Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

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Powder in Kitzbuehel, Austria

Kitzbühel has always had a special meaning for me, because that’s where my Mom learned to ski many years ago. She was studying in Europe, and had the chance to ski in Austria one winter. Now, some ~40 years later, I live about an hour and fifteen minutes’ drive from there!

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The mountain is surrounded by several quaint little towns: Jochberg, Kitzbühel, and Kirchberg im Tirol, among others. One of its strengths is the huge amount of open, ungroomed terrain, which is fantastic when there is new snow.

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Under the lifts C1 and C2 (which arrive, respectively, at the tops of Steinbergkogel/1973m and Ehrenbachhöhe/1796m), there are a lot of steep inclines with few trees (sorry, no picture). Beware when there’s not enough snow; but normally by mid-winter it’s full of POW and ready for freshies whenever there’s a 6-12” dump.

Here’s a shot near one of the many lifts to Ehrenbachhöhe near the end of the day:

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Getting there:

  • Google map to my favorite starting lift, Fleckalmbahn (a gondola).
  • I found this incredibly geeky website which has a database of lifts. The link takes you to Steinbergkogel, complete with pictures of the slope below the lift. I love it!
  • Here’s a picture of the area below Steinbergkogel, where I think the best powder runs are. On the right, and in the bottom of the picture, where you see the shadows – that’s it!

Steinbergkogel_google_map

Posted 8 years, 8 months ago.

4 comments

Dutch Raceboarding Team

In December, a lot of racing teams head to the glaciers to get in extra practice before the snow starts falling at lower altitudes. I met some lovely raceboarder women at Hintertux, who (if I remember right) were from a Dutch snowboarding team. Here’s the best footage:

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Watch the video in HD on YouTube.

This was my second attempt at getting on-slope footage; the camera is now top-mounted to avoid neck strain from side-mounting. You can probably guess I was playing with the camera settings and stabilizing software. From this footage I learned that I need a faster shutter, at least 1/250 but more likely 1/500.

The combo of AviSynth, VirtualDub, and Deshaker to process the raw video is fantastic for the moving-camera scenes! I’m still loving the Canon HF200. You can read more about that in my previous helmetcam post.

The next videos I post will be even better, as I’ve added a ring sight to the camera rig now. However, I only have a minute or so of useable footage so far. Any raceboarders out there who want to volunteer as a film subject?

Posted 8 years, 8 months ago.

5 comments

Snowboarding Helmetcam: First Test!

I shot footage of some friends skiing and snowboarding at Hintertux in November. Finally, I’ve found time to stabilize the video files and edit everything. At some points, it looks almost as good as a steadycam would be. A few shots are not so stable; the first few (when it was cloudy/dark) were harder to stabilize. Here it is:

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Watch “Testing the Helmetcam” in HD on YouTube.

A few notes for the videographers out there. Optical stabilization sucks in high-G environments. In skydiving, and apparently snowboarding, it can make your footage even more shaky/unviewable than having no stabilization at all. This is due to the mechanically controlled optical element bouncing around in the lens at high-G.

Also, in these vibration-heavy environments you need a fast shutter speed. Otherwise you get strange moments (like you see in my video) where the scene seems to pop in and out of focus: these are heavy camera shocks blurring the motion!

To make the videos stable, I used Virtualdub (open source) with the Deshaker plugin (open source). It was a huge effort to set up and learn, and I’d only recommend it to fellow computer geeks.

For the next shoots, I’m going to use a shutter speed no less than 1/250th. I also have a skydiving ring sight on the helmet now, so I can keep the subject centered in the frame.

Camera: Canon Vixia HF200. Shot in 1920x1080PF. Editing software: Pinnacle Studio 14. It is a royal pain working with full HD files, even on a 3-core 2.something.GHz system. The high-quality deshaking method I’ve figured out takes 30-45min per minute of video. But the results are pretty!

Posted 8 years, 9 months ago.

8 comments

Snowboarding Helmetcam

The helmet camera has been upgraded with insulating Neoprene and a stereo Rode Videomic! The microphone has a “dead kitten” windscreen (no, I’m not making that up) which will hopefully cut out most of the wind noise and give me usable sound while on the slopes.

Yes, I look like a total idiot wearing this thing. It looks like I have a Don King bobble-head stuck on top of the helmet, pointy gray hair aimed forward.

I'm not sure I ever looked more silly.  Though hopefully no friends read this and feel the need to comment.

I'm not sure I ever looked more silly. Though hopefully no friends read this and feel the need to comment.

I have to say: Thanks to Mareike for the old wetsuit hoods that I sliced up to get this Neoprene! As she advised, Pattex Classic contact adhesive does an excellent job of bonding Neoprene. I also used it to glue the Velcro to the Neoprene (as the Velcro’s built-in adhesive tape wasn’t strong enough).

Front view of helmet camera setup

Front view of helmet camera setup

I mounted the Videomic (which has a standard flash accessory mount) by chopping up the top of an old camera, which I bought for €2 at Sauter camera shop in Munich.  I screwed the flash shoe of the old camera to the helmet, and used Loctite to make sure the screws stay tight.  To read more about the camera mounting bracket, please see my previous helmet camera post.

Angled view of helmet camera setup

Angled view of helmet camera setup

Now I have to see how the Canon HF200 battery does at low temperatures. Fortunately I did leave room inside the Neoprene sleeve for a hand warmer pack… and I have some! Thanks, Mom… although I doubt this was the use you intended when you gave them to me, hehe.

If all goes well I’ll have a chance to test this at the Hintertuxer Gletscher ski area this weekend. That is, if the snow stops falling for long enough. Stay tuned!

Posted 9 years ago.

3 comments

Snowboards 2009 Photo Shoot

Yesterday I talked with a friend about some Strobist stuff. I realized that I’ve hardly used my two off-camera flashes: a Vivitar 383 and a Nikon SB-600. Since I wanted some killer pics of my new Virus snowboard before I try some extreme carving with it, I thought this would be a good chance to play! The same techniques could be used for any shots, including travel photos if you choose to bring a bit of flash gear.

The flashes are to the top left and bottom right of the photo, with shoot-through umbrellas for soft light and less distinct shadows.

Santa Cruz 148, F2 Speedster SL 158, Virus X-Treme Carver Premium 162

Santa Cruz 148, F2 Speedster SL 158, Virus X-Treme Carver Premium 162

For the next photo I just added color gels to the flashes:

Red gel camera left, green gel camera right, shoot through umbrellas

Red gel camera left, green gel camera right, shoot through umbrellas

Now some solo photos, with no color gels. I also changed to the more focused reflective umbrellas here to get a better visual effect on the Virus’ nice carbon-fiber finish:

Virus X-Treme Carver Premium 162 - beautiful carbon fiber top for extra torsional stiffness, and super-sexiness!

Virus X-Treme Carver Premium 162 - beautiful carbon fiber top for extra torsional stiffness, and super-sexiness!

F2 Speedster SL 158 with Intec Titanium bindings - what a pretty board!

F2 Speedster SL 158 - what a pretty board!

Finally, here’s a setup shot so you can see where I put the umbrellas for the single-snowboard shots. I had to do a lot of adjusting for the Virus board to avoid that anything from the rear wall reflected in the mirror-like finish. I even closed blinds in another room and took some pictures off the wall! Ah, to have a studio…

Snowboard photo setup for single-board shots

Snowboard photo setup for single-board shots

Posted 9 years ago.

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