Saturday, August 22, 2015

Top of the season

 This week rained almost the whole time, and though I love this time of year, the season is winding down towards winter.  All the early season sunshine is a distant memory, back in the foggy recesses of Misty Fjords.  We'll go to Misty Fjords this next week, on a trip to a huge number of places I haven't been to before.  Now is the age of Exploration!  I'll talk about that in a week though.   We went to McBride Glacier this week, and I love it there, because there is so much ice.  Tons and tons of ice, everywhere and we don't get to go there often.
Here's a picture of some things I saw on one special skiff tour this week.  A bear from close up, eating salmon....

A dipper that didn't want to fly away...
 And a swimming deer.
 This is a portrait of my boot, because I have a new lens that I was trying out.
 And the beach in front of Riggs Glacier
 And at last, my new kite set-up flying high above the world.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Icarus, etc.

I flew too high, too close to the sun.  I didn't have wax wings, but they were destroyed by the hubris of heights, the awesomeness of altitude.  Also they were betrayed by the malice of monofilament.  I broke my kitestring, while flying my faithful kite up in the air above Golden Gardens park in Seattle.  Sadly, the kite flew itself out into the water (the puget sound) and also the camera (and my beautiful new slider set-up before drowning in the picture) were dropped from on high down into the depths.  It was a pretty sight, and no doubt will make a good video, should it ever be recovered, but it came down like a meteorite.  Gravity is quite effective.  So I lost all my stuff.  The next day (yesterday) I went to Glazier's Camera shop in Seattle to buy a new GoPro, since I am out one.  I ended up spending almost 1000 bucks.  Oops.  Luckily, my companion in kiting, The sage that I learned my high flying camera work from, Danny, was near a kite store (in Ventura, CA) where it is possible to get the same kite I flung away, and so I have two coming my way.
 I still need to rebuild my slider rig.  It used the most cute little pulleys you could ever see, tiny little things that cost 15 bucks a piece, and then there was a piece of the fishing rod that I use for flying the kite.  And a nice gopro mount that I will miss.  I'll make another one.  I have two of the pulleys still, and I'll find some piece of lightweight rod to make it around, but I still think I can do better than this.
Ok, enough of that.  I'm mostly through with my break this time around, but I have a few more days.  In the past two weeks I've been out canoeing and hiking in the North Cascades, and I got to see some Cedar Waxwings.  (see picture) On that trip we also went up to see Nooksack Falls, a beautiful waterfall on the Nooksack River up from Bellingham.

 So when I went to the camera store yesterday, I got myself a new lens, a 35mm lens.  I've been believing that I need this kind of a lens for a while, so here I am trying it out.  This one is a video lens, and it has some cool features, it is made by Rokinon, and has these little gears for adding focusing externally.  It is a Manual focus Lens, and is also manual aperature.  Maybe I won't like this as much as I think, but I am happy with it for now.  Here is a picture of some technology juxtaposition for starters....  The captian of the Orion busy with navigation...

 This lens is F/1.5, so that means it is super wide in the pupil, and if you ever went to the eye doctor and came away with those funny sunglasses after because they gave you dilating eyedrops, you understand that you can't focus on things.  This is because you have a huge aperture, and lenses with huge apertures have really narrow depths of field, which means that only a tiny bit is in focus at a time.
 It is a neat effect, so I took some pictures on the docks...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

More about Kites

If you've been following my stuff for a while you will notice I have a fascination for kites.  I fly them a lot and they are useful for sending up a camera to see the lay of the land or video something cool from above.  I just put together a short and crappy video to show the different angles that I have found useful in sending a video camera up.
Here it is:

The first scene is where I am sending the camera up by letting out kite string.  The boat I am on is moving through the water (and the air) and causing a sort of "wind"  that I am using to fly the kite.  When I let the string out, the camera (which is on the string) goes out as well.

In the second scene, I have plucked the kitestring and the kite slider (with the camera on it) has begun to decent the kitestring, towards me.  Because it is sliding on the string, differences in tension in that string don't cause it to pitch forward or back, so it is smoother.

In the third case, I have it sliding, but I am also letting the kitestring out, so the tension on the string is low, and the camera can do a near "free fall" towards the water.  I stop letting the line out when the camera is close to the water, hence causing it to come sliding along towards me.

In the fourth case, a case I am still working on, I have rigged the kitestring to go out to the kite, then come back to me.  So if I let out 200 ft of kitestring, the kite will only be 100 ft away from me, because the string goes out and back.  It turns around a carabiner clipped to the kite, which serves as a pulley.  Then I connect the camera to the end of the kitestring (which I have), and have it slide up.  When I let the camera go, it is pulled by the kite, which goes from 100 ft out to 200 ft away, pulling the camera up with it.  Eventually the camera ends up 200 ft away.

Then photos that try to show the set-up I am using.
 The slider, showing the front and rear carabiners that I use as my sliding pulleys.  Not a very slick slide, but it works.  The important thing here is to make a stiff backbone so that the camera points down the direction of the kitestring, so that will keep it stable (sort of).
 Here is the rear carabiner holding on to a knot in the kitestring.  When I pluck the string (and hopefully not before) the carabiner hops over the knot, then the slider begins to slide down the string (the monofilament fishing line) and to me.
 My kite spool is a fishing reel, as this is great for storing lots of line and bringing it in or sending it out in an organized fashion.
 Here is the setup for when I send the camera up and out, where the kite pulls the camera up and out.  Note that the kitestring goes from fishing reel, to kite (via sliding clips on slider) then around the kite's pulley (the silver carabiner) and back to the camera.  The string does an "out and back" loop, and the tension from the kite pulling up brings the camera up the string.
 Closer look at the "pulley"