20 December 2011

Winter is here

Last weekend I went to Nissedal in Telemark. There's a river called Fyresåna there, that has carved out a series of very nice potholes in red granite. I just wanted to see what it looked like in wintertime. All shots with Pentax 645D.











01 December 2011

Forest interior from Vålberget

Vålberget is a small nature reserve near the Swedish border in central Southern Norway. It was protected just a few years ago, to preserve the dying and old trees in the area and the host of fungi, insects and birds that follows. Last weekend I was introduced to the area along with 10 more photographers, and we spent a few hours getting ourselves lost between the trees.

It was great to be out with fellow photographers for a change. In the forest we didn't see much to each other, but the evenings were spent discussing pictures and photography in general. Very inspiring.

The picture below is very much a work in progress. It's a HDR tonemapped rendering from five exposures. I am both fascinated and disappointed by the result, and write it all down to being a complete novice at tonemapping. In this shot I had problems reigning the greens, and as you can see they ended up running wild. 




In defence of the greens, I can say that this rendering is closer to my subjective experience than anything I could wring out of a single exposure. The green mosses were iridiscent. The soil and bark was damp, and the contrast range pretty tough. The tonemapping certainly helps bring the shadow details out. 

22 November 2011

Spurious noise


8 minute exposure
In the night photos from Runde I noticed something odd. There were tiny streaks in my images, looking almost like luminous dust, in some of the shots. The number of streaks increased with exposure time. Nonexistent at thirty seconds, and all over the place at fifteen minutes exposure.  On close inspection, I also found dark streaks of the same size and frequency as the luminous ones. 

In a weird moment, it reminded me of a photo I once saw of a fog chamber used to detect cosmic radiation, set up by a Danish physicist who claimed our local neighbourhood in space had a lot more impact on Earth's climate than had been previously thought.

But then worry crept in, and I wondered whether my camera was faulty (oh, angst). Then I noticed the streaks were never in the same spot from one shot to the next. So if it was the camera, it couldn't be the sensor, at least. Besides, groups of faulty pixels would be detected by either the pixel-mapping feature or the long-exposure noise reduction, wouldn't it?
Detail from the above showing the
bright specks

I was at total loss on ideas for what it could be. First I considered dust. Maybe the sensor heated up so much during long exposures that the dust appeared luminous from reflecting heat back onto the photosites? That didn't fit with the occurrence of both black and light streaks, and it was unlikely that so many dust grains would shift position between every exposure.

A friendly soul on Pentaxforums confirmed to have observed the same, at least, and suggested software to deal with the problem. He said the best of the bunch are programs used by astrophotographers, who are dealing with faint light on a regular basis.


So I checked it out. There are lots of programs available, but their interfaces are somewhat incomprehensible to a regular photographer. Scientific terms and names of mathematical algorithms for noise reduction are tossed about, presumably expecting the user to know them apart. I didn't, but decided not to let that stop me. Eventually I homed in on the terminology and realised that my phenomenon had a name, it was categorised as "spurious" noise. To an astrophotographer, this kind of noise could look like a real signal. I can imagine a meteroite could produce a similar streak.


Armed with this keyword, it took me just one more Google search to hit the explanation. Well at least i hope it is the right one; it still sounds a bit like UFO/grain circle/tinfoil-hat theories to me.

Apparently what happens is that the sensor gets hit by cosmic rays. Sort of. For technical details see this article by Don Groom at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA (PDF). Image examples are also available in many astrophotographers' blogs, as are suggestions on how to avoid it and how to recognise it from real stars. Or meteorites.

After a few days of thinking about it, I'm more comfortable with the thought, even if I'm still incredulous about highly energetic particles from space ("relativistic muons" and "Compton recoils" apparently) slipping through the atmosphere and hitting the sensor. But the explanation fits like a glove. Some particles hit at a shallow angle, leaving a streak. Others hit head on and make dots. Since the particles are charged and moving very fast, they can trigger a signal in the imaging sensor like a whole bunch of photons.

The dark streaks can be explained by particles hitting the sensor during the long-exposure noise reduction, which essentially is an exposure of the same length as the picture but without adding any light from the outside. The cosmic rays gets through anyway, however, and creates streaks of false noise that the camera then subtracts from the image.

The bottom line, however, is that cosmic rays will remain an obstacle to really long exposures, and that the only real way to avoid it is to do as the astrophotographers recommend, to take multiple exposures of 30 seconds each and combine them.
There's even a plugin for Lightroom to do that.

So perhaps the fact that my weird association to fog chambers turned out to be pretty close is more incredulous than the explanation itself. Spooky, even.

Go figure... :-)

15 November 2011

CLS-filter


A German webshop called Astronomik sell filters for astrophotography. They have developed a rather clever way of placing a small filter within the camera bayonet of Canon EOS cameras, so that one filter can be used with lenses of all diameters. The range of filters they offer is great, everything from ND filters to bandpass filters tailored to specific wavelenghts. Its clip-on design makes changing filters as easy as changing lenses. I have to admit: in this regard, Canon owners are lucky.

The electronic contacts in the Pentax K-bayonet is arranged in a far more cluttered way. Astronomik encourage custromers to contact them with special needs, but I figured a custom job to fit K-mount would be either undoable or too expensive.

Instead, I took a long, hard look at my 645->K adapter. It's a "dumb" piece of metal without any electronic contacts or cluttering mechanic contraptions. Its inner diameter is a few mm larger than the EOS filter. Then I asked Astronomik nicely if they could envision a solution for using the EOS clip-on filters inside this adapter. They suggested fitting a small ring of hard plastic inside the adaptor to make the filter sit tight. It would only cost me a few Euros. I have to add also that the dialogue with Astronomik was very good; corteous and precise. Excellent service.

I took delivery of the ring and a filter yesterday, used a little bit of silicone to secure the ring inside the adapter, and clipped the filter in place. And with typical German precision, it was a snug fit!

A pot shot out the window in broad daylight assured me there was no vignetting. And adding to my enthusiasm, the weather forecast predicted clear skies for the night. Maybe I could test it for real straight away! -But alas. Local fog.

So my Little Gray Cell began churning. What else could I do to test this filter? A CLS-filter is designed to remove "airglow" (wikipedia-link) and glare from urban light pollution. So to push the filter to its limits, I decided to simply photograph one of the most obnoxious sources of light pollution and see what turned out. The result is the image above. As you can see, the streetlights appear white, despite being sodium lamps which normally appear intensely orange. At the same time, the front- and rear lights of the passing cars are relatively unaffected.

This could turn out to be fun.

Technical setup: Pentax K-5, 645->K adapter with CLS filter, FA645 45-85mm f/4.5 and tripod.
Exposure: Manual mode, 30s and f/8 at ISO 200.

14 November 2011

Low-light photography

Some pictures from a trip to Runde, mostly famous for its seabird colonies. Not a lot of birds around in November, however, but the landscape is still there. On this trip I did most of my pictures with the sun below the horizon. Hope you enjoy.
---
Noen bilder fra en tur til Runde. Det er ikke mange hekkende sjøfugl å finne der i november, men landskapet står støtt. Denne gangen ble de fleste bildene til mens sola var under horisonten. Håper de kan falle i smak.







26 October 2011

Published in Italy

In April, Dario Bonazza asked to interview me about travel photography for an Italian photo magazine. The result became a double-spread article on photography in cold climates, published in July. A couple of days ago, I received my writer's copy in the mail.
Humble thanks to Dario for having me. Doing the interview was great fun.
Here's what it looked like:




25 October 2011

Pentax Photo Gallery update

Pentax USA has revamped their gallery site. My photos are still featured. Other than that, it's a great update. :-)
Speed has been increased tremendously, and the site now seem to be prepared for the coming of HTML 5 and deprecation of old multimedia provisions like Adobe Flash. That's well done.
The interface looks nice too, and is even readable on my Android cellphone. 
For some reason however, probably to do with shortcomings in the English alphabet and its native speakers' mindset, all non-english characters have been screwed up. :-)
It's not often us foreigners get a chance to be smug about americans not adhering to international standards, so please pardon me for not being able to resist. In its present state, there's some erratic behaviour with regards to sorting and readability. But they fixed the same kind of bugs in the previous version, so fingers crossed they'll rectify this one too.
Overall, it's a very nice upgrade from the old site. Way to go, Pentax USA.

04 October 2011

From fame to shame; Terje Hellesø

It's been a very long time since the previous post. Many times I've considered shutting the whole thing down and be done with it. On the other hand, it's nice to have a little soapbox to stand on once in a while. According to statistics, there's even the occasional reader still dropping by.

What's shaken me out of my hiatus this time is a virtual earthquake in the circles of Scandinavian nature photography. A month ago, highly profiled photographer Terje Hellesø was caught cheating with his animal portraits of lynx in Swedish forests. It turned out he's been forging a substantial number of photographs over the years, and even received awards for his images. Terje has been thorough in removing his online presence, but young Swedish photographer Tilda Larsson have some examples in her blog. She has an article on Terje in Swedish here.

If you don't wish to read Swedish or machine-translated Swedish, she has made links to some really nice animated gifs and illustrated jpegs reproducing some of Terjes fakes here:
imagelink 1
imagelink 2
imagelink 3
imagelink 4
(hyperlinks removed in edit, as they were not Tilda's work. Please go to this blog for a full account on how these frauds were uncovered, or see links in comment below article. Thanks again to the anonymous vigilante who set me straight on the origin of these disclosures.)

Terje's deceit makes me so angry. He has f**ked up for so many more people than himself. In a way, I can count myself lucky not to be completely scathed, but he fooled me too. As you can see from my previous blog post about the guy.

My acquaintance with Terje goes back a decade. In 2001 I attended a photo gathering at Hvasser, 120 km Southwest of Oslo, where Terje would hold a workshop. He came up from Skåne in Southern Sweden by train, and needed transport from Oslo to Hvasser, so I volunteered. We chatted all the way down. And one night Terje and I stayed back, talking, as the nachspiel after a party petered out. I had thoughts about going pro with my photography, but hesitated for many reasons. Terje picked them apart and explained how, when push comes to shove, it's basically a matter of taking the plunge and work hard. I believed him. It seemed like common sense. But I didn't jump. Not then, and not since. Now I'm puzzled. I wonder if he, already then, had bolstered his career by more than honest, hard work.

What I since realised was that succeding as a professional nature photographer requires a good number of other skills in addition to being a photographer. For one, it's important to be a reasonably good business man. I know I would fall through in that respect.

Incidentally, it has surfaced that Terje Hellesø also has unfinished business with Swedish authorities over tax evasions. So in sum, he has been a total cheat, both with his craft and his business.

Hellesø's fall also precipitates unfortunate consequences for many other nature photographers in Scandinavia. Especially those who make a living on spectacular images of rare, endangered or dangerous animals now face more critical questions about their own authenticity.

And what's even more unfortunate is that the distrust rubs off on Good Causes that such images are helping to promote. Such as wildlife conservation. Such as habitat protection. Such as climate change. And even such as promoting the upsides of nature experience itself.

The documentary status of nature photography is built on confidence. A declaration of trust between photographer and audience. All it takes to bring that down for everyone is one big liar, in this case Terje Hellesø.

Shame on him.

18 May 2011

Traner - Cranes

English text below.

Et bilde fra en tur til Hornborgasjön i april. Merkelig sted. En naturopplevelse av sjelden sort, mer i slekt med forholdene på den afrikanske savannen enn den nordiske naturen. For å få de virkelig gode bildene ved Hornborga må man nok leie seg inn i et fotoskjul. Og ha litt mer flaks med været enn jeg hadde. :-)

Pentax K-7, DA* 60-250/4, monopod
1/125s, f/8, ISO 400, at 250mm

A shot from Lake Hornborgasjön in Sweden a month ago. A strange place, more akin to the classic experience you can get on an African savanna than up here in Nordic nature. Fascinating in its own right, though. To get really good photos here, one has to rent a hide. And be a little more lucky with the weather than I was. :-)

03 May 2011

Hoggorm - Common adder

English text below

I dag traff jeg en hoggorm i Lillomarka. Den slanget seg på vissent gras da jeg kom over den, og så egentlig litt fårete ut. Som om den tenkte "ops, der ble jeg ferska", eller noe slikt. Jeg begynte forsiktig med teleobjektiv, gikk deretter over til en 120mm makro, og endte opp med vidvinkel. Da den til slutt fikk nok av all oppmerksomheten freste den. Da takket jeg pent for samarbeidet og trakk meg et par meter unna. Den fulgte meg med øynene et halvt minutt eller så, og så snudde den og krøp stille ned blant noen steiner. Fabelaktig opplevelse.

Pentax 645D, FA 120mm f/4 macro, AF160-FC ring flash
1/90s, f/16, ISO 400

Today I met a Common adder in the local forest. It was basking on a sunlit patch of last year's grass, and looked positively sheepish. As if it was caught doing something it shouldn't. I approached it gradually, starting with a tele lens before changing to a 120mm macro and then a 35mm wide angle. When the snake got fed up with the attention it hissed loudly. I mouthed a thanks for the cooperation and withdrew a couple of meters. It kept its eyes on me while I moved, and for half a minute after my retreat. Then it turned and slid down between some rocks. An amazing encounter.

27 April 2011

Humleflue - Bee-fly

English text below.

Her er et av insektbildene fra forrige dagen. Humleflua er et av de snodigste insektene jeg vet om. Den er liksom bare en pelsdott med fasettøyne og en alt for lang sugesnabel. Men underholdende å fotografere. Relativt uredd, og med evnen til å stå bomstille i lufta slik som andre blomsterfluer. Jeg hadde ikke sjans på å fange den i flukt, så jeg satsa på å sitte musestille ved noen hestehov og håpe at den stakk innom. Det ergrer meg litt med det lyse strået i bakgrunnen. De hører jo med til våren, men dette bildet kunne godt ha vært luket litt uten at det hadde gått utover motivet. Men det gidder jeg ikke gjøre ved data'n. :-)


Pentax K-7, DFA 100mm f/2.8 WR macro, Tamron-F 2X AF teleconverter, AF540-FGZ flash.
1/180s, f/11, ISO 200

Here is one of the insect shots I mentioned the other day. The bee-fly is one of the weirdest looking insects I know. It's just a furball with composite eyes and disproportionately long legs and proboscis. But very entertaining to photograph. It is relatively unafraid, and capable of standing still in mid-air like other hoverflies. I had no chance to ctach it in flight, though, so I sat still at a group of flowers and waited. It took just 10 minutes. The bright straw in the background annoys me a little. Yellow straws are definately integral to spring, but just this shot would not have suffered from removing it. But I ain't doing it in post. :-)

25 April 2011

Hvitveis - Wood Anemone

English text below

Det er fantastisk vårvær i Oslo om dagen. Nesten så man kan høre at det gror. Jeg fikk et par timer i sola på nordsiden av Breisjøen i Lillomarka i går, og det ble mer makro. Denne gangen hadde jeg gravd fram en gammel Tamron 2X telekonverter som jeg putta på makroobjektivet. Kameraet slet litt med autofokusen, spesielt på korte avstander. For dette bildet gikk jeg over til manuell fokus. Den ekstra arbeidsavstanden var praktisk i går, det var mange insekter ute. Det kommer sikkert en liten snutt om det seinere. Den optiske kvaliteten er ikke verst heller synes jeg. Ikke i nærheten av Pentax A* 200mm f/4 macro, naturligvis, men grei nok.



Pentax K-7, DFA 100mm f/2.8 macro and Tamron-F 7MC 2X teleconverter.
1/180s, f/5.6, ISO 200

Oslo is being assaulted by spring these days. One can almost hear the plants sprouting. I had a couple of hours in the sun yesterday to play around some more with macro. This time I dug out an old Tamron 2X tele converter to go with the macro lens. The camera struggled a bit with autofocus in the macro range, so for this shot I switched to manual focus. The converter gave me some extra working distance which I appreciated much yesterday. There were lots of insects about, and I'll probably post one shot of them later on. The optical quality of this combo isn't too bad either. Not up to the standards of Pentax A* 200mm f/4 macro, of course, but decent enough.

22 April 2011

Blåveis - Anemone hepatica

English text below image.



I vinter solgte jeg mitt ærverdige A* 200mm f/4 macro som en del av slagplanen for å finansiere 645D. Jeg er har lurt litt på om jeg kom til å angre, men foreløpig er behovet dekket med DFA 100mm f/2.8 WR macro. Her er et bilde fra Kolås i går, der jeg fikk overraskende besøk av en humleflue mens jeg jobba med blåveisen.

Mine eksperimenter med blits fortsetter, men dessverre har jeg gått surr i notatene for denne sesjonen, så jeg er usikker på hva jeg brukte her.

Jeg har forresten gitt opp å prøve direktepublisering fra Lightroom, for redigeringsmulighetene i plugin'en var for dårlige.


Pentax K-7, DFA 100/2.8 WR macro, tripod and flash
1/180s, f/16, ISO 200

A few months back I sold my venerable A* 200mm f/4 macro to help finance the 645D, and have been wondering whether I would regret it. So far my needs are covered by the DFA 100mm f/2.8 WR macro. Here is one shot from yesterday, where a bee-fly stopped by for lunch at the anemones.

My experiments with macro flash continues, but unfortunately I have messed up my notes from yesterday, and don't know what kind of setup I used for this shot.

I have abandoned my attempts at direct publishing from Lightroom. The editor in the plugin was not up to the task.

17 April 2011

Springtime brings change

English text below.

Inspirert av Benedikt Meier sin blogg Lichtfänger er jeg nå i ferd med å endre arbeidsflyten min for publisering av bloggartikler. Min måte å jobbe på så langt har egentlig vært ganske tungvin. Jeg har begynt med å eksportere bildet fra Lightroom, for så å klargjøre bildet for bloggen i Photoshop. Så har jeg eksportert det derfra igjen til en bestemt mappe i filsystemet slik at jeg kan finne det raskt etterpå. Deretter skriver jeg bloggartikkelen i web-editoren til Blogger og laster opp bildet fra disken.

Men fra og med nå har jeg i hvert fall flyttet all bildeprosesseringen til Lightroom, slik at jeg slipper å forholde meg til Photoshop. Det blir sikkert noen småjusteringer framover, men resultatet nedenfor er sånn cirka. Neste skritt på veien blir et forsøk på å flytte tekstredigeringen til Lightroom også, slik at jeg kan publisere bloggartikkelen direkte. Sjansen for at jeg kåler til dette og hint i denne fasen er relativt stor. Så da er du advart.


Pentax K-7, DFA 100/2.8 macro WR, AF160-FC & AF540-FGZ flashes
f/11, 1/180s, ISO 200
The 540 flash was set to wireless slave mode and pointed to background.

Inspired by Benedikt Meier of the Lichtfänger blog, I'm in the process of changing my workflow for creating these blogposts. So far, my workflow has had many steps. First I would find the image in Lightroom, and then export it to Photoshop. In photoshop I would run an Action rescaling the image and applying mats and frames, and the texts. Then I would save the file to a special folder. Only then would I come here to the Blogger website, add the text in the online editor, and upload the image.

With this post, I have moved all the image editing into Lightroom, so that the image comes out ready for Blogger without the need for Photoshop. I will most likely tweak the mat&frame stuff a bit more, but this is probably pretty close.

For the next installment I will look at doing the entire post in Lightroom, and set up publishing directly in there. That's where I'll probably create the most mess. So now you're warned.

12 April 2011

645D: Part 3

English text below.

Tradisjonelt heter det seg at Pentax har utmerket bakoverkompatibilitet. At et nytt kamerahus kan utnytte den funksjonaliteten som finnes i et objektiv. For småbildekameraene (K-bajonett) er dette en sannhet med en viktig modifikasjon, nemlig blitsfotografering. Fra og med kamerahuset K10D var det nemlig ikke lenger mulig å få TTL-basert blits med eldre objektiver, inkludert "A" serien.

Jeg var derfor spent på om det samme var tilfelle for mellomformat, eller om 645D støttet TTL-blits med optikk fra "645A"-serien. Til å teste dette brukte jeg en 645FA og 645A versjonene av 120mm f/4 makro, og sammenliknet eksponeringer gjort med Pentax AF-160FC ringblits. Resultatet ble to serier med ekspneringer av en bordduk som sammenstilt nedenfor. Som det går fram av både bilde og histogram i de to første kolonnene er eksponeringene er akkurat like for alle blenderåpninger med unntak av blender 5.6.

Arbeidsavstanden var 22 cm. Blitsen er for kraftig til å gi riktig eksponering på blender 4, og helt i grenseland for blender 5.6. Jeg mistenker at dette har en sammenheng med avviket på blender 5.6.

Den tredje kolonnen i bildet viser et annet resultat som også kom fram. Kameraet valgte samme hvitbalanse for alle blendere med 645FA-objektivet (temp=5450, tint=+20), men varierte med 650 K ved ulike blendere for 645A-objektivet. Uten korrigering fører dette til at eksponeringen oppfattes som svært forskjellige. Det er tydelig at kameraet tar hensyn til informasjon om hvilket objektiv som er koblet på. 645A-serien har ikke innebygget elektronikk som tilkjennegir objektivet på samme måte, og kameraet må begynne å gjette. Litt pussig at det gjetter forskjellig etter blenderåpning, men det kan man leve med. Situasjonen kan enkelt løses ved å sette en fast hvitbalanse (f. eks. "daylight" eller "flash") i steden for "auto" før man begynner å fotografere. Klikk bildet for større versjon. Hvis den versjonen også er vanskelig å lese, finnes en enda større versjon her.



Click image for larger version. If the larger version is also difficult to read, there is an even bigger one here.

Traditionally, Pentax has an excellent record for backwards compatibility with lenses. A new camera can extract all automation a previous-generation lens can provide. For K-mount, however, there is an important exception to this rule. Starting with the K10D, support for TTL flash photography with manual focus lenses was dropped from all K-mount cameras.

I was therefore curious to see if the 645D supported TTL flash with the 645A series lenses. I compared exposures made with the 645FA and the 645A versions of 120mm f/4 macro, under the light provided by a Pentax AF-160FC ring flash. As you can see from the first two columns in the image above, the TTL flash exposures are the same for both lenses except f/5.6.

The working distance was 22 cm. The flash is too powerful to provide correct illumination at f/4 at this distance, and even f/5.6 is at the very limit of the specs. I suspect this is connected to the anomaly at f/5.6.

The third column shows another result. The camera selected the same white balance across all apertures with the 645FA lens (temp=5450, tint=+20), but varied the colour temperature by 650 K for the 645A lens. Without correction the exposures look very different from the 645FA series. This demonstrates how the camera use information about the lens attached to set white balance. The 645A-series lenses have no built-in electronics to identify themselves, so the camera has to guess. I think it's a bit odd that this guess varies with aperture, but it's not a big deal. A preset whitebalance (eg. "flash" or "daylight") instead of "auto" will save the day.

05 April 2011

645D: Part 2

English text below.

Det var en sann glede å bruke kameraet på Svalbard i en uke. En av opplevelsene jeg ikke har blogget om ennå var en snøskutersafari til østkysten av Spitsbergen; en 10-timers tur i minus 25°C. Jeg bar kameraet på brystet i en LowePro Toploader, slik at jeg kunne fiske det fram kjapt om et motiv skulle dukke opp. Men dermed ble kameraet også nedkjølt, og jeg var litt spent på hvordan det ville gå etter hvert. De første timene fungerte alt helt ukomplisert, så lenge jeg passet på å fotografere på innpust, slik at søkeren var duggfri. Det var også lurt å holde balaklavaen over nesen. Ved to anledninger frøs nesetippen fast til displayet bakpå kameraet. Det ble litt plundrete, og sårt i flere dager etterpå.

Etterhvert gikk også batteriytelsen ned. Indikatoren for batteristyrke ble stående på 67% som "standardverdi". Ved en anledning tok jeg 8 eksponeringer, og observerte indikatoren droppe til 0% allerede etter at bilde nr. 2 var lagra. Men det holdt ut. Alle bildene ble lagret feilfritt. Jeg tenkte "dett var dett", skrudde kameraet av og stakk det tilbake i veska. Fem minutter etter var indikatoren tilbake til 67%. Jeg tok 15 eksponeringer til på vei tilbake til Longyearbyen.

Det eneste som virkelig fikk trøbbel i kulda var LCD-displayet på toppen av kameraet. Det brukte mer enn 5 sekunder (målt med 1001-1002...) på å skifte fra ett tall til et annet.

Vel tilbake i Longyearbyen lot jeg kameraet ligge i veska i mange timer før jeg våget å åpne det. Det er bare huset som er værtetta, og jeg hadde liten lyst til å få dugg inni objektivene. Etterhvert kommer det vel mere værtetta optikk også tenker jeg.
.

Pentax 645D, FA 35/3.5
f/8, 1/350s, ISO 200

It was a pleasure to use the 645D for a week at Svalbard. One experience I haven't blogged about yet was a 10-hour snowmobile trip to the East coast of Spitsbergen in minus 25°C. I carried the camera on my chest in a LowePro Toploader for fast access if a motif appeared unexpectedly. This meant the camera quickly cooled to ambient temperature, and I was a bit anxious to see how it would develop. For the first couple of hours, everything was uncomplicated as long as I drew my breath in as I shot, to keep the viewfinder clear. Keeping the balaclava over my nose was a good idea too. On two occasions the tip of my nose froze stuck to the glass on the rear display. That turned fiddly fast. The skin was sore for days afterwards.

As the day wore on, battery performance dwindled. The power indicator showed 67% as "default". During one series of 8 consecutive exposures, the indicator dropped to 0% just after the second shot was stored on card. The electronics endured, however, and all eight shots were stored without a glitch. I thought that was it for the day, turned the camera off and tucked it back in the pouch. Five minutes later the indicator was back, though, and I went on to shoot another 15 exposures on the way back to Longyearbyen.

The component that really suffered from the cold, was the LCD-display on top of the camera. In the afternoon it took more than 5 seconds to change from one digit to another.

Back in my room, I didn't dare open the camera bag until many hours later. The camera is weatherproofed all right, but the old FA and A-series lenses are not. And what's more, they contain a fair amount of metal. I suppose there will be some weatherproofed lenses for the system with time, but for now I don't take any chances.

30 March 2011

Roedeer

English text below.

Observerte denne karen ca. 150 m fra husveggen i morges. Ser ut som en flott ung bukk, men det ser ut til at den har noe utøy i pelsen.


Pentax K-7, DA* 300/4
1/350s, f/4, ISO 400

Observed this guy this morning, about 150 m from my house. Looks like a becoming young buck, but unfortunately troubled by some skin parasite.

21 March 2011

Frokostutgraving - Breakfast Excavation

English text below.

Om du tror på reinkarnasjon, be til din gud om å slippe gjenfødelse som reinsdyr på Svalbard. Riktignok har de flere fysiologiske tilpasninger til barskt klima enn selv vanlige reinsdyr, men det er ikke lett å skrape ut en eksistens for en planteeter her oppe. Plantedekket strekker seg fra havnivå til bare litt oppi skråningen, og der må den spise alt den hæler i en kort sommer for å overleve vinteren. Da går den stort sett sulten, med mindre den kan grave fram grasset fra i fjor.

Svalbardreinen kan løpe fra en isbjørn hvis den må, men beveger seg lite og sakte for å spare på energien. Det gjør dem ganske tilnærmelige for mennesker, hvis man bare viser dem respekt. Denne fant jeg i Nybyen, hundre meter fra gjestehuset der jeg bor. Bildet er beskåret til ca. en tredjedel.


Pentax 645D, FA 150/2.8
f/5.6, 1/750s, ISO 200
Cropped a fair bit
.

If you believe in reincarnation, pray your next life will not be as reindeer on Svalbard. As a distinct subspecies, it has adaptations to living in this extreme environment that other reindeers do not. Yet it's a bitchy life. They eat all they can in summer. Not easy for an herbivore in a mountaineous island where vegetation only cover the lower 100 meters above sea level. Yet, if they put on enough reserves they might make it through winter. In a permanent state of hunger, unless they can find some half-decomposed plant material under the snow.

They can outrun a polar bear if they have to, but prefer to move as little as possible to conserve energy. This also makes them rather tolerant to human approach, if you go about it with respect. The locals in Longyearbyen pretty much ignores them, so they are unafraid even within the city. I found this one about 100 m from my lodge.

19 March 2011

Topptur, Sarkofagen

English text below.

Morgenen i dag fortsatte som kvelden i går, kaldt og nesten vindstille. Jeg tok skia og rusla opp på Sarkofagen, rett over Nybyen. Skikkelig Besseggen-følelse ut mot spissen. Jeg stoppet der bildet er tatt. Ble nervøs bare av å se på ham som klatret opp på piggen ytterst. Det er 300 m ned.

Pentax 645D, FA 45-85/4.5
f/11, 1/250s, ISO 200
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This morning continued the good weather spell from last night. I grabbed my skis and walked up the nearest mountain from where I stay in Nybyen. It's called "Sarkofagen"; "The Sarcophagus". Don't ask me why... From a broad ridge, it tapers into a narrow edge where two valleys merge below, just where the buildings of Longyearbyen begins. I was quite impressed with the young man's lack of vertigo out there, on the outermost point. The drop to the city below is about 300 m.

18 March 2011

Gruve 2b

English text below.

Gruve 2b, eller "nye gruve 2" ligger i Longyeardalen, rett utenfor byen. I vinternatta reflekteres lysene fra byen i skavlen på Gruvefjellet. Det er ikke drift i gruva. Lysene er visst på bare for dekorasjonens skyld.

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Pentax 645D, FA 45-85/4,5, tripod
f/8, 15s, ISO 200.

"Gruve 2b" is a coal mine just outside Longyearbyen, Svalbard. In the winter night, the city lights are reflecting off the snow. The mine is not in production. The lights are left on for decoration

13 March 2011

645D: Part 1

English text below.

For seks uker siden begikk jeg et hårreisende dyrt kamerakjøp, da jeg skaffet meg Pentax 645D med et 645FA 45-85/4.5 zoom-objektiv. Det svir fortsatt litt i lommeboka, men kjennes også som starten på et godt vennskap. Kona har allerede døpt det "digitalkameraten" min.

Bildekvaliteten er langt over mine forventninger. Jeg trodde jeg kjøpte en oppgradering i antall piksler og en mer sofistikert prosessering mellom oppfanget lys og lagring av råfil på minnekortet. Disse forventningene er naturligvis innfridd. Kanskje jeg rett og slett ikke tenkte stort nok, men det skader ikke å bli imponert. Spesielt ikke når det kommer i stadige porsjoner etterhvert som jeg lærer kameraet å kjenne.

Jeg kommer til å bruke noen bloggartikler på å nedfelle mine erfaringer og meninger om 645D så langt. Riktignok har jeg tjuvstarta litt med førsteinntrykk fra før jeg kjøpte kameraet, og bildene i de to foregående artiklene (1, 2) er også tatt med 645D selv om jeg unnlot å spesifisere det. Men den mest naturlige begynnelsen er litt om mitt tidligere forhold til mellomformat, og hva jeg har av utstyr å gjøre erfaringer med.

Tilbake i gelatinens dager brukte jeg et Pentax 645Nii. Jeg husker det som et fantastisk verktøy som aldri kom i veien for fotograferingen. Det er i grunn det beste kompliment jeg kan gi noe kamera; at det er et verktøy som gjør jobben friksjonsfritt. Men i 2006 var film og framkalling blitt dyrt, og bekvemmeligheten utkonkurrert av den øyeblikkelige tilbakemeldingen med digitalkameraer og den enklere arbeidsflyten når skanning ble tatt ut av prosessen. Jeg følte alltid et stikk av dårlig samvittighet når jeg fikk øye på 645Nii der det satt og samlet støv.

Objektivene mine samlet imidlertid mindre støv. Jeg fant ut at den optiske kvaliteten var utsøkt for ekstrem-makro, og brukte dem til å fotografere de virkelig små ting slik som zooplankton og snøkrystaller. På den måten kunne jeg også rettferdiggjøre å beholde dem, selv om det ble stadig mindre sannsynlig at jeg noen sinne kom til å sette film i kamerahuset igjen.

Dermed har jeg fått en bevinget start med det nye systemet, med 5 brukbare objektiver til det nye huset. Fra makro-arbeidet visste jeg jo at optikken var god, i hvert fall på midten. Jeg må innrømme at jeg var nervøs da jeg begynte å teste objektivene med 645D. Det kunne jo godt hende at kvaliteten tapte seg mot hjørnene med den større bildebrikka. Hvordan dette falt ut kommer jeg tilbake til.

Mitt 645D utstyr består nå av:
FA 35mm f/3.5
FA 45-85mm f/4.5
FA 75mm f/2.8
A 120mm f/4 makro
FA 150mm f/2.8
A* 300mm f/4
Et sett mellomringer
AF-160FC ringblits
AF-540FGZ blits (samt en blits fra Metz)
Snorutløser og IR fjernkontroll
Vinkelsøker
2x 16 GB SanDisk Extreme III (30 MB/s) minnekort

Objektivene tilsvarer bildevinkler mellom 19mm og 160mm på Pentax K-bajonett digitale speilreflekser med APS-C brikke.

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Pentax 645D, DFA 55mm f/2.8 (on loan)
1/250s, f/9,5, ISO 100, EV -1/2

Six weeks ago I committed a scandalous amount of money on camera gear, when actually buying the Pentax 645D with a 645FA 45-85/4.5 zoom lens. I'm still a bit apprehensive about that, but now it's beginning to feel like the start of a long friendship.

The image quality exceeds my expectations. I thought it would be another upgrade in pixel count and an added level of sophistication to the in-camera computations effecting a raw file. Those expectations are met, of course, so maybe my expectations were too modest. Anyway it doesn't hurt to be awed. Especially not when it comes in multiple helpings, as I gradually explore what's actually on offer in this camera.

I will spend a few posts relaying my findings and opinions. Well, actually I have already begun, but my first post about this camera was before I actually bought it. The photos in my last two posts (1, 2) were also shot with 645D, although not mentioned. This post is for starters. Some background, and what my 645D kit includes.

Back in the photographic days of gelatine and darkrooms I used a Pentax 645Nii. It was a wonderful tool. It never got in the way of making photos. That's the best compliment I can give any camera. The only way in which digital SLRs scored higher was in the convenience of immediate review. At the time I used the 6 Mpix *istD, and scans from 645 film was orders of magnitude above in terms of image quality. However, the convenience of digital conspired with the wait and cost of film and processing to lure me away.

The last time I used the 645Nii was in June 2006. The 645 lenses, on the other hand, turned out to be perfect for super-macro work like snow crystals, plankton and other stuff requiring magnification beyond 1X. So I justified keeping the gear. This means that I now have 5 lenses to go with the new 645D. From my macro work I knew the image quality to be very good, but the K-mount DSLRs only sample a small area at the centre of the full 645 image circle. I must admit I was a bit nervous about how the lenses would perform with a larger imaging chip. I'll get back to that in later posts.

My 645D kit now consists of:
FA 35mm f/3.5
FA 45-85mm f/4.5
FA 75mm f/2.8
A 120mm f/4 macro
FA 150mm f/2.8
A* 300mm f/4
A set of extension tubes
AF-160FC ring flash
AF-540FGZ flash (and a Metz flash too)
cable and wireless remotes
Angle viewfinder
2x 16 GB SanDisk Extreme III (30 MB/s) memory cards

These lenses spans the Angles Of View (AOV) comparable to 19mm - 160mm on Pentax K-mount DSLRs with their APS-C -sized chips.

05 March 2011

Revespor -- Fox tracks

English text below.

Lillomarka har rikelig med skiløyper, men noen har det med å tråkke egne løyper også. Her er det riktignok reven som har satt sine poter, men jeg mistenker at gropene i snøen er et gammelt nattleie for elg. For min egen del fulgte jeg et spor avsatt av en enslig skiløper før meg, langs en sommersti.



My local forest has an abundance of well-prepped tracks for cross-country skiing. But some like to make their own tracks too. On this picture, a fox has put his paws down recently. The big dents in the snow may be a moose's old night lair. The track that took me to this spot was set by a single skier, along a path marked for summer-only.

03 March 2011

Tripod Coffee

For English, see below.

Etter en vinterferie på Filippinene var det godt å komme hjem. Er ikke så glad i varmen, egentlig. Så i dag tok jeg skia og rusla et par km inn i Lillomarka, og dro i gang et bål. Det var vidunderlig fredelig. Antar at alle andre er på andre siden av byen og ser på VM.

Men kaffe må man ha, så jeg måtte finne en måte å henge kjelen på. :-)


Good to get home after mid-term vacation on the Philippines. My body doesn't cope very well with the heat, really. So today I enjoyed a stroll into my local forest, in temperatures more familiar. It was wonderfully quiet; probably an effect of the skiing world championship contests going on at the other side of town.

With the campfire going, the lust for coffee was overwhelming. So I needed a fast solution for suspending the kettle over the flames. Manfrotto 455 to the rescue. :-)

29 January 2011

Going bilingual

It's about time I begin honouring my native tongue in blogsphere. Instead of running two blogs in parallel, I will make each post bilingual. Norwegian text will appear at the top of each post, English text below. The language used in titles of posts will probably vary, and so will the image titles since I can't fit both language versions into the matting/framing design without going through a lot of hassle with my Photoshop macros. I am too lazy this year to figure out a new design that would accomodate both. I'll try to provide for the omitted language in the text part as necessary.

28 January 2011

Whooper swans


Pentax K-7, DA* 300/4,
1/2000s, f/8, ISO 400

24 January 2011

A Good Stretch


Pentax K-5, DA* 300/4
1/100s, f/9, ISO 400

Observed in Akerselva, Oslo. Cropped a bit.

22 January 2011

Suburbia Winter Night

Pentax 645D, 645FA 45-85/4.5, tripod
8s, f/5.6, ISO 400
Click image for larger version

I'm having great fun these days. My Pentax dealer has generously let me borrow their Pentax 645D demo-cam for testing, and I'm in the process of going totally bananas with it. So far I have found nothing to dislike about this camera except its price tag. My wallet hurts.

The above shot was obtained last night. Just for the heck of it, I set up the K-7 on another tripod and made a time-lapse of the event. As always, I think of myself as looking ridiculous in front of the camera, but hey. If it gives you a laugh, that's a mission accomplished. This is the first time I try uploading a video to Blogger, so there's a good chance I screw up:


video


Serously though, the time-lapse thingy is fascinating stuff. It requires some thinking quite different from ordinary stills photography, and yet not quite video shooting either. The technical aspects of it intrigues me. My first attempts has only instilled a very deep respect for those clips you see from BBC, Discovery, NG and their ilk. It's a lot more tricky than I thought, and requires a lot of planning.

Notable mistakes made with this one includes, the "break" in the video where the camera angle changes a little bit, for example. The K-7 can only record 99 frames at a time automatically, so I had to restart the sequence at that point. Guess I must have moved the tripod a little in the process. Normal video has 25 frames per second. This one has only 16,6, so that's where the flicker comes from. You can also see how the camera varies its automatic exposure a little bit from one frame to another. I used Tv exposure mode (shutter priority), but should probably have used M (manual).

Lessons learned, I hope.

19 January 2011

Winter Stream

Pentax K-7, DA* 16-50/2.8, tripod and long boots.
1/15s, f/11, ISO 100
Click image for larger version


Observed at Mylla today.