Thursday, August 28, 2014

Whitewater action

As promised last week, I have some Whitewater kayaking pictures for you. As I mentioned, last weekend was the PanAm Games Test Event at the Minden Wildwater Preserve. If you don't already know, this will be the venue for the kayaking races for next year's games. Over the winter, they installed some support systems for the gates along the western edge of the white water. Looks like it worked well, but I'm no expert so I don't know. In addition, there was a whole bunch of electronic timing equipment, replacing the traditional stopwatches. Very pretty, and it seemed to work well too.

The event was publicized, attracting several photographers, including Ethan Meleg (and me!) and the CBC had a videographer onsite as well. It was difficult to get the best spots for shooting: we had to shoo people out of the line-of-site and work around them. They're going to have to do something about this next year. On Sunday it was sunny, which makes shooting boats on the white water a challenge.

Since I've shot a lot of white water kayakers in the past, I was trying to find some different shots. There are three kinds of shots I prefer (and one I didn't focus on, officials and onlookers. Next time). So here's some examples:

A wide angle shot that shows the beauty of the river and the environment. I painted this one with Topaz Simplify to bring out the textures of the water and the forest. I was lucky enough to shoot when the sun peeked out and lit the rock in the foreground.

This is a closer shot that focuses on the determination of the paddler and the wild water she was navigating. This was shot on Sunday, so I had to do a lot of work to minimize the sun and capture the textures of the water. 

A slow-shutter-speed action shot. I shot at 1/30 second and panned right with the paddler to add that motion blur. I love the feel of this shot, but missed the timing a bit: I prefer when the paddler's arm is not blocking their face. Also the vertical strip on the right is the gate pole he was heading for, I debated removing it but I left it in because it helps tell the story.

Another slow speed shot. Got the face this time, and the motion of the flying water. Click to enlarge it.

This was actually shot at exactly the same spot as the previous one, but with a fast shutter speed to freeze the water and action. I shot at least 20 paddlers in this spot in order to get one perfectly positioned, framed by the rock and the pole. Compositionally I like this shot (I know she's in the middle; but framed, high horizon and great detail). If I were  Whitewater Ontario, Tourism Ontario, or the PanAm Games people, I'd buy this shot!

I included this shot because of the astonishing vibrance of the colours, shooting in the shade. This kayaker was rescued when she flipped the boat. There are rescue boats strategically placed along the river as well as trained rescuers standing on the rocks, ready to risk everything to save a racer in trouble.

Don't you hate that ad?

It's called an "earworm". A tune that runs around and around in your head for hours or days. I hate to do this to you: "Everyone HATES Marineland". I wouldn't consider ever going their BECAUSE of their advertising.

If you're anywhere in Southern or Central Ontario or in upstate New York, you know what I'm talking about. How do they manage to advertise on EVERY radio station, every TV station in the area? And not just occasionally: all the time. I got curious and Googled it: I found out two things:

  • Their advertising budget is $4 Million.
  • There are all kinds of negative things online about them, concerning the treatment of the animals in their place.
Still, you have to wonder how they manage to get in all that media all the time. And their jingle is worse than "It's a small world, after all" (sorry, Skid!).

Riddle me this, Batman

Can someone explain to me why a simple bag of salad is $3.99 in the Foodland store (and the package of mixed Spring Greens is $5), when we're at the absolute peak of the local produce season? It was half that price when it had to be trucked in from California or Mexico or wherever.

Oh good, another excuse not to eat salad. I think I'll have a steak instead. Oh, wait... it's ON SALE for $10/lb.

Out of my comfort zone

I shot an assignment for the Times on Saturday, covering a reunion at the Cultural Centre, honouring the Prentice family who are intimately interwoven in the heritage of the area. I'm working hard to shoot people better, and I even got 50 Prentice's lined up for a group shot. But I liked this one a lot: Bill and Lenore, in their mid-80's are the senior couple in the family (Madeline is a few years older, but widowed).

I did some work to texture this image (using Russell Brown's Paper Texture Pro in Photoshop and I painted the Prentices using Topaz Simplify). 

Got my ATV back!

It's been in the shop for a couple of weeks, I got it back on the weekend and it's running sweet! It's still got a few problems, but it's smooth and quieter, and there are now tubes in a couple of the tires that had been leaking.  I can't resist posting a picture of one of my favourite spots on the nearby trail.

HDR and painted. Trying to capture the feeling of that day. Think I'll do a 'selfie' in the same spot next time. 

Next blog: some inspiring star photos! And I got a huge surprise when I got home (at 3:30am) and uploaded the images to my computer. Click the Newsletter button at the top if you're not a subscriber and I'll give you a heads up when the blog is posted. AND, I'll give you a free eBook!

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