Iceland Volcano Losing Intensity

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano is erupting with much less force than before – spewing just five tonnes of ash per second instead of 200 at its peak earlier in the week. The material being produced is tephra rising to 1.5 to 2 km into the air. No lava is flowing from the crater according to the latest reports on the ground. Nearly 30 earthquakes have been reported shaking the Eyjafjallajokull glacier since yesterday; but most were very small. The force of the eruption has diminished considerably and the cloud blowing up from the west of the volcano contains little ash. Explosive activity is also said to be minimal and no lighting has been observed for a couple of days. Although it may appear the volcano is coming to an end, it could equally intensify again at any moment, so it is not surprising that no scientist has yet come forward to say that he/she believes the eruption is ending.

What does this mean for my photography trip? Well, its probably to early to say; but, with less ash being thrown into the atmosphere the chances of air travel being grounded diminishes; which is a good thing (it means I can get there with a higher degree of certainty). But, this latest news may also spell the end of the eruption before I even hit the ground – ending a potentially great photographic opportunity. I am continuing to monitor news as it comes to hand, but admit to being somewhat torn at this latest turn of events.

Endangered Species Day in the USA

Today is endangered species day in the USA (pity Australia isn’t so pro-active – Are you listening Peter Garrett?). Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for people young and old to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions that people can take to help protect all disappearing wildlife. Protecting America’s wildlife and plants today is a legacy we can leave to our children and grandchildren, so that all Americans and visitors can experience the rich variety of native species that help to define the United States. See for more information.

Need a Lens? – Lens Rental Made Easy

I dont know why someone didn’t think of this sooner – Or, maybe they did and I have just been living under  the proverbial rock and missed it. Rather than purchasing an ultra expensive lens or even a camera for that matter for a photographic trip (such as a Safari to Africa or a trip to your favourite sporting event) you can rent one and have it shipped directly to your destination; then after your trip you can simply send it right back – avoiding all the hassles of airline carry on luggage. Who offers this service? Imaginatively enough its a company called Borrow Lenses.

By way of example: Compared to the costs of renting a 500mm F4 locally in Australia Borrow Lenses are pretty cheap. Normal cost in Melbourne to hire this sort of lens is $700+ per week – Borrow Lenses are less than $300 including shipping to and from your destination.

How Does it Work?

The short version is this: Rent, shoot, return. You choose what you want and how long you want it, and they ship it to you on the date specified with a return label inside the box. When your rental is up you put the lens back in the box it came in, affix the return label and drop it off at FedEx. Once they receive the equipment and inspect it and assuming there’s no damage your rental is complete. Pretty simple and a very useful service for photographers. Definitely something I will be taking further advantage of in the future.

New Macbook Pro

The “boss” has begrudgingly approved a new laptop (after some not so general prodding on my behalf) so I ordered a new Macbook Pro today – A 17″ anti-Glare screen, Core i7 2.66 Ghz with 8 Gig of RAM and a 256 Gig Solid State Hard drive. It should arrive in a few days time; which is perfect timing for both my trip to Iceland and a couple of quick pre-Iceland weekend excursions in Victoria – one to Bright, Mount Buffalo and Falls Creek with the family and the other to Mungo and the Walls of China in the far north of Victoria. Both trips I am very much looking forward to.

My current MacBook Pro is about two years old now and has not missed a single beat from day of purchase (typical Apple product in my experience). The new laptop should be significantly faster for working with 1DS MKIII RAW files in Lightroom in 64 bit mode with the extra 4 gig of RAM. More importantly however, battery life is supposed to be significantly improved over my current machine; which is great for working in the field when camping without power. Although I have not had a laptop hard drive ever crash and die on me (I have had plenty of desktop drives die) I am looking forward to the added stability and peace of mind the solid state drive brings to the table.

My Camera Equipment Rides in its own Seat – What The?

Well… put this one squarely in the truth is stranger than fiction category. With my Iceland trip now only a matter of weeks away I have started to stress just a little bit about the weight of all my camera equipment (as if I wasn’t stressing enough about the Volcano screwing up my well laid travel plans) and the thought of having to again deal with the airlines  somewhat inflexible rules for carry on luggage. This time however, I decided the best defence was a good offence and contacted my carriers for this trip to make them aware of my desire to carry on all my camera equipment – all 25+ kilograms of it. I wont belabour the point, but after quite a few phone calls to various numbers, several messages to staff at various locations around the world I finally managed to get hold of someone in London who could assist.

After much to and fro email with said individual from Iceland Air this evening about the weight of my camera equipment and my express desire NOT to check my very expensive equipment into their general baggage hold I have been presented with a rather amusing solution. Iceland Air’s carry on luggage is strictly enforced at five kilograms (that is barely enough for a large laptop, bag and accessories); which sees me a good twenty plus kilograms over the limit. Checked luggage gives you twenty kilograms, but I am not checking my camera equipment – end of story. Here is where it gets interesting : You see, it costs nine United Kingdom Pounds per kilogram for ‘checked’ excess baggage to fly from Heathrow airport in London to Keflavik airport in Iceland one way, but only one hundred and forty quid to book another full return seat on the plane – do the math (I did and had a good chuckle). So, yes, my camera equipment is now riding shotgun to Iceland with me in its own fully paid for window seat (I have ordered the Kosher meal for it and requested an OJ on arrival *cheeky grin* ).

In all seriousness however, what this means is that with another full seat at my disposal from Heathrow to Iceland I can now take even more equipment with me (See my entry about what to take to Iceland). The Canon 300mm F2.8L IS Lens is now back on board for the Iceland trip; and I may just take the 85mm F1.2L MKII for the hell of it and probably the Canon 5D body as an additional back-up. I will be sure to get a picture of my Lowe Pro camera bag enjoying its meal on the flight…