Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Spring melt is underway

Greetings once again from the Yukon!

At long last the spring melt is underway.  Balmy temperatures (+10 oC), blue skies and plenty of sunshine greeted my return north.  Local radio reports have announced that the first of the swans have arrived.  I also spotted my first sic-sic (ground squirrel) of the year foraging on shrubs in an old fire burn site.  These little critters have just emerged from spending close to six months hibernating under the snow.  Soon the grizzlies, sandhill cranes, eagles and geese will join the cast of characters that make the Yukon their home during the summer months.  Needless to say I cannot wait to join them with my camera in hand.

Todays' picture is of the Yukon River at Five Fingers along the Klondike Hwy.  Notice how the river has already started to melt.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Ottawa at dusk

Good evening from Ottawa!

Tonight a couple photography friends and I gathered on an abandoned railroad bridge over the Ottawa River in hopes of capturing the city skyline and its reflections with our cameras.  

The perfect time to photograph a city and its lights at night is during the minutes before and after sunset.  At that time there is still enough light in the sky to highlight the colours, texture and details of the buildings while the backdrop, the sky, remains a dark blue.  

Here are the specs from todays image:

Gear used:  Nikon D700 camera with Nikkor 24-70mm lens f/2.8.  Tripod and cable release needed.
Image captured at ISO 200, f/10, 8-10sec exposure

Thanks France for the idea - just wished there was a splash of purple in tonights sky.   

Monday, 21 March 2011

This, the first day of spring....

And here I thought spring had arrived!

This shot was taken this afternoon in Westboro, a subdivision in Ottawa.  The forecast calls for 10cm of snow on this the first day of spring.

Happy Equinox!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A day at the sugar bush

A sure sign of spring - the maple sap is running!  

This afternoon I joined my niece and nephew at a local sugar bush near Ottawa, Ontario.  While there we were introduced to the production of maple syrup.  Did you know it takes 40L of sap to produce 1L of maple syrup!  Warm days followed by cool nights are the ideal conditions for producing sap.  By all accounts this year promises to be a banner year for the maple syrup industry. 

My main goal today, besides spending time with my sisters children, was to capture a few images showing the sap dripping from the tap.  In order to accomplish this it was important to set the camera to continuous high so that I could concentrate on focusing and composition while I fired away.  I used a Nikon D700 camera with my new Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR macro lens - another fabulous piece of glass.  The aperture was set to f/6.3, speed of 1/640th and an ISO of 250.  I shot at least two-hundred images (handheld) hoping one or two would capture a drop of sap dripping from the end of the tap.  I'm pleased with today's images. 

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Super Moon

Nikon D700, Nikkor 600mm f/4 at 1/640 f/7.1

Tonight the skies over much of North America were graced with the presence of the perigee moon - a super moon of sorts.   Due to the elliptical nature of its orbit the moon today approached its closest point to the Earth - some 50,000km closer.  As a result our nearest celestial body appeared 30% brighter and 14% larger than a normal full moon.   This natural phenomenon occurs at least once every twenty or so years.  More info can be found by reading super full moon.

As the moon was rising shortly after sunset a neighbouring pack of coyotes welcomed it with a chorus of high pithed howls.  So neat to hear them again in the wilds of Ontario.  

Thanks Shell for loaning me the 600mm lens to snap tonights image.  A fabulous lens!

Hope you had the opportunity to see tonights super moon in your corner of the world.

Good night,  Claus

Monday, 14 March 2011

500 days till London 2012

This morning the official countdown toward next years Olympic Summer Games began in London, England.  Hard to believe the worlds best athletes will once again compete for Olympic Glory in only 500 days.  

Today's milestone brings back memories from my Olympic experience during last year's Winter Games in Vancouver.  I was thrilled to have watched the opening ceremonies, several speed skating events and the women's gold medal hockey and curling matches.  What a memorable experience those 16 days were.

As a photographer I was keen on preserving those memories digitally.  My main goal was to capture the mood of the Games as I knew it would be impossible to take action shots of athletes at close range.  I was impressed at how the Nikon D700 and Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens handled the ever changing light conditions the Games presented.  I'll let you in on some of my tips on photographing the Olympics in a future post.  In the mean time I've attached a few of my favourite images from Vancouver.  You can also check my website out for more images from those 16 days of winter glory.


PS - Tickets for all events at the London Olympics are now on sale - there goes my bank account once again!

Opening Ceremony - Vancouver 2010

Opening Ceremony - Vancouver 2010

Opening Ceremony - Vancouver 2010

Opening Ceremony - Vancouver 2010

Gold Medal - Vancouver 2010

Olympic Champions - Vancouver 2010

Germany - Speed Skating - Vancouver 2010

Silver Medalists - Curling - Vancouver 2010

Friday, 11 March 2011

I wish I had my camera on hand

When will I ever learn the simple lesson of ensuring that my camera and 300mm lens are close at hand?

Late this afternoon, while driving along the Klondike Hwy en-route to Whitehorse, a lynx suddenly appeared on top of a snowbank a few short meters from the highway.  We stopped the truck in time to watch the critter saunter down the snowbank before it ventured back up where it sat and stared at us for a few seconds.  What a perfect shot that would have been - a lynx with its tufted ears bathed in full sunlight.  Sad thing is, my camera was stored in the back seat under our luggage.  Dam !!

Now that spring is around the corner I'm hoping these chance wildlife encounters will become more frequent.  No worries - my camera gear will be ready to go in order to capture those unexpected and treasured moments.

Good night 

Thursday, 10 March 2011

and the lights came back.....

The northern lights returned for a encore performance tonight.  Unfortunately tonights display was not as vibrant or as active as yesterdays show.  Regardless, it was well worth the effort to bundle up and venture outdoors in minus 25 oC temps to photograph the aurora as they danced the night away.  (Nikon D700, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens set at f/3.2, 1000ASA and exposed between 10-15 seconds).

More lights from last night

Here are few more images from last nights celestial wonder!  I can honestly say that last night was the most impressive show I've seen in my 13 years living in the north.  Absolutely stunning!  According to Spaceweather.com tonight promises to be just as good!  Keep your fingers crossed.

Yukon Lights at Night

What a night it has been here in the Yukon.  Shortly before 10pm the northern lights literally exploded overhead.  Endless ribbons of green, blue and pink danced across the sky from one horizon to the other for at least 3 hours.

I could have continued to photograph the aurora all night but by 1am my camera froze thanks to the -30 degree temps!  

Tonights images were taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.  Speed was set at 1000ASA, f/3.2 and between 10-15 secs for each exposure.  Cable release and tripod are essential.

It's 130am and the lights continue to dazzle.  Unfortunately I have to work in the morning so its off to bed.  

What a show!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Latest issue of Above & Beyond

The March/April 2011 issue of Above & Beyond is currently on the market.  This edition includes my regular "Field Notes" section, which this month briefly describes life on the floe edge.  You can find this issue in most major bookstores or onboard all First Air flights.  There is also a digital version available free on-line by clicking on Above & Beyond.  Enjoy!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Now in bookstores

If you have the chance drop by your favourite bookstore and check out some of my latest stories that appear in the 2nd Edition of Make the Most of your Time on Earth (Rough Guides, 2010).  Ten of my stories appear in this 2nd edition (travel tales from the Arctic, Bali, Madagascar, the Caribbean and various locals in Canada).  

While you're there take a few minutes to browse through the 7th Edition of The Rough Guide to Canada.  I rewrote Chapter 11 - The North.    

Hope you enjoy these two publications.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Thin Crescent Moon

Nikon D700, Nikor 300mm f/2.8 lens 

Just a quick note - take a look at tonights moon - a very thin crescent moon seen setting in the western sky just after sunset.  Gorgeous evening.

Yukon Golden Sunsets

Thankfully spring is around the corner here in the Yukon. We're gaining approximately 6 mins of daylight every day.  This morning the sun rose at 07:54 and will set at 18:38.  Two months ago, on January 6th, the sun was up at 10:32 and set by 15:44 - an increase of 5hrs and 26mins.  Despite the increased daylight hours overnight temperatures remain at the -30 degree mark while the daytime temps range from -15 to -5 degrees in the sun - perfect temperatures for outdoor activities.

With the lengthening daylight hours (and milder temperatures) come endless new photo opportunities.  My favourite time is the hour before and the hour after the sun sets.  At this time the evening sky undergoes dramatic changes - the sky is transformed from brilliant blue to various hues of purple and mauves followed by endless shades of yellow, orange and red before eventually giving way to the evening darkness.  Mountain backdrops, spruce and alder branches form magical silhouettes for the evening sky.

Today's image was taken along the Klondike Hwy while en-route to Whitehorse.

Enjoy the sun in your corner of the world.


Saturday, 5 March 2011

Yukon Winter Driving 101

I finally spotted and photographed the northern lights earlier in the week - my first since leaving Baffin Island a year ago - and what a show it was!

Thick curtains of green, yellow and the occasional splash of pink danced across the night sky from one horizon to the other.  An unexpected solar wind storm earlier in the day triggered the auroral display.  Spaceweather.com had warned of the potential of an auroral storm so I prepared my camera gear in advance.  Shortly before 11pm the northern lights made their appearance over Pelly Crossing.  I borrowed a friends car and drove down the Klondike Hwy away from town and its interfering 'city lights' and wood smoke. 

A few minutes later I arrived at a bend in the hwy that offered a superb view of the aurora unfolding overhead.  In true Claus fashion I turned off the engine to the car completely ignoring the fact it was - 40 degrees outside (I didn't want the headlights to interfere with my image).  I shouldn't have been surprised when I tried to start the car again some twenty minutes later.  No luck!  With camera gear and tripod in hand I had no choice but to walk the 4km back into town. Thankfully the grizzlies are asleep for the winter and I was dressed warmly for the excursion.  

The RCMP helped me boost the car the following afternoon.

The things we photographers do to get our images.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.