Photo Of The Day By Brittany Crossman

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sanctuary” by Brittany Crossman. Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Photo By Brittany Crossman

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sanctuary” by Brittany Crossman. Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

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Photo Of The Day By Kris Walkowski

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “The Guardian” by Kris Walkowski. Location: Upper Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona.
Photo By Kris Walkowski

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “The Guardian” by Kris Walkowski. Location: Upper Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona.

See more of Kris Walkowski’s photography at kriswalkowski.com.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Kris Walkowski appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

Fujifilm Introduces X-H1 Flagship

Fujifilm X-H1 with Vertical Power Booster Grip VPB-XH1
The Fujifilm X-H1 shown with the optional Vertical Power Booster Grip VPB-XH1, which boosts the mechanical shutter’s burst rate to 11 fps and doubles the battery life.

Fujifilm hails the new X-H1 as the highest performance camera in its popular X Series. The 24.3 megapixel APS-C mirrorless model is the first in the line to include in-body image stabilization, providing up to 5.5 stops of 5-axis correction with all Fujinon XF and XC lenses.

The X-H1 is capable of continuous capture at speeds up to 14 fps with its electronic shutter or 8 fps with its mechanical shutter. The latter can be increased to 11 fps when using the optional Vertical Power Booster Grip VPB-XH1, which also extends shooting time to about 900 still frames, or 30 minutes of 4K video recording (15 minutes without).

One of the standout features of the X-H1 is the upgraded AF system, which has been enhanced for low-light performance and is compatible with apertures as small as ƒ/11. This is great news for wildlife photographers, as it means you can use the Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR with the Fujinon 2x Teleconverter XF2X TC WR for a 35mm-equivalent range of 304-1218mm without sacrificing autofocus.

The X-H1 has a 3-inch touchscreen LCD that articulates for easy viewing. At the top of the camera is a second LCD which shows exposure information and can be set for black-on-white or white-on-black display.

The magnesium body is dust- and water-resistant and can operate in conditions as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The camera will retail for $1,899 (body only) or $2,199 (with VPB-XH1 grip) and will be available in March.

For additional details, see the full press release below.

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FUJIFILM UNVEILS THE NEW X-H1, THE HIGHEST PERFORMANCE CAMERA IN THE X SERIES LINEUP

Introducing in-body image stabilization, professional video capabilities, and a range of new features in a robust, durable camera body

Valhalla, N.Y., February 15, 2018 – As a leader in advanced digital camera technology and outstanding image quality, FUJIFILM North America Corporation is excited to announce the new FUJIFILM X-H1, featuring a 24.3 megapixel APS-C sized X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro image processing engine for outstanding image quality. The new X-H1 is the highest performance camera in the X Series line of mirrorless cameras, and the first to feature in-body image stabilization (IBIS), a new Flicker Reduction mode that allows for stable exposure under fluorescent and mercury lighting, DCI 4K and other impressive video capabilities.

“The new X-H1 is our first X Series model to feature in-body image stabilization, and we are very excited to introduce this camera to the market,” said Yuji Igarashi, General Manager of the Electronic Imaging Division & Optical Devices Division at FUJIFILM North America Corporation. “In addition to ensuring outstanding image quality, the X-H1 is fully equipped with an array of features and functionality specifically designed to enhance creative expression in a wide range of settings.”

The X-H1 boasts a newly designed, robust and durable body, and a range of features that support shooting in various situations by professional and experienced amateur photographers, and videographers. When used in combination with FUJINON lenses and Fujifilm’s signature color reproduction technology, the X-H1 produces outstanding image quality and video reproduction.

New 5.5 Stops In-Body Image Stabilization

The new X-H1 is the first X Series camera to feature in-body image stabilization, harnessing three axial accelerometers, three axial Gyro sensors, and a specially-developed dual-processor to achieve approximately 10,000 calculations per second. When combined with compensating mechanisms, the X-H1 produces uncompromised image quality and precision. 5-axis image stabilization is possible with all XF and XC lenses, with certain lenses capable of up to a maximum of 5.5 stops. In addition, a new spring mechanism has been added to reduce micro-vibrations caused by operation of the mechanical shutter. Photographers may also choose to use the electronic front curtain shutter or the electronic shutter, virtually eliminating the effect of vibrations to maximize the benefits of image stabilization.

Robust, Weather-Resistant Body Design and Easy Operability for a Wide Range of Shooting Environments

In addition to its dust and water-resistant properties and ability to operate in temperatures as low as 14°F \ -10°C, the X-H1 also features  25% thicker magnesium alloy than the X-T2. The camera also features a high quality, scratch-resistant coating and a compact, lightweight body that maintains high precision and strong resistance to impact shock torsion and other sources of deformation.

The new X-H1 features a high-magnification and high-precision electronic viewfinder with a magnification ratio of 0.75 times and 3.69 million dot resolution, leading the class for APS-C mirrorless cameras. The viewfinder display is extraordinarily smooth, with a display time lag of just 0.005 seconds and a frame rate of 100 frames per second, allowing the user to instantly confirm the movement of the subject and position the focus with great precision. The X-H1 also features a 3-direction tilt, 3-inch, 1.04 million dot electrostatic touch-panel LCD, which can be intuitively set to the desired angle. In addition, the 1.28 inch sub-LCD on the top of the camera, which emulates the design of the mirrorless medium format GFX 50S, allows for instant confirmation of shooting information.

The X-H1 incorporates additional improvements based on feedback from professional photographers, including a large grip design, leaf-spring switch for the shutter-release button, near-silent shutter sound, a new focus level, and a new AF-ON button and enlargements of buttons on the rear of the camera.

Comprehensive Range of Video Features Support Movie Production

The X-H1 is the first camera in the X Series to include ETERNA, a new film simulation mode that is ideal for shooting movies. This mode simulates cinematic film, creating understated colors and rich shadow tones, greatly enhancing creative freedom during post-processing. The X-H1 boasts many functional and performance improvements to video image quality, including the 1080/120P high-speed video mode (1/2, 1/4 and 1/5 speed slow motion) for recording spectacular slow-motion footage; F-log SD card recording which aids smooth workflow; a DCI 4K shooting mode (4096×2160); a 400% dynamic range setting (approximately 12 stops); 200 Mbps high bit rate recording; a high-sound quality internal microphone (24 bit/48 kHz); and verbal time codes.

First Flicker Reduction Mode and Improved Autofocus Algorithms

The X-H1 features a flicker reduction mode, allowing for stable exposure during burst shots even under fluorescent and mercury lighting. In addition, improvements to the autofocus (AF) algorithm have achieved a number of performance enhancements. Low-light limit for phase detection AF has been improved by approximately 1.5 stops—from 0.5EV to -1.0EV—raising the precision and speed of AF in low-light environments. The minimum aperture has been expanded from F8 to F11, and major improvements have been made to the AF-C performance while operating in zoom, making the X-H1 ideal for shooting rapidly moving subjects.

Vertical Power Booster Grip VPB-XH1

The Vertical Power Booster Grip (VPB-XH1) is a weather-resistant grip capable of operating at temperatures as low as 14°F/-10°C that fits two additional batteries to increase maximum number of shots to 900 (in normal mode) and increases the maximum period for shooting movies in 4K to about 30 minutes.

The Vertical Power Booster Grip features a shutter release button, focus lever, AE-L button, AF-ON button, command dial, Q button, and Fn button, providing the same ease of operation when using the camera in vertical or horizontal positions. The grip is equipped with a headphone socket to allow monitoring sound while recording, and includes recharging capability.

Wide Eyecup EC-XH W

The Wide Eyecup EC-XH W covers a broad area around the eye, greatly reducing light interference to enhance concentration during long shoots. The eyecup can be rotated in 90° increments, making it adaptable for either eye and for shooting either vertically or horizontally.

FUJIFILM X-H1 Key Features:

  • 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III Sensor with primary color filter and X-Processor Pro Processor
  • 5-axis 5.5 stops in-body image stabilization
  • High-precision 0.5 inch, approx. 3.69 million dots OLED Color Viewfinder
  • Weather-resistant design; ability to operate in temperatures as low as 14°F/-10°C
  • ISO Sensitivity
    • Standard output: AUTO1 / AUTO2 / AUTO3 (up to ISO12800) / ISO200~12800 (1/3 step)
    • Extended output: ISO100/125/160/25600/51200
  • LCD Monitor
    • 3.0 inch, aspect ratio 3:2, approx. 1.04 million dots touch screen color LCD monitor(approx. 100% coverage)
  • Continuous Shooting
    • 14.0 fps (with the Electronic Shutter), 8.0 fps (with the Mechanical Shutter)
    • 11.0 fps (with the Mechanical Shutter and when fitted with VPB-XH1)
  • Movie Recording (using a card with the UHS Speed Class 3 or higher)
    • [4K (4096×2160)] 24P / 23.98P up to approx. 15min.
    • [4K (3840×2160)] 29.97P / 25P / 24P / 23.98P up to approx. 15min.
    • [Full HD (1920×1080)] 59.94P / 50P / 29.97P / 25P / 24P / 23.98P up to approx. 20min.
    • [HD (1280×720)] 59.94P / 50P / 29.97P / 25P / 24P / 23.98P up to approx. 30min.
  • Bluetooth® Ver. 4.0 low energy technology
  • New ETERNA film simulation mode
    • Simulates cinematic film, understated colors and rich shadow tones
  • New Flicker Reduction Mode
    • Provides stable exposure during burst shots even under fluorescent and mercury lighting
  • Advanced filters and Film Simulations, including ACROS
  • Accessories included:
    • Li-ion battery NP-W126S
    • Battery charger BC-W126
    • Shoe-mount flash unit EF-X8
    • Shoulder strap, Body cap, Strap clip, Protective cover, Clip attaching tool, Hot shoe cover, Vertical Power Booster Grip connector cover, Sync terminal cover, Cable protector, Owner’s manual

Availability and Pricing

The X-H1 will be available on March 1, 2018 in the U.S. and Canada. The X-H1 Body will be available for USD $1,899.95 and CAD $2,449.99and the X-H1 Body with Vertical Power Booster Grip Kit will be available for USD $2,199.95 and CAD $2,799.99.

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Great Bear Rainforest

Grizzly bear in the Great Bear Rainforest
Grizzly bears are common inhabitants of the Great Bear Rainforest. At the time of year I was there, late June, their principal diet is sedge grass, which grows abundantly along the banks of the streams.

The skies were dramatically overcast. Rain, which had threatened for some time, had just begun to fall. The protected waters surrounding the islands of the rain forest on British Columbia’s west coast were calm; our small aluminum boat rocked gently as we made our way slowly about 50 yards out from the shoreline of one of those islands. This is a pristine world, still largely untouched by the hand of man. This is a place they call “The Great Bear Rainforest.” Ancient western red cedar, Sitka spruce trees and dense green undergrowth reach right to the water, curtailed by an almost perfect horizontal line, which indicates the high tide mark.

Then came the call, “There’s a spirit bear.” Charlie, elder of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation and the skipper of the boat, had made the sighting.

My quest to see and photograph this beautiful creature had its origins, like many other of my photographic adventures, in an email, which came to me in early April 2017 from Chris Steppig of Summit Workshops. The subject of the email, “Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia,” caught my eye, and as I read “… an opportunity right up your alley,” I was committed before I had even finished reading the message. I have a long-standing interest in apex predators and bears in particular. Photographing grizzly bears in Wyoming in 2013 and 2016 provided me with some cherished photographic moments. I was keen to continue my quest to photograph other bear species, and to understand the conservation issues surrounding them and to see how those issues related to many of the endangered fauna species in Australia, my home.

To get the best results from this expedition, I knew I needed to be prepared. Just turning up and hoping for the best was not an option. Preparation involves research; I needed to understand the history and geography of the region as well as the habits and behaviors of the animals I was likely to encounter. I also needed to understand the photographic limitations that I could be facing. Low light, wet weather, moving subjects and possibly shooting from an unstable platform would all impact on my ability to get sharp, clear, well-composed photos.

Tidal zone, Great Bear Rainforest
In the tidal zone, a part of the pristine wilderness that makes up the Great Bear Rainforest.

Time for a camera upgrade. I knew I would often be shooting at high shutter speeds to freeze moving wildlife, so high ISO performance would be important to give me shutter speeds of 1/1600 sec. or faster. A high-speed continuous shutter burst rate would also be advantageous to capture birds in flight and other faster-moving animals. This would also become very helpful with composition when shooting with a longer lens from a small boat as holding the camera still would be near impossible. There is always compromise when selecting camera gear, but my choice of a Canon EOS 7D Mark II, with its 10 frames per second shutter burst and great high ISO capability, paired with my Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens, served me well.

A Pristine, Temperate Rainforest

There are no roads into the Great Bear Rainforest, located approximately 350 miles north of Vancouver. Access is by water, floatplane or helicopter. Our journey began on a clear-skied summer morning as we assembled at Vancouver’s South Terminal ready to board our twin engine Pacific Coastal Airlines plane, which took us on a 90-minute scenic flight over snow-capped ranges and coastal islands to the small village of Bella Bella, on Campbell Island. A couple of mini buses transferred our party of 10 photographers from the modest airport on the edge of the village to the dock where our small but functional water transport awaited to ferry us to our final destination. Just under two hours later, after bouncing across stretches of open ocean and gliding smoothly along more protected waterways and inlets, we arrived at the dock of the Spirit Bear Lodge, our home for the next five days in the remote but delightful village of Klemtu.

Snowmelt in the Great Bear Rainforest
Snowmelt cascades through the rainforest into the tidal waterways of the Great Bear Rainforest.

The Great Bear Rainforest is estimated to be approximately 12,000 square miles and has been described as one of the largest remaining unspoiled temperate rain forests in the world. Standing on the Spirit Bear Lodge dock, it is impossible not to be taken by the silence, save only for the whistle of a passing bald eagle—a common sight around the village—or the distinctive screech of a raven.

The next four days would see our explorations beginning just after breakfast, heading out in our trusty 12-seater boat before scrambling aboard six-person rubber inflatables, allowing us to probe much further up shallow glacier-fed streams with their verdant sedge grass and lupine-covered banks to photograph and bask in the tranquility of the surroundings. The Great Bear Rainforest is home to a vast array of wildlife, including brown bears, black bears, wolves, mink and other land mammals, birds and marine animals like orcas, humpbacked whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters, dolphins and many more. It is a large, pristine wilderness.

We learned of the importance of the salmon as they make their way determinedly up to their freshwater spawning grounds, not only as a food source for bears and wolves but also eagles and ravens and many other scavengers who devour the fish carcasses. Researchers have discovered traces of salmon many miles away from the water, remains of the decaying fish breaking down to become the fertilizer on which so much of the forest depends. Declining salmon populations, brought about by many factors like climate change, sedimentation of spawning grounds and commercial fishing, has the potential to impact large chunks of this fragile ecosystem.

The Spirit Bear

The Kermode bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), or spirit bear, has its scientific origins as a subspecies of the black bear (Ursus americanus). A black bear with white or creamy colored fur, it is has no relationship to a polar bear and is not an albino. It shares the dark brown eyes and dark nose of its black bear cousins. A small percentage of black bears in the Great Bear Rainforest (estimates are in the order of 20 percent) carry a recessive gene. When both parents carry this recessive gene, the offspring will have white fur. I think I rather prefer a more spiritual explanation of the origins of the spirit bear, passed down by the Kitasoo/Xai’xais people of the region. It is said that at the end of the “Ice Age,” the Creator (the Raven) chose to leave a small number of white bears as a reminder that the region was once covered in snow and ice, and that it needs to be cared for and preserved.

Regardless of its origins, the spirit bear is extremely rare and lives exclusively in these island rainforests. It is estimated that as few as 60 to 100 spirit bears exist today. While it is illegal to hunt the white bear, the spirit bear population is nevertheless under threat, partly due to the misguided notion by some hunters that killing the dark-coated bear will preserve the white-coated animals. Hunting of black and grizzly bears continues in the Great Bear Rainforest, although it has been announced that “trophy hunting” of grizzly bears will be banned at the end of the 2017 hunting season.

“You have to ask yourself why you care.” In the still calm of a clear twilight evening at the Spirit Bear Lodge, Mike Forsberg offered that suggestion to me to answer the question, “How can we make a difference?” It is so easy to come up with a glib, superficial answer to that question. “Oh, I want the next generation to see what I saw. I want to give voice to creatures who can’t speak for themselves.” Yes, I want those things, but is that enough? I do care, fervently. My passion emanates from a deep spiritual connection to nature and wild places and a desire to capture images of these special places to help others engage in a subject that is becoming remote from our increasingly urbanized society.

Bald eagle in the Great Bear Rainforest.
This bald eagle, perched on a dry limb hanging out over the water, kept a keen eye on the receding tide for a meal.

The Kitasoo/Xai’xais people, spiritual custodians of this land, embrace the philosophies of tread lightly, take only what you need and leave the rest. Working with scientific researchers, they have implemented a non-invasive method of studying animal behavior. Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest are not tagged or interfered with in any way. Their habits, diet and movement are studied through careful observation and analysis of hair and other samples collected from their territory.

“There’s a spirit bear.” Charlie’s call had come just before midday on our last day. We were not supposed to see a spirit bear. It was too early in the season, they wouldn’t be down close to the water for another month or six weeks, the salmon are not running yet, they said. I had a strong feeling to the contrary. We had to at least go and see where she might be, so our guide agreed to take us. There she was, grazing on sedge grass at first, then moving slowly but purposefully along the shoreline, allowing us a few precious moments to be in her space before she faded into the shadows of the forest. We had just witnessed the rarest bear species and one of the rarest mammals on earth. A gift indeed.

Spirit bear in the Great Bear Rainforest
A special gift. This spirit bear made a brief appearance along the shoreline before fading back into the forest.

It is a sad fact, and a sign of the precarious times in which the spirit bear lives, that we were asked not to reveal the exact location of our sighting in any of our social media posts and to disable any GPS references from the metadata attached to the photo files we posted. Apparently, there are people keen to grab this information and pass it on to illegal hunters.

Photographing in these conditions—a moving subject, from a moving platform (a boat) in gloomy low light—was challenging. Coming away with an image of this beautiful, rare creature in her world left me with a spiritual connection to this place that I will never forget.


David Mackenzie is a nature and conservation photographer based in South East Queensland, Australia.


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