This week at Macquarie Island: 26 October 2018

Photographic hints, a birthday celebration and a light-hearted look at our SPOT locators

More Macca photographic hints

To continue the photography theme (Macca Icy News, 12 October), I thought I’d talk about gear for taking photos down Island. Between the photography enthusiasts here, we probably have enough gear to buy a small car, if not put a deposit on a house if we added up how much we’ve spent. However, it's a bit much to carry it all around in a pack for 30 km to Hurd Point. It may not make it back.

I’m a pretty lazy hiker so I’ve an Olympus mirrorless four thirds camera that gives me the features of a DSLR without the weight. I find it’s a good compromise, and I’m not carrying a 1.9 kg 600m telephoto lens without the aid of a car, quad bike, or Sherpa.

I have a wide angle 12-40 mm and a 100-300 mm zoom lens that I take as my standard gear in their neoprene cases. I then add a 7.5 mm fisheye, 8-18 mm, or a 60 mm macro. The wide angle is a fast f 2.8 lens, which is handy for night photography and auroras. The zoom range on each lens allows for some flexibility, as trying to change lenses all the time in Macca’s variable weather can be risky. Too often, there is rain, fog, sea spray or blowing sand!

Speaking of the weather, my camera gear is environmentally (weather) sealed, a definite Macca must. A spare battery, small gorilla tripod, SD cards, dry bag, a lens cleaning cloth, and my kit is complete. It weighs in at 2.5 kg. 

If this is too heavy, there is always the option of the handy waterproof tough camera. At under 500g it won’t break your back, or the bank, and as our SAR Lord says, a photo on any camera is always better than the picture you get with no camera…(although I have seen some amazing sketch artists…) 

Another popular option is the smartphone, which I usually have in my pocket around station (in a waterproof case), but I’m also a clumsy hiker so it stays safely on my desk while I’m out in the field.

Vicki Heinrich
Senior Met Observer

A panorama view of the island taken from the middle of the isthmus - looking left to right - south to north
Macca panorama from the middle of the isthmus
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Pluerophyllum hookeri awakening after the winter - taken with a macro lens
Pluerophyllum hookeri awakening after the winter
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Polystichum vestitum (shield fern) - taken with a macro lens
Polystichum vestitum (shield fern) on the Sandy Bay track
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Brothers Point hut looking out to the east - taken using a fisheye lens
Brothers Point hut looking out to the east
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
The digesters at the Nuggets taken with a fisheye lens
The digesters at the Nuggets taken with a fisheye lens
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Lush green rimmed lagoons at Hurd Point
Lush green rimmed lagoons at Hurd Point
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Selkirk Creek on the Overland Track with Chris Burns
Selkirk Creek on the Overland Track
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Chris Burns taking a photo in the field using a camera with large lens on a tripod
Chris with his 1.9 kg lens
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
A close-up photo of king penguins at Sandy Bay
Zoomed in on king penguins at Sandy Bay
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Male and female elephant seal at Green Gorge
Male and female elephant seal at Green Gorge
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
The waves rolling in at Green Gorge
The waves rolling in at Green Gorge
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Looking towards Mt Elder from Rookery Creek
Looking towards Mt Elder from Rookery Creek
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
Young male elephant seals spar on the beach near the Nuggets along the east coast of Macca
Young male elephant seals spar on the beach near the Nuggets
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
A night shot of Bauer Bay with the hut in the foreground and star trails above
A night shot taken at Bauer Bay
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)

Meet SPOT

When you need help, or just need to let your family and friends know your location and that you're OK, let SPOT do it for you. SPOT is a personal tracking and communication device that uses a satellite network to let you send messages, and is able to be tracked using web-based software. With the touch of a button, you can give the all-clear or raise the alarm.

It makes a good tool for our Station Leader on a slow day to have a look at where everyone is on the island and what they're up to, with comments like “I saw that you have just passed Four Ways” or “You were late getting in this evening”. SPOT just loves to travel. You can never get lonely here on Macquarie Island as SPOT is always looking after you. Big Brother is always watching!

A SPOT device fixed to the outside of a pack - it is an essential part of any field kit at Macca
SPOT out for a walk on a misty Macca day
(Photo: Chris Burns)
To go to any of the huts requires several hours walking on Macca - this image shows the distance traveled to get to Waterfall Bay from station
Just a short stroll today!
(Photo: Chris Burns)
A table full of maps and field equipment at Hurd Point hut
Planning the day out
(Photo: Chris Burns)
Before leaving station or huts the SPOT devices need to be turned on and placed outside in order to make contact with the GPS satellite
SPOT with his mate catching some rays
(Photo: Chris Burns)

Angus celebrates

This week we also helped Angus celebrate his birthday.

After spending several days walking around the island, he returned to station with an appetite, but still shared his massive exotic fruit-topped birthday pav with the rest of us.

Angus is usually the one singing Happy Birthday to everybody else - it was only fitting that he played and sang at his own party! 

Fellow expeditioners help Angus to celebrate his birthday
Happy birthday to me!
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)
A pavlova covered in fruit for Angus' birthday celebration
Delicious birthday treat
(Photo: Vicki Heinrich)