Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tips for Climbing Photographers

Picture Perfect: 10 Tips to Take Better Expedition Photos

Turtle Antics

I've always been a turtle fan, but until Millie my only pet turtle had been a rather slow moving tortoise (land turtle). I didn't expect much different when I inherited Millie, a red eared slider, from my niece (originally a temporary thing, but it seems to be becoming more permanent). But Millie (originally Milton, until we decided it was a female) turned out to be quite entertaining. I'm not sure if this is true of all red eared sliders or whether Millie has more "character" than usual. She is definitely energetic - spending large amounts of her day swimming, digging, climbing, trying to lever the filter off the side of the tank, etc. She's quite attentive to what's going on outside as well. When she sees me get out her blue feeding tub she goes nuts swimming and splashing and trying to get to the food. Of course, she also spends a fair bit of time sunning and sleeping, but even that can be entertaining because of her goofy poses. As I was eating breakfast yesterday she settled to the bottom in this pose:

She stayed in this pose long enough for me to go and get my camera. At first she appeared to be sleeping (eyes closed) but as I moved around taking pictures she opened her eyes and gave me a look as if to say "What?"

The cute 1" baby turtles you see in pet stores are also red eared sliders. What many people don't realize is that they live a long time (30 years?) and get quite large - up to about 12". Millie has grown noticeably over the few years I've had her and she's probably 8" or 9" long now. (I know, I should be metric!) She was originally in a 20 gal tank which I quite soon replaced with a 50 gal. Now that's started to seem small for her and I've been looking at 90 gal tanks (or bigger). One downside of these turtles is that they should probably be renamed "turd-les" since they produce quite large quantities of crap, usually shortly after you clean the tank. Keeping the tank clean requires a fair bit of work.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A "Suggestion" to MEC

This has been bugging me for a while and I finally got around to sending them an email:
It would be REALLY nice if MEC would start carrying smaller pants sizes. You used to carry 28" waist, now the smallest you normally carry is 30" which is what used to be called 32" - but unlike much of the population I haven't added 4" to my waist.

I realize the population is getting fatter, and MEC is catering to a wider audience, but surely to goodness I'm not the only skinny MEC customer!

I could understand not stocking many of the smaller sizes, but not offering them at all seems plain wrong.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ice Climbing Trip

We haven't been out ice climbing for a few years so we decided to head out. The first day we went to King Creek in Kananaskis where there are three short, easy ice climbs to warm up on. It was a beautiful day - about -6c and no wind. We had rented some newer ice tools to try out - Black Diamond Vipers. It was the first time we had gone "leashless". The tools and being leashless were great, although the thought of dropping a tool still makes me a little nervous!

The next day we did a longer route - Sinatra Falls, also in Kananaskis. It was nice and sunny and we were expecting similar temperatures as the day before. We were a little shocked when it turned out to be closer to -30c. It's actually not too bad if you can keep moving but standing belaying gets chilly, even with a down jacket.

Unfortunately, part way through the climb my left wrist got extremely painful. I wasn't sure what had happened, just assumed I had tweaked it somehow, perhaps not noticing because of the cold. The next day it was just as painful and swollen so we stopped in at emergency in Canmore. We arrived with coffees and books ready for the kind of wait we would have in Saskatoon, but we were the only ones there and got in right away. They figured it was tendinitis, although it was a bit unusual to appear so suddenly. So now I'm in a half cast and on anti-inflamatories for two weeks, and that was the end of my ice climbing for this trip.

I finally decided to take the plunge and on our way through Calgary I picked up a Pentax K10D digital SLR with a Tamron 18-250mm lens (35mm equivalent to 27-375mm). I chose the K10D for a variety of reasons - weatherproof sealed body, anti-shake, and raw DNG format. From the reviews it seemed to be good quality for the price. Having the anti-shake in the body means it works with any lens, not just expensive image stabilized lenses. The lens is relatively new - you may have seen recent ads for it. It's almost a 14 x range. It's fairly slow (f/3.5-6.3) but gets decent reviews for quality. Since my current shooting style doesn't include carrying or switching to different lenses, this gives me the same flexibility I've come to count on with my Canon S3 IS.

I can't believe how many separate buttons and controls there are! It's definitely going to take some getting used to, as will the size and weight. But I'm looking forward to shooting raw and having more room to adjust in Lightroom. After being away from SLR's for so long, there's something very satisfying about that solid "clunk" as the mirror flips up when you take a shot. And it's really nice to have a much shorter lag when you press the shutter release. Here a couple of photos taken with it:

I'm looking forward to using it on our trip to Ecuador and Galapagos in January.