Music for August

There are two albums that I am totally digging right now. Since I started using a music streaming service, I have listened to a ton of music, but I can’t always remember what I am listening to. So I am using this blog as a way to document what I have liked listening to.

Wild Beast – Boy King

Last year it was Jamie XX, this year it is this album. So good, and I am having a hard time getting to much of this album. Almost every song is great, and these are my favourites: Big Cat, Ponytail and Heat Your Heart out Adonis. It is alt-rock, backed up with electronic elements and catchy vocals. Listening to this every day currently.

BADBADNOTGOOD – IV

Sometimes you want something with no lyrics and a little different. That is this album. A jazz album, with some electronic components. Starts out very experimental, then plays with other styles, to rest on jazz.

This is mostly a jazz album, with some electronic components. Starts out very experimental, then plays with other styles, to rest on jazz.

BADBADNOTGOOD IV

Posted from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
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Oliver riding at the Freeride bike park

Oliver has been riding at bike parks ever since he got his strider. We have noticed that this has started to pay off. Here is Oliver riding at the North Saanich Bike park on one August afternoon.

Posted from North Saanich, British Columbia, Canada
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Taking photos of fireworks

Yesterday was Canada day, and I was in a location where I could picture of the fireworks. This is the first time I have ever taken photos of fireworks, and it was a bit of a learning experience. If your exposure is too long the fireworks will be washed out and over exposed, increase the shutter speed and you won’t get amazing lines. The hard part is practice, you get about 20 minutes to get it right and fireworks are somewhat rare for me.

Lessons

1 second exposure, 400 ISO, f/6.4

I used auto exposure setting and was playing with the exposure time. in hindsight, I should have set it to manual mode and tried playing around with the time. The wonderful thing with digital cameras is you can get the instant, feedback of your exposure settings. Some of the photos that I took were a were way too overexposed.

1/2 second exposure, 400 ISO and f/7.1. Before edits on the left, and after edits not he right shows how important Lightroom is in making firework shots look good.

A ND filter would have probably produced better results too. Making sure the camera was set to the least sensitive ISO would have been a good idea, it was not.

1/2 second, 800 ISO, f/16

I used a tripod, that worked great, but I didn’t have a remote release for the camera. Because the Fuji X100s doesn’t have wifi, I couldn’t hook it up to my phone to remotely release the shutter and change the settings. This is something the GoPro excels at.

1 second exposure, 200 ISO and f/16, nicely exposed fireworks

Lightroom edits can make a huge impact on the image. I made simple edits to darken the sky to let the fireworks pop. A bit of split toning to bring out the pinks, greens and purples.

6.5 Seconds, f/11 and 800 ISO, lots of room to reduce the over exposed areas of fireworks.

I need practice taking photos of fireworks. There are so few opportunities to do so. I am writing this blog post as a reminder to myself of the lessons I learned last night. Not sure the next time I will be able to take photos of fireworks.

Posted from Parksville, British Columbia, Canada
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Family Vacation, Okanagon Valley Part 2

Part 2 of our trip to the Okanagon where we camped in Bear Creek and spent some time in Kelowna.

Family Vacation, Okanagon Valley Part 1

Family trip to the Okanagon Valley. This is part 1, of the series, part 2 will be coming soon. We traveled from Victoria to Vernon to visit with my sister. We went to the beach and went for a few mountain bike rides.

Posted from Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
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Learning the GoPro

The GoPro camera is one of the most interesting cameras around. It’s small enough to add to a selfie stick or your helmet, yet takes amazing video. Like all cameras, there is a learning curve with this camera. The limitation of this camera result in a frustrating experience, but learn how to use it, and you will take amazing footage. Personally, there are few uses where this camera is perfect:

  • action shots while riding a mountain bike (or snowboard, or anything requiring a helmet)
  • action shots while near water, with the right housing, this thing is waterproof
  • providing a birds eye view when attached to a selfie stick
  • a dead easy way to setup 4K timelapse shots (why doesn’t my x100s do this?)

Battery life

I am not clear what good battery life for a camera like this is. For the Fuji X100s you can expect around 400 images, on a DSLR you can expect 2000. For the GoProd you get somewhere between 1 – 2 hours worth.

60 min * 60 seconds * 30 fps = 108,000 images

Just doing the raw math, it looks like getting an hour footage is a lot of images, and one shouldn’t complain about getting less than 2 hours of footage per battery.

Going for a long ride? Carry extra batteries.

Taking a time lapse longer than 2 hours? Attach an external battery.

Wifi is killing battery life

I thought that the wifi is killing your batter life. Wifi lets you connect to the camera via that GoPro remote or the GoPro smart phone app.

After reading Understanding your GoPro Part 2 and doing some rough battery tests, I am changing my opinion. Wifi does decrease battery life, but having the access to the app is worth the loss of battery life.

Using the app (which requires the wifi from the GoPro to be turned on) is really sweet. It allows you to change settings, see what the camera sees from your phone and enables a neat bookmarking feature. I am thinking that you would be silly to not use wifi, unless you really need the battery power.

Timelapse battery life

While taking a timelapse, I found you get almost 2 hours of footage.

  • Timelapse in picture every 10 seconds 28 seconds (112 minutes of footage)
  • Timelapse in picture every 10 seconds with wifi on 25 seconds (100 minutes of footage)

Lesson: if you need to take a long timelapse hook the GoPro to external power. Hooking up external power is really easy.

The remote rocks, but the battery sucks

The remote for the GoPro is cool, it uses wifi to connect to your camera and provides and extra set of buttons. I have attached this to a selfie stick and my handle bars and both situations I was happy with the results. The only complaint I have is that the battery life isn’t as good as it could be. When it is convenient to pull out your smart phone, that is the better way to go. But when you can’t pull out your smartphone (near/under water, using gloves) the remote is perfect.

The battery life is only good for a couple of hours which isn’t long enough in some cases.

Know you modes and settings

The GoPro has three capture modes:

  1. Video
  2. Photo
  3. Multi-shot

Inside each mode, there are many different settings. I usually welcome this level of configuration, but when you are first learning how to use the camera, you will end up missing some shots. On April 20, 2016 I rode Cobble Hill with the chest mount on. When I got back home I noticed that the only part of the ride I recorded was four 1 minute clips of the end of the ride. Turns out I had the video setting to looping, which only keeps the last X minutes of recordings. My Cobble Hill ride was set to keep the last 5 minutes.

In the video mode, yo have the following settings:

  • video
  • time lapse video
  • video and photo
  • looping

Inside each setting, you get to choose the resolution, the frame rate and a multitude of other options. This level of configuration is great, but at the same time, somewhat intimidating, you definitely need to RTFM.

An example of a time-lapse 

 

Too dark

On April 26, 2016 I rode Hammerfest with the ISO set to 400. When I looked at the footage, it was way too dark, and I am pretty sure this is because the ISO is set to 400. I changed the setting to make it higher with hopes that it will look better.

Follow up, on April 27, 2016 I rode with the ISO max much higher (3200) and the footage is much better. Don’t keep you ISO too low if you are in low light situations.

Frame rates and quality

This camera is too good for the average person. The standard setting for this camera is 1080 at 60fps, and that is too high in my opinion. 10 minutes of video at this quality is 4GB. My average ride is 2 hours long, which would be almost 50GB. Meaning that my 1TB drive could only hold 20 rides worth of footage.

More than 30 fps

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should
– Sherrilyn Kenyon

When you are strapping a GoPro camera to your helmet to take shots of a trail, you don’t need to take 60fps. 60fps allows you to slow the footage down, but if you are me, you will likely be speeding up the footage, not slowing it down.

If you are using the camera to get a sweet action shot, then it makes sense to use 60fps, like this shot:

Things that I love about the camera

There are a few cases where the camera rocks:

  • you can hook up any USB battery to the camera with a USB mini cable extending the battery life significantly
  • the camera is small and easy to bring along on almost any adventure
  • there are many options and modes, allowing you to pick the right setting, once you figure out how to use it
  • super easy to strap to a Joby Tripod which is helpful for time lapse shots and holding the camera

Most people seem to buy a GoPro camera to strap to your helmet and use for action shots, and that is what this camera was designed to do. I am not extreme to justify using that as the only usecase of this camera, I use it as a small camera to capture video, and it works great for that.

Final thoughts

This camera is awesome. Whenever I look at the quality of the footage from this camera I am impressed. I feel compelled to use this camera in novel ways, capturing life with a unique perspective. Whether it is high up on a selfie stick, down low near the water, or on your chest while you ride down a 40% grade with your mountain bike, the GoPro is there for you. This camera takes high quality shots of your extreme life, or if you are like me, your pretty mundane life. There are a ton of options and settings, learn the camera and make good (edited) videos of your adventures.

See my channel on youtube to see what I am up to with the camera. Not all videos make it onto this site.

Fall on the mountain bike

I took a bit of a tumble last night. I was riding Who’s Your Daddy at Hartland. I went to the hospital because there was a bit of a gash, good thing because I got stitches.

Time for me to get some elbow pads, and knee pads.

Posted from
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Cumberland Race

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On the hottest day of the year, I decided to complete a race, in Cumberland. The race was 30km long and I convinced Ed, my friend to come a long for the ride.

My goal was to finish, and I did. It took me 2 hours and 43 minutes to complete the race, and it was fun and challenging.

This was posted on June 27, 2016, the race was on June 5, 2016.