Aug 10

Teton Gravity Research: Deeper

No words… Just watch.

Aug 10

Canon Announces New Lenses

Canon announced a whole slew of new products earlier this week, among them a really, really sweet L-series fisheye and an update to the near-perfect 300mm f/2.8L telephoto.

The new EF 8–15mm f/4L USM fisheye lens is pretty revolutionary in that it’s a zoom fisheye.  Canon has never offered a lens like Nikon’s 10.5mm fisheye that gives 180 degree corner to corner coverage on a crop sensor.  I shoot two bodies these days, a Canon 7D for action, and a Canon 5D mkII for almost everything else.  The 7D uses an APS-C size sensor, which is smaller than the 5DmkII’s full-frame sensor.  With lenses designed originally for 35mm film (the size of a full-frame sensor), these APS-C cameras crop and effectively magnify the image by a factor of 1.6. So unless the lens is specifically designed for the smaller sensor, this makes your wide angle lenses less wide, and telephotos, well, more telephoto.  In the case of the ultra-wide, distorted fisheye, you end up with a minimal fisheye effect.  It’s just sort of a semi-distorted, kinda wide angle, uhhh, weird mess.  Not so any more.

Now, with the new zoom feature, everyone can use just one lens for fisheyed goodness regardless of what camera body they shoot.  I bought the 7D and 5DmkII combo specifically to avoid having to commit to the bulk  of the 1D series bodies.  The 7D, for outdoor action photography, is arguably as good as the mkIV, and combined with the f/4L lenses, much, much lighter in a pack full of backcountry ski gear.  For everything else, including action shoots with off-camera lighting, the 5D mkII is just stunning and I don’t think there’s any competition until you start talking Leica or digital medium format.  I’ve resisted buying the Canon fisheye, but now I’ll have to reconsider.  It’s a specific look that should NOT be overused, but it has its usefulness and can create some really fun results.

I also mentioned the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM earlier – it’s a mid-range tele prime that’s insanely sharp, and it manages to stay sharp wide open at f/2.8 AND at the corners, with really no vignetting.  It’s a thing of beauty, and the new one is lighter, has new coatings, new image stabilization and focusing functions, and should be even better than the previous version, if that’s really even possible.  It also plays very nicely with the 1.4x and 2x tele extenders for brightly-lit ski and wildlife photography, giving you a ridiculous range of options:

-300mm with 5D mkII
-420mm with 5D mkII + 1.4x
-480mm with 7D + 300mm
-600mm with 5D mkII + 2x
-672mm with 7D + 300mm + 1.4x
-960mm with 7D + 300mm + 2x

The extenders scrub some speed and sharpness, but lo and behold, Canon has also announced updated EF 1.4x III and EF 2x III Extenders too. So now for a cool $7000+, a paltry sum compared with the really big Canon tele lenses, you too can get razor-sharp shots of the nose hairs of that mountain lion as it’s bounding in your general direction.  AND you can shoot it hand-held without a massive tripod and dedicated tripod head so you can run like hell afterward.  Thank you Canon, it’s all about survival out there…!

Aug 10

Meathead Films: Work It Out

Here’s Meathead’s 2010 offering, Work It Out. Oh, how I wish I got on a plane to shoot this past season’s all-time dump of the century in DC… I bet we’ll see some ridiculous shots in this year’s photo annuals from that storm, at least I’m hoping so. DC – Jersey – Maryland – VA – VT – Neuvo Hampshire – French Canadia – and Japan too? Awesome.

“Work It Out” Official 2010 Movie Trailer – Meathead Films from Meathead Films on Vimeo.

Aug 10


Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains.
You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their
fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and
muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of
the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back.
Not to be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were
older than man and they hummed of mystery.

-Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Aug 10

A River Runs Through It

My brother stood before us, not on a bank of the Big Blackfoot River
but suspended above the Earth, free from all its law, like a work of art
and I knew just as surely, and just as clearly, that life is not a work of art
and the moment could not last.

Aug 10

Field Productions: Side by Side

Another ski movie trailer, this time Field Productions’ Side by Side. This one looks really tasty, they’re shooting in HD with a RED One and some other sweet cameras, and it also features an uber-stacked cast of athletes.  Field always has really, really impressive follow cams, and now that everyone’s double cork 14ing off of everything in sight, well, my face just might melt right off.  More fun stuff at the Field Productions blog.

SIDE BY SIDE – FIELD PRODUCTIONS from Field Productions on Vimeo.

Aug 10

This is America: Teton County Fair

I’ve decided to start an ongoing series of single photo posts of scenes of everyday life in the United States. I’m not planning on much interpretation and I don’t intend for the photos to carry any sort of social/political commentary, irony, or message of any kind.  They’re just what’s out there.  So here’s the first shot, from the opening ceremony of the Figure 8 races at this year’s Teton County Fair:

Aug 10

4Bi9 Media: Gunnie Season

The new movie trailers keep rolling out, here’s 4Bi9’s Gunnie Season.  Huge leaps in quality for this season’s movie, if the trailer is any indication – looks like some 7D or 5D mkII footage in there?  Lots of smooth pans, nice color and low depth of field.   4Bi9 steps it up a notch every year and their roster and talent pool here is just ridiculous.  I’d say look out for these guys in the future, but I was saying that 6 years ago, back in the Okemo days. And if you don’t know, now you know. Preorder from the 4Bi9 website.

4BI9 Media – Gunnie Season from 4BI9 Media on Vimeo.

Song is Odessa, by Caribou.

Caribou – “Odessa”

Aug 10

Grand Teton: Upper Exum Ridge

With some free time on my hands, I came back to Jackson after the Grand Canyon on something of a spontaneous whim, with one plan in mind – to climb Grand Teton.  It would’ve happened last summer, if not for my busted shoulder, but that injury kept me from climbing (and living) regularly until this spring.

The Grand is a mountaineering icon – though the summit at 13,770′ isn’t particularly high in the world of tall mountains, the peak’s complex, convoluted structure and huge variety of routes make it quite an adventure.  Oh, and it’s kind of visible from the valley.  As with many big mountains, the stories and personalities of the those who pioneered the routes to and from the top are equally compelling – Glenn Exum leaping across the abyss at the top of Wall Street (in football cleats) to the ridge that now bears his name, Bill Briggs’ 1971 ski descent that marked an important moment in the birth of ski mountaineering outside of Europe…

My limited window for the climb meant that we’d have to do it in a single day – about 14-15 miles round trip, and over 7,000 vertical feet, straight up, from the valley floor to the summit.  A good friend, former co-worker, Exum guide, and crazy man Zahan Billimoria agreed to take me up if he had a spare day when he wasn’t guiding, so when he called me on Sunday night, telling me to get my gear together, I was pretty excited (understatement).  We left the Lupine Meadows trail head (6,740 ft.) at about 4:30 am, climbing the trail in the dark until sunrise in Garnet Canyon (9,100 ft.) lit the high peaks with incredible, fiery morning light.  Garnet Meadows is stunning spot, with Garnet Creek raging down the canyon through massive boulder fields, Middle Teton forebodingly looming overhead, 3,700 feet above, and the summit of the Grand another thousand feet above that – towering so much higher that your perspective blocks the summit from view behind the lower ridges and pinnacles.  We reached the Lower Saddle (11,600 ft.) between the Middle and Grand around 8 am, refueling and gearing up for the climb.  After that, it was straight up a climber’s trail towards the Upper Saddle, every step gaining ground on the summit.  We made a right turn and scrambled up Wall Street, the end of which is home to the famous, aformentioned move over several thousand feet of exposure, where the only rule is that you must look down, to gain the boulder ledge at the beginning of the Upper Exum Ridge.  In-cre-di-ble.  From there, the climbing was fun and grippy with unbelievable views, up pitches known as the Golden Stair, Wind Tunnel, Friction Pitch, and V pitch.  Z put me through a harder little bouldering move near the summit that I thought was going to be the end of me, but I made it though just fine and it was an easy scramble up a knife-edged arete to the summit at 13,770 ft. from there.  We left the summit around noon, downclimbed a bit to the rappel station, made the 120 ft. free-hanging rappel to the Upper Saddle, and on down, down, down back to the Lower Saddle by about 2:15 pm.

We rested and lounged in the sun at the Lower Saddle for a bit, and then made the long descent back to Lupine Meadows.  At 5:30 pm, thirteen hours, many miles and thousands of feet after we started, I was in the car driving back home.  I couldn’t help but look back up at where we’d been, with a deep sense of satisfaction and something of a new perspective.  The day was an epic of epics, an adventure of a lifetime, a milestone surpassed, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Here are some shots (all from my Canon G9 point and shoot), and below, a quote from Everest luminary George Mallory about his own adventures in the mountains:

‘The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, “What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?” and my answer must at once be, “It is no use.” There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever… We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.’

George Leigh Mallory, 1922

Aug 10

Poor Boyz Productions : Revolver

Poor Boyz just posted the trailer for their new movie Revolver.  As usual, looks pretty ridiculous, but will it be as good as Every Day is a Saturday?

Revolver (Official Trailer) from Poor Boyz Productions on Vimeo.