Saturday, 19 July 2014

This is why I cant have nice things...

Some of you may have seen the video I made the other week of the engine change in the MPH. During filming for this I had a whoopsie and dropped my camera, my valuable Nikon D800E (both in monetary value and scarcity (I cant run down to the local Stallard's and replace it)), with my extravagant 14-24mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens. From the top of a 7ft high cabinet. Onto a ceramic tile floor.

Warped baseplate

My first thought was "there goes a few $$'s" quickly followed by "what will I do for the rest of the winter without a camera!"

Bit of a 'hump' in the lens ring (down the bottom)

I picked up the 2kgs of magnesium, glass and unrepairable circuitry from its final resting place and was surprised at the initial lack of damage. The battery door had broken off, along with the internal battery clip. I put the battery back in and surprisingly it turned on straight away. I tried a few test shots and found it to be business as usual. Dodged a rocket there.

Broken battery clip (The door reattached fine)

This experience has had me contemplating carrying around a camera that is quite expensive on a regular basis. Some may think the risk of damage is too high. Through all this mulling over, I have come to the conclusion that spending a small fortune on camera gear and damaging it while using is far less of a waste than having the same gear sitting in your room and collecting dust because of the fear of breaking it. Or maybe I am just justifying my purchase??

Still good as new!


Just to prove the camera still works, we headed out on a Jolly last Friday night to Watts hut to explore the freshwater lakes in the area. Myself and Adam had a few ideas for some experimental photography which involved drilling holes in the glass-like ice and sliding in powerful lights to light up the frozen lakes from the inside out. Although the darkness of the night was reduced by a moon doing sun impersonations I think it turned out ok...

"Everybody look at da moon"

We had a LED aircraft landing light. It was actually classified as a Class 2 UV product so we couldn't look directly at the light itself and it seemed the cameras struggled too.

Even though it was incredibly bright, the red colour didn't penetrate the ice very well.

Then we tried a 24v rotating machinery beacon. Although due to the exposure the light looks solid, it was actually spinning around which was creating quite a 'trippy' effect. If there was going to be anyway of signalling aliens, this would be it...

But most successful was Adams 'lightsaber'. Simply 12v LED strips attached to a length of conduit. The clear, white light penetrated the ice amazingly and really bought out the blue of the fresh water!

The team.

Needless to say, we have got some even bigger ideas planned for next time! Stay tuned...

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Here comes the sun..

So it has been some time since my last blog and I think I know why...

Its not like there has been nothing to write about and things are far from stagnating here but motivation seems to be occasionally lacking for particular jobs and I can only put it down to one thing, the Sun!

As Davis is so far south we actually have one month, one week and one day (38 days) where the sun fails to clear the horizon. Although we still get a 'twilight' in the middle of the day with incredible 360 deg coloured skies, I haven't seen the sun itself since the 2nd of July at 1406hrs.

Rob, Myself and Adam having a beer and patiently waiting for the sun 

Lately our twilight has been increasing as the supposed magical moment of the suns return on the 10th June at 1342hrs approaches (yes, its past that date but it has been cloudy and we still haven't seen that glowing orb) but the attitude on station has become 'chirpier' for lack of a better word. Things never got terrible during the darkness here, which can happen some years but you could sense a distinct lack of energy in the group. This got me thinking, we do take Vitamin D supplements to try to negate the effects of living in darkness and artificial light but maybe we as humans are in some respect partially solar powered and that could be why we as a species have never properly settled in areas which go for days without seeing the sun? To the outsider looking in your first thought could be its due to the extreme temperatures (we are hovering around -30c at the moment) but you can protect yourself from the cold. We have comfortable accommodation and workshops, our clothing is fantastically suited to this environment but nothing we have can combat living in 24hr darkness. I find it isn't the cold, lack of vegetation or winds that are unnatural about being here, it is the time living without a sun.

Nope! No sun today, maybe tomorrow!...

Midwinter is a big celebration for people on the Antarctic continent, sub-Antarctic islands and some ex-expeditioners back in the 'real world' and is an important time to do crazy things and embrace the lightlessness. This year, we have done such things as building an outdoor heated water vessel (outdoor spas are against AAD policy)

Our heated water vessel (NOT a Spa!)

We cut a hole in the sea ice out the front of station and went swimming in -2c water (I didn't swim this year as I was being stubborn by not agreeing with all the extra rules and politics surrounding the swim at the moment)

Mmmm! Looks inviting!

Sarah testing the water

The Swim Team!

Some of us shaved our heads and wore dresses (as you do) and we ate to excess (Crayfish toasted sandwiches for breakfast anyone?)

Would you receive a Midwinters gift off these two lovely lasses?

On the work front, we recently had one of our powerhouse engines start haemorrhaging oil from numerous orifices and since it was knocking on the door of its '40,000 Hour' swap out, we decided to do it early and get a nice rebuilt engine in there to take its place. This is a big job at the best of times and in the middle of winter comes with even more challenges. I decided to try filming some video and time-lapse of the job and have uploaded it for everyone. I wanted to practice some video stuff with my camera so I done an intro of me walking up to the powerhouse, it gives everyone back home an idea of a typical 'commute' between the buildings here. Hope you enjoy!