Some building materials are shiny, but not in a good way. Whether it is light bouncing off flooring and thus obscuring beautiful wood grain, window reflections that keep me from looking into the heart of a building, or an excess of metallic surfaces that look chaotic with bounced light, sometimes I want the option of turning reflections off. That’s where polarizing filters enter the stage.
Call me fussy, but poor ergonomics drive me mad. During a long work day I want my equipment to be easy to handle. One piece of kit that I have not been a fan of are the tiny shifts knobs on my Canon 24mm and 50mm TS-E lenses. Canon seems to be well aware of the issue and includes a knob extension with their lenses. The original extension makes the knob a tiny bit bigger, but does not quite go far enough. When handling the knobs in hot (sweaty) or cold (gloves) conditions, they are not exactly easy to operate.
Congratulations to all my clients who have been nominated for various architectural and design awards around the planet. The passion invested in their work is obvious, and I’m happy that I was allowed to play a small role in capturing it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!
As the backcountry adventures are getting fewer and farther between, I find myself harder pressed for solitary destinations. One easily reachable area that I’d had my eyes on for a few years is only a short detour away from a popular tramping track. And so, on an unseasonally hot November day, we dipped into vat of sunscreen and set off from the northern end of Cass-Lagoon track.
Note: This article was updated with long-term impressions in 2021. See the end of the article for details on corner performance, wear and tear, and other commonly asked questions.
Fujifilm announced their first X-System camera, the X-PRO1, way back in 2012. Initially suffering from a lack of lens options, the system has since grown to include over two dozen lenses, with many more added every year. Third party lens offerings are equally increasing in numbers.
Flight 476 reaches its apex at 43,000 feet. It is not clear if chance or the flight planner’s sense of humour is to blame for a quirk in our schedule. We departed Christchurch on a Tuesday evening, crossed the international date line into Monday just before midnight, only to arrive back in Christchurch on Wednesday morning.
SOFIA hurtles towards the Antarctic circle at 15 kilometres per minute when excited crew members break the solemn silence. Noses are pressed against windows as we approach a mighty band of Aurora Australis stretching from one horizon to the other. When we enter the thin, grey band of luminescence, it resolves into a wavering curtain of bright green light seemingly hanging down from space. Veteran test pilots of many decades are just as awed as the rest of SOFIA’s crew. The joy that I see might well be what inspired their careers in science in the first place.
Into the Stratosphere
The Earth’s atmosphere is an ocean of water vapour. To the frustration of astronomers, this moisture in our atmosphere impedes observations of stellar objects in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Launching telescopes into space is one way to ensure clear views, but it comes at a price. For instance, the 1980s instrumentation aboard the Hubble space telescope cannot easily be updated because it flies around the Earth at 8 kilometres per second. Another example is the Spitzer and WISE telescopes suffering a limited lifetime due to their small supply of cryogenic coolant.
Every year, the world’s largest flying telescope visits New Zealand for a few weeks. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy ‘SOFIA’ is a joint project by NASA and Germany’s space agency DLR. When observation conditions in the northern hemisphere become unfavourable every June and July, the SOFIA team relocates to the facilities of the US Antarctic Program in Christchurch.