It's that time of year; snow has started to melt, signs of greenery are sprouting through the ground cover and sounds of hibernating animals fills the air. Nature is coming back alive in all its' vibrant glory. I consider myself lucky to have a career where I get to experience this magical time first hand. Whether it's when I'm shooting landscapes and waterfalls, or as recent, shooting environmental portraits of a company.
Yesterday I spent the better part of my morning and early afternoon hiking into a perfect nature retreat with fifteen staff from a division of Environment Canada. The goal; create natural and environmental photographs for internal and official use. The location picked wasn't an easy hike, considering I had fifteen staff in-tow, 35 pounds of camera gear and my "assistant" wasn't able to carry anything. Initially I met them at their office where we piled into the vehicles and made the 1-1/2 hour drive to the trailhead, arriving at 9:30AM. I gathered my equipment from my vehicle and we grouped up as we headed down the backpacking trail to our destination 7.5 km from the start, which took us just less than two hours. My "assistant", as he was affectionately named, was my dog Orion. Even though he had his own backpack, it was only filled with a 5-days supply of kibble, which was there to help him get ready for the summer season when he'll be carrying his own food supply on interior camping trips. Although he wasn't helpful in carrying any equipment, setting up or any specific photographic responsibilities, he did keep the staff entertained with tricks and his overly needly personality. That alone made him a great addition to the day. To his advantage, that backpack got increasingly lighter as they gave him kibble.
Thankfully everything went smoothly and fast as the satellite weather imagery on my phone indicated the storm expected in the evening was coming upon us faster. Some quick packing of my Lowepro Rover Pro 45L and we were back on our way to the vehicles, arriving just in time, as the mixed rain/snow started to really come down. The overall route in and back was 13.5km and 6,470ft of elevation change over varied off-camber, rocky terrain. Challenging yes, but good training to get me prepared for my upcoming solo paddle/portage through Algonquin; a new contract and part of a new photographic series.
Unfortunately due to contract agreements I'm unable to share the environmental portraits online, although I'm able to share some behind the scenes photos. These images were all taken with my favourite camera setup; Nikon Df and Nikkor AF-S 70-200 F4 VR. Considering these images are only behind the scenes, I thought it might be the best time to test my new in-field editing setup. I had picked up a Sony Xperia Tablet Z a couple months ago to serve as a large viewing monitor in the field and in the process found a great application in the Google Play Store called Photo Mate R2. It lets me properly process my Nikon raw files with surprising speed and quality. All the images in this post, except the Magellan GPS screenshot, we're process on the Android tablet with Photo Mate R2 during a 45 minute lunch break; including 100 raw images backed-up, behind the scenes image selection and editing of selected images. Besides a few bugs I found in the app, overall it works great. The author is always updating the app, so expect future camera compatibility and fast bug fixes. You'll notice that I carry a Evernote version of the Moleskine journal. This is a recent addition to my pack, although I've always carried some form of notepad/journal. Being a power user of the Evernote service, using these journals is a no-brainer. I'm now able to make easy notes while in the field then use the included smart stickers to help tag notes when I digitally import via my smartphone camera; I'll write a formal blog post on my field use of Evernote later this year.
The day had gone as planned and actually better then expected. All the portraits were completed, we had all got some great exercise, I was able to officially test my new setup, we avoided the bad weather and my overly hyper Jack Russell fell asleep once he was back in the car.