Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lake Geneva KAP on Ice!

I headed over to Lake Geneva today to do some Kite photography, and planned on a couple of sessions. After walking about 500 yards on the glare ice, I slipped and fell on my bag. Basically, I trashed my remote for the Gyro stabilized KAP rig. I wasn't about to try and take the remote apart out on the ice, and decided that it would be better to do a AutoKAP session with my AuRiCo rig. Unfortunately, I damaged the tilt servo on that on as well. No problem, just set it up with pan and no tilt, and I'm ready to go. Well, I hooked up the G11, and the flow-form 16 was up in the air with little problem. Problem is, I didn't clear the memory card off from the previous KAP session, and only got about 100 pictures before it filled up. No problem, I happened to have my GoPro HD Hero in the bag, and set it with a 2 second intervelometer. This little camera continues to amaze me and the color that I get out of it. Here are a few pics from the Lake Geneva Session.

I decided to venture over to the Yerkes Observatory after my session on the ice. This is becoming on of my favorite places to KAP. I was also able to test out and use my new Flow Form 30, which is my biggest kite. The wind was light but stable, and I even got to attach multiple rigs. Since the memory on my G11 was full, I had my G9 in the car, and used that for main rig. I also attached my GoPro Hero with my minimalist rig. Here are some shots from the Observatory.

Additional Images from the Lake Geneva session can be found here:

Additional Images from the Yerkes Observatory session can be found here:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pinnacle Studio 12 Ultimate and GoPro HD Hero: SmartMovie

I recently purchased the Pinnacle Studio 12 Ultimate software to natively edit the footage from my GoPro HD Hero. Normally, I would use Adobe Premiere CS4 or Sony Vegas to edit video, but the codec used by the HD Hero didn't play nicely with either of those very well. I decided to try something new with the Pinnacle product. Although the features aren't as robust as the Adobe software, there is a feature called SmartMovie that automatically compiles your videos into a music video. Much of the HD footage from the GoPro is repetitive, so this feature really saves time when putting together a quick production.

This video also tests various mounts using the GoPro HD Hero, and my dog Maximus volunteered to help be the subject of this video. Music was proved by Eric Brown, and is titled "Backyard." There are many different settings in the SmartMovie set up, and this one was using one called "Fast Pace." What I don't like is not having the ability to go back to the point before you created the SmartMovie. Basically, before running the SmartMovie script, save your file as a different name so you can come back to it. I found that after making the movie, I wasn't able to go back to the point right before the SmartMovie. The feature does analyze the music that you want to use, and shortens the video to the length of that audio. For quick an easy video mixes, and having the ability to edit the GoPro HD Hero videos, Pinnacle Studio 12 Ultimate is a great choice.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Double KAP Rig Session / Canon G11 with CHDK

I picked up a Canon G11 yesterday to help test out the newly ported CHDK. The benefits of the G11 to the G9 is a bigger image sensor and better image stabilization. The megapixels for this camera are lower than the G9, but it's nice that Canon finally put efforts into image improvement versus trying to appease customers who think that more MP's are better.

I couldn't wait to try it out, so I ventured to nearby Silver Lake in Wisconsin on a cloudy, foggy, and gloomy day. It was pretty wet, but I decided to go for it anyway. I also wanted to try the G11 on the gyro stabilized kite rig, and decided to mount a secondary camera to the line to capture video of the down-line kite rig. I used my GoPro HD Hero for the video, and used my simple Picavet from The GoPro was 170º at the 60fps 720p setting I was using. In the future, I will be overlapping the Picavet connections to the kiteline, and also using the full 1080p recording setting, as it captures at 127º. Here is the 2 cameras on the kite line, showing the FlowForm 16 kite up in the wind.

I cannot begin to judge the images captured from the G11 yet, as the conditions were less than ideal. I do like the swivel LCD screen more than I expected, as I now have the battery-saving option of closing the screen to extend the life of the session. Here are a few images of the snow and ice from this morning's session.

Here is the video from the HD Hero. Please keep in mind that this is played in real time with no image stabilization, and was used to see how the GS-1 Gyro servos performed on the lower KAP rig. Normally, if my goal was to capture video, I would use the Stabilized rig to reduce the jitters.

Click the image below to link to the Kite video...

Additional images from this session can be found here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Epson P-7000: Tethering Update

I posted a few months ago how to hack your Epson P-7000 photo viewer with a 500 Gb hard drive to increase the storage space. I just discovered that Epson has released a firmware update, although also a few months ago, that will allow camera tethering. This is great if you want to view the images automatically. It also gets you a second copy of the image. Currently, I believe that only select Canon and Nikon cameras support tethering. I downloaded the update from:

The initial testing that I performed showed pretty good performance. The transfer started almost immediately, and the files were on the P-7000 within a few seconds. When I took multiple shots, it took a bit longer, but caught up quickly.

Since the P-7000 has a bigger screen than my 5D Mark II, or 7D, with higher resolution, it will be nice to view critical shots almost instantly to ensure that they are clear and exposed correctly. I will be looking to get a second battery, as well as coming up with a mount for a tripod or monopod.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ziptrek Whistler, BC

We were traveling recently in Canada, vacationing in Whistler, British Columbia, on a snowboarding trip. We took a day off from the slopes to try a zipline tour provided by Ziptrek in the temperate rain forest between the Blackcomb and Whistler peaks. I brought along a GoPro HD Hero Video camera, as well as a Canon G9 with CHDK enabled. Katie and I took turns with the different cameras. The GoPro HD Hero was set to record at 60 frames per second at 720p. I put together a quick video from the results. We were lucky as there was plenty of snow the previous days before our ecotour on the ziplines, and the forest was completely covered in snow. It gave a very unique contrast in the pics and video, but also different than most who go on the zipline.

G9 Images:

Katie coming across the zipline through snow-covered trees.

Start of a zip-line.

Me on the zipline. You can see the starting platform in the background.

For additional images from the Whistler, Ziptrek gallery, please click here.