Friday, March 30, 2012

Dull to artsy part 2

Another try at taking an interesting subject that looks dull in such flat light and changing it into something very different. For this one I just used settings in Lightroom.



As with all photos on my blog, if you double-click on them, you can see them a bit larger.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A trip to Hennefer

I left early this morning to go photograph the Sage Grouse again. Even though the skies were blue and clear, there was a layer of either really thick fog or a really skinny, stagnant clouds.  I could see the sky occasionally, but the grouse were almost invisible in the pea soup. I chose to drive down the road and out of the cloud in search of interesting things.  No grouse, but I did find about 75 wild turkeys out in a field.

The Toms were out doing their "luv strut".  They look remarkably like the grouse, getting all puffy and fanning their tales.
They also look remarkably like human males.  Notice that no matter how much they do to get some interest, the women all look the other way and appear completely disinterested.
I did a drive-by on a heron rookery.  I wish I could figure out how to get closer to them, but I am held at bay by a lot of fences, private land, and a swift flowing river.700mm worth of lens/teleconverter will have to do for now.
All the farm animals are out and about now that the weather is feeling like spring. I stopped at a field of sheep and they immediately wandered over.  Figuring they were friendly, I let Jasper out of the car.
He has made friends with llamas, mini-donkeys, horses, mules, a zebra and now sheep.  They went nose-to-nose for a while and eventually sniffed each others butt.  I think that was kind of the sheep to offer a "dog greeting".
This poor ewe had two things going against her.  First, she had just been sheared and a bare naked sheep is pretty damn ugly, probably even to other sheep.  Second, every step she took, she tripped over at least one of the thirsty little lambs that were following her around. In comparison, even without much wool, the lambs were very cute. The look like gangly, bouncy puppies.
On the way back into Park City, I stopped to see if the little Potguts (Uinta Ground Squirrels) were venturing out of their holes.  They weren't very active yet, but Jasper pointed out a few.
This one asked to have a portrait done.  I just need to figure out how to get it to him.
So, no new sage grouse, but Jasper and I had an interesting morning anyway.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From dull to artsy

Is artsy a word?  If not, should it be?

As I continue to try and master my photography software, I am discovering some pretty cool things. This was a fairly dull old truck, on a flat grey day. Not terribly interesting.

I worked with it in Photomatrix Pro, which I would normally use for HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo composites.  You can get some very surreal looks.
I like how the sky went from barely noticeable to strongly textured.  The colors were there on the truck, but they were so dark and similar, they needed to be brought out.

Fun stuff!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nikon D800

The nice folks over at Nikon Rumors have posted a photo taken with the brand new high-resolution Nikon D800. This camera is priced at the low end of the pro market ($3000) but has 36M pixel resolution, which is way past film and more like a Medium Format camera.

The picture is stunning.  Look in the eye of the bird and you can see the reflection of the photographer shooting the picture.

Now the wild part.  Look at what portion of the photo that is. This redefines anything I have every considered for detail.

Additional, although less dramatic D800 photos are also part of Nikon Rumors' blog entry.  You can see the original full resolution picture here.  It's interesting but a bit hard to navigate around that size.

This camera is aimed at studio and landscape photographers that want to develop very large prints.  My poor laptop starts smoking every time I try to pull a few hundred RAW photos into Lightroom.  If the photos were each 36M pixels, I am certain I would need a Cray supercomputer.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring in Park City

A week or so with highs in the 50's. The weekend popping over 60.  All the snow is melting. I've turned the heat tape off.  Then this.
At 1:00 pm it is below freezing and snowing lightly. Visibility is bad.  At least the wind is dying back down. 

Yuck.  We want spring this year!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Canyons Pond Skimming 2012

Every year I make sure I get to the Pond Skimming competition at Canyons' Spring Gruv.  If you're bored, the past years are fairly entertaining: 2011, 2010 and 2009.  This year I was especially lucky and got to move inside the spectator fence so that I could capture better pictures. A huge thanks to Cliff Boltz for making this happen!  Sadly, Julie was at work and couldn't join me.

If you are a Pond Skimming Competitor and would like your pictures, send me an email with your number (or numbers for a group) and a description of what you were wearing. I have at least something for almost everyone. My email is "sjoyce" over at

There was a huge crowd and Canyons has gotten really good at building huge "snow bleachers" so everyone gets a decent view.  A 60 degree spring day didn't hurt the crowd appeal.
Most people are either skiing for the day or just rode up the gondola in their street clothes. Of course, some people have a very different set of street clothes.
This years judges included Miles Rademan, one of the two heads of my Leadership Park City program.

I'll start with one of the big disappointments: Boozie the Clown.  In the past, he has been a real crowd pleaser with his ability to cut hard and put up a huge wave of water, normally aimed at the judges.  This year it was closer to a flop and everyone remained toasty warm and dry.
Getting to sit inside the fence seemed like a good idea for taking pictures, until this guy came blasting across the pond and nearly ran me over.  That was all the motivation I needed to get up and move to a spot beside the pond instead of at the end of it.
Skiing across the pond is hard enough.  Doing it as a one legged pirate is impossible.  This guy gave it an excellent attempt.
Tim Tebow never goes a week without being in the news.  This event wasn't to be any different.  This was the first of two Tebow competitors.  Even though it looks like he is just taking a knee in the snow, he is moving quickly and about to hit the jump.
This was probably the most stylish mid-air pose I saw all day. 
There are three balance approaches to try: leaning back, leaning forward, and somewhere in the middle.

First, we have the knee stretching technique of leaning back, a lot.  You end up killing a lot of your speed, but you look cool doing it.

Then we have a friend of ours, Diane Carson. She went with the "never to be recommended" forward lean.
Here's why.  I've never seen a good ending to a ride using this technique.
Here's a balanced approach, but come on!  How can you not make it across the pond if you are dressed as Jesus Christ?  When you lose momentum, you just walk on water.
A different technique is to try avoiding the water completely.  This requires using the bigger jump, a lot of speed, and a ton of enthusiasm.
Not a frick'n chance in the world!
Perhaps to generate lift, this guy tried to helicopter off the jump.
With the same result.
Perhaps you just need more vertical and less drag (hence the small bathing suit)?

Now an exception....  Over the years I have watched the Pond Skimming, I have never seen anyone get anywhere near as much air as this guy.  Not height. Distance. I think he was literally trying to fly the entire pond.  In this photo, notice where he is with respect to the jump and the Canyons sign. This is about as far as anyone gets.
Now still in the air...  Notice how far he has gone past the Canyons sign. He could have skimmed the pond if it had ended over at the gondola. His challenge was stopping before killing people in the crowd.
This guy didn't get the same air, but used his board to keep a lot of speed going across the pond. Rather than braking in the snow, he hit the brakes in the last few feet of water.  This was quite the surprise for all the spectators on the other side of that wall of water. This was where I started taking pictures from. 
I'm not sure quite what this guy was doing.  I don't think he was a legitimate competitor. He ran and dove off the jump into the pond. No skis.  No snowboard.  No costume.  Not much of a bathing suit.
And it wouldn't be a pond skimming without some bare butt.  The bathing suit wasn't all that sturdy.

Let's go to some of the prize winners, and those that were close.  There is an award for the Best Crash.  Relying on destiny for this, three people dressed in a giant cardboard ship, the Concordia.  If the name doesn't ring a bell, this is the cruise ship that recently ran aground, killing about 25 people.

The ship didn't survive half way down the ski run. They fell and it shredded.  They left the debris, went off the jumps, and got a big round of applause, but it wasn't enough to win.
A bigger group came down the hill dressed as a Chinese Dragon. This one was even more entertaining.  Not only did the dragon fall apart, it seemed as though it was intentionally taking the skiers with it.  Clearly a winner.
One of my fellow Leadership Park City class participants, Matt Mullin, was dressed as the Honey Badger, complete with a "Honey Badger Don't Care" shirt and a cobra.  If you haven't seen the famous video, watch at least part of this.  It has 40+ million hits on Youtube.
Matt won a pair of skis for "Best Male".
Last year, two young guys created a great cardboard Delta plane and went as pilots. This year they were back with two guys in a horse costume pulling a gladiator in a cardboard chariot.
They made it down intact, at which point you have the challenge of going off the jump almost simultaneously without killing each other.
They spread out enough to land safely and took home the prize for best costume.

Last year's best prize went to a guy who came down the hill with a step ladder rigged as a diving board.  It's at the end of this post.  This year it got scarey.  He built a big structure that came down the hill on snowboards, very slowly and very awkwardly.
At the bottom, he kicked off his board and took his rope swing through the structure, and into the pond.
OK, the part about "into the pond" was the plan, but not the execution.  What actually happened was that the swing broke all four supports.  He landed hard on the snow at the edge of the pond and the entire structure collapsed on him. He did eventually roll into the water.
Fellow spectators and close friends:  Bill, Loris, Arnie, and Manette.
Another year, another tremendous event by Canyons ski resort and one hundred whacky, clever, mostly inebriated participants!