Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stitching w/ Photoshop

I had enough sequence shots from my photo session of the kiteboarders at Burrows park, that I tried to do some photo stitching. Now, Photoshop CS4 has a great automated tool for creating a panoramic from a group of digital pictures, using PhotoMerge. However, it has a hard time knowing ignoring the kiteboarder in the picture and trying to align the backgrounds only. So, I had to do this manually. The picture below is actually 10 different pictures merged together and using careful steps of masking each layer with the previous, and ensuring that the parts of the image you want to see come through. The shear size of this image was hundreds of Megabytes before compression. I think that it turned out pretty clean, and there really isn't much banding showing the difference between each image.

Here is another using only 4 pictures, and a different kiteboarder.

For more sequence shots, please visit the panoramic gallery at the m2 Photography website.

For more pictures and video of Madison Kiteboarders, please visit Kiteriders website.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Kiteboarding @ Burrows

It was a truly epic day on Lake Mendota yesterday. Mother Nature has been holding out on this one, as it was a rare hot and windy day, where the winds were blowing from the WNW at 20-30 mph with higher gusts. I had a chance to shoot some of the kiteboarders who were sailing down at Burrows park, and they didn't disappoint. Here are a couple of shots where the kiter was completely above me, with nothing but blue sky behind them. These were all shot with a 70-200mm 2.8L IS Canon Lens on a Canon 5D Mark II.

For more pictures from the Kiteboarding session at Burrows on 06.28.09, click here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rockin' "The Rock": Part III

To give you an idea of how big the wake was by adding a few "Fat Sacs" to the boat filled with water, the fisheye sort of exaggerates it. I think that we need a few more people in the boat, and go a touch faster to clean up the wake a bit. It didn't really matter though, as we ended up spending more time on the Wakesurfer than we did on the wakeboards.

Max will always pose for treats, and it was easy with a few sunchips in hand to get him to look where I needed him to. He's super sporty in his doggles. He usually pulls them off about 5 minutes after wearing them.

Jason posing in front of the Liquid Force Wakesurf...

Great close up of Emily Peternell after getting a face full of water while trying to cross the wake doing the "Superman" pose while riding the wakesurfer on her belly. Riding like this is a whole lot of fun, and can't wait to try it again.

Dropping down off the wake, again riding "Superman" style.

Jason Peternell, a.k.a. Tapeworm, eating a Twizzlers Pull n' Peel. Capturing him in the boat mirror took him by surprise, but turned out to be a good shot.

Rockin' "The Rock": Part II - Wipe Outs

Having not been out many times this year due to a busy schedule and crappy weather, we were all a little rusty on the board. Here's some great wipeout shots, both wakeboarding and waksurfing.

For more images from the Rock River 06.21.09 Gallery, click here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rockin' "The Rock": Part I

I took my 1986 Ski Nautique to Janesville today in search of flat water to do some wakeboarding. Emily and Jason Smith met me there and we launched at about 10:30am. Maximus also came along for the ride, and was a great boat dog today. I grabbed my Camera bag, which ended up being almost as fun as the wake sports. Emily and I started taking turns taking pictures using the Canon 70-200mm 2.8L IS lens on a Canon 5D Mark II. The three of us switched from Wakeboarding to Wakesurfing, snapping off 2841 pictures. I spent some time modifying and color correcting images tonight, and have posted my 125 favorites in the Water Sports Gallery. Emily also had a great time playing with the Camera, as it was probably the first time she's shot with a dSLR, let alond multiple lenses. She did great, and we got a bunch of great images. I thought I would showcase a few of my favorites in my photography blog.

Emily jumps with her eyes closed! Seems like a majority of the pics I took today of Emily jumping picked up an unusual habit, considering it's probably a good idea to see where you are going to land...

We also "Attempted" to do some wakesurfing. If you have enough weight in the boat, and you get the wake big enough, you're suppose to be able let go of the rope, and actually surf the wave without being pulled. I didn't have that much weight today, so we just played around on the Wakesurfing board. This shot is me pretending to get "In the Tube," but obviously there isn't much to get under.

Here's a close up of Jason charging the wake.

Maximus came with us, so I suppose that it's my Father's day treat, even though he's only a dog. We brought along his Doggles for a laugh and got a few poses. I'm also rarely in any pictures, as I'm the one usually behind the camera. I gave Emily a crash course on how to use a dSLR and what the focus point does, and Voila!

This might be one of my favorite shots of the day, and the perspective is alot different than the other standard images. Emily is wakesurfing and about to drop in off the top of the wake.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Alumni of the University of Wisconsin Lifesaving Station

There are hundreds of years of lake rescue experience in this photo. Some of these people had not returned to the Lifesaving station for decades. They all enjoyed driving the new rescue boat, and shared stories from the past. This picture was captured during the UW Lifesaving Station 100 Year Anniversary open house. Additional pictures from the Anniversary celebration can be found here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Madison Captiol View Triathlon

The UW Lifesaving Station volunteered to send over a contingency of Rescue staff to work the Capitol View Triathlon in Madison again this year. We left our pier at 6:30 AM, picked up some rescue boards, and motored over to Governor Nelson State Park for the start of the race. Here are some shots from the event.

Getting Instructions before the start.

One of the swim buoys marking the path for the Olympic 1500m swim. The water was calm with no wind. Perfect conditions for the swim.

One of the triathletes rounding the first marker swimming strong.

Only one swimmer did not complete the swim in the alloted time period. The person gave tremendous effort, and would have made it in about 10-15 more minutes.

The Lifeguard and rescue volunteers.

Verallyn Cline was my Water Safety Instructor in 1991 at the SERF at UW Madison. Since I had just finished her class at UW, and since she was the person who administered the Lifeguard test for the UW Madison Piers, I was able to get a job working at the UW Lifesaving Station as a lifeguard in 1992. Even after all of these years, she is still active in the American Red Cross, and volunteers for the Triathlon each year. Last year, the conditions were not favorable, and the winds were much stronger. At least 1/2 dozen people needed to be rescued in that race, and Verallyn lept off the front of a rescue boat without hesitation. She has been retired for a number years from UW, but still teaches. Amazing, and thought I would post how thankful that she was my instructor which lead to me the best job I've had.

More pictures from the Capitol View Triathlon can be found here, at the m2 Photography Website under the Sports Gallery.

PAP: Lowering the Camera From Roof

This is a unique perspective of the University of Wisconsin Lifesaving Station tower that has never been photographed before. I used my Pole Aerial Photography rig to lower the camera from the roof to capture the tower from above. This is the first time I used my PAP equipment in reverse, as normally the idea is to get aerial shots while standing on the ground. Here is a picture of the building, and you can see how high the tower sits above the water. I really like the picture as it shows a special perspective on what we do at UW Rescue.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lightbox Ernie: Off Camera Flash Testing

I was up late last night, and decided to practice a little off-camera lighting using my DIY lightbox. The lightbox was created from white foamcore as the structure with large transparency paper taped over the openings to provide that soft lighting for product shots. I don't really sell anything on eBay, but saw this DIY project on the Strobist site, and thought it would be good practice. I chose Ernie from Seseme Street as the model, and tried to use different effects by using different color backdrops and stands.

Here is your basic white background lightbox shot. You'll see this "type" of shot everywhere on eBay.

The Canon Speedlight I was using on the left-hand side was colorized by using a Rosco gel insert into another DIY project, a Home Depot downspout snoot. It gives the backround a bit of character by adding some color.

Changed the background to black, and also set the model on a glossy floor tile, also from the Home improvement store. This adds Ernies reflection into the tile, and makes for a dramatic shot over the plain white.

Ernie's cow also wanted to join in on the fun, using the same set up as above.

Changed the background to blue, and put a sheet of clear glass under Ernie to get the same sort of web 2.0 reflection. I'm not a big of fan of this one as the glossy black floor tile, as there is a visible line where the glass ends.

This on is a combination of the blue background, and black glossy tile. Adds a horizon line, but it's another look.

Most of these were shot with a 70-200mm 2.8 IS L lens on a Canon 5D Mark II, using the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and two FlexTT5's holding Canon 430EXII speedlights. Three flashes total, one on the miniTT1, and the other 2 were remotes. The lightbox supplies were purchased from Hobby Lobby and The Home Depot, and cost less than $50.00 to make. The Rosco color gels were purchased from Adorama.com, but can be optained from regional Rosco lighting distibutors. The DIY downspout snoot tutorial can be found here, on the Canon Digital Photography Forums. A version of the DIY Lightbox project can be found here. Additional lightbox picture examples can be seen at the m2 Photography website under the Product Photography gallery.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Off Camera Flash - From a Kite: Part I

Tomorrow is the start of the Strobist blog Boot Camp II, which from what I gather is a series of assignments to help photographers learn and become better with using off-camera flash. I hope to be a part of this series. Recently though, I've had the idea that I could use the off-camera flash and combine it with my Kite Aerial Photography to take aerial pictures at night. I've done some preliminary testing with my PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5's on a Canon G9. These devices were purchased for use with my Canon 5D Mark II, but no reason why I can't at least try it with my G9. PocketWizard says that they'll be compatible with a future release, even though they are currently listed as a compatible device in the utility application. I was able to get my Canon 430EXII's to fire remotely from the G9 running a CHDK script, so I know that it's technically possible. Here is what I need now:

  • A clear, and preferably warm night with steady winds around 13 MPH.
  • Something interesting to take aerial pictures from at night
  • An assistant to help place and secure the remote flashes.
I haven't found any references to anyone ever trying off camera flash from a kite. The pocket wizards have incredible range when connected to a 430EXII, so having the camera shoot from 100-200 in the air should still trigger the flashes. Depending on the objest being illuminated, it might be better to keep the kite a little lower. The biggest challenge will be waiting for a night that is actually windy enough to launch the kite, and hope that the wind direction is favorable to the site that I'm trying to capture. I have some ideas on what I could do from the flash perspective, and throw shadows from small objects up onto a large wall or ceiling, or possibly use some colored gels. I'm sure that I'll need a couple tries at this before I tweak the camera and flash settings before we see anything interesting, but since this hasn't been done before, it should be fun trying to think of ways to be creative. More to come...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Max is always my favorite model

Will work for treats!

My dog Maximus is one of my favorite models, as he's always willing to pose for treats. Today we tried a new perspective and shot a few with him standing over me from a ledge. To view the entire series from Max's photo shoot today, click here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Outta Sight Kite Flight

I ventured down to Kennedy Park on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Kenosha today for the Outta Sight Kite Flight festival. The wind cooperated and was steady for the entire time I was down there, but the temperature was only in the low 50's on the lake front. Although there was hundreds of smaller kites, I was a little disappointed that there were only a few bigger kites. The website promised 300 kites for the "Grand Launch," but unfortunately it was 99% childrens kites. (The kids looked to be having a great time.) I flew one session with my Canon SD900 on the FlowForm 16 for the first hour or so, and then eventually switched to my Canon G9 for the aerial shots of the large kites. The wind was out of the North East, and onshore from Lake Michigan. I also captures some images with my dSRL camera with a few lenses from the ground. This is a 2 day event, but it doesn't look like wind is in the forecast for tomorrow. Here are a couple of my favorites from today:

For more pictures from the Kenosha Outta Sight Kite Flight from Kennedy Park, visit the Aerial Gallery at m2 Photography website.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Puppies: Always a great Picture

My neighbor just picked up a bullmastif puppy, and I couldn't help but capture a few shots of it. They ended up naming it Kane, after Kasey Kane from Nascar. Their last dog was named Rusty, after Rusty Wallace, so apparently they are really into it. I suggested that they name it Ricky Bobby, and we all had a good laugh. Since puppies grow up so quickly, I knew that these would be memorable pictures on the day they brought him home. Here is a picture of Kane getting accustomed to the new yard.

m2 Photography gallery can be found here.