Archive for the Travel Category

Entering the 4K universe: Adding the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2015 by William Hooks

Today I made the quantum jump to begin creating video content in 4K Ultra HD, using the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera.

Porque`?

Aside from allowing capture at 4 times the resolution of 1080p [called QFHD or quad-full HD], these are some of the advantages I hope to enjoy while exploring this approach to filmmaking:

Strikingly affordable for its capability- including very inexpensive SD cards at U3 designation

Adaptability of lens mount- can use PL=positive lock, Nikon, Canon, Leica, Zeiss, Sigma, Panasonic, Tokina, Rokinon optics….with excellent Metabones adapters available for Nikon and Canon (the 2 with which I have most past experience)

Very manageable file sizes with compressed 4K/ optional uncompressed 4K: no significant complication of basic postproduction workflow in Adobe Premiere Pro. In fact, it allows expansion of editing choice because of ‘zooming’ into shots to achieve true 1080p derivative shots when needed, after completing of shooting

Practical video capture for very long periods exceeding 29 min US limit (as multiple files), with appropriate media

2 included Cine picture profiles: Cine Like D (flat somewhat like LOG ) and CineLike V (vivid) for relatively painless color grading

Electronic viewfinder (excellent when it’s too bright to see the touch screen, for example) and tilting touch screen control of many functions, very user- friendly features

Small form factor with very light weight and bulk-great for POV, aerials (or just mix files from GoPro Hero 4 and later!), backcountry applications and covering events where mobility may pay substantial dividends- and less stress on monopod heads.

Native monitor features dedicated to video production such as zebras, focus peaking, Synchro Scan, Variable Framer Rate for fast motion and slow motion; timelapse can be created in-camera; stop-motion animation;STMPE timecode; 10-bit option for 4:2:2 HDMI output,luminance and master pedestal level control, advanced audio control and color bars.

Silent control of settings during capture

Fantastic slow motion at up to 96 FPS in Full HD

WiFi control

Option of adding a very capable interface unit beneath the camera, the YAGH, incorporating 2 XLR inputs and 3G-SDI connectors for output

Extraordinary battery life, capture all afternoon on one charge

Highly customizable function buttons

There’s more.. but I ‘m not even going to start on the ‘stills’ side.

So the next journey begins. I rented a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and Nikon F mount Metabones Speedbooster for the weekend.

Applewhite camp, CA

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2015 by William Hooks

Spent a full day and evening at Applewhite elevation 3300 ft, in the Lytle Creek region of southern CA. The Titanium Goat Ptarmigan biv sack was excellent underneath my HMG square tarp, in a 40 deg F Marmot Atom sleeping bag. Hardly even noticed the smoke from 10 campfires blazing around me… should have chosen site #2…..

 

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Managed to break a tubular tarp stake. I rarely use them unless car camping, prefer MSR Mini-Groundhogs/titanium skewers/MSR Carbon /Cores for backpacking.

Enjoyed getting some field video refinements finished.

Biofuel everywhere: field cooking with a handful of small twigs using the Solo Stove

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags , , on January 7, 2015 by William Hooks

DSCN1819 DSCN1820 DSCN1822   I passed a fire ring someone set up, east of Inspiration Point and decided to cook with dead wood in the shade of pines, at 7300 ft elevation in the local mountains west of Wrightwood.

I guess you could say that I found the right wood (heh), as the fire was very easy to start and maintain after processing some limbs with the GB Mini hatchet (12 oz). I really like the Solo Stove: simple, light, hot, efficient using very little wood, easy to dispense with coals and ash. I carry no fuel with me.

Some operating tips:

-Do not overload the stove with large pieces of wood. I recommend 3-5mm diameter twigs about 10 -12 cm in length and have somewhat larger-diameter wood available to sustain the fire, in the 6-10mm range.

-This stove is very hot to handle after use. I ‘ve had great success using Petzl Cordex leather belay/rappel gloves (which do dual use for climbing) in picking up the stove to empty the coals, as well as manipulating the Snowpeak 900ml pot which is normally used for cooking.  One useful feature is that the stove base remains cool due to the design, also preventing scorching of the underlying support surface.

-My aluminum MSR stove windscreen works beautifully with the Solo and Emberlit biomass stoves, reducing heat loss and improving boil times in more adverse conditions.

– I typically use either a firesteel, lighter or match to light whatever selected tinder is available, whether natural or synthetic. My preference when speed is more important is to use Coghlan prefab tinder, finding that about 1/2 of a unit is enough for most purposes.

I like the Exotac FireRod and Swedish Light My Fire Scout v2 /Fireknife firesteels in particular; integrated rod into the handle of the knife is very useful and light, and the knife’s spine is specifially designed to be used with ferro rods. The ergonomics are excellent with the Swedish models and the larger rod diameters, especially with the Exotac, are reassuring as I’ve fractured several smaller rods. To obtain the Exotacs as well as my GB Mini-hatchet, I contacted  Oso Grande Knife & Tool Co. Sport Chalet and REI carry various Light My Fire items.

My 2 wood-burning stoves for field use

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags , , , , on December 31, 2014 by William Hooks

DSCN1804DSCN1805DSCN1806Solo stove in useDSCN1722 DSCN1794 DSCN1795 DSCN1798 DSCN1801 Solo wood stove in carry bag

These 2 wood stoves feature completely different design concepts, but share some commonalities: first, they allow more controlled  wood burning than open fires especially regarding the avoidance of stray embers and sparks; second, they’re hotter and reduce boil times in the right conditions; third, they increase burning efficiency with less fuel needed and less smoke produced. And after all: I’m a lifelong non-smoker…..and I ‘m a Californian where special attention must be paid to fire safety.

So no fuel needs to be carried; can’t run out of fuel (in the proper terrain); both store very compactly. The Emberlit is 5.4 oz and packs completely flat, the Sol is 9 oz and it fits into my cook pot needing no assembly.

Revised and updated my 3 1/2 season backpacking list today

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2014 by William Hooks

I’ve added the super ultralight (SUL) Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit pack at 12.7 oz, with correspondingly light MSR Carbon Core /titanium skewer stakes for shelters.

My current pack for an overnight trip including water, food, and an alcohol stove system weighs about 10 pounds, so I wear my Nikon camera under one shoulder strap- pull out 2 trekking poles- and go. This setup will allow me to stay out to conditions of about 25 degrees F.

Burning wood for backcountry stove- initial preparations

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2014 by William Hooks

I’ve chosen the 17.5 oz M Tech Survivor hatchet and the Utah-made, Emberlit Ultralight titanium stove to begin burning wood for fuel in selected, legal areas. No plans to use these to any extent in southern CA where fire risk is usually so high, unless restricted to particular situations where I feel very confident that risk can be managed.

These are paired with a True Temper axe sharpener and Petzl leather belay/rappel gloves, encouraging safety using the hatchet and avoiding burns while handling stoves and cookware.

Why do it at all?

First- it’s a skill I find to be fundamental (as in emergencies) and valuable.

Second- free, virtually unlimited, ‘green’ fuel especially for longer trips.

Third- fun.

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MTech Survival hatchet_Emberlit UL Ti stove_Esbit tinder

Newest images from 8000 ft with HMG flat tarp

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Reviews, Travel with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2014 by William Hooks

A significant storm is predicted to head this way tomorrow evening. If we had 2,356 more storms like this we ‘d be caught up for water…..

Here are some shots I did with the Hyperlight Mountain Gear square tarp this afternoon above Wrightwood, CA:DSCN1666

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Had some hot food in low 40 deg F temps and explored the area before returning to ‘civilization’. Saw no ostensible Republicans.