Sunday, July 27, 2008

Birds and stuff

I haven't updated or done a photo update in a long time, so this is going to be a lot of disjointed pictures from the past like, month. I like taking photos, but actually dealing with them and organizing them on the computer . . . arg. They're a chaotic mess right now.

The last couple weeks here have been beautiful. This high pressure system has hovered over us almost constantly, giving flat seas and almost no wind. We had ten days solid of sub-10mph winds, and a lot of days where it never got above 5mph. Barely a breeze. It's really the wind that saps the heat from you, way more then the cold. I've been working outside for hours on end in jeans and a couple of shirts, when it's been 15f air temp, and been just fine because the air was so still (the fact that I was carrying heavy things from one place to another helped too).

Of course, the downside to the stillness is the ocean has started to freeze over, making boating problematic. But it hasn't been cold enough to actually solidify, just form sheets of pancake ice. It's pretty thin, thin enough to push through in a zodiac as long as you go slow. And the last couple of weekends we've gone out boating, to find . .

More penguins!

And yes, I know the framing on these could be a bit better, and the focus is often a bit off. And I know the color really needs to be fixed on a lot of them as well. Keep in mind that I was shooting at hand-held at 400mm on a crop-sensor camera (Equivalent to a 600mm field of view to those of you used to 35mm SLR cameras), while trying to steady myself in the bow of a zodiac at full speed. The stabilization in the lens helps a lot, but at these focal lengths, just keeping the damn subjects in frame is hard, let alone make sure the auto-focus points are on birds for the split-second they're out of the water. And it was pretty dim out, fully overcast for a lot of these, so I had the aperture all the way open, resulting in a DOF of only a couple feet.

I took close to a thousand shots, and the majority of them are out of focus, or are of the splash from where the bird just was. Thank god for digital.

That's sort of what they do when they're just in the water and hanging out, trying to figure out where to plop off to next. Just poking their heads up, looking around, probably wondering why those strange orange creatures in a big noisy black iceberg keep following them around (which we'd never ever do. That would be in violation of the Antarctic Treaty!)

Dunno what was up with this guy. Maybe he was like, the Brendan of the flock? He was way off on his own while the rest of them were off hanging out off frame. Maybe he was just enjoying the view. Or he was being all emo because the other penguins just didn't understand him.

This was the rest of the flock. Flock is the right word, right? They are birds, after all. Those are fur seals in the backround. Fur seals eat fish, not penguins, so they tend to be pretty amicable to each other. If those were leopard seals, you wouldn't see any other land-based animals within sight of them.

These look a LOT better with the color fixed. But I've already uploaded them, and going back and deleting them, editing the group, the re-uploading is just like . . . too much work. So if you want to know how good the picture could look, throw it into pshop and do the "auto color" thing. Looks holy crap better.

Just a wider shot of the same flock

Just for the record? Penguins really are that adorable and goofy in real life.

We'd cruised around the island a bit, and came back later to find that the flock had moved up to the ridgeline. Better view, I guess.

A Blue-Eyed Petral, I think their name is.

Antarctic Tern, I think.

So, yeah. Uh, those are birds. We've got a lot of them down here. I feel like I should put something witty or insightful here, but right now, I'm just tired, and glad that I finally got this post up, that I've been meaning to do for like two weeks.

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