Sunday, July 31, 2011

Test Run of the Kayak-Cam at Buckshort Bridge

Last week I posted about Operation Kayak-Cam, in which I fashioned a mount for my Flip UltraHD Video Camera and Underwater Case to my kayak.

Yesterday, we were finally able to go to the river for a test run. With fishing gear in tow, three friends and I headed down to the Locust Fork at Buckshort Bridge in Mount Olive. We had no success fishing, and so began to find other valuable uses for the kayaks. So while none of this video may be life-changing, perhaps it will serve to show the success of my modification and evidence how to go about jumping from a kayak.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Operation Kayak-Cam

For some time, I and my paddling cohorts have made great use of my Flip UltraHD Video Camera and its Flip Video Underwater Case while on the water. This is my second such Flip, because the first one is still probably at the bottom of the Mulberry Fork somewhere, or perhaps is made its way down to the Gulf by now.

But there has long been a limitation...recording while paddling is very problematic. We overcame this obstacle a couple different times, but only in a limited fashion.

  • In March at Kings Bend by wedging the camera between Tyler's life-jacket, as can be seen beginning at the 8:30 mark in this video
  • And most recently at the Hargrove Shoals, where I can be seen to be dumped out of my boat, beginning at 1:24 in the video below.

Well as I saw it, there were a couple of ways to rectify the situation. I could buy a helmet cam, which would, of course, be the best and most practical way to go. However, it's not the most economical. So I thought up a way to make a mount, though it did require me to risk ruining my underwater housing for my Flip and drilling a hole in my kayak. But sometimes the risk is worth the reward.

So Operation Kayak-Cam commenced...

I was determined to drill the hole for the mount just north of the cockpit, so that the camera will be easily within arms reach, and I'll be able to leash it to the boat. To mount the camera to the boat, I took a lightweight tripod head (Slik SBH-100DQ Ball Head with Quick Release) that I carry on my monopod, and screwed it to boat.

Using the tripod head, should create a stable platform to hold the camera steadily in a fixed position. In addition to the Flip, I drilled a hold in the waterproof housing I built for my Panasonic DMC-LX3, which will give me the opportunity to take still photographs or video.

Now I'm all set to hit the water and give this setup a trial run. Here's hoping it works as well in practice as it appears it will in theory.

    Rowdy Weather on the Warrior River

    I was down at the Locust Fork in Warrior the other evening working on some time lapse photography, when a storm blew in pretty quickly from the east. Mostly, the camera and I were protected from the rain by the bridge, under which we were set up, but for good measure, I wrapped a towel a couple of times around the camera. The storm rolled in with some ugly clouds, stirred up a lot of wind, dropped a little rain, and moved on in a matter of thirty minutes or so. Fortunately, it left me with the nice photos, that reflect some odd lighting.

    Canon Rebel T2i, Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X, 1/13s @ f/8, ISO 100

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Rocky Mountain Nostalgia

    I was looking through some older photos, and came across the one below. It may not look like much now, but it is the one that really sparked my interest in photography. It's the first photo that I remember focusing on composition and perspective. I was armed with only an Olympus point-and-shoot. This photo holds a special place for me not only because it was taken at Silver Creek (where my grandparents used to take us skiing every year), but also because if not for it, none of the others may have come into existence.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Misty Morning at Black Creek Park

    I run through Black Creek Park in Fultondale semi-regularly as I alter my running courses to add a little variety. On Monday, I decided to carry my LX3 with me in a pouch I bought for just that purpose. Since Monday's wasn't a "serious" run, I pre-determined that I didn't mind stop if something struck me. And indeed, I was stricken.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Time Lapse :: A Precipital Pattern

    My lightning photograph from earlier this week, exhibited something of a mistake during my continuing time lapse photography experiment. This, however, illustrates, my most successful attempt yet. Now that I have a fully-functional video editor, each frame is only shown for 0.03 seconds, which allows for about 30fps and a much more fluid time lapse effort.

    Paddling the Hargrove Shoals Section of the Cahaba River

    With enough summer rain this week to paddle any number of places, yesterday, Tyler and I paddled the Hargrove Shoals section of the Cahaba. This is the primary run from which you can enjoy the Cahaba Lilies from about mid-May to mid-June.

    The put-in for the run is within the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, at Piper Landing on River Trace Rd. The take-out is a little less than 7 miles downriver on County Road 26 at Pratt's Ferry Preserve. Each of these locations can be found on the Alabama Paddling Launch Sites map.

    There are three sections of rapids along this run. For the first two, you should remain to the far left, for the best rapids. On the third, stay to the far right. When we ran the river, the Centreville gage was reading about 800cfs and falling quickly. We scraped a bit on shoals, but it was definitely runnable; never had to get out of the boat. The river would be optimal at 1000cfs+.

    After the third section of rapids, you'll enter something of a gorge. From this point, the take-out is still more than a mile distant. The gorge is also the end of the national wildlife refuge; you cannot camp within the refuge's boundaries, but are able to anywhere after you enter the gorge section.

    So here's the video of our venture.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    from Last Night's Storm

    I was working on another time-lapse video yesterday, as the storm approached. But I abandoned my efforts when I realized that, again, I had positioned my camera in the vertical/portrait rather than horizontal/landscape orientation that is necessary. Nonetheless, my efforts were not entirely in vain.

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Xanthous Glow of the Parking Deck

    2nd Avenue Parking Deck Panorama :: Birmingham, Alabama

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Gone Fishin' at the Locust Fork

    Tyler and I went fishing for a couple hours this afternoon. We put in at the Warrior-Kimberly bridge, and let the current carry us downstream a bit. After a few days of nice rain, the river was running nicely.

    As per usual, I didn't catch anything. I did have about a half-dozen minnows following my lure every time I cast. And I did have a little bass strike at it once, but he wasn't too tempted either.

    Tyler on the other hand...

    ...caught three fish within the first twenty minutes. His last catch was the minnow here; I didn't even know you could catch a minnow. Below is Tyler reeling in his river monster.


    Here's a little video of our first kayak-fishing expedition.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    New Lenses for my Minolta SRT 202

    A couple of months ago, I was given a Minolta SRT 202, and only recently finished putting my first and second rolls of film through the camera. The camera was without a lens, so my first purchase was a Minolta Rokkor-PF 55mm f/1.7 lens, which though gently used, functions really well and has clean glass.

    I really wanted to diversify my lens collection, but without great cost, because my gear budget is slim right now. So I ventured on over to KEH, my favorite retailer for used cameras and lenses. There I found three lenses that cost me a grand total of $30.

    Vivitar MC 28mm f/2.8 :: To be honest, I don't love a 28mm lens and can't often find a place for one in my camera bag. But in this instance, I thought I might sometimes need something wider than 35mm, and I couldn't justify springing for a 24mm lens at this point.

    This Vivitar is the lightest lens I have ever held. The barrel is made entirely of plastic, except for the lens mount. That doesn't really bother me much in this case, as I don't expect it to be much abused. The front of the lens extends as the lens is focused. It has a 49mm filter thread, which for me is unfortunate, as I have no other lenses of that thread size, and hence no filters - I may have to search out a step-up ring.

    Soligor 35mm f/2.8 :: Considering it's ordinary size, the Soligor lens is inordinately heavy. If I get in a bind while hiking and run across some wild beast, I have no doubt I could effectively brain it with the chunk of glass and metal.

    The lens also has the distinction of the focus ring rotating in the opposite direction of the other lenses I have for the Minolta. Having said all that, I am excited to use this lens, as the 35mm focal length is one of my favorites. So here's hoping that the optics deliver, since it will likely be much used.

    Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 :: The 135mm focal length is another that I don't find much use for (although I did use it on its first trip out. This lens is stout and has a built-in hood, as did most telephoto lenses of its generation. I hope to find more use for it than I have similar lenses in the past.

    I hope to add some more lenses to my Minolta family in the future, perhaps some wides or super-wides. Maybe I'll even get adventurous and try out a tilt-shift lens. Any suggestions of noteworthy lenses would be appreciated.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Pump House on Village Creek in Roebuck, Alabama

    Village Creek Pump House in Roebuck, Alabama
    Multi-Exposure Panorama :: Canon Rebel T2i, Tamron LD Di 70-300mm

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    The Old Mill on Shades Creek

    On this site, an early inhabitant of Birmingham once operated a grist mill, in which he would grind farmers' corn into meal. In the mid-1880s, after twenty years of operation, the grist mill ceased to be operational.

    Minolta SRT 202, Soligor 35mm f/2.8, Kodak Gold 200
    In 1927, the present structure was erected by the founder of Mountain Brook. Although it is not a functional mill, it served as a restaurant for towngoers for more than twenty years.

    Minolta SRT 202, Rokkor-PF 55mm f/1.7, Kodak Gold 200
    Minolta SRT 202, Vivitar MC 135mm f/2.8, Kodak Gold 200
     Following that, it became a private residence, which function it served for some fifty years.

    Canon T2i, Tokina AT-X 12-24mm f/4

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Greenwood Cemetery, Vol. 2

    Today, I finished the second roll of film that was begun about a month ago at Greenwood Cemetery (a previous posting on the first roll can be found here). I think perhaps these are not the best photographs on this roll (some photos of an old mill on Shades Creek will be shown soon - likely tomorrow), but a few are worth sharing nonetheless. All of these photos were shot on my Minolta SRT 202, Rokkor-PF 55mm f/1.7 lens, and Kodak Gold 200 film.

    This final photo is entirely irreverant, but I figured since I wasn't the one defiling the place, I could at least be the one to denote its having been done. I at least need to come up with some clever title for it, like: Beer, a Bra, and Burial Plots.