- This topic is empty.
July 1, 2004 at 12:37 pm #290explorer_keithMember
Hello everyone! After three years trying, I have finaly been offered (and accepted) a job down in McMurdo. Assuming I get PQ’d, I will be heading down in the first part of January and staying for the winter. Other than what is listed in the Participant Guide, are there any items that y’all would recommend I take down? Also, I enjoy photography, so I am trying to decide what kind of camera to bring – I have a nice 35mm SLR, but the film situation might not work well. I was thinking of getting a digital, but will I have any problems with the dark or the cold? I will also bring a tripod, but I have read some horror stories about breaking tripods because of the cold – should I leave my nice tripod at home (the instructions say not to use it in temps below -20F) or just rig up some sort of insulation for it? One last question for now – I will have sunglasses for the sunny portion of my trip, but what should I bring for when it gets dark? Thanks in advance for your help, I’m sure I will have more questions.
KeithJuly 1, 2004 at 1:09 pm #2057ZondraMember
Get a digital camera! SLR’s are nice, but film is a headache… especially in the Winter when you can’t send anything out to get processed. Everyone does digital, and it really makes sense. I’m trying to save my pennies for a Digital SLR right now, ’cause having an SLR is nice (I borrowed one all last year, and was so happy for that). Keep your camera on your body, under your parka, and that will keep it warm, and will keep the batteries lasting longer. If you’re a real serious photographer, and can’t afford a digital SLR, you might want to bring along your 35mm SLR, just to have something with manual controls, for winter darkness and all that. But bring a digital! As for tripods, I don’t know what to tell ya (Been a professional photographer for 12 yrs now, but still rarely use a tripod)… if you’re worried about your good one breaking, get a cheap on – and you can jerry-rig it if it breaks.
Get rechargable batteries, and bring several sets…
ZondraJuly 1, 2004 at 8:44 pm #2058
Good for you. You made the cut. What dept are you in?.
There are ton’s of things you could send down. A lot depends on what you like to do. If your time off will be spent in the bars and you don’t do anything else then you won’t need to send down anything. On the other hand McM probably doesn’t have the equipment for your hobbies. If you quilt, knit, polish rocks, make jewelery, fly kites etc. you will have to send it down.
If you have a laptop and are planning on burning CD’s or DVD’s buy your blank disks and send them down. While the store sometimes has enough to cover basic needs, the rule is that they usually don’t. We just bought 200 yesterday to send down.
I got a little burned out last winter, but now that I’m refreshed I’m planning on putting together winter trips again if I can find a good helper. I volunteer partly to be altruistic and help get people out of town and partly to be able to take photo’s. In the winter there is nothing like being out at castle rock in the dark and taking aurora pics.
To do it. You will need a good digital camera with manual settings and someway to use a manual shutter release. I use a nikon Coolpix 5000. 5megapixal camera. Some hints. You must have a tripod as you need to take15 second to multi-minute time exposures. You can take photos of auroras without a tripod because they are fuzzy anyway but if you have any landmarks in the picture you must have a tripod. All my tripods have broken from the cold. You have two tradeoffs. A heavy all metal tripod will hold up better, but is a little more difficult to handle in full gear. Aluminum can also crack, but not as easily. I prefer a small lightweight tripod. It is easy to carry around strapped to a backpack. It will work well unless you are in a lot of wind.
and even then you can shelter it with your body. You must handle them gently in the cold as the plastic parts can get brittle. JB weld to the rescue.
The real problem you’ll have with your camera is the cold. As V said you can put it inside your jacket, but if the camera gets below freezing while you are using it. Then as soon as you put it back inside your parka frost forms on the lens. I usually keep the camera in my pocket with some handwarmers instead. Battery life is non existant at cold temps. Bring lots of extra batteries and keep them inside your parka in the warmest place you can find. They won’t last long at 20 below. My local camera store sold me a large battery pack that so far has never failed in the cold. I keep it inside my jacket and run the cord out to the camera.
McM has a darkroom that is reserved for the science groups in the summer and is off limits to everyone else. During the winter it’s open as long as they have a volunteer to manage it. (Haz chems and all). They have the chemicals for ektochrome slide film and black and white film and prints. Bring down your film if you plan on using it but beware there have been some years where the darkroom wasn’t opened. Digital is best.
If you get a digital, get the largest memory cards you can. On my camera a 128 meg chip will hold 6 full resolution photos and 50 good resolution. There is nothing worse than not having any space left when the sky suddenly explodes in the green lights of the auroras. You’ll be erasing pics while everyone else is taking photos and by the time you are done the aurora will be over. Yes, they can be that fleeting.
Sunglasses aren’t needed for the dark. The program will issue you snow goggles. Tinted lenses for summer and clear for winter.
July 2, 2004 at 3:59 am #2059explorer_keithMember
Thanks for the information! I will bring a cheap tripod that I can repair as needed and I will get a digital camera of some sort – I like the external battery pack Idea.
I will be working as a field engineer on the power/water plant renovations. I don’t intend on spending much of my time in the bars, so I will definitely need to put some thought into my hobbies. Right now most of my hobbies revolve around being outside (climbing, mountaineering, hiking, etc.) and I know I will be somewhat limited on that front. Mike – as far as winter trips are concerned, I want to explore as much as I can, so let me know how I can help.
For those of us that don’t have a laptop, is there a place on the computer network that we can put personal programs that we would like to use on a regular basis? Also, are the computers set up to burn pictures onto CDs?
KeithJuly 2, 2004 at 5:46 am #2060
My name is Atlas. I was a computer tech at McM for three seasons. Sat out the last three years, but will be going back down in October, hopefully for a year (dependent on that damned PQ).
It is easy to say that you won’t be haning out at the bars, but it’s a totally different story once you get down there. The bars are the nexus of the social scene at McMurdo. Personally, I don’t drink, but found myself at the Coffee House, sipping hot chocolate, more times than I can count. Yes, the bars sell beer, and alcohol, but they’re more of a gathering place, where people can meet, and talk about their days. You’ll see once you get down there.
There won’t be alot to do outside of town during the winter. Number one, it’s dark. Number two, it’ll be freezing-ass cold. Don’t plan on doing too much mountaineering. However, I don’t know if they’re active during the winter, but you may want to think about joining the SAR (Search and Rescue) team. Might put some of your skills to good use.
As far as photography, I take two cameras down – a point-and-shoot digital (for those times in the bar when you want to take a picture of your buddy dressed like Donna Summer, during 70’s night), and a 35mm SLR. As much as I enjoy shooting digital, I find that I cannot wean myself off of shooting slides. I plan to take plenty of film down with me, and either get it developed when I leave the ice, either in NZ, or back in the states.
If you have a choice, try to get a 35mm manual camera, like a Pentax K-1000. The only thing the battery runs is the light meter. Built rock-solid, too.
Digital-wise, sure, bring a couple of good-sized memory cards. Don’t bring just one – always have a backup. Bring plenty of rechargeable batteries, too. Digital SLRs are nice, but you may find that a P-A-S is alot easier to handle, especially with gloves, or mittens, on.
Now, about laptops – If the NSF/RPSC policy hasn’t changed, no personal programs may be placed on any NSF-owned computer. The last I heard, McM is running Win2000. Only certain folks will have administrator rights to install ANYTHING on the computer. Bringing your own will make life much easier for you. Try to find a used, or refurbished one. Even brand-new ones are less than $1000, now. Check out Ebay, Computer Renaissance, the newspaper, etc. The only real requirement for connecting it to the McM network is that it have current virus protection software. This will be checked by a tech before you can plug-in.
Hope this helps, Keith. Congrats to you. See you down south.
atlasJuly 2, 2004 at 1:07 pm #2061
Plenty of CD burners for copying pics onto cds. Not too many blank cd-rs so bring down your own. I hear they’ve upgraded to windows xp but that is only a rumor. You will not be able to download your own programs.
If our personalities sync, we’ll have plenty of outdoor opportunities. The winter station manager is also an outdoorsy winter photographer. We should have some interesting times.
And Atlas, Good to hear you are coming back again. I’m sure Lorie will be signing up for a spot with you.
mikeJuly 2, 2004 at 6:12 pm #2062
Yo, Mike —
It’ll be good to see the both of you again. Thanks for maintaining this website. It provides a great forum for FNG and OAE, alike.
Yes, I’ll be bringing my massage chair down again. Think I’ll also send my table down for the winter.
Will you all be wintering again, or just doing the summer?
See you in October.
aJuly 10, 2004 at 12:36 pm #2063
I’m on a 14 month contract. Lorie is on a 12 month. McM has changed a bit since you’ve been down last. You might not recognise the place.
mikeJuly 10, 2004 at 9:17 pm #2064
I know you have a couple of big, new buildings, and have gotten rid of a few old ones. Anxious to experience the paved roads, underground utilities, and the new, permanent runway they built on the island. Should make life much easier down there. Also heard great reviews about the new Ob Hill Tram, and the new (albeit small) Burger King outlet.
Do they still have the McMurdo Lottery drawings on Saturday nights? There had been talk of them even joining the Powerball consortium. Anything ever become of that?
Things HAVE changed! See you soon.
😉July 11, 2004 at 4:19 am #2065
They paved the road last summer but by april, frost heaving had lifted huge blocks up to a foot and a half above the road surface so they had to take it all back out. The underground utilities lost it’s heat trace and filled with water and froze so they had to take it back out. They had to hook back up to the old utility system, luckily they were so busy they never had time to take down the old system.
The Ob Hill Tram worked well for a time. It was based on the system the kiwi’s use . Trouble was the rope broke and they had to take the tram back out.
Burger King started out on a good foot but this winter they discovered all the pre-cooked hamburgers, thawed and refroze. With no food they had to take out the burger king.
So other than a few new buildings the place ought to look about the same.
Yours tongue in cheekly
mikeJuly 11, 2004 at 6:19 am #2066
Oh great. Now you’re going to tell me that they closed the Erebus Inn and Spa. Just my luck. I loved those lava-heated hot springs…October 2, 2004 at 7:13 pm #2067brendanstamp05Member
They have downgraded to XP and have brought in a load of new Dells with sweet screens in the kiosk. Older comps are being helped a bit and its a bit better now.
As far as the Erebus inn and spa, at least the Hotel is always open for all your service needs.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.