Photo Stock: Making Money For Stock agencies

Like many young, inexperienced and downright naive photographers, I dreamed of making a living from selling photos to stock agencies.

A few years ago, my dream took a step forward, with the “invitation” to submit photo to Getty Images. Had i made it big ?. Somehow, a photo editor at Getty Images had discovered my photos, and selected 25 to be submitted to the Getty Stock pool.

“Whoo Hoo – making money”. I said.

A couple of weeks later, another invitation arrived for 30 images, and a few months later, even more requests.

So, now two years later, and approximately  120 images submitted to Getty Images, Yes -I am making money selling stock images.

 

Check out my April 2014 Statement.

 

Three images sold !!! …for a whopping $63.61

 

Aetty_Images

 

No, that big money isn’t for my pocket, as 80% goes to the stock agency.  My take-home pay is $12.66 which works out to enough money to buy breakfast, one breakfast for the month of April !.

20% to the photographer  – Really ?? .

 

 

Now – Time to wake up !. To make a living; food, housing, etc….that works out to a whole lot of photos that need to be sold to survive.

 

A colleague mentioned to me, what if the stock agency actually sold more of your images though didn’t tell you. Oh – now the plot thickens.

Ever heard of a stock agency that sells photos on your behalf, and doesn’t tell you ?. Does this Really happen ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHS_7674_F

Leica 400mm f/6.8 Telyt

Back in 2009 I was given a box containing a Leica R4 film camera and a couple of Leica-R lenses (24mm f/2.8 Elmarit, 60mm f/2.8 Elmarit and a 400mm f/6.8 Telyt). At first I thought the 400mm lens was a telescope with a Leica-R lens mount. I’ve since learned that my first guess was close.

The lens is 38cm (15 inches) long, and only weights 1830 grams (4 lbs). Focusing is by push-pull and pushing in the focus release button. Since this lens had not been used for a long time, and had not been stored with a lens cap, the interior glass was coated with dust and the grease in the focus slides has dried out. Cost estimates for a CLA (Clean, Lubricate and Adjust) by Leica service centers ranged from $400 to $600. At the time, it didn’t seem worth the cost to repair the lens, and only be able to use it on a Leica-R film camera since it had been announced that there would be no more digital Leica-R cameras beyond the Leica R9 and DMR.

The first spark to use the Leica-R lenses on a digital cameras came with the discovery of Leitax, makers of lens mount adapters. With the adapters in hand, I was quickly (and easily) able to remove the Leica-R lens mount and attach a Leitax lens mount adapter for the Olympus E-330 that I had at the time. The 24mm and 60mm lenses were converted with Leitax (Leica-R to 4/3 lens mount) and performed superbly. For information on the specific Leitax adapter for the Leica 400mm f/6.8 lens – click here. Even though a Leitax adapter was available, using The Leica 400mm f/6.8 was on-hold due to the high cost of the lens CLA. It was the photographs by Sacramento bird photographer Douglas Herr that convinced me to take another look on restoring this lens. The second spark was discovering a post on MF lenses.com written by malchauDK  Servicing Leica Telyt-R 400-560mm/f6,8. Following the step-by-step instructions, including complete dis-assembly, the lens was cleaned, lubricated and re-assembled.

By the time I was done cleaning and lubricating, the lens was good as new. Thanks malchauDK. By this time, I had upgraded to a Nikon D700 and Leitax adapters were available to mount Leica-R lenses on Nikon bodies. On the D700, with the large clear viewfinder (especially compared to the tiny viewfinder on the Olympus E-330), focusing the Leica 400mm f/6.8 is a easy, though does take a little bit of practice.

The Leica 400mm f/6.8 lens was designed in 1968 as a handheld “snapshot” lens, and my particular lens was made in 1977. As mentioned, focus is by using a slider (manual focus), and it needs and adapter to work on modern digital cameras. Why – bother use an archaic lens designed 46 years ago when there are there are plenty of more compact and autofocus lenses available. Maybe, I am a sucker for old lenses being born the same year that this lens was designed. Really, it is such a superb lens that delivers incredible quality.

 

Pros

1)    Size and weight. Although it is a relatively long lens (38cm long), it is light and weights only 1830 grams.

2)    Portability. The lens unscrews into two pieces that can be stored in a Pelican-type case, or in a PVC-tube.

3)    Durable – easy to disassemble, no electronics or moving parts – nothing to break.

4)    With adapters, usable on Nikon, Canon, Sony and smaller format cameras (4/3, micro 4/3 and Fuji-X)

5)    Price. Used Leica 400mm f/6.8 lenses are available for $400 to $800.

Downsides

6)    Manual focus, not always suitable for moving subjects.

7)    Slow minimum aperture results in a darkened viewfinder.

8)    Lens design. The lens has only 2 glass elements so there is inevitable curvature of the focus plane. Details in the center of the image are in focus, but off-centered objects are noticeably out-of focus. Even with larger apertures this is still noticeable.

 

Click on the photos below – and decide if this is a lens for you.

I love it.

_SCH4552 _SCH4578 _SCH4640 _SCH7218 _SCH8530 _SCH8715 SHS_7674_F SHS_2897-2 SCH_8919 SCH_8775 SCH_4700 SCH_2104-3 SCH_1419-2 _SHS1732x2-2 _SHS1608-Edit-Edit _SHS1031 _SHS0186 _SHS0147 _SHS0013 _SCH8737

 

NWT Circus – Cirque Grandiose

NWT Circus – Cirque Grandiose

Yellowknife’s own Circus Family – Scott, Kara, Zefer and Janelle performed in Samba K’e Park next to the Yellowknife City Hall.

Before the main part of the show got started, Kara did some entertaining around the grassy park wearing stilts. Everyone loves getting their photo taken with a clown on stilts. _SHS2007
A view from backstage of the crowds, Yellowknife City Hall in the background, and the Prince of Wales Museum on far left of photo. _SHS2050
Kara, still wearing stilts, warms up the crowd by singing “WillKommen” from the trapeze.SCH_8436

Scott spinning up a “ Diabolo”. SCH_8454
Eight year old Zefer walking on a large yellow ball. SCH_8505
Six year old Janelle, tours the main stage wearing stilts. _SHS2136

Scott, now on a special circus bike, glides around the stage while standing up on the bike. _SHS2239
Zefer climbing up on top of four stacked chairs. _SHS2275
Six year old Janelle seemingly swings over the rooftops on a hoop. SCH_8579
Zefer does aerobatics high up in the silks.

_SHS2324
The final act, a pyramid of the cast and crew._SHS2437

 

Final photo – ‘happy audience’

SCH_8654

All photos taken with a Nikon D700, with a Nikon 17-35mm lens, and a Nikon 85/1.8mm lens.

Canadair Cl-215 waterbomber #290 taking off with a full load after scooping up water from Yellowknife Bay.

The NWT is on Fire !

At last count there are 130 forest fires in the Northwest Territories.

Check out the image below to see where they are.Canada.A2014183.1845.1km Satellite image from July 2, 2014.

Click here to go to the NASA webpage.

 

A couple of photos of Canadair Cl-215 water bombers that are being used to fight some of the forest fires, and a Beechcraft ‘Birddog’ airplanes for fire attach planning and flight safety.  The photos were taken in Yellowknife a couple of years ago while putting out a fire at the City landfill. All photos taken using a Nikon D700 and manual focus Leica Telyt 400mm f/6.8 lens with a Leitax adapter.

 

_SCH8530 _SCH8551   _SCH8676 (2)    _SCH8765-2 (2) _SCH8781-2 (2) _SCH8831-2 DSC_9102-2 SHS_6935-2 SHS_6980

Create a Neutral Density Filter for Under $10

Create a Neutral Density Filter for Under $10

For those that follow this Blog – You know that I like to modify and build custom tools for my camera gear.

A couple of years ago I fell in love with the look of long exposure black and white images that are both in focus and anything moving like waves on beach, waterfalls are gently blurred. The photos I’d seem were all taken with a LEE “Big Stopper” 10 stop Neutral Density (ND) filter all taken in the middle of the day!. Neutral Density filters reduce the amount of light entering the camera lens, making it possible to get long exposure times needed to blur moving water, clouds and my favorite, boats and airplanes tied up to a dock. ND filters are made by several manufactures; such as B+W, Cokin, Hoya, Singh-ray and LEE in either a circular screw-in filter, or as a sheet of glass that slides into a holder. ND filters are not cheap, and good quality ND filters can cost a couple hundred dollars.

Several bloggers have described how to use welding glass as a ND filter to achieve a similar effect by blocking out light so you can shoot day time long exposures. Using welding glass as a ND Filter is not a new idea. So – keen to do some experimenting, I bought a piece of 4¼ x 3¼ welding glass from a local hardware store for $10.

DSCF5380

 

 

If you want to use welding glass as a ND filter, there are a couple of things to know.

1) Welder’s glass filters come in different strengths from 6 stop to 13 stops. Other grades of welding glass are:

#8 = 10 stops,
#9 = 11.5 stops
#10 = 13 stops

Choose a strength depending upon your needs, remembering that a #10 needs much more light than a #9 filter. The welding glass that I got was a #10 grade and it is tinted a dark shade of green.

2) Welding glass filters are designed to fit standard size welding masks, not photography (Cokin and LEE) filter holders. With typical exposure times between 2 to 5 minutes, you don’t want to be hand holding the filter. One way to attach the filter to lens is with thick rubber bands, around the sides of the welding glass and around the lens hood. Depending on your lens hood, it might be easier to flip the lens hood backwards so the petals are facing towards the back of the camera (typical storage position) and hook the rubber bands around two petals. Or, if this doesn’t work, some folks wrap the elastic bands around the back of the camera.

Welding glass filter held in-place with rubber bands.

Welding glass filter held in-place with rubber bands.

3) Welding glass filters are very reflective and any light leaks will cause lens flare (streaking or bright spots). To avoid this problem, simply attach the filter to the lens using one of the methods described above, then drape a dark light-proof cloth over the camera, lens, and the corners of the welder’s glass to prevent light from leaking in through the crack in between your lens and the glass.

Light-proof cloth on camera, lens a welding glass to reduce reflections.

Light-proof cloth on camera, lens a welding glass to reduce reflections.

4) The fourth problem with using Welding glass filters is getting rid of the green hue. We will show you how to get rid of this in post-processing below.

What you need to make long exposure images

• Digital camera with the ability to shoot in bulb mode
• Camera lens – any lens will work, except ultra wide angle and fisheye lenses.
• Welding glass filter
• Thick rubber bands – I use the thick blue rubber bands from produce
• Light-proof cloth –
• Tripod
• Remote shutter release. Since the maximum exposure time on most digital cameras is 30 seconds, adding a remote shutter release will allow you to get an exposure time longer than 30 seconds.
• Viewfinder cover for camera – to prevent stray light from entering
• Stop watch to time the exposure length.

Taking long exposures with a Welding Glass Filter

1) Find a scene with movement in it, like water, clouds, or people.
2) Set your camera up on your tripod and compose your shot. After adding the welding glass, you will not be able to see out of your viewfinder.
3) Set camera to manual exposure, RAW, auto white balance and autofocus off. RAW setting allows more colour adjustment during post-processing (see notes below). Focus, then set autofocus off to prevent the lens from searching for focus once the welding filter is attached. Set lens aperture to f/10-13, and lowest normal ISO.
4) Take a picture. View the image on the viewfinder and adjust exposure time if required.
5) Attach the welding glass to your lens (see notes above).
6) Cover the lens and the welding glass, and close the viewfinder eyepiece to help prevent light leaking into your lens (see notes above).
7) Attach the remote shutter release.
8) Set the camera to bulb mode, and estimate exposure based on the grade of the welding glass filter, and adding the appropriate exposure time to the previous exposure time. For example, if you are using a 10 stop ND and the first exposure was 1/125s second, then set the new exposure to 8 seconds. See the exposure chart below.

chart

 

9) Take a picture using estimate exposure time. Depending on your shutter release, you might have to hold the shutter release the whole time. My shutter release, a Nikon MC-30 has a lock switch so I can lock the shutter open for long exposures.
10) View the photo on the LCD. Do not worry about the greenish color – that will be removed later. If the image is too light, add 30 seconds to the previous exposure time, of too dark – remove 30 seconds from the exposure time. There is no exact science to how long your exposure should be, but I’ve found that exposures in the 3 to 5 minute range work well.
11) Repeat if necessary to get correct exposure.

 

RAW image straight out of camera with green cast. ,

RAW image straight out of camera with green cast.

Post Processing: Removing the Green Color Cast

To remove the tint made by the welding glass, you can either turn it into a black and white image, or do some extra steps to re-create the colors in Photoshop or Lightroom. The reason for shooting in RAW is that White Balance can be modified in Lightroom and Photoshop.

To convert the images to Black & White
This is the easiest. Simply import the RAW files into Lightroom and Convert the image to black and white. Tweek the image as necessary to remove dust spots, adjust exposure, adjust contrast, sharpness, and highlights using the sliders in the basic panel.

 

Image converted to black & white.

Image converted to black & white.

To re-create Color:
To re-create colors is a lot more work, and these are the settings that I use in Lighroom. (thanks to DazJW https://www.flickr.com/groups/weldingmaskglassfilter/discuss/72157626691948810/).

 

Colors re-created in Lightroom using adjustments listed below.

Colors re-created in Lightroom using adjustments listed below.

Basic
-White Balance
–Temp: 4900k
–Tint: +150
-Tone
–Contrast: +43
–Shadows: +21
-Presence
–Vibrance: +15
–Saturation: +15

Split Toning
-Highlights
–Hue: 291
–Saturation: 15
-Shadows
–Hue: 291
–Saturation: 15

Camera Calibration
-Process: 2012
-Profile: Adobe Standard
-Shadows, Tint: +2
-Red Primary, Saturation: +19

Save ….
Another way is to create Custom Camera Profile. I did not use this technique, though you can follow the links below to see how it is done.
Fifteen Kilobytes of Fame <http://15kb.blogspot.ca/> Saturday, 7 May 2011 Welding Glass and White Balance. <http://15kb.blogspot.ca/2011/05/welding-glass-and-white-balance.html>

DIY Photography <http://www.diyphotography.net/> Hacking Photography – one Picture at a time.

 

Final image using Lightroom tweeks, and custom white balance.

Final image using Lightroom tweeks, and custom white balance.

 

Summary
For $10, a welding glass filter used as a neutral density filter is a lot of fun, and goes a long way to re-creating the look of long exposure photographs taken during the mid-day sun. Are the results as good as a Pro-quality neutral density filter ? – probably not, though with a little bit of effort and a few precautions, the results are superb.

Twin Pine Hill – one of best places to enjoy a scenic view of Old town Yellowknife, and Great Slave Lake.

Twin Pine Hill – one of best places to enjoy a scenic view of Old town Yellowknife, and Great Slave Lake. These 360 degree panoramas were created from photos taken on May 18th, 2014.

In this view, Old Town is in the distance, to the north. Franklin Avenue (center of photo) separates Peace River Flats and Willow Flats (right side) and continues to Latham Island and N’Dilo in the distance. If you look carefully, the melted remnants of the Snow Castle can be seen, along with house boaters commuting across the ice, and a even a kite skier behind the houseboats.

Click on the image for a larger view.

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

In this image, along the ridge to the southeast of the previous photo, Old Town (Willow Flats) is on the far left. The road winding up the hill is School Draw, an the remains of a recently burnt house can be seen in the center part of the photo.

Click on the image for a larger view.

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

These panoramas were created by combining 5 photos (4 photos at 90 degrees to each other, and the fifth taken straight down at my feet to fill in a gap), using a Nikon D700, a ‘shaved’ Samyang 8mm lens with a custom built panorama head see Making Panoramas with a DIY Panoramic Head and a Monopole. The hardest part of making these panoramas was photoshopping out all the garbage and smashed bottles…

Making Panoramas with a DIY Panoramic Head and a Monopole

These notes describe the tools and technique that I use to create 360 and spherical panoramas. If you are interested in producing high resolution landscape or architectural panoramas – this is not for you as these types of panoramas require different tools (panorama heads, tripods and lenses). Check out the links below on tools and techniques to create high resolution and architectural (including interior) panoramas.

360 degree panoramas are best described as panoramas that cover up to 360 degrees in a single, super wide image, whereas Spherical panoramas can be described as the viewing of a seamless 360 degree panorama that is displayed on a interactive viewer (e.g. QuickTime VR, Flash or HTML5), and allows the observer (i.e. You) to interactively pan left or right, up and down and zoom in or out to look at the scene in different directions. The end result of spherical panoramas, is to give the observer the feeling of actually “Being there and looking around”.

The first step in making spherical panoramas is to create a seamless 360 photograph, that is wrapped in a sphere or cylinder. There are different methods to capture the separate photos that are stitched to create the seamless 360 degree image; ranging from more accurate (panoramic heads with lens specific clicks) to free hand (dangling a weight from a string over a specific feature on the ground). All methods require that the camera is rotated through an imaginary point ‘entrance pupil’ near the front of the lens to avoid (or minimize) visual off-set (parallax) when stitching the photos. Generally, the fewer images to stitch the less effect of parallax.

The tools that I use include a Nikon D700 camera, Samyang 8mm f/3.5 lens, a very simply DIY (make-it-yourself) panorama head, remote cable, and a monopole. Previously I did not use a panorama head, and simply mounted the camera to the monopole using the tripod screw on the base of the camera. This method works well as long there are no objects close to the lens (i.e. wide open areas), which cause parallax. Now, with a simple DIY panorama head (total cost approx. $10.00) there are fewer problems with parallax. Do note – that these tools and techniques work for me, and may not work for you, nor is this technique necessarily the correct or most accurate.

From top to bottom, I use the following camera gear and tools.

  1. Nikon D700
  2. Cable release
  3. Modified Samyang 8mm f/3.5 lens. I cut off the plastic lens hood to maximize the field of view. Similar lenses are sold as Rokinon and Bower.
  4. DIY panorama head (details on construction below).
  5. Manfrotto Bogen compatible umbrella swivel and Manfrotto 200PL-14 Quick Release Plate.
  6. Kacey adapter to mount the Manfrotto quick release to a standard paint pole type extension pole. The adapter has a 5/8 standard strobe pin on top and standard extension pole threads (3/4 x 5 threads per inch) on the bottom. Kacey website.
  7. Monopole (extendable painters pole), purchased at a hardware store.

Assembling the DIY Panoramic Head

My initial plan for a DIY panorama head was piece of metal plate that attached at one end to the camera tripod screw the the other end extending to the entrance pupil of the lens. However, the thought of the relatively heavy Nikon D700 bouncing up and down on the metal plate deterred that plan. Plans then turned to some way of attaching the front of the lens directly to the monopole. Then I found a muffler clamp. Sliding the muffler clamp over the entrance pupil of the lens – it was a close fit, and the U-shaped clamp only had to be widened by approximately 0.5cm. Scrap UHMW plastic was used to fill in gaps between the lens and the muffler clamp. A sheet of scrap metal (steel) was cut and drilled for the base, and two ¼ thread nuts are used to tighten the muffler clamp (finger tightened only). A coat of black automotive paint and adding the Manfrotto Quick Release Plate – then done !.

Total cost approx $10.00.

Note that the axis of rotation passes through the centre of the lens and the Nodal Point (entrance pupil).

Camera settings

These are the camera settings that I use;

1) File format set to ‘Raw’ 

2) Exposure mode set to ‘Manual’ – Set shutter speed minimum 1/30, aperture f/5.6 to f/10 depending on light conditions. Determine exposure for average light reading, not with lens pointed at the sun.

3) Set focus to manual

4) Set camera to full frame mode

Shooting Technique

To make my life easier, I always use the same lens and camera combination for spherical panoramas. With the shaved Samyang 8mm, I shoot four images each at 90 degrees apart (camera level).

  1. Camera settings as above
  2. Test photos of the scene to set exposure
  3. Walk to desired location, place the monopole on the ground. Remember the starting direction.
  4. Press shutter and rotate 90 degrees to the right (clockwise).
  5. Stabilize monopole, repeat 90 degree rotation and press shutter,
  6. Continue until back to starting point
  7. Done…walk away Click on the photo below to see it bigger.Depending on the scene, I might add two additional photos:
  8. Step back and take a Nadir shot (-90) by holding the monopole at arms length and point camera down to where the monopole was rotated in previous steps, at approximately the same height as the monopole, to create a foot-free image and,
  9. Take a Zenith or straight up (+90 degrees) shot  by tilting the camera up 90º (approximately over the rotation point), duck down, and shoot it. Zenith shots are only taken when in an enclosed space.

One I have the four (or six) photos, they are loaded into PTGui software to create the seamless 360 degree panorama and the spherical panorama. Check the links below for how to use PTGui software.  PTGui saves the spherical panorama as a Flash (.swf) movie that can be displayed on a website.

Examples of Flash (.swf) movies

A view of the inside of the Snowking’s Castle, during the 19th annual Snowking Winter Festival. Click on the image for a larger view.  To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.
SCH_4251 Panorama-2-2
SCH_4478 Panorama-2
The view from the top of the Castle, and the “Deadman’s slide”. Click on the image for a larger view.

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

Bullocks Bistro, in Old Town Yellowknife serves up the best fish in town, and is often featured on CBC Arctic Air.  Can’t think of too many restaurants that actually let you, and encourage you to leave your mark on the ceilings and walls !.

SCH_3491 Panorama-2_TM-TB Click on the image to see it bigger.
To view a 360 degree animation of this scene, Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

Everyone’s favorite place to be on a hot sunny day….The Beer Garden (2012 Folk on the Rocks)

To view the 360 degree animation of “Snake People” in the Beer Gargen . Click Here This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view.

Models – To help recognize the real thing

A couple of weeks ago I submitted the final draft for the 2014 May/June edition of the YkEdge. Although I can’t say much about the article (about airplanes), other than building models is one way to learn how to recognize airplanes by their shapes.

This model, a DHC-5 Buffalo isn’t your typical “model kit-in-a-box” with pieces of plastic that easily fit together. Instead, it was built from scratch using scale plans, a sheet of flat plastic, glue, a couple of tubes of putty, and lots of patience and elbow grease.

Like the real thing, this model is made up of ribs, stringers and an outer skin, although it is 72 times smaller.

During the 12 years to complete this model, I’ve viewed it from every possible angle, including in pieces on the kitchen floor !. It is not likely that I could mistake it for another airplane.

1/72 scale scratch built dehavilland Canada DHC-5

The DHC-5 Buffalo is used by the Royal Canadian Air Force for Search and Rescue, mostly in British Columbia and is occasionally seen in the Northwest Territories. The model is photographed with some of the tools-of-the trade, including a FindMe SPOT (personal emergency locator beacon), pen flare, whistle and compass, on a background of aeronautical charts.

Frostbite 45 – A Northern Ski and Snowshow Event

Selected photos of frosted and frostbitten faces on participants can be seen on my Flickr page

The Frostbite 45 is a ski or snowshoe event held in Yellowknife. The course is 45 kilometers over windblown lakes and narrow skidoo trails between lakes. Participants can compete the entire course, or parts of the course as part of a relay team. This year, the 5th annual Frostbite-45 the weather conditions did not disappoint, with wind chill of -44C.
For the past couple of years I have volunteered at a Check Point; checking participant bib numbers and recording arrival times to help keep track of who is still on the particular section of the course, and when possible also photographing the other volunteers, skiers, runners (snow shoe participants can of often do remove their snow shoes on the hard packed trails). This year, I wanted to see the whole course, not only to get an idea what the participants see, and also to photograph the participants at different parts of the course. To do this – I used a skidoo, and it still took me six hours to compete the course.

The event, it is not called a ‘race’ started at 10am and the Yellowknife Ski Club with a 500 meter loop through the stadium area in front of the chalet (to spread out the group, and for the benefit of the spectators) then down the icy ravine onto Great Slave Lake. On the lake, it is approximately seven kilometers of directly in-you-face -40C something wind chill. I stopped a few times along this section to photograph the long stream of participants with the office towers of Yellowknife on the horizon. Already, at this point in the course, folks were getting cold. Even from a distance, I could recognize the circular motions of arms – trying to warm cold fingers, and hands on faces blocking the wind. There was even a fellow, with his hand in front of that part of the male anatomy. Time to move on.

Following a five kilometer skidoo trail through the forest must have given them some respite from the wind, until Walsh Lake – a long narrow lake perfectly aligned with the wind direction. The first Check Point, at the 15km distance is the one I know well. Shawne and Rauri were hard at work checking bib numbers and faces. By this point, most participants had covered up their faces with ski goggles, scarfs, neoprene face masks and neck warmers. Most were ok, although the strong wind has a nasty way of finding even the small areas of exposed skin such as the tip of the nose that normally pokes out at the bottom of ski goggles. Some were not as lucky, having small patches of white skin on reddened check. Others even less lucky with long stripes of frostbitten skin caused by wrinkles in their face masks, and one fellow who as first was thought to have a pale completion and this turned out to be a face of nasty frostbite. Needless to say, his race was over as the First Aid folks did not let him continue. As participants came through the Check Point I photographed some of them, forever recording those enthusiastic yet frost bitten faces.

The cold was also having an effect on my camera gear, and every few photos the viewfinder would stay black (the mirror had locked in the up position), and the LCD display read ‘err’. I now know what error message means, it is the cameras way of saying it is too darn cold and that the cameras normal operating temperatures range is no lower than 0C. A good time to leave the camera in my coat and let it warm up. By then, it was nearly 12:15, and in the distance back along the course we could see some participants had not yet completed the first section. For safety reasons, the Check Point is scheduled to close at 12:30, and those that had not yet past through the Check Point by that time would not be allowed to continue. It seemed like a good time to move on, as I did not want to be around or photograph the stragglers coming through after 12:30.

The course continues directly upwind to the end of Walsh Lake, then up over a hill and down to Prosperous Lake. From there I could see a long line of skiers and runners enduring a crosswind reroute to Check Point 2. Most of these folks I had already photographed at Check Point 1. Since my plan for the day was to photograph different participants at different parts of the course, I took a short cut and headed down wind towards Check Point 3 at the south end of the lake. On the way, I could see skiers and runners as tiny specks in the distance. Not far from Check Point 3, I noticed some incredibly scenic cliffs perfect to photograph the participants as they past in front. Not wanting to wait in the wind for the next skiers or runners to arrive, I sought shelter and found the perfect spot. There, out of the wind and actually being warmed by the sun were two volunteers from the Yellowknife Skidoo Club. We chatted and every 10 minutes or so I pushed down the visor of the skidoo helmet and peeked up wind to look for and photograph the next skier or runner as they passed by. Without the visor, the wind wanted to instantly freeze my eyes. Fortunately I had brought two cameras. The first was now completely dead. Even with extra batteries (I had bought 5 extra batteries) the LCD screen was blank. By 1:30 the second camera was starting to lock up and show the now all to familiar ‘err’ message on the LCD screen. A few photos later and it also went completely dead. Both cameras were now inside my coat – stone cold, and useless.

My job was to photograph the event, and by this point for most participants were still on the trails and had several hours to go before they completed the course. Without a camera, my contribution to the event was over. Being asked to retire from the event due to frostbite is one thing, as a photographer being forced to retire due to frozen cameras is another. By the time I got home at 4pm, not only were the two cameras still frozen, frost on the inside of my skidoo helmet had frozen my beard. A few tugs, and off came the helmet along with a tuft of beard hairs (just the grey ones right). My neck warmer had also frozen to my beard, tugging on it would have yanked out most of my beard hairs – outch. By 6pm I have thawed, the cameras have thawed (and are now working again), photos have been viewed, and I can’t help think about the folks that are still out there, the participants and volunteers.

Frozen cameras aside, it was again a rewarding experience to be a volunteer at Frostbite 45. This is however my last. Many participants in the Frostbite 45 have taken the time to stop, and say ‘thanks for helping’, then continue the course. Thanks folks. I would also like to thank the crew that organizes and sets up the event year after year; Shawne, Damain, Michael, Elaine (‘Master Tracker’, Tom, the volunteers at the Check Points, and the many clubs (Yk Skidoo Club, Amateur Radio Society), and all companies that provide products, services and people to make the Frostbite 45 a safe and successful event.

 

Selected photos of frosted and frostbitten faces on participants can be seen on my Flickr page

 

19th Annual Snowking Winter Festival (2014)

There is only one Snowking, see here wearing his trademark yellow jacket. As usual, Snowking was willing to pose for the camera, and simply walked into to the picture. Five pictures were combined to make this mosaic.

A view of the inside of the Snowking’s Castle, during the 19th annual Snowking Winter Festival. Click on the image for a larger view.
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To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

The Royal Courtyard. Click on the image for a larger view.SCH_4463 Panorama-2

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

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The view from the top of the Castle, and the “Deadman’s slide”. Click on the image for a larger view.

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

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The Ballroom, or call it what you want. This is where the bands play!!. Click on the image for a larger view.

 

To view the 360 degree animation. Click Here. This requires the QuickTime Player. Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Depending on network speed, the image may take a moment to load.

 

To view photos and 360 degree animations of the 2013 Snowking Winter Festival – Click Here.

For more info on the Snowking Winter Festival, Click Here

Camera gear: Nikon D700 and a Peleng 8mm lens on a custom monopole. Five pictures were combined to create the panorama image on this page.

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