and most of them are wildlife shots. So if gallery representation is any indication at all, the most urgent gap to fill in the lens range seems to be the 300/4.5. Pentax seem to think so too, having a DA* 300/4 in the pipelines, but nothing larger or longer.

Update 2007.12.17:
After good help from Boris (Pentax-ways), I can confirm availability of FA* 600/4 from Japan. The "by order" status at the Japanese website is accurate, but apparently only applies to vendors on the domestic market. Two dealers have independently confirmed to me by email that they can still order this lens from Pentax.

If anyone care to buy me one and send it here, feel free. It's only 8300 USD. :-) :-)

06 December 2007

Furs and feathers galore

In Norwegian nature photo circles there is a strong tendency towards Furs And Feathers addiction. More and more people seem to invest in chimney-length telephoto lenses and spending their holidays in a hide, over the hills and far away from common sense.

To most of us, the cost of those telephoto lenses is prohibitively high. And it's kinda funny, isn't it? It's so easy to think that if you only had the equipment, you'd be able to take the same kind of pics as to those celebrated wildlife photographers. Like Frans Lanting, Mattias Klum, Brutus Östling (Nordic Nature Photographer 2007) or Kai Jensen (winner of the IFWP wildlife photo contest 2006).

Well... Last night I met Brutus Östling and his eagle photos. Kai Jensen was there too, in an audience consisting of nature photographers from Biofoto. Most of the audience was very pleased with what they saw, and after listening to Brutus they went on to discuss long lenses and the speed and utility of the newest Canon and Nikon machines.

As I listened in, I became more and more convinced that despite the conversation subjects, the 500mm or 600mm lenses and cameras are actually the least expensive part for the furs & feathers guys. The price of their gear must be small compared to their travel expenses (penguins, anyone?). And since time is money it's totally dwarfed by the time spent in hides to get those chirping or squeaking models to cooperate. Brutus mentioned several times how he had spent days on end (his rear end) inside hides without getting a single useable shot.

Not my cup of tea, thank you. And I don't even have enough male hormones left to think large-aperture telephoto lenses are cool in their own right.

Perhaps I'm getting old?!?

Oh, well.