Happy Ten Years Blogging Birthday!

It almost slipped past without me noticing, but this week marks the ten year anniversary of when I first sat down and started writing  about my photography and travels in a blog and website. I never would have imagined where this journey might have taken me when I started and it feels like many lifetimes ago that I first began writing for this site. Back then, I was not travelling anywhere near as much as I do nowadays, but I was just as keen and passionate about photography and the polar regions then as I am today.

So what does the next ten years hold? Honestly, I am not entirely sure at this point. One thing I do know is that I will continue to pursue my photography and workshop teaching for at least the foreseeable future. Working with other photographers who are extremely passionate about their work is not only infectious, but ultimately it is extremely inspiring and and gratifying. I get a huge amount of pleasure and satisfaction out of both sharing the photographic process and watching others  improve their photography. I recently spent the better part of a week in the USA teaching the photographic print process in a private workshop and I have to say I enjoyed this every bit as much as the actual physical act of making photographs. I subsequently spent a week in Cuba opening my new Exhibition Antipodes and likewise very much enjoyed the experience.

My passion for the protection of the worlds polar regions is as strong today (perhaps even more so) as it was when I began this journey. My work in the Arctic Arts project and other conservation areas remains as important to me today as ever before. As we march inexorably onward toward the total climate driven destruction of our planet the relevance of not only documenting, but presenting this work to the world rises to critical mass. As one individual, I can only do so much – but I plan to continue to donate a percentage of all my print sales proceeds to the preservation of  wildlife.

 

Antipodas Exhibition in Cuba Now Open 2019

Yesterday I opened my new exhibition ‘Antipodas’ here in Camaguey in Cuba with friend Paul Murray. By invitation from the Minister of Arts of Cuba, the exhibition includes a curated selection of twenty of my Fine Art Prints of Emperor Penguins from Gould Bay in Antarctica and a selection of Paul’s work from our 2018 Namibia workshop. Each of my photographs was printed on Moab Somerset Museum Rag in 20” x 30” format. Since travel from Australia to Cuba with twenty framed prints of this size was logistically impossible, we chose to display them unframed with a wall hanging system; which has worked exceptionally well. The opening was a smash success with well over a hundred people in attendance with standing room only.

The exhibition will remain on display here in Camaguey until December before it makes its way to Santiago De Cuba and finally to Havana where it will conclude at the end of February 2020. Some of these photographs will also be on display at my new Frozen in Time Exhibition opening in Melbourne Australia in June next year. You can download a digital catalogue of the photographs from the Cuba exhibit HERE.

About Cuba: This has been my first visit to Cuba and it has certainly left an impression on me. Cuba itself is like a wax museum with a pulse. It is a place frozen in time that bustles with friendly energy, street charm and that oozes character from its many cobblestone streets. It is far removed from my usual travel destinations and the sort of photographic opportunities it offers are a distant galaxy to my Polar landscape and wildlife work. Of course, the temperature and humidity here are far from my preferred environment, but one has to accept that it is the Caribbean after all.

In regards to the Cuban street photography scene – Personally, I find the sort and type of street photography Cuba offers either far too voyeristic, when executed with a telephoto lens from a distance; or far to confronting when engaging at close range with a wide angle lens (which is really what is required to produce the best work). The huge socio economic divide strikes a deep and sensitive chord that makes me at best uncomfortable; even when I have engaged with the subject and have their permission to take the photograph. I should note at this point, that in my experience, the people of Cuba are exceptionally warm, friendly and inviting. However, the socio economic divide remains an invisible and impenatrable barrier for me that I personally really struggle with. I do very much love and appreciate street photography when it is well executed, but feel no need or desire to force myself out of my comfort zone just to get a photograph. By contrast, I am quite comfortable in Nature sitting in a hide day after day in freezing temperatures, or searching the frozen sea ice in search of Polar bears – I love this process and that is what matters to me. I would much rather be face-to-face with a Polar bear on the sea ice than face-to-face with humanity in the street. Ironically, I can see great photographs everywhere as I wander the streets of Cuba, but the process of street photography is quite simply not for me. Fortunately, I can enjoy the many evocative and powerful photographs in a work such as Vivir Con * in my own time and from the comfort of my own living room.

If you are a dedicated street photographer I think you will find Cuba is just about nirvana. Between the old cars, the rustic dilapidated buildings, and the friendly faces full of character on every corner there is enough material here to keep even the most ardent and dedicated street photographer active for weeks at a time. I can clearly see why so many street photographers are drawn to the urban scene in Cuba. I can sum up my thoughts by acknowledging that Cuba may be a street photographers paradise, but I am no street photographer.

* Vivir Con by Carolina Sandretto is a highly engaging and emotional exposition into Cuban family life and the relationships between the spaces they live in. I may well review this book in full at a later date, but in short, I highly recommend you consider adding this powerful work to your photographic library.

Canon officially announce Development of EOS 1DX MKIII

Hot on the heels of my recent Canon EOS 1DX MK3 post, Canon has today officially made its development announcement for the new camera. Not all of the final specifications have been revealed (for example, we do not has yet know how many mega pixels it will include, (you can expect it will be between 22 and 28) but there is some very big news in the announced capabilities. 4k Video recording in RAW format at 60p is massive news for video shooters. Dual CFexpress cards as predicted and an increase in shooting speed to 16 FPS with the optical viewfinder, or 20 FPS with live-view. What caught my eye and what I am really looking forward to is the increased auto focus capability out near the corners of the frame, improved AF in low light, improved AF algorithms with deep learning and improved capability to move focus points and continue tracking the subject (all features I have been asking for). Slated for April 2020 delivery I already ordered two of them (at 2am here in the USA and suffering from jet lag).

Canon Inc. announced today that development is underway on the EOS-1D X Mark III, the newest entry in the EOS-1 series highly trusted by professional photographers for its high performance and reliability. The new model will deliver enhanced image quality, continuous shooting and operability over its predecessor, the EOS-1D X Mark II (released in April 2016).

 

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the birth of the EOS-1 Series flagship model of Canon cameras, which began in 1989 with the release of the EOS-1. Based on the original EOS concept of delivering automated performance in accordance with the will of the user the EOS-1 was designed to meet the most demanding professional needs with state-of-the-art technology, top-class functionality, durability, strength and reliability.

Canon is planning to implement the following features in the currently under-development EOS-1D X Mark III:

1.         Newly developed CMOS sensor and image processor for higher image quality and faster continuous shooting speeds.

I.          Canon’s in-development proprietary CMOS sensor and image processor will realise higher sensitivity for stills shooting compared with predecessor models. Saving of still-image 10-bit HEIF* files will be supported. In addition, the camera will support internal recording of 4K / 60p / YCbCr 4:2:2 / 10-bit / Canon Log and RAW format video.

II.         AF and AE tracking supported whether shooting with the optical viewfinder (OVF) or live view and improved continuous shooting speeds compared with previous models. With AF and AE tracking, the camera realises up to approximately 16 frames-per-second shooting using the OVF and 20 with live view. What’s more, when shooting with live view, photographers can choose to shoot using either the mechanical shutter or electronic shutter.

III.        5x increase in maximum number of images captured when performing continuous RAW shooting compared with predecessor models.

2.         More precise autofocus thanks to newly developed AF sensor and AF algorithm

I.          A new AF sensor will be employed, which increased the number of effective pixels in the centre pixel area by approximately 28x compared with predecessor models. High-resolution signals obtained by the AF sensor will enable high focus accuracy when shooting through the OVF. In addition, an expanded AF brightness range will be available for both OVF and live view shooting.

II.         When using either the OVF or live view, the new AF algorithm, which features more stable performance, will utilise deep learning technology to further improve it tracking capabilities.

III.        In live view, the AF offers an expanded focus area of approximately 100% (vertical) and approximately 90% (horizontal). In addition, up to 525 measurement points can be used for AF when using automatic selection.

3.         Serving professional needs with enhanced data transmission functionality

I.          The currently in-development Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E9 (regulatory approval pending), when used with the EOS-1D X Mark III, realises more than twice the wireless image data transmission speed** as its predecessor model, the WFT-E8 (released in April 2016). What’s more, the WFT-E9 can also be used with the EOS C500 Mark II cinema camera (on sale in Australia from January 2020).

II.         Serves as a connection to smartphones and other mobile devices via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth®†. Also enables recording of GPS information at the location of image capture.

III.        When using a wired LAN connection, the WFT-E9 achieves more than twice the image data transmission speed** of its predecessor model.

IV.        Improved UI for establishing network connections.

V.         Expanded link functionality with various equipment. Compatible with the in-development Remote Control Pan-Tilt System which enables remote camera operation.

4.         Trusted by professional photographers on the front lines

I.          Strong magnesium-alloy body provides high reliability.

II.         Rear-side buttons important for operation are back-lit to enable menu operation in dark conditions.

III.        The camera’s memory card format has been changed from CFast 2.0 to CFexpress, enabling faster data writing. In addition, the camera will include two memory card slots.

IV.        AF Start button features a new internal device that enables fast AF tracking setting without users having to release their finger.

V.         Battery Pack LP-E19 and a newly designed power management system provide a greater number of shots per charge compared with predecessor models.

*High Efficiency Image File format. Realizes wider dynamic range and color representation compared with JPEG.

**Transfer speeds may be adversely affected depending on the usage environment.

†Supports Bluetooth Low Energy technology.

Photo of the Month October 2019 – Winter Ptarmigan

The photograph of the month for October 2019 comes from my last snow mobile expedition to Svalbard in winter this year and is of a Ptarmigan in its winter plumage. I had been wanting to try and photograph this bird properly in a winter setting for some years now and this year I was afforded several opportunities over the period of two weeks I spent on snow mobiles in the winter landscape (mostly searching for Polar Bears). Whenever I am photographing wildlife like this I make every effort to get down as low as possible so that I can be at eye level with my subject and create a stronger connection between the viewer and the photograph. In this case, I lat down in the snow and actualyl partially buried my lens in the soft snow to create the soft transition between the snow and bird. The key to all of this style of wildlife photography is to carefully choose your background and then work with the subject to achieve the ‘look’ you want. In this case, a combination of a clean background with just a sudden gust of wind to ruffle the birds feathers and create some movement.

Atipodas Cuba Exhibition Opening Soon

This two-person photographic exhibition consists of approximately 18 – 20 photographs from each artist. Holko’s photographs capture the life of the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica in their natural environment while Murray’s images portray the wildlife and natural lands of Namibia. Both works are of outstanding quality and rarity and should be a great opportunity for the Cuban audience to enjoy this very special carefully curated selection. The exhibition opens in Camagüey and will extend to Santiago de Cuba and Havana.

This exhibition project arises as a direct result of curator M.Sc. Juan Carlos Mejías Ruiz, who wants to show the art from these “magicians” of the lens to the Cuban public.  This exhibition will be one of the most important to open during the realisation of the 2019 Noviembre Fotografico and will be inaugurated on Friday, November 1st, in the Republica 289 gallery. Both photographers are “Major League” professionals with the experience and curriculum to match their work.

Artists from other countries, including Spain, Italy, and Germany are also planned to participate this November in additional Camaguey-based exhibits.  At some point during the artists’ stay in the city, there will be a meeting with the nature photography group Bioencuadre, where work experiences are exchanged and professional links will be created. 

The Provincial Council of the Plastic Arts of Camagüey is working steadily to support Noviembre Fotografico building on the outstanding results of its previous efforts in 2018, which involved a considerable number of the public and generated a group of activities and content that enriched the city’s panorama of the visual arts and culture achieving a prominent presence in national, international media and social networks.