Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

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

Climbing Zugspitze: Germany’s highest mountain (Part 2)

If you are new to this post series, start with Part 1 of the Zugspitze hike.  All the details of how to get there are at the end of Part 1.

The first video saw us up the Stangensteig, passing over the Höllentalklamm, and reaching the Höllentalangerhütte for a nice Schweinsbraten (pork roast) with red cabbage and dumplings. The next morning we started early and reached the first stretch of via ferrata, where we clipped into steel cables and walked on pegs across the cliff. Kind of like this:

Walking across steel via ferrata pegs

And of course there were these pesky ladders,

Climbing a ladder below the glacier

Then the Höllentalferner glacier itself!

The Hoellentalferner glacier

I had skied on glaciers before, but in the winter they look like the rest of the ski slopes.  Never had I seen one in the end of summer, mixed with dirt and rocks, full of deep crevasses.

Enough photos for now, on with what you’ve all been waiting for: part 2 of the video! There will be at least one more part after this.  And again, thanks to Danny Galixy for the amazing music!

YouTube Preview Image

Watch “Climbing Zugspitze: Part 2” in HD on YouTube.

A few more choice photos: Scott and Bunky walking up the glacier, taking in the view…

Scott and Bunky on the glacier

And a bit later, Scott being nonchalant… I think he clipped in for a total of fifteen minutes during several hours of via ferrata ascent. It must be those expensive mountaineering boots, perhaps they cannot slip.

Scott with a background of glacier and clouds

That’s all for today.  The next (and final) post should be up sometime after the weekend.  Summit views and perhaps a bit of the train ride (we ran out of daylight, and our group’s acrophobic member wasn’t planning to hike down).

Part 3 is now posted! It took a bit longer than originally expected, but I hope it’s worth the wait!

Posted 7 years, 5 months ago at 9:51 am.

9 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 7 years, 6 months ago at 7:09 pm.

3 comments

Helmetcam Video: 140mph in a BMW M-Z3 Roadster

Here’s the latest test of the Canon HF200 helmet camera! We got almost to the M-Z3’s (electronically limited) top speed before reaching a slowdown area for a construction zone.

YouTube Preview Image

Here’s a link to watch the video in HD on YouTube.

By the way, for those who don’t know what “The Autobahn” is… it’s not a special, fancy racetrack in Germany. All highways here are Autobahns, and there are many sections with no speed limit. This video segment is completely legal! Yeah… come visit Germany and rent a car. Mu-hahaha!

The video was produced with Pinnacle Studio 12 (trial version), the only video editor I have yet to crash. I just might have to buy Pinnacle. Music: “Traffic Song” by Electric Bacon.

Posted 7 years, 6 months ago at 12:01 pm.

4 comments

Oktoberfest 2009 Photos!

Alright folks, the drunken debauchery of Oktoberfest 2009 in München has come to a close… all that remains now are the memories, photos, and videos.  So, here they are!

If you’re looking for tips about visiting Munich for Oktoberfest 2010, check my primer for 2009… not much will change, though I may do another post as 2010 gets closer.

This year, I went with a group of friends on the first day and saw the parade of every tent’s beer carts arriving, pulled by BIG horses (and in the case of one tent, by an ox).

Bunky gets up close and personal with the Paulaner horses

Bunky gets up close and personal with the Paulaner horses

Just before the end of the parade, we moved to Poschner’s, one of the smaller tents.  You can’t stay there all day and party, but you can eat a nice chicken or duck meal and have a couple Maß Wies’nbier.  Look at that crispy chicken skin… mmm!  My mouth is watering for Oktoberfest 2010 already.

First beer of Oktoberfest 2009 at Poschner's

First beer of Oktoberfest 2009 at Poschner's

Okay, enough of the tame stuff.  Here’s what you came to see: the Paulaner Winzerer Fähndl on the last day, rip roaring in the last hours of Oktoberfest 2009!  Not everyone here was drunk… I think there was one guy in the back without a beer.  First, a typical song from the Cologne region, Viva ColoniaThe band’s name, De Höhner, means “The Chickens” in the Kölsch dialect of German.

YouTube Preview Image

This song, Marmor, Stein und Eisen Bricht, is by Drafi Deutscher.  The chorus, which is repeated a lot, means “Marble, stone, and iron break, but not our love.”  This song has been stuck in my head for DAYS.  Please help me!!

YouTube Preview Image

Finally, a more known standard for the native-English-speaking crowd: Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.  You haven’t heard this song until you’ve heard the deep guitar melody sung by several thousand friendly, drunk revelers!

YouTube Preview Image

That’s all for 2009!  Maybe we’ll meet at Oktoberfest 2010.  Buy your tickets and make hotel reservations now!  I’m not kidding…

Posted 7 years, 6 months ago at 9:04 am.

2 comments

The Imster Achterbahn

Probably only a few people will know what an Alpine Coaster is. I didn’t until coworkers took me there by chance one weekend. Picture a giant roller coaster going straight down a mountain. Add cows, and a couple of nets in case you fly off. Take away most of the safety and security you take for granted on a Busch Gardens or Six Flags ride. Finally, add a 1h hike (or a ride up the chairlift) to get to the top… voila, you have an Alpine Coaster!

YouTube Preview Image

Here’s a link to watch the video in HD on YouTube.

This was shot on a Canon HF200 attached to a helmet. Yep, I’m aware the video is a bit jerky. The coaster is a LOT jerky. And optical stabilization is not enough. As yet, I haven’t bought a video editing software which will combine the miraculous abilities of a) digital vibration reduction and b) NOT CRASHING. Let’s see what I can find in the next month.

Here are some photos on the way to Imst and while hiking up the mountain. I love that about Europe: where else can you see cows grazing on the ski slopes in the summer?  And standing in the middle of windy mountain roads…

We took a wrong turn on the way to Imst, and found this beast in the road...

We took a wrong turn on the way to Imst, and found this beast in the road...

Is that a beginner or intermediate ski slope in winter?  Guess it depends if the cows are still there.

Is that a beginner or intermediate ski slope in winter? Guess it depends if the cows are still there.

Don’t miss this gratuitous photo of Bunky being nuzzled by a young cow. Daaaamn, that’s hot… if you’re a bovine.

Now there's affection for you.

Now there's affection for you.

Getting to the Imster Achterbahn:

  • Address for your navigation system: Hoch Imst 19, Imst, Austria.  Google maps link here. If you go in late 2009, a word of warning: Imst has some construction downtown, and we had to go around it to get there (a different exit from the main road).
  • I recommend checking the opening times first, as they often have weekend-only operation at the beginning or end of the season.  (In German: opening times = Öffnungszeiten).
  • Prices in 2009: 6.70 to go up the chairlift, 5.90 to come down the coaster (less expensive for kids/seniors, or big groups).

Official website: http://www.imster-bergbahnen.at/index.php?id=6&L=3

Enjoy the coaster, and post your experiences here!  Coming up soon, hiking up the Zugspitze… including scaling the side of a cliff!  Subscribe with the orange RSS and Email links on the left to read about it.  Dave out.

Posted 7 years, 7 months ago at 9:35 pm.

10 comments

Helmetcam Video: First Test

I made time to test out the Canon Vixia HF200 helmet camera sooner than expected, after a few requests from friends.  Here’s a sample video of me biking in Munich, sped up to 2.0x.  One drawback of not having a ring sight: I was looking down some of the time, so there’s a lot more of the road than the surroundings.  Sorry ’bout that, maybe on the next vid!

YouTube Preview Image
If you go directly to YouTube (my user name one51s, or here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtUW_IK7hSY) you can watch it in full HD!

Subscribe with the orange RSS/Email links in the left sidebar to see future (and better) helmetcam videos as I improve my technique!

Production notes:
The video was produced with CyberLink PowerDirector 8 (trial version), wherein I found some bugs. It likes to crash on rendering: especially with transitions. Hence this video has no transitions :-/ Image stabilization and audio noise reduction work pretty well, though! Between the camera and the software, there’s relatively low image shakiness in this video compared to the original.

BTW, PowerDirector 8 is the only cheap (read “consumer”) software I’ve found with subtitle capability. There’s one subtitle in the video to test it out, hehe. Now let’s see if they fix the transition bugs by the time I might want to buy it.

If you’re interested to buy the Canon Vixia HF200, please use the link below and support a freelance author (hehe). Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the HF200. It’s an upgrade of the old HF100 and brother to the HF20 (which has built-in flash memory at a steep add-on price). Avoid Hard Disk based recorders for sports, where shocks may stop the disk drive.

Posted 7 years, 7 months ago at 8:57 pm.

2 comments

Canon Helmet Video Camera

Recently I had the idea to make some snowboarding videos, which will catapult me into the realm of the super-rich when they sell like hotcakes all over the globe. I am so sure of success that I bought an HD digital video camera to make into a helmet cam. The Canon Vixia HF200 camcorder uses SD memory cards and will capture High-Def video in 1920x1080i (60i or 30p!).  And it has mechanical (optical) image stabilization!

Now, the challenge of sports video is to hold the camera while moving. You need your whole body for most sports, so the logical way is to mount the camera on a random body part that doesn’t move so much. (Hehe… I’m imagining a foot-mounted cam for running. That footage would make just about anyone hurl). Below is the bracket I made to mount the camera on a helmet that should also keep my head warm on the slopes:

Here's the bracket on my Nvertigo-X skydive hemet.

Here's the bracket on my Nvertigo-X skydive hemet.

I used three T-nuts to secure the bracket (made of aluminum L-channel) to the helmet. The screw sticking up is going into the position-lock hole on the bottom of the camera. The cutout in the back is for the battery release switch. Don’t forget Loctite so those screws can’t vibrate out!

I used three T-nuts to secure the bracket.  And Loctite!

I used three T-nuts to secure the bracket. And Loctite!

Next I covered most of the exposed aluminum with gaffer’s tape, the best tape ever made. It’s like duct tape on crack. It unsticks easily, can be re-used, tears perfectly straight (and effortlessly)… if you never used it, I recommend to order some from B&H Photo or any camera place. Finally, I put a piece of velcro around the camera (through its hand-strap) as a safety in case the mounting screw were to come undone.

Here you can see the Canon Vixia mounted on the helmet.

Here you can see the Canon Vixia mounted on the helmet.

Sure, you could argue that the chin cup makes you look silly when wearing a helmet like this (as someone pointed out to me). But you need strong support to hold the camera on the side (or top) of your head, and a chin cup is the best way. One note: this setup wouldn’t be ideal for skydiving unless you add a bracket to protect the back of the camera from riser strike. The start/stop record button (right on the back, sticking out) would probably get smacked by a riser on almost every opening.

Front view of the final product.

Front view of the final product.

If you want to see video taken with the Canon Vixia HF200 helmet-cam after I’ve put it to the test, just subscribe using the orange RSS or E-mail links on the left sidebar! First use may be on the side of a cliff at the Zugspitze (Germany’s highest mountain), weather permitting.

Video tips:

  • PC — So far I’ve found that you need a very fast PC to edit 1920×1080 video. I have a AMD Phenom II X3 (the three-core system — for my ex-Qimonda friends, I guess they’re “leftovers” where one core of a quad-core chip didn’t pass the testing!). Editing some short videos it works OK, e.g. 3 minutes of video takes ~10 minutes to render.
  • Progressive scan — Use the camera’s progressive feature to avoid most interlacing issues. Computers and many new flat TV’s display in progressive, and if the software doesn’t deinterlace properly you get weird line artifacts with fast motion. In PF30 mode, the camera captures the frame all at once, then displays the 2 parts of the image (“even” and “odd” lines) in successive frames of the 60i (interlaced) stream. This is a way to use 60i hardware to record a 30p progressive image.
  • Cold weather — When using this in the cold, the battery is going to die FAST. I’m going to make a thick neoprene shell to wrap around it, and will use handwarmer packs to keep the camera and battery warm (so the recording time will be longer and less error-prone).
  • Wide Angle Lens — For most sports where you use a POV (Point Of View) camera, you’ll want a wider angle than what the stock lens provides. This camera accepts 37mm lenses, and I have a wide angle Kenko lens for it (the black attachment on the front). I have a fisheye lens too, but that’s a bit much for most applications.
  • Screen corners — The camcorder screen doesn’t show 100% of the image, so you can’t see the very edges. This is a problem with a wide or fisheye lenses at widest zoom. I never realized on the cam that I could see the UV filter edge in the corners when using my standard wide lens! Filter now removed. However, I saw that in the camera’s media folder, the thumbnail of the video does display the full size including corners, if you need to check this in the field.
  • Shutter speed — High shutter speed definitely gives an appearance of jerkiness, I believe because there is no motion blur within the frame. A bit of motion blur seems to help the eye interpret the scene as moving! So I will have to experiment with this in snowboarding or Ultimate Frisbee, using 1/500s for some shots and lower shutter speeds for others. Very slow shutter speed (like 1/30s) is too blurred, though.
  • Camera motion — Don’t move the camera too fast. The background just doesn’t look good when the whole scene is moving fast! It might be OK only if (e.g.) a snowboarder was very close to the camera, and you move with him, thereby making him not only the focus but the largest screen area as well. I will experiment this winter!

If you’re interested to buy the Canon Vixia HF200, please use the link below and support a freelance author (hehe).  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the HF200. It’s an upgrade of the old HF100 and brother to the HF20 (which has built-in flash memory at a steep add-on price). Avoid Hard Disk based recorders for sports, where shocks may stop the disk drive.

Posted 7 years, 7 months ago at 12:12 pm.

2 comments