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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Red Sky In the Morning

Sailors take warning because there was a seriously red and dramatic sunrise this morning.  Nora, Stuey and I tried to photograph it, and Nora actually took the middle 2 photos posted here (I took top and bottom).  In the top one that I took you can see Stuey with his lit up camera screen taking a sunrise picture.

An hour later I drove the kids to school and the show was totally over.  The horizon looked grey and blah.  But at 7AM it was psychedelic!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Doggies on the go

The last few days I have continued to play around with my new camera and take pictures of the doggies.  Mainly I have been experimenting with the camera's ISO settings.  How high can I set the ISO and still get a good, quality picture?

At the museum on Saturday I took a picture of Nora in the gallery at ISO 6400, and it came out pretty good - if a little grainy (see yesterday's post for picture).  But in general I think ISO 3200 is about the max for good quality pictures.  Still that is amazingly high!  On my old point and shoot 800 was pushing it, and I remember that in the days of film I used to push TriX to 1600 and that was considered amazing.

Basically the higher the ISO the less light the camera needs to take a picture.  So you can use faster shutter speeds (or close down the apeture).  Problem is that you need a big and high quality light sensor to do this or the picture gets super grainy and pixelated at higher ISOs.

Taking pictures of the dogs at high ISO meant that I could take pictures with a really fast shutter speed - even in the deep shade of Abercrombie.  I got lots of stop action doggie shots.

Anyway, I discovered that at ISO 1600 you can barely tell (see top picture of Brewster); at 3200 there is some grain but it all looks good.  Then at 6400 things are looking graining but still usable.  At 12500 things get ugly!  Still might be fun to try 12500 inside a teepee on a hunting trip at night.  Might look cool.  Patrick

ISO 3200 - still pretty good

ISO 12500 was a little much!  GRAINY

Monday, September 18, 2017

Weekend Doings

Here on Cliffside it was a busy weekend.  Brooks H is in town and he asked if I wanted to go to a get together and I said, 'yeah'.  And then he said, 'and we'll have it at your place'.  So we did.  I cooked up a huge elk roast with mushroom and onion gravy, Yorkshire pudding, a garden salad, and roasted carrots, beets, and garlic with the greens - all from the garden.  Philip, Lisa and Gregg, John and Katelyn and Corvin all came.  It was pretty good meal - a Fall/Winter type of get together.

Saturday it rained, but we went down to the museum and watched Pam and Jan take artifact pictures for a book.  Nora was intrigued by the complex camera and lighting set up.  All the flashes went off at once with the main camera.

On Sunday we went for a drive.  The light was gorgeous up on the top of Pillar.  Later Stuey and I took the dogs out Spruce Cape.  Patrick

The Devil's Prongs from Pillar

Elk roast and Yorkshire pudding party for Brooks' Kodiak visit - all local food but the flour!

Experimenting with the camera ISO settings - this was taken at 6400 in the museum gallery

Spruce Cape sunlight

Waves with very little sky

Waves with very little beach - maybe I should have tried a pan and got both?

Spruce Cape with Fall colors

Saturday, September 16, 2017

New Camera vs the Old

In the woods with the new camera

When I took the picture below a month or so ago with my old camera I remember being REALLY happy with it.  And it is a good picture, but look how it compares with a similar picture from my new camera (above).  The new camera is just so much sharper and vibrant.

Yesterday I played around with the new camera trying to take close ups.  This is where my old camera (Olympus TG3) excels.  And I really can't take the close up macros that the old camera was so good at.  With my old camera I could get super close and then zoom in even further.  And it also had automatic focus stacking to get everything in focus.

Yesterday I experimented and learned some things about the new camera.  While the minimum focus distance is only about 8 inches and no zoom - so no close ups of small flowers - it does have a super sharp lens.  Also I have much better aperture control.  I can set it to f 16 and get everything in focus with a huge depth of field, or I can set it to f 1.7 and blur the background with a short depth of field.  I found that I can still take plant close up photos - it is just that they are a different 'type' of photo than the ones I took with my old point and shoot.  I also learned that on the new camera I had to use the manual focus.  But I like this - it means I decide what is in focus.

Another big discovery is that I can really push the ISO on the new camera and not have it degrade the quality of the image.  With the old TG3 if I pushed the ISO setting I ended up with really grainy and muddy pictures.  Not so with the new camera.  It has a full sized sensor so I guess it is better at low light pictures.  I set the ISO at 3200 and took a bunch of close ups.  The high ISO let me set the aperture to f 16 and still take pictures at a relatively fast shutter speed.

I can't wait to try taking pictures inside at night and see how people pictures look at a high ISO setting.  Patrick

In the woods with the old camera

Lily Pads

Background intentionally blurred with a somewhat short depth of field (f 1.7 was TOO short)

Shot at f 16 to increase depth of field

I took this one of Pushki seeds at ISO 3200!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Center Mountain Ridge

On Sunday I hiked back on the ridge towards Center Mountain to a lake.  The weather was not bluebird, but the clouds, showers, and ground fog made for some dramatic landscapes.

I used to do this hike 3 or 4 times a year back in the days when I tried to ski at least once every month of the year.  I used to hike back to Center in August, September and sometimes October because at that time of the year it was the only place with reliable snow.  But I have not done the hike in 10 years.

It was amazing how well I remembered the trail.  Like visiting with an old friend.  Patrick

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lecture Tomorrow

Tomorrow evening I am giving a presentation at 7 PM at the Kodiak Public Library.  It will be all about what has taken up so much of my time the last 2 summers - The Afognak Land Survey. One big archaeological survey that has covered all of the Afognak Native Corporation's land.  Here are a few of my slides to give you a taste of what I will be talking about.  Patrick

Sharatin Hike

Small Creek Gorge on the start of the hike

Last weekend we had pretty good weather and I went on 2 hikes.  On Saturday it was to Shelly Lake on Sheratin Mountain, and then on Sunday back to a lake most of the way to Center Mountain on the Kashevaroff Ridge.  Usually at this time of the year if the weather is good on the weekend I am hunting.  This weekend would have been my first  'proxy deer' hunt.  But not so this year.  This year I am mixing things up a bit more than usual.

Last year with the smaller pack I found I needed less meat to feed the family, and I ended up with a surplus.  So this year I figure I don't need to hunt quite as much as I have in years past.

It is funny to hike instead of hunt, and it is a totally different experience.  I find on a hike I am far less 'aware'.  Also instead of a 'goal' of bringing home meat there is the 'destination' of reaching a certain spot.  When hunting you try to go to where the game is located while on a hike you go to a pre planned destination.

However on a hike I do take way more pictures!

Shelly Lake

Brewster reflections

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Surviving the STORM

Our camp was located just above the circle with the 'I' in it - that's 60 plus knot winds!

The final post about our Labor Day trip to Afognak - the Storm.  It was not all sunny skies and calm seas - After 3 pretty nice days we survived the worst storm in our experience at Lipsett Point.

We were expecting the storm and had even collapsed the cook tent teepee Saturday night in expectation of the storm.  But we really did not think it would be all that bad - and even left a lot of stuff under the the collapsed teepee that we ended up needing.  Indeed, when I woke up Sunday morning it wasn't all that bad.  I thought about resetting up the teepee and cooking breakfast.  But then I decided to sleep in just a bit more.

By 9AM the rains had arrived and the wind was bad enough that I thought, 'why chance the teepee - I'll grab some Kind Bars and the kids can eat breakfast in their tents'.  'Let's see what the wind does'.  So I grabbed some juice boxes and Kind bars (my water bottle - and camera and rain pants! - were under the collapsed teepee) and took them to the kids.  I checked Stuey and Lars' tent guy outs, and then Nora and I's tent.  All looked good.

And then around 10AM it seriously started to scream.  By 11 AM I was starting to loose tent pins and had to go outside and re pin both tents with big rocks on top of them.  Ray had to totally re do the tent he was sharing with Julie and Ilsa.  I told Stuey and Lars that they could not leave their tent because with the wind and door facing the storm it might explode!  They were to pee between the tent fly and mesh interior.  At my tent less than 50 yards away we could barely hear it when Stuey would scream 'Dad'. It was getting medieval with moaning winds, spume from the crashing waves drifting the through the trees, and flapping tents.

We were on a point of land facing East and getting the full brunt of the storm straight off the Gulf of Alaska.  No islands or any land in the way to break the force of the wind.  Huge waves (18 foot according to the Marmot Bay forecast) were crashing onto the rocks of Lipsett Point.  It was really spectacular.  We figure the winds peaked out at 60 to 70 mph or so with higher gusts.

But the tents held and we did the best thing you can do in such a situation.  Hunker down.  If you are dry and warm stay dry and warm!  Still I was seriously worried that a tent would catastrophically fail.  I did have an extra tent and there is an old building a mile or so away that we could have taken shelter in if such a disaster did happen.  But I knew that if we moved we would all get soaked.  I sat and watched the barometer on my watch and it just kept on dropping and dropping.  I knew things would not get better until it leveled off or went up.  This did not happen until 6PM when it bottomed out at 29.20 inches mercury.

Nora and Stuey were great - Nora read and slept while Stuey played ColorKu with Lars.  All the kids ate way too many Kind Bars and neither ever wants to eat one again.  Brewster refused to leave the tent and even slept inside my sleeping bag. Nora did get super hungry by the end of the day and really wanted to leave the tent.  But Julie saved the day by coming by each tent with a supply of crackers, hard salami and cheese.  We held on.

Finally, too late to set up the teepee, the winds abated around 7 PM.  We had survived the storm.  I knew all was good when Brewster finally left the tent to pee and look around.

I think the storm was a really good learning experience for the kids.  They learned patience in the face of adversity.  To stay calm when it looks REALLY scary outside.  To wait it out.


'Dad - I'm REALLY bored and also sick of Kind bars'

That's some serious flapping from a tightly pitched cuban fiber tent

This makes it look calm - it wasn't

Monday, September 11, 2017

Evenings on the beach

This year we seemed to spend all our beach evenings on the South side beach at Lipsett Point.  This beach does tend to stay sunny longer, but it also tends to be windier.  This year it seemed to be perfect.

On the first evening Ray and I re-established the old cast-iron-tub hot tub.  Last winter a storm had knocked it off it's perch and filled it with sand.  It was a lot of work to get it re set up on a platform.  We put it way back on the top of the berm so next winter another storm will not be able to knock it over again.  The new high perch has a much better view.

Of course the staple camp fire food is hot dogs, and S'mores.  Red wine in titanium mugs, cheese, rice crackers and hard salami.  Beach time with a view while we waited for the water in the tub to get hot.   Eventually the sunshine retreated to just one corner of the beach and then disappeared entirely - time to retreat to the teepee.  Patrick

Ilsa and Ray light the Beach Olympic bonfire