Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kootenay Krusher 2011 @ Nipika

Yesterday WAS the last day of summer. Today it was definitely fall. It was chilly, windy, cloudy, sunny, rainy ... all in a 3 hour time frame.

Believe it or not, we didn't get rained on by this squall:

The Kootenay Krusher is a 50km cross country mountain bike race, based out of the beautiful Nipika Mountain Resort.

My photography skills took a leap forward today on several levels: For the first time I was totally comfortable adjusting focal length up or down while I was taking photo's using back button focusing, in the 5 seconds or so it took each rider to pass my vantage point. Also, with the constantly changing lighting, I found myself adjusting exposure almost without thinking about it! Woohoo, maybe I'm actually on my way to being a professional photographer!

I'm really tired, so there's just one race photo at this point - this chap was the first past me ... whether he actually won the race, I don't know:

I'll be posting more photo's to the Smugmug gallery this week. I took almost 600 photo's in a two-hour time frame, so I think I caught everyone!

An interesting aside: The best lighting conditions (ie: not in deep, dark forest) on the course were along a ridge beside the river. Or rather, above the river. This is a pretty good view of what I saw when I looked down to my right ... no idea how deep the canyon is, my guess is between 50m and 75m.

Another shot of the canyon, showing the incredible rock formations along the wall of the ravine.

Oh, another thing I learned today: My quick release plate (connects my camera to the tripod) doesn't "bind" to the camera properly. Even when using just the 24-70mm lens, when I tried to take a series of shots for hdr processing, the lens did a slow dive, resulting in unusable images. Just another reason that I need to upgrade my tripod and its accessories!

PS: I forgot to mention: We heard from a couple of bikers "be aware there's a grizzly up there" pointing in the direction we'd come from, where our car was parked. Let me tell you, it is very different having the possibility of a grizzly encounter when one's at least 30 minutes' hike from the vehicle ... than it is from being safely in that vehicle! We never did see what turned out to be a juvenile grizzly that was being a pest ... thank goodness!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Headbanger Trail Challenge 2011

What a great weekend for a last blast of summer action! Bluebird skies, temperatures in the mid- to high-20s Celsius, light breezes ...

Today I went to Radium Hot Springs to watch the Headbanger Trail Challenge ... and 11km cross country trail run, with a lot of steep ups and downs!

There didn't appear to be all that many competitors, perhaps about 100, but what they lacked in numbers they made up in spirit and determination! I stationed myself in Elk Park Ranch, at a point that I believe was just over halfway through the course, so people were starting to feel it by the time they passed me.

Imagine my delight when the first person to run by was a lady (and a cheerful one, at that!):

I have got a bunch of photo's up on my Smugmug gallery - and there will be more coming soon!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Columbia Valley Autumn Show & Shine 2011

Who knew that Radium Hot Springs, just up the road from us, hosts one of the biggest Show 'n Shine events in BC?!

Over 600 cars of all types showed up yesterday ... exhausting, if you'll excuse the pun!

Shooting at a car show is very difficult. People are everywhere. Stepping into your shot, throwing shadows in bad places, sitting in their camp chairs so close to the vehicles that you can't shoot without getting the people in the shot, signs and stickers are all over the vehicles ("do not touch", the vehicles' pedigrees, etc).

To add to the challenge, yesterday the weather was very changeable. One minute dark overcast, the next blinding fall sunshine. Happily, it didn't rain on us, even though there were showers moving all around the valley, circling us!

We spent over three hours there, walking up and down row upon row of cars, all buffed up for the day ... or not. I have to admit, after about 300 I reached surfeit, but Paul was having such a ball that I followed along, right to the bitter end. I'm glad I did, too - I know very little about cars, but I know what I like in a car when I see it!

My legs are telling me about it today, complaining whenever I move: Particularly my right quad, which is SO stiff after all the kneeling and getting up, kneeling and getting up.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the older vehicles. Those that had been restored to their former glory were lovely - although some people's choice of paint colour left a bit to be desired! And the less said about the people who decorated their cars with fluffy toys, the better.

I was especially enamored with a handful of project cars which were barely in running order, and more than showing their age in their body work. I haven't got to those in my post processing yet, so you'll have to wait and watch for them on my smugmug page ... the photo's posted here are just my fav's from the first batch of about 40 photo's that I've processed so far.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nearly There!

I can't believe it, myself.

It's a little over a year since I took the plunge.

I committed to a complete career change by taking a professional photography course through the New York Institute of Photography.

I reported to you, in February 2011, at the halfway point of the journey, of my progress.

Now, suddenly, I'm so close to the end of this particular stretch of road.

I've successfully passed my final examination, and am two shots into the photo project series of 9 images that will make up my last submission to the school.

My aim is to have mailed the last package to the college by the end of this month.

Hopefully, I'll receive my assessment by the end of October.

And I'll receive my graduation certificate by the end of 2011.

As promised, I'll post all the images from my last three units, along with the comments from my instructor, once that last result is returned to me.

Watch for it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Camera Club Outing

Yesterday evening one of our camera club members generously opened his home to camera club members, so that we could shoot the scenery across the valley ... and try out some of his very cool gear!

I started off by experimenting some more with hdr since the conditions, with the haze and the setting sun shining right in our faces, really lent themselves to it! Here are a couple of results (shot with my Canon 7D with the 24-70mm 2.8L lens):

See these two photo's on my Smugmug page.

Then I got to play! Phil had a 600mm telescope set up on a very sturdy tripod, so we attached my 7D to that and I spent the next hour or so having a blast!

Of course, shooting with such a long lens means that the very slightest movement throws off the sharpness of the photo, so these aren't great. Really need a cable release for the shutter for this type of photography ... oh boy, the wish list is getting longer!

Here are some of the shots I took with the 600mm telescope, all at iso 200, manual focus, with the subjects' distances vary from about 10 meters to about 1+ kilometer from where we were standing. Amazing!

Can't resist sprinklers! Across the valley. 1/1000sec

It was fireweed (about 10m). 1/500sec

Senior cat (about 20m). 1/125sec

Looking behind me (about 40m). 1/800sec

A bit of side lighting (about 20m). 1/250sec

Did I mention, I can't resist sprinklers? Across the valley. 1/1600sec

And now for something completely different! This is an hdr I attempted with the telescope. Not sure what happened, but it didn't work too well! I was about to delete this image then thought, "No, it looks like one of those artificially-coloured images from back in the day when photo's were on glass slides!" What do you think? I'm not sure if I love it, or if I should have just nuked it and forgotten about it!

Weekend Work

This past weekend saw the last two days of downhill mountain biking at Panorama Resort's bike park.

The weather was awesome - cool mornings, balmy (hot!) late summer afternoons - and it was a long weekend, so lots of people came out to play!

This time, I was shooting general public riding, not competition racers. I found a pretty good spot where I could catch the action if anyone decided to brave the jumps, but I also had a good view of a couple of other scenic spots for the less hardcore riders.

I spent from noon to 3pm daily, at the drop park and on Rocking Horse trail, enjoying shooting, and just being in the alpine. Because the slopes are north-facing, though, the position of the sun made shooting quite a challenge, so I hope people will like what I caught!

I have posted galleries from both days, Saturday and Sunday, on my Smugmug site, so feel free to browse. Here are some samples of the angles I had:

This was the first time that I used my "sandwich board" sign, placed that the bottom of the lift so that all riders heading up the hill knew where I'd be. Very few business cards were taken from the dispenser ... but there's already been quite a bit of traffic to my website, viewing these two galleries! How that works, I don't know, but I'll take it! (Just hope some sales will follow, eh!)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Doing My Own Photography

I feel like I haven't been doing much work lately ... I've been spending a lot of time online, and studying, and I've been doing quite a bit of assisting, but not much actually taking photo's of my own.

There have been a couple of opportunities, though.

A few days ago, there was some really dramatic light over Mount Nelson - I captured this view from our deck:

And this is an hdr attempt from yesterday. It was taken at one of the viewpoints overlooking the Columbia Valley, just south of Radium Hot Springs. I was trying to capture the late summer colours ... and the dusting of new snow on the peaks. I quite like it - what do you think?

This weekend is the last weekend of mountain biking at Panorama Resort, so I'll be heading up there for a couple of hours of what will hopefully be action shooting later today. I just hope that the mercury rises a bit - the day started at 1.4C!