Friday, 29 June 2012

Midwinter celebrations

Last week was the winter solstice here in the Southern hemisphere. The shortest day of the year, and the start of our journey back to the summer. For bases inside the Antarctic circle this is of even more importance, as they have now been without any sunlight for some time, so the return of the sun is even more magical.

The Science Bar - midwinter pub crawl Various events were planned for mid winter week. Films (The Thing is traditional viewing every midwinter), a Beer'/Bowling (Wii)/Buffet at Carse house hosted by Jo one of the government officers, Games, story telling, winter olympics, a pub crawl (photo right of everyone in the science bar), and the big midwinter day celebrations.

It is tradition that at midwinter the Base Commander makes breakfast for the rest of the base. This started several days earlier with the creation of croissants and various other treats. We could have these delivered to our bedroom door, or appear in the dining room where a full cooked breakfast awaited, or  if you wanted, Eggs Benedict, this I had, and it was delicious. Late morning is time for the midwinter swim, well, more of a run into the water and run back out again squawking from the cold. I, along with a few others opted for a sauna before the swim, and everyone opted to have one afterwards. Once everyone had suitably recovered the next event on the agenda was mid winter presents.

Nibbles in the loungeFor a few months we have all been working on ideas, designs and plans for a mid winter present (MWP). Each of us drew a name from a hat, and had to make that person a MWP, and it all had to be kept mostly secret and a surprise. It was an exciting moment to be able to reveal our creations and give them away, and to accept the gifts we had been made. To go with the even were lots of tasty bites of food, smoked salmon, foie gras, and very good sweet wine.

My MWP creationThe present I made for Jo the GO

The MWP I received  The present I was given by Erny the mechanic

All the mid winter presentsAll of the midwinter presents

Mid winter dinner After MWP’s it was an afternoon of food preparation and cooking. Our mid winter feast had Guinea Fowl for starter (courtesy of the stranded cruise ship Plancius earlier in the year), Reindeer, roast vegetables and other delightful trimmings for main course. After this feast it was time to head to the comms room for the BBC World Service mid winter broadcast on the HF radio set (below). Reception was a bit temperamental, but one thing that came through loud and clear wasComms room broadcast the giggle of my young niece, Mair, and that felt very special.

After the broadcast it was back to the dining room for desert. Home made ice creams, lemon tart, and brandy snaps for desert, followed by a cheese board (sent from the Falklands by our old mechanic) and port.

After dinner it was time to head into the bar and relax the evening away. Until the suggestion of playing a game of Celebrity Salad Bowl appeared! Describing a celebrity or well known person with a few words is all well and good, but when it gets to using just one word, or by action alone things start to get amusing and frustrating in equal proportions! A great game was had by all, and it was soon time for me to do my late rounds, checking the base was all switched off, closed up, bins emptied and kitchen tidy for the night.

All the puddings togetherTwo different ice creams, lemon tart and a brandy snap

Erny and his comicErny with his new reading material

Monday, 18 June 2012

Maiviken in super duper HD

While I was over in Maiviken trying to collect scats for Fur Seal diet work I took some photos to merge into a gigapan. This is the result of 104 photos taken at 70mm and then stitched together to make a picture that’s 480 mega pixels! Unfortunately Photoshop can only cope with jpeg files up to 30,000 pixels wide or high, so I had to downsize to 260MP. This did however make it more practical to upload.

Off to Grytviken for a ski this morning, might take a couple of 360’s while I’m out.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Second GigaPan

Here is the second GigaPan I have been working on. It takes quite a bit of time to go through and make sure that I haven’t got any penguins with missing heads/wings/feet where the photos have been merged together.

Thursday, 7 June 2012


Here is the first of my attempts to upload a panorama to the GigaPan website. It doesn’t take long to upload thankfully, especially as a jpeg file, and I hope the result is pretty good.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Handiwork part 2

As I have been doing more and more panoramas I thought a panoramic tripod head would be quite useful to make the stitching process a bit easier, and more accurate. Panoramic tripod heads are available to buy, but they are pretty expensive (several hundred pounds), and it would take ages to deliver here anyway. So I thought I’d have a go at making one.


I wondered about wood or aluminium, and thought that wood would be nicer, and the base mechanic said we didn’t have any aluminium. I later found some suitable aluminium, but prefer working in wood anyway.


American Ash, cut to size and planed for the appropriate pieces. I used the lens table of focal points, available online to work out the dimensions of where my camera would need to be mounted, I have a Nikon D300 and mostly use a Sigma 10-20mm lens set at 10mm for panoramas.


I used the aluminium quick release plate that I messed up in my last blog post, re-drilled it and attached it to the base piece. Having carefully cut the wood with a mitre saw I glued the base and side together using a 90 degree clamp to ensure accuracy. I reinforced the join with a piece of ash that I had shaped into a triangular fillet (which you can see in the next photo). I also drilled holes and put two screws in for good measure.


The swinging arm was attached to the upright using a nyloc nut, which I carved a recess for, so as it didn’t protrude. Rather than having to remove the quick release plate on the camera every time I made use of 2 threaded holes in it, I marked and drilled holes in the swinging arm and have 5/16 bolts in which I cut a slot into the head. These had to be accurately placed to allow 104.4mm between the swing arm pivot and the camera tripod mount. I had wanted to recess the swinging arm to accommodate the extra thickness of the quick release plate, as I hadn’t thought of doing it this way initially. Unfortunately I routered the wrong side. I chamfered the end of this mistake though, so it doesn’t look too accidental! And there was enough leeway in the base plate to not matter.


20120531-P1020210 Camera mounted and centred

Now to go and see if it works, and I can also get on with making my mid winter present!