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A few people have asked what I use to take the weekly pictures and how do I process them for the Ice Report every week... The equipment and software has changed a bit over the years as technology has improved. However lately I find myself sticking with pretty much the same basic gear since it seems that every few months there is new stuff and I simply can't keep up with the bleeding edge any more.
When I started taking shots for the site all I had was a Fuji 3 megapixel clamshell-type camera that my wife and I bought right after our son was born in 2000. It cost over $400 and used the SmartMedia card format, one which isn't used much any more. I took that camera to the Canadian Rockies a number of times and took some great shots with it. When I go back through some of those shots it makes me realize that sometimes you don't have to have super-mega-pixels to get a great shot. You just need to be in the right place at the right time, and have a clue. Here are 2 examples:
On Xmas of 2003 or there 'bouts Canon came out with the first real semi-pro digital XLR, the Digital Rebel. It wasn't too expensive, had 6 megapixels and I figured that it would be a good choice to take the conditions pictures and generally document what I was doing at the time. The lens that came with it was a fairly mediocre 18-55 so I was quickly in the market for a better one. Looking at what was out there, and the state of my wallet, I opted for a 28-135. This was a nice piece of glass and the cool thing was that it had Image Stabilization. That alone upped the quality of my shots as I wasn't into carrying a tripod everywhere I went.
Oh yeah, one other interesting thing. The size of the sensor on this kind of camera makes it such that the effective length of any lens was 1.6 TIMES the actual length. This made the 128 mm lens actually a 204 mm! That was pretty reasonable for a lens that I could actually walk around with. I took a lot of nice shots with that lens, still do, and was able to actually get close enough with it to get a nice feel, like this:
Around the time of that picture, which was taken at Ice Fest that year, I kept finding myself wanting to get in closer to my subjects. Again looking at the cost per dollar ratio pushed me into the Canon 75-300 telephoto, another lens with stabilization. That 1.6 factor gave me an effective zoom of 480, which was pretty nice. It's the perfect lens for the Conditions Report because the telephoto makes you feel as if you are up higher than you would imagine. All of the shots that I take these days are from the road, but you almost wouldn't realize it. This is a good example of how that looks:
Sometime late in 2005 I was taking shots with the Canon one day and the kiddo wanted to shoot too so I let him use the Fuji. Of course the inevitable happened and he dropped it on a concrete floor, causing the case to open and the lens to actually fall out! Oh well... I puttered along only using the Canon and a mediocre loaner point and shoot for a while but wasn't really very happy. When I decided to head to France this past summer I went started looking at the latest in small cameras. Again I ended up with a Canon, this time a SD700 IS. This was their new pocket camera that uses the same stabilization technology that was in the Rebel. I used it to take a lot of rock climbing shots in the spring and then rode with it for 2 weeks in the Pyrenees. It did a great job for me. While not in the same class as the Rebel, it is very very nice. Here's a few examples:
Of course I use some software to crop & do some editing on the pictures. Mostly I use Photoshop, as I feel it's the best image editing software available. Of course I use it in my business as well, so I have another reason for spending that $600+. I have used Photoshop Elements, which comes bundled with a lot of cameras, and you can get good results what that or Paint Shop Pro, or most any of the other editing programs that are out there if you spend the time with them to learn how they work. For the conditions pictures having the ability to automate the process with Actions in Photoshop is a huge timesaver and well worth the extra cost. I can resize 24 images, add copyright info and save the picture at the desired resolution to the appropriate folder in a single step. Sweet...
So that's pretty much the deal. I hope that answers the questions and gives you some insight into how the weekly pictures get from me to you.
Ice Festivals Everywhere:
It's that time of the year when it seems as if every weekend there is another Ice Fest. Last month we had the one in the Daks, we just finished the Millet Mixed Challenge, the Bash in Smugs is this weekend, a week later we have the 14th annual Mt. Washington Valley Ice Festival and the following weekend is Festiglace Du Quebec. You'd kind of think that all of these events would run out of participants, but apparently that's not the case. The Millet one was last week and there are 3 more over the next 3 weeks. Enjoy...
Millet Mixed Challenge Results:
New England climber Will Mayo is 5th.
1. Beno”t Dubois, 176.5 pts,
3. Hugo Poulin, 114 pts
4. Tony Thibault, 93.5 pts
5. Will Mayo, 91 pts
6. Olivier Ouellette, 85 pts
7. Simon Savard, 65.5 pts
8. Gino Bouchard, 62 pts
9. Martin Lesieur, 53 pts
Smuggs Ice Bash This Weekend:
Looking for something to do this weekend? Head on over to Smuggler's Notch for the Ice Bash. This is going to be THE place to be this weekend for you and all the other hard climbing fools! For more info check out the Events & Announcements section in the Forum at NEClimbs.com. And if you see Alden Pellett tell him Al sent 'cha.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 16, 2017
At this point almost everything is IN and in pretty decent shape and I'm raising the ICECon level to a 4. The thing now is simply getting around. With all this snow you might not want to be the person breaking trail. [wry grin] Tramping out to the more obscure spots will definitely require snowshoes and a heads of for avalanche danger.
14th Annual Mount Washington ICE FESTIVAL 2007, February 8-11:
It's almost time for the 14th annual weekend of climbing, clinics, courses, slideshows and socializing. Always eagerly anticipated by ice climbers in the eastern United States, it's considered one of the premier climbing events in the country. It is a celebration of ice climbing and winter mountaineering and the people that make it a part of their lives and continues to provide a great opportunity for those attending to network, socialize, try new gear and participate in technical clinics and private climbs. Featured visiting climbers and guides attending this year's event include Steve House, Barry Blanchard, Mark Wilford, Zoe Hart, Sean Isaac, Jack Tackle, Andy Selters and Jared Ogden. Don't miss it...
Festiglace Du Quebec - February 16, 2007:
The 10th annual Festiglace in Pont-Rouge is an amazing ice climbing festival that attracts over 7,000 visitors every year. There are competitions, demonstrations, workshops, food, parties and lots more - all in a great location.
Slideshow In Boston:
The American Alpine Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club present Mountaineering Historian Andy Selters - "Ways to the Sky"
Author, climber and photographer Andy Selters will present a multi-
media digital show on the history of climbing in North America. His 2004
book- "Ways to the Sky"- won top honors from the Banff Mountain Book
Festival and the National Outdoor Book Award. Selters' presentation
portrays the progression of mountaineering and its basis in our culture
using images of historical climbs from every decade and from peaks from
all over the continent.
Andy has been a climbing guide, author, and photographer for over
20 years. He has pioneered new routes in the Karakoram, the Himalaya,
and the Andes.
PS - I've read the book & this guy is an excellent writer. It's well worth checking him out.
Thursday, February 15th, 7:00pm
AMC Cabot Hall
3 Joy St., Boston, MA
Admission: $7.00 at the door
Book sale and signings
Local contact: WAtkinson@Compuserve.com
Mobile Version Of NEClimbs:
Up on one of the Mount Washington Valley's finest crags and want to know what that climb you're looking at is? Or maybe you're on your way up from Boston and want to check out the Ice Report for your upcoming weekend plans. Or more likely, you're at work just want to daydream about your next adventure. Well if you have a smart phone handy, you can get to NEClimbs from anywhere you have cell service. While it doesn't offer every single feature of the site and it's not an "app", in mobile form, it does do a whole lot and is very useful. Here is the live link to the mobile version of NEClimbs:
Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.
NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post some interesting pix every Thursday and the latest Ice Report in the season, tho certainly not the whole Report. Here's where you can check it out:
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
In 1961 I led this chimney in a state of metabolic uproar. At the base of the pitch I smoked several cigarettes (the first and last ones of my life). This was to calm me. Then I spooned half a jar of honey. This was to ensure superhuman strength. Mort Hempel, my partner, watched this silly ritual with mouth agape and eyes exploding with fear.