And so it begins…

Lake District, cloud inversion
Merry Christmas! – Looking over to the Western Fells from Skiddaw.

First off, I’d like to begin this post by wishing you all a Merry Christmas. I do hope 2012 has been full of happy memories for you, and that 2013 will bring many more.

Tomorrow, I’m heading off to the Lake District for 12 nights backpacking and filming in the Scafells area as part of the following project: Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike


So, things will be a bit quiet on here for a wee while from me. I had intended to head out to the Western Lakes a few days ago, but outstanding work commitments put that idea to bed. C’est la vie. But all is clear in my diary now and it’s time to head off to the wintry hills and get capturing the scenic delights of the Scafells on camera.
This trip will have a particular focus for me, which will require a fair bit of graft and a lot of patience. Some of it will entail night timelapse. There’s a few vantage points I have in mind, that I hope to capture the night sky (and Milky Way) gliding over. Scenes I don’t think anyone will have set their eyes on in terms of video of the area before. All being well, I’ll show some sneak peeks in a behind-the-scenes video upon my return.
Winter thankfully brings long dark nights which is ideal for this kind of thing. Essentially, what one does is set up a DSLR to take photos of a scene repeatedly over the course of a few hours. Given that capturing images of the night sky generally requires a 20second exposure (it varies on the lens you choose to use, and of course it’s aperture value) and video is essentially 24 pictures whizzing by per second – then just a 15 second video clip of the night sky will require several hundred photos taken over a period of up to 3.5 hours.
Now, that’s quite a long time for a camera to be sat on a tripod upon a wintry fell. The cold temperatures will no doubt slow down the performance of batteries, and frost or due will likely form on the lens – thus ruining any planned shoot.
Today, I’ve been busy making a make-shift weatherproof and thermally efficient cover for my DSLR. I picked up an old Exped drysac and cut it to shape around the camera on a tripod including a hole for the lens to peep through.
DSLR raincover
Waste not, want not! D.I.Y DSLR weatherproof cover made from an old drysac.
Inside the drysac I lined it with some spare foam with foil backed onto it. Whilst the bag is positioned over the camera, I’ll attach some handwarmers (HotHands as it happens cause they last for hours) with some elastic bands. A couple to the lens itself, and another around the battery grip. The idea then is that not only is the DSLR protected from the elements, but should also perform as hoped within it’s warm micro-climate.
The handwarmers on the lens should contribute in preventing any frost or due forming and thus keeping all the pictures captured, sharp and clear.
We’ll see anyway. I’ve done some experiments and tests at home and in the Peak District recently and all went to plan, bar the odd hiccup. But practice makes perfect so they say.
In between the long nights, I’ll be wandering around hoping to capture other special sights on video with some new kit I’ve recently purchased and have been itching to use out on the hills in vain.
Before I sign off and bid you all farewell, I’d like to thank the National Trust in the North West and Cumbria Tourism for their fantastic support on this project. Their generosity and advice has been overwhelming to say the least. Not only have they been keen to nudge me to particular locations but also have offered me logistical support too. Some of which will now enable me to stay in the Lakes for much longer than I probably would’ve planned, and help with regards to supplies and equipment. So, a big thank to them from me and of course the other sponsors too. The latter goes without saying, and I tell them in private often enough anyway.
So, have a Merry Christmas, be safe and well and I hope you get to enjoy our wonderful wintry hills in the coming weeks….
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