Monday, August 29, 2011

Mendota Yacht Club PAP

Sitting upwind of the windward mark, I used my Sony NEX-5 on my trusty Carp pole to get some low-level aerial shots of the sailboats as the rounded the mark. I was able to capture the e-Scow fleet, and then the keelboats as the turned to head downwind.

For additional images from this session, click here.

DIY Joby Skates!

This project came from seeing a Kickstarter project post for CineSkates by Justin Jensen, where he's created a commercial motion dolly that works with the Joby Focus GorillaPod flexible tripod. The availability of his skates won't come until October at the earilest since he's still trying to raise captiol, so I decided to see if I could create some of my own. The basic premise is to have a portable dolly that is flexible in usage to capture smooth motion video sequences. I headed to the Home Depot to investigate possible parts.

The first obstacle is finding a cheap solution for holding the last segment of the flexible tripod to the skate mount, and hoped that a PVC end cap wold work. The sizing was almost perfect, and was snug. I personally had all of the other parts I would need to create a prototype.

I don't have time today to go into all the details of this build, so the pictures hopefully will tell the rest of the story. Start by drilling a hole in the end cap for the 1/4" bolt.

Secure the bolt with a nut, and add the aluminum bracket. I created the bracked from stock aluminum that you can find a Home depot, cut to length, used a vice to bend it, and drilled holes.

The bolt needed to hold the skate wheels to the bracket is 5/16". You should use 2" bolts, but I only had 1.5", and was just long enough to make this work. I added some spacer washers to the inside, as the bearings don't sit flush with the wheel edge.

Even though the feet of the Joby Focus tripod were somewhat snug into the PVC cap, I found that taking some cotton fabric made as a shim made the fit better.

Although the rig was stable enough to hold a dSLR camera, I found it was more rigid when I used my Sony NEX-5 or GoPro HD Hero as the camera. I think that this is more to do with the weight limitations of the Joby tripod than the skates.

Here is some sample footage from the JobySkates DIY rig:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Memorial Union Terrace Pole Aerial Photography

Got up this morning and headed down to the Memorial Union to get some pictures of the terrace before anyone showed up. 3 unlucky souls were picking up garbage, and rearranging the tables and chairs into nice rows. It was a beautiful, sunny morning with great sunlight to cast shadows from the Terrace chairs. Here are a few of my favorites:

Selective Orange

Lone Green Chair

Bizarro: Alternate Colors on the Terrace

Sunflower Shadow on the Terrace

For additional images from this session, click here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lake Mendota Kite Aerial Photography

Wind conditions were perfect yesterday for a quick KAP session out on Lake Mendota. We headed out to where the Yacht club was racing, and caught the last lap of their final race. This was my first session with the Sony NEX-5 as my primary KAP camera, and I have a ton of tweaking to do. Here are a few of the keepers.

Good friends of mine were out sailing and sailed over to capture a few aerial images of their boat, H8, Great Expectations. Although I was using my AutoKAP rig, which automagically turns and pivots, I was able to get a few shots of them sailing underneathe my camera and kite.

I also had the GoPro rig up on the kite line, and got a few wide angle shots of the sailors.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GoPro HD Hero Conquers The Rock!

I left the house on Sunday morning with thunderstorms rolling through the area, and heavy down pouring rain on my way to Janesville, so I opted to keep my more expensive photography gear at home. Instead, I only brought my GoPro HD hero tackle box filled with accessories. The weather cleared and we had an incredible day wakeboarding and attempting to wakesurf on the Rock River. I had 2 GoPro HD Hero cameras going almost the entire day, some capturing video and sometimes get time lapse sequences. I used a combination of mounts including the Bike seat post mount for the rope handle, the roll bar mount for the wakeboard tower, DIY Chesty, and the motor sports mount to suction cup the camera to the stern of the boat. Upload the vids to Animoto, and voilĂ !

Click on Image Below to Watch Video
Wakeboarding / Wakesurfing on the Rock River: Shot Exclusively on a GoPro HD Hero Camera  © Copyright m2 Photography - Michael J. Mikkelson 2011. All Rights Reserved. Images can not be used without permission.
Shot exclusively on a couple of GoPro HD Hero cameras!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Old Sign

Before the cell phone, or even the 2-way radio, the University of Wisconsin Lifesaving Station used horn blasts to signal to the Rescue boat where trouble was located on Lake Mendota. This sign has been hanging in the newer boathouse for over 50 years, and the sign itself is probably closer to 75 years old. This image was put together from 28 different exposures captured using the Promote Control, and then combined with Photomatrix Pro using the Grunge setting.

Monday, August 1, 2011

UW Lifesaving Station Star Trails

After the "Steel Wool" session, I set the 2 camera's up to make an attempt at Star Trail photography. This is normally tough to do within the city limits of Madison due to all the light pollution. However, it was a new moon on a relatively clear night, with some haze from the humidity. I've worked at the University of Wisconsin Lifesaving Station for almost 20 years, and thought that this would make a great image if I could find the right night. All images were combined using the StarTrails program.

This is the same image as the first one above, but includes a few more images that were deleted from the first picture because of car headlights pulling into the parking lot. Gives a different look with the building illuminated.

3rd Attempt at Steel Wool Photography

Saturday night was hot and humid, and I got the assistance from Scuba Steve to try another attempt at Steel Wool photography. The UW Lifesaving Station, where we both work part-time, is completely built from concrete, and makes a fantastic spot to bounce sparks off of. Using the new and updated steel wool rig we made attempts with 2 cameras, each with 30 second exposures, at different locations around the boathouse.

This one was taken at an elevated view from the parking lot, while Steve lit the wool from the breakwater giving a great reflection off the water.

I like this one because of the sparks bouncing off the concrete building.

Terrace Chair HDR

The colorful and iconic chairs that are found on the Memorial Union terrace at the University of Wisconsin are sought after, and you can purchase and entire set for about $600. Unfortunately, the ones you buy only come in Red and White, and the only way to get the other colors is to try and walk off the terrace with one, as you are confronted by University Police. Amazingly enough, there are students who seem to think that throwing anything into the lake after a night of drinking on the terrace would be fun. We fished these chairs off the bottom of Lake Mendota, and I decided to take some pictures of them before they made their way back to the terrace. Using a shop light to create a flower shadow on the wall, I tested out my somewhat new Promote Control to get 28 exposures and combined them in Photomatrix Pro with the Grunge option.

The UW Lifesaving Station has been around since 1907, but the new boathouse was built in the 1960's. This image shows an old ring buoy hanging on the wall, probably since the building was created. The Grunge effect in Photomatrix really showcases the filth that has accumulated in the last 40-50 years...