In-Action Photography*

As photographers we are on the sidelines using our cameras to capture the moment and capture the action. As an active person, naturally, we want to participate in sport activities.

However, in my experience, cameras and active sports do not seem to go together very well. I been frustrated with cameras since they were not designed for active participation in sport activities. Large SLR’s require two hands to operate, and most point-n-shoot cameras didn’t have suitable image quality. Neither camera types are rugged and waterproof. Actually, during the past 20 years, I have destroyed (and drowned) a few cameras trying to combine sport and photographing the action.

Until now.

In August 2011 I bought a GoPro camera. It is small (fits in the palm of my hand), waterproof, has an interval timer, and HD video. Additional specifics can be found on the GoPro website (http://gopro.com/). For a photographer, the GoPro has one setting – On or Off, and does not have any user adjustable exposure settings. Also, it only comes with one lens. Are these limitations ?. No, since they free the photographer to concentrate on the photo, and not be burdened with adjusting exposure or wondering if they are using the right lens for the situation. For an active person wanting to photograph sports events, the GoPro accessories are available for attaching to bicycle handlebars, seat posts, helmets, a head and chest harness, and using the stick-on brackets can be attached to almost anything. The small size of the GoPro and the variety of available (and easily customized) brackets and harness allow a full range of movement for any sport or activity.

Now, the photographer can be in the action, photograph the action, and no longer burdened by a camera*.

In-Action Photography* refers to photography where the photographer is photographing the action while in the action. This differes from Action Photography, which is photography of an action (e.g. sports event) and does not specifically refer to the photographer being part of the action.
All the photos on this page were captured by the photographer.   Downhill skiing photos captured using a GoPro on a chest harness, and kite skiing photos by a GoPro attached on the ski tip using a custom bracket. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Downhill skiing – unburdened by a camera
Check the shadow – try that with a hand held camera !

 

 

 

 

Cutting the Soft Stuff – kite skiing

 

 

Shadow at lower right corner is the GoPro

More kite skiing photos are on this link

Roy’s Audiotronic

A blustery spring afternoon seemed like the perfect time to wander through Roy’s Audiotronic shop on the lower level of the Yk Mall in Yellowknife NWT.

Click on the image for a larger view.

To view the 360 degree animation click on this image

Click the icon on the upper right corner of the animation to get a full view. Click the mouse and drag the screen to move around.

This animation requires the Quicktime Player.

Camera gear: Nikon D700 and Samyang/Bower 8mm on a 7 foot pole. Four pictures were combined to create the panorama images.

Silence the Critics

Believe it – there are Creative Critics in your Head !

Actually, your head has two Creative Critics; one is your Personal Creative Critic, and the other one is for everyone else.

So, what’s the big deal ?. According to CreativeMinds.Org (http://creativeminds.org/articles/age.htm) by age 12 we are only using 2% of our creative potential, and that is all we have for the rest of our lives. Where did the other 98% go ?.  CreativeMinds.Org suggests that our creativity is lost through the rules of society, the education system, habits, employment or social hierarchy (where you assume that your subordinates actually believe that you are all knowledgeable).    These may all be valid observations. I see the Critic as the most destructive method of Creativity.  Your own Creativity is stifled by your Personal Creative Critic [Self-Criticism] (“I am not good enough”, “their work is so much better”)…bang…Creativity is dead. Criticism from others is also (unfortunately) a very effective way of killing Creativity (“Why do you spend so much time on that”, “If you need a Photo.. I’ll take it for you”).

Photography is 90% creative and 10% technical. Anyone can learn the technichal apects; how to use a camera, and how to adjust exposure. Being creative with that black box is far more challenging. At times, my Personal Creative Critic takes over, not even letting me put the camera to my eye. I can carry my camera for hours and not even take one photo…’everyone is watching me’ or ‘if i take a picture of this – people will stop and stare’. Have you ever noticed how other people react when you put a camera to your eye ? It seems asthough the world stops and all eyes are on you.  Maybe it is just my Personal Creative Critic.

It is hard overcomming the Personal Creative Critic. Just when you have beat it down, along comes the other Critic – Someone else. ‘I told you …do it this way’….’why are your lines crooked’….Bang…Bang…Bang.

Standing up to Criticism is the hardest thing that we have to overcome. For sum of us, it is easier than for others.

Hang on to that remaining 2% of your Creative potential and don’t let is be pounded down by the Critics.

Kite Skiing: Tips for Beginners

A few weeks ago and kite skiing friend (Chris – not his real name) mentioned that he was going to sell his kite –
“Why” I asked, “kiting is an awesome sport, what’s up”

Chris, is an emergency room doctor and over the past few months had seen several patients with serious kite skiing related head injuries. For Chris, the thrill of kite skiing was gone, replaced with the fear of a head injury.

As an avid kite skier, I had to know what had caused these injuries, and why were so many people getting seriously injured. Without providing specific details, Chris mentioned that the four casualties were all relatively new to the sport of kite skiing. Thinking back to when I started kite skiing 10 years ago, yes, I did have more accidents. Some of those accidents were due to the sport being new to Yellowknife and the lack of experienced kite skiers, some accidents due to my lack of experience, and other accidents related to doing stunts (e.g. intentionally getting lifted). Also, the kite that I purchased on-line was a whopping 4.9m (square meters). At the time, this was considered ‘far too big, and I would get hurt’. Fortunately, none of my crashes were serious and I quickly gained sills and experience.

Ten years later, I am still using that same kite. The kiting scene in Yellowknife has changed dramatically; more kiters, there is a licensed kite school and the kites are now 12 to 20 meters in area. You can’t even buy a kite as small as mine anymore. Nowadays, the kites are very different in design than my now vintage kite. A suitable analogy would be, my kite as a 1950’s sports car and modern kites akin to a Ford 350; big, powerful and with extra features like cruise control and airbags. Really, those new kites are big and powerful and can actually be flown with one hand !

So, going back to why have there been four serious kite skiing head injuries during the past few months ?. I don’t think we will ever know exactly what happened, and it would not be fair of me to speculate on what happened.

Instead, I’ve created a list of 10 tips to pass on to beginner kite skiers. These are based on personal experience of 10 yeas of kite skiing, and conversations with other, experienced kite skiers.

  1. Always wear a Helmet: Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury when your head comes down hard on the snow.
  2. Watch the Clouds: Fast moving clouds are a warning that a wind pattern is imminent.
  3. Know your Wind Limit: Know your wind comfort zone and if the wind gets too strong, then pack up and go home.
  4. Watch for Obstructions: Keep your eyes on the path in front of you and do no watch only kite. Hitting a snowbank at high speed can be very painful.
  5. Stay Away from Bare Ice: The metal edges of skis (or snowboards) are not designed for ice. In a strong wind, they will slide out from under you.
  6. Use a Safety Harness: If you suddenly are overpowered by the wind and are out of control, a safety harness, connected to your break lines gives you the ability to completely let go of your kite and it will not blow away.
  7. Learn the Rules of Kite Skiing: Although the link refers to kite surfing, the rules and concepts are the same for kite skiing.
  8. Do Not Attempt Stunts until you have mastered the basic techniques.
  9. Icy Snow, epically after a thaw and freeze cycle is unforgiving. Sharp snow can shred your kite and you, and is really fast. I usually wait until the snow has softened. Your knees will than you.
  10. Get a lesson or two from a licensed instructor.

Have fun.