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Technical notes


I used a Canon 5D Mk 3 camera with a 70-300mm f/5.6 zoom lens,a 16-35mm f/2.8 zoom lens, and a 400mm f/4 prime lens. The 5D is a "full-frame" camera and so the focal length factor is just 1.0. Some of the wide-angle images were taken with a polarizing filter to bring out the clouds in the sky. I did not take a tripod. Others on the ship did have tripods but I rarely saw them used; they don't work well in deep snow or slippery rocks. At this time of year, there is a lot of light available and so high shutter speeds that mask motion blur are easy to achieve.

Where necessary I pushed up the camera's ISO setting to keep the shutter speed high. For eaxample, the moonlight shot of Iguazu Falls was taken as ISO 3200 with the camera resting on a wall; I found the 4 second exposure worked quite well in this situation but it was hard to keep the camera steady for much longer periods. During the day, I would typically use ISO values of 200 or 400 with occasional forays down to 100 or up to 800. For slow-moving subjects, I would use focal length as a guide to shutter speed; i.e. 1/400 sec for the 400 mm lens. Because these lenses are stabilised and I could often find something to stabilise me, it was often possible to use slightly longer shutter speeds, but I tended to err on the side of caution. Where the subject or the camera (e.g. in a zodiac) were moving rapidly I would use much shorter exposure times, no more than 1/1000 sec and often less. When motion issues were present, I was cautious about opening the lens too wide because the small depth of field gave too little latitude for focussing; I avoided apertures wider than f/8.

I used an adapter on the camera that records GPS co-ordinates in the metadata of each image. Lightroom will then display the location where the image was taken on a Google map. I found this very useful.

I used a 32GB "600x" UDMA CF card and a 64 GB SD card (the camera takes both at the same time). I mainly used the SD card which fits the card slot in the laptop computer. I downloaded the images to the computer nightly and imported them into Lightroom. I always shot in RAW and viewed the images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5. I had time on this trip to rank, label and process some of the images during the trip. The ThinkPad laptop computer that I used is relatively small and light for a full-function laptop, with a dual-core processor. The internal solid-state hard drive is fast but didn't have much room for photographs (the 5D Mk3 produces RAW files of 28 to 30 MB each); so I used an external SSD hard drive for the images. For backup I used a mechanical external hard drive.

Lightroom ran very well and it was easy to add keywords and captions to the images, and rank and develop them on board. When we got home, it was easy to copy the images and their metadata into Lightroom on our desktop computer, by connecting the external SSD hard drive to the desktop computer.

I do not delete many images, either from the camera or the hard drive, unless they are a total disaster. I do not have the time to examine the photos carefully (nor a large screen – the laptop is 15 inches compared with 30 inches on my desk) and I also find that my opinion of some images changes over time. So, I bring almost everything home.

I leave the images in the Canon RAW format, as they come from the camera, and write metadata changes to separate files. At home, when I have finished processing and labelling, I archive the images with their metadata as DNG files.

I took two rechargeable batteries, with their charger, for the camera; this was satisfactory. The cold conditions gave the camera no trouble at all nor did it seem to mind some light snow and the occasional minor splash of sea-water.

Overall, the trio of digital camera, laptop computer, and hard drive worked, for me and my needs. However, I am exploring the possibility of using the much lighter Microsoft Surface Pro 2 as a erplacement for the laptop.

Once home, I import the images from the laptop external hard drive to a desktop computer and use Adobe Lightroom to sort out any "duds" and rank the remainder. Those that I plan to post to the Web are moved to a Lightroom collection and developed using the develop module in Lightroom. Where necessary, I use Adobe Photoshop CC to make additional changes. Finally, images for the Web are resized and saved as jpegs using Lightroom's export feature.

I wrote the Web site with Dreamweaver and manage it with Dreamweaver CC. I used Adobe Cold Fusion programming to simplify reusing code from exhibition to exhibition.

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