Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kiteboarding on Koshkonong

It didn't feel like summer, although it was still August. A breezy October, fall day is what it felt like. I made the trip to Charley's Bluff on Lake Koshkonong, as it looked like some of the Madison riders were going to be there. I set some bad Karma when I arrive after driving over one of the kiters lines. Honestly, I didn't see them, as anyone else would have probably set theirs up in the grass. Still being a beginner, I was a bit concerned that I would be launching and landing the kite by myself. The launch spot was perfect for me, as it remains shallow for a few hundred yards out, and I was able to walk the kite back up when I got too close to the shore. When I was done trying to ride for the day, I got the camera out and took some picture of the riders who actually know what they are doing. These were captured with my new Canon 50D, which has a higher frame rate and cropped sensor for a little more reach. The lens was a 70-200mm f2.8 with a 1.4x extender lowering the aperture to f4. Here's a few of my favorites from the Koshkonong session.

I really like this picture, as you don't get to get the kite and kiter in the same frame usually without zooming way out. Having the kite come across the frame isn't something that happens all that often when you're in a stationary spot, and they are constantly moving with the kite higher in the sky.

On a cloudy day, it's difficult to get really stunning imagery from such a distance. The lighting was already dark on this shot, and I used Adobe Lightroom to create a silhouette of Bob making his signature turn.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Queue Queue Queue: Cooter's Place

Who knew that there is a shrine to the Duke of Hazzard in Nashville, Tennesee. It's like the Graceland for any kid who grew up in the 80's. Unfortunately, by the time I got to walk down there, it was closed for the day. I took some pictures outside anyway. Apparently, you can take pictures from within the cab of Cooter's truck, but it will cost you $10 if you use your own camera. What a deal?!?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gaylord Opryland

I'm in Nashville, Tennesse this week for my "real world" job at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. The place is immense, and none of these pictures do it any justice. Basically, as in Vegas, they do anything to provide you with everything you need in one place to help persuade you not to leave the resort. There are huge "Dome-feel" stadium areas under glass that house restaurants, the guest rooms, and waterfalls and functional rivers. I did notice bar called Cooter's, which is a Dukes of Hazzard musuem outside the complex, and may try and get down there for some pics before I leave.

See the entire Gallery by clicking here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DIY: Wedding Photo Booth - Upgrade

I was inspired by a blog which was written by David Cline that has been getting a lot of attention on the net and bridal forums, even Basically, he created a makeshift photo booth using a Macbook, the built-in web cam, and Automator software for his sister's wedding. This was a much more economical solution than renting a real photo booth for thousands of dollars. This was very innovative thinking and was a big hit at the wedding by the looks of the video. I had never used automator before and rarely use my mac, but thought I would try and re-create the magic. His solution also printed out a souvenir for the wedding guests as a photo strip, while keeping the originals stored on the computer. I thought, why not see if Automator can interface with an external camera, so that you'd get better image results for the Bride and Groom, not just average shots from the built in iSight camera. Sure enough, I plugged in my Canon G9, and was able to initiate shapshots from within Automator in a similar fashion to David's original idea. Now, there are differences. You don't get the fancy 3 second countdown that the buddy image application gives you, but I was able to use the text to speech function to have the computer say the person's name, followed by "Say Cheese!" The other big difference in my work-flow, is that once the pictures have been taken, and a printout is complete, the images show up in a slide show on an external monitor. Currently, I'm using PhotoPresentor which also has it's own Automator actions, to display the slide show on the secondary monitor. The plan is to have a slide show at the reception that has a number of pictures from the ceremony earlier that day, and any of the images that were also taken with the Photo booth during the reception. I'm thinking that for people who were not able to make it to the ceremony, this is a way to see some of the better shots from the wedding, and also instant gratification and hopefully some laughs for the folks who utilize the photo booth. If the Bride and Groom agree, I'd like to bring a 37" LCD to set up as the secondary monitor. The macbook will be performing double duty, as the engine for the Photobooth and the slide show. The Canon G9 is a perfect photo booth camera as well, because it captures really nice 12 Megapixel images. Much better than the built in camera on the macbook. It also has the ability to utilize the internal or potentially even external flash, which you wouldn't be able to get from the built in web cam. I've got one day of Macintosh Automator programming under my belt, and think that I'll end up using the mac for a lot more things now that I understand it's capabilities.

Please visit David Cline's blog, and donate to get a copy of his automator workflow.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Aerial: Callawassie Island

These are aerial shots from Callawassie Island testing out my newest light wind kite. Please click here for the entire gallery of aerial shots.

Spring Island: Tabby Ruins

I was visiting my brothers family on Callawassie Island last week, and got rained out when we tried to go golfing. Instead of sitting inside and waiting for the thunderstorms to pass, I drove out to nearby Spring Island. This is a private island which is adjacent to Callawassie, and was able to get out there without incident. I was amazed at the long stretches of live oak forests, and enough landscape to fill a couple of weeks of photography without getting bored. I went in search of the Tabby Ruins, which is suppose to be one of the best preserved tabby houses from 200 years ago. Tabby is a native material made of crushed oaster shells, and was one of the main building materials of its time. Back before the Civil War, Spring Island was owned by George Edwards, who made his money as the Cotton King, and was one of the richest men in the country for 50 years. I did not find the tabby ruins on my first trip driving around the island, but decided that I would need additional time to photograph anything I did find, and decided to make the trip out there the following morning. After asking the internet where to find these ruins, it turns out that they are near the clubhouse for the Old Tabby Links, which are themselves one of the more beautiful golf courses I've ever seen. It was raining when I arrived on Spring Island on the second day, and used an umbrella to start my photo session. I quickly learned that it had stopped raining, but since I was under a huge canopy of live oaks, it just kept dripping on me. I spent the next couple of hours capturing the ruins from as many different angles as I could think of with different lenses. I knew that these would make incredible HDR images, and took 6 different exposures for each shot I was looking for. Here are a couple of samples:

I'd definitely like to go back again the next time I am down there, and try to capture the ruins from my Kite Aerial Photography rig. Since I was the only one out there, it was very peaceful, and would return just to spend some more time on the grounds.

For additonal images from the Tabby Ruins on Spring Island, click here.

Secession Oak: Bluffton South Carolina

I was in a local art gallery in Bluffton and saw a couple of artist renderings of a tree known officially as the "Secession Tree," located somewhere in Bluffton, South Carolina. I had asked my parents who we were down there visiting, and they knew of the land owner where the tree was located. Emmit McCracken is the proprietor of Stock Farm Antiques, and agreed to let me on the land, and drew me a map to get to the property. I got up fairly early the next morning, in Southern standards, and headed down to the tree on a wet and cloudy day. Mr. McCracken came out to get his paper, and met me for a brief conversation. As far as live oaks are concerned, this is a pretty big tree, although not the biggest. Here is a little history why this specific tree is considered important to Blufftonians:

Wiki: "In 1844 the planters around Bluffton became angered by Federal tariffs which were making the goods they imported from abroad excessively expensive. Out of this discontent grew the "Bluffton Movement." Incensed planters gathered beneath what became known as the "Secession Oak" and the secessionist movement was born. Sixteen years later South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union."
Source: Wikipedia,,_South_Carolina

Basically, this was where the Civl War "almost" began. Others will tell you that it was in a house South of Broad in Charleston, South Caorlina or in Philidelphia. However, I'm sure that the people of Bluffton will proudly tell you that it was under the tree. It was fun to imagine a bunch of Southerners congregating under this tree, and dreaming of a Conferderate States of America.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Impromptu Portrait Session on Baby Grand

The entire family was over for dinner at the parents house tonight, and I was able to set up the light stands to capture the twins, my 7 week old niece and nephew. I was also able to get their brother Walker to pose for a few shots sitting at the Steinway baby grand. They didn't like laying on the bare surface of the piano, but were much more cooperative after laying on a blanket. It was great practice and hope to get another portrait session in before I leave.

For additional images from the portrait session tonight, click here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

KAP: Hilton Head Island

Went down to the beach today on Hilton Head Island on a day where the temperature was in the 90's and felt like 100's, but with a consistent breeze. Put up the kite with the help of Katie to take some aerial shots of the beach. We were about to leave, when we stumbled across a beach wedding about to start and kept the kite in the air to capture the event from the sky. I gave my card to one of the wedding guests, and hopefully the bride and groom get a chance to see their special event from the sky.

Underwater at Callawassie

Went to the pool with Walker and the family, and he did a great job at posing for the underwater camera. He's very comfortable in the water and surprised me by opening his eyes underwater. This was my favorite picture of the session.

Click here for the other underwater session pictures.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Time Lapse: Smokey Mountains

Isn't technology cool? I'm ending a 15 hour car ride and posting to my blog sitting in the passenger side of the Highlander on I26. The internet using a built in verizon broadband card in my laptop; fun! I wanted to try some time-lapse photography going through the Smokey mountains.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Backup Camera & New Lens

I have a wedding coming up in September where I'll be the main photographer, and knew that it was in my best interest in getting another Canon body to use in conjunction with my other 5D Mark II and assorted lenses. My original thought was that I'd be able to use my Casio EX-F1 dSLR as a backup, but I wouldn't be able to take advantage of any of my Canon lenses. It is a bit of insurance to know that if something were to go wrong with one of my Canon bodies, I'd have a back up and be able to continue and not miss the action. I took advantage of a special rebate that B&H offered where you could get $500 back if you purchased a Canon 50D along with a Canon PIXMA printer. I have had use for professional grade prints in the past, and the PIXMA printer was only $795 regularly. I needed another camera body, and now I have a printer that only cost $250 after rebate. Score! This is just in time for a road trip to South Carolina, and I'll be able to play with the new camera on the way. Additionally, I added another "L" series lens to my collection with the Canon 16-35 f/2.8L EF Lens. Although it's pictured on the 50D below, this will really shine on a full framed camera for ultra-wide images. I'm fairly confident that I'll use the 16-35mm on the 5D Mark II during weddings, and the 70-200mm on the 50D for a little extra reach. I have 2 more items on my wish list before the next wedding in September, a grip for the 5DMKII, and a remote shutter cable to use with my pocket wizards.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vinyl Labels on Kite Rig

I had the vinyl cutter out tonight to test out a vector based version of my m2 logo, and got carried away and started labeling anything that I could find. I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but decided to create identification stickers for my Kite Aerial Photography rigs. I've read about some people losing gear if it falls or the string breaks and the kite and rig fly away, so I figured that I would allow honest people to call me if they were to find it if catastrophe strikes! I'm thinking that this won't really add that much weight to the KAP rig, and it makes it look a little less cobbled together. I had posted this in a thread on the KAP forum, so I thought I would quick repeat in my blog as the picture of the rig from the 5d Mark II looks pretty good. You can purchase KAP rigs from and the RC equipment from Tower Hobbies.

To see results of the KAP rig in action, please visit the Aerial gallery on the m2 Photography website.

Time Lapse: Drive to Work

I am planning on doing a long term time lapse on an upcoming trip to South Carolina, and wanted to practice with a quick session on my way to work. I set up the Canon G9 with a wide angle lens using the Monster Pod on the dash of my car, and set the CHDK script to take pictures about once every 8 seconds. During the drive, I captured 108 pictures that I used making the time lapse video, separating the images at .250 seconds apart. Although, driving from Paddock Lake in Wisconsin to Round Lake Beach in Illinois isn't terribly exciting, it was a good trial run for the upcoming trip.

I've also created a new gallery on the m2 Photography website for time lapse projects, which you can find here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Self Portrait: Beard From KAP

After spending a few days in the Boundary Waters, I went for the rugged look and grew my first beard. Considering that I've made it 38 years without even attempting it is noteworthy. I shaved it off yesterday, and thought to myself that I didn't even take a picture of myself while I had it. Alas, I remembered that I got a picture of myself at the end of a Kite Aerial Photography session on the previous Sunday. By chance, KAP'rs who use autoKAP tend to get these types of shots when pulling the kite in. Since I don't have much hair left on top, I got many compliments on the facial hair, but decided that it just wasn't me. Maybe I'll try again in the winter when it's not so hot.

For images from the Sunday KAP session, click here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tow of Shame...

This was a rescue on Lake Mendota this past Sunday. This e-Scow need the "tow of shame" back to hoofers after righting it. We ended up snapping 3 lines trying to get this over-turned and towed dry. These guys were good sports abut being rescued.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


We were fortunate enough to have 3 people on the warm up run this morning, and decided to get a few images of the sailboats coming around the windward buoy for the Sunday Morning Mendota Yacht Club race. The wind had picked up slightly from the earlier morning session, and decided on going with the Flowform 16. There wasn't enough time and/or wind to get the remote control rig untangled and ready for flight, so I used the static KAP rig purchased from This is more of a light-wind rig anyway, and we didn't have time to mess around with anything else. We launched just upwind of the buoy and watcehd as the e-Scows, MC Scows, and cruisers cam around the mark. For additional shots from this aerial session, click here.

KAP, New Kite in Close Quarters

The wind was up enough this morning where I got to try out my new Kite, a Fled purchased from This is normally a light wind kite, and there probably wasn't enough to get out my FlowForm 16. Plus, I was standing on the breakwater in front of the UW Lifesaving Station, and there wasn't alot of room to fly. The high aspect ratio of the fled was perfect. After an equipment malfunciton on the fled, which led to it getting wet, we were ready to fly and attach the camera. This wasn't a long session, but good to see how a different kite performed. Got a few shots of the Verex Plaza building next door with some cool reflections. My main reason for shooting here was to get another set of shots for a photo book I'm doing about the Lifesaving station. I'm fairly confident that some of these shots are perspectives that have never been seen, let alone photographed. The new kite flew well, as the wind picked up, and never really worried that the camera was in jeopardy of getting wet. "The Todd" showed up and helped me pull everything in.

For additonal images from this session, click here. (Including Verex Plaza, The Capitol, and Madison Isthmus.)