Wednesday, April 29, 2009

UW Lifesaving Station 100 Year Anniversary T-Shirts

This summer we will be celebrating the 100th Year Anniversary of the University of Wisconsin, Lifesaving Station. It looks like we'll be having an open house on Friday, June 12th, and an award presentation down at Hoofers on Saturday, June 13th. We have designed a commemorative T-Shirt for the occasion, and will be available for probably 20 bucks. I am posting this to start the process of getting sizes lined up. If you want one, please contact Mike Mikkelson by using the form located here on the m2 Photography website. The design isn't final, but will look similar to this:

Front Design:

Back Design:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Review: PocketWizard FlexTT5 and MiniTT1

I finally received my PocketWizard FlexTT5 and MiniTT1 last week and have had only a couple of times to play with them. This is my first opportunity to venture into Off-Camera flash, and hope to build on this basic set up. I immediately plugged into the devices and upgraded the firmware to the lastest version posted on the website. The MiniTT1 fits on the hot show nicely, and is non-obtrusive. The FlexTT5 has a hot show mount, and I was also pleasantly surprised by the standard threaded mount for Tri-Pods. I have a few mounting different options like the Gorrillapod, Monster Pad, tripods, and the basic table-top mount that comes with the Canon Speedlight. In my basic tests, setup is very intuitive, and worked the first time as advertised. I plan on doing some more extensive tests on the range and also the hypersync technology. There is one issue with the Canon 5D Mark II where you cannot have a flash on-camera in the hotshoe while using the remote flashes. They have posted that this will be a firmware upgrade resolved in the future. (I only have one flash curently, so no way to test) I am now convinced that I need at least one or two more of these for my camera bag, and will be my next purchase. I believe that these are still back-ordered at B&H, but you may be able to find them at other retailers.

FlexTT5 and MiniTT1.

FlexTT5 sitting on table-top flash mount with Canon Speedlight on top.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I was doing some research on volunteer organizations for photographers and came across one called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. This is an organization that helps overcome the grief and pain of losing a baby shortly after childbirth by offering photography services by professional photographers at no charge. The photographers volunteer their time to capture a terminal baby and family while the child is still in the hospital. Knowing that you're child is going to pass has to be devastating enough, but to have the courage to have a stranger come and take intimate photographs during some final moments is difficult to imagine. I suppose that if you think about the emotions and need for healing after the fact, and what these type of images will do for the families, it is very noble for these photographers to do. A friend who works as a Physicians Assistant thought this was sort of morbid, and I explained that if she was someone who only had a small amount of time with their newborn before it died, wouldn't you want something, anything, to cherish years later? I was so heartbroken by their marketing presentation, that I instantly wanted to sign up. However, I'm thinking that this sensitive type of work needs plenty of thought before jumping in. I congratulate those volunteers who do this for families in need. Hopefully, m2 Photography will be able to help and be accepted into the program.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kickin' Cancer Kickball Tournament

The Ball Busters played Clearview Design, Inc. in the first round of the Kickin' Cancer Kickball tournament in Kenosha on Saturday, April 25th. Unfortunately, it started to Thunder and rain before the end of the first game, and the tournament was postponed until another day. The Ball Busters lost by 2 runs, but had a great time playing. Here are some shots before the rain. Additional images can be seen in the Kickin' Cancer Kickball gallery by clicking here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pole Aerial Photography

I wrote earlier about being World Wide Kite Aerial Photography week, and I'm suppose be out flying my kite to get aerial shots. Unfortunately, today was too windy to fly. Although the temperatures were in the 80's for the first time this year, the wind was out of the souht at 20-30Mph and gusty. It's just not safe to fly a kite and a camera, with the kite that I currently use. Therefore, I thought I would spend some time tonight rebuilding my Pole Aerial Photography rig. The is my second attempt. The first one was pretty much a step by step copy from the tutorial on MAKE DIY website. It used a remote control servo to perform a tilt function. The only problem is, in order to use the Remote Control, you need a second set of hands. I decided to go low tech on the second model and provide tilt with no servos. I think that the one from MAKE also had a servo to press the shutter, but I use an Intervelometer to take pictures continuously. You just have to guess what angle the camera needs to be at, or bring the camera back down to the ground to re-adjust. Since I use CHDK, more specifically StereoData maker, simplified version of CHDK, I just set the camera to keep taking pictures the entire time the rig is up. People spend upwards of $6,000 for professional telescoping equipment. This is a cheap method that almost anyone can do by visiting your local home improvement and hobby store.

This attaches to the end of a telescoping painting pole which was purchased from Home Depot.

This G9 is running StereoData Maker, a simplified version of CHDK.

For examples of Pole Aerial Photography in action, please vidit my Aerial Gallery or the PAP Flickr group. The Kite Aerial Photography community also has a Flickr group.

Panoramics, PhotoMerge, and Mauna Kea

I was testing the features of Adobe CS4 by using the PhotoMerge, and remembered that I took a series of shots when I was on the top of Mauna Kea in Hawai'i a couple of years ago. Normally, you need to stitch these photos together manually and try to line up and blend all of the images without seeing any photo fragments, and is very time consuming. Not so with PhotoMerge. There is even a shortcut menu in Adobe Bridge directly to PhotoMerge. Here are a couple of quick examples, that I also posted to a new panoramic Gallery.

I do need to get a better, non-intrusive watermark for photos that I'm sharing on the blog. If you click on each image, it will take you to a larger version on the m2 Photography website. Now that I know that it is extremely easy to make amazing panaoramics with Photomerge, you'll start seeing a lot more being posted any time I go somewhere interesting. The cool thing is these shots were taken with a point and shoot camera, so I'm really looking forward to trying this with a dSLR.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The Worldwide Kite Aerial Photography Week has been set for April 25th through May 5th. I know, that's more than a week, but is was suggested to include the possibility of having Cinco de Mayo images. Basically, the KAP community goes out and takes Aerial pictures during this period and uploads their results with some background information, and a book is published with the results. It's a unique colloborative event that celebrates the use of kites and cameras around the world. The forecast is in the next couple of days is really windy, almost too windy for the gear that I have. I am planning on trying to get at least one decent picture to be included in the book.

If you are interested in learning more about Kite Aerial Photography, visit the KAP forum hosted here. To see my aerial pictures, please visit my Aerial Gallery at

This is a photo that was captured in Mexico, at the Gran Bahia Principe resort. This is one of my favorites in the series. The trip was for a wedding, and the groom can be seen in this photo the day before the ceremony catching some rays. The weather was beautiful and breezy every day.