Things I learned today, on another failed ski tour:
1. When you wake up at 4:30, you should eat more than a bowl of cereal. At about 8:30, after 3 miles of skinning/booting, you'll be wicked hungry.
2. Just because the data says 15" doesn't mean there will be more than 4".
3. Just because the map shows a road doesn't mean the road is open.
4. Zero degrees is cold. Minus three is cold enough to turn your sweat into ice.
5. Hiking before dawn is magical. Seeing Puma tracks enhances the magic.
6. Just because the light is crap doesn't mean it won't get worse. Take your photos of the Puma tracks ASAP. At the very least, take some BEFORE a pack of dogs arrives and trashes the scene trying to find the kitty cat.
7. Walking on ice makes your butt sore, and your knees too.
8. Sometimes the right choice is to give up, turn around, and go home without even stripping skins.
9. A failed tour is still good exercise, and as they say, 'A bad day skiing is better than a good day at work.'
10. If your tour fails hard enough, you can still go back to work. What's a clever saying for a bad day skiing AND a good day at work?
To celebrate the first official day of the season, ski costumes are essential.
Marge Simpson came out of the trees.
There was also a rare sighting of a North American snow giraffe.
You've never seen a giraffe drop a knee like this.
What an odd couple.
It was super fun riding in a giraffe outfit, although the wind resistance was tougher than expected. I made it two laps, then ditched the headgear and torched the mountain in the giraffe shirt, complete with tail.
I may have to bring it out again. It made a lot of people smile, or at least snicker.
I'm preparing for a new type of panorama. I won't give it all away yet, but by moving the camera between images, I can preserve scale throughout the image.
In this 'small' example, I've taken 13 images of my backyard wall.
Normally, if you stand in the center of the yard and snap images and stitch them together, the wall gets distorted on the sides. It appears to shrink and fall away from the camera (because it IS farther from the camera at the edges).
By moving the camera, the wall remains the same size throughout the panorama.
Now, imagine this technique applied to an entire city block.
You'd be able to look straight into every storefront, in one image.
By the way, this is tricky with just a flat wall. It's going to be a nightmare with trees/people/cars/etc.
Click to view larger. Then scroll horizontal to see detail.
This may not be too impressive at this scale, but here's another image from the Superior hike (Nov 3 post).
This composite incorporates 50 frames taken on a 10mp camera. I used 35 images to create the snow/mountain/sky background, then 15 images of the skier.
The full res image is 23000 x 7200 pixels, which is 10 times wider and 2 times taller than your standard single image.
For reference, the 7th skier from the bottom has recognizable facial features, and the ski logo is legible on the 9th skier (in shadow).
This image could be printed 100 inches wide and you wouldn't be able to detect any seams or transitions (hours and hours of photoshop blending). It would also be tack sharp and crisp, with no pixelation, since it would require no enlargement to print it at that size.
I'm very happy with the result of the process, as I successfully completed my gameplan for this shot. However, the image itself is not my favorite. I need to find a better location and shoot from a higher angle. I think this will provide a better perspective of the line. It's a good thing that the Wasatch has more than one big line. (It's going to be a great season.)
Here's what you must do to ski big UT lines in early November.
1) You must... wake up early (4:45) so that you can watch the sunrise over the mountains, from 10,000', after a 2000' hike.
2) You must... choose a suitable range. Little Cottonwood Canyon has a host of nice lines.
3) You must... make it to the top, alive. Early season conditions include some mixed terrain. Dry rock, wet rock, frozen rock, ice, snow, etc. It takes most of 4 hours to summit Mt Superior, much longer than in mid-season.
4) You must... take a break at the top to survey your surroundings, hydrate, eat, recoup, and make funny faces.
5) You must... invent a harness for first-person action photos, carry it to the top, test it, and make funny faces.
6) You must... throw your gear everywhere and make tough-guy faces. Don't worry, nobody will see you up there, because nobody in their right mind would hike 4 hours to ski a pile of rocks.
7) You must... make tough-guys faces while looking down, to really show everybody how bad-A you are. Also, make sure your gear is color coordinated to impress all the ..... ... again, there's nobody up there, so you won't impress anybody.
8) You must... test the camera one last time before the drop, and make some more funny faces.
9) You must... get serious. A fall here would be bad. Look at all those rocks! Remember the 2000' climb? Well now it could be a 2000' fall. So, choose your turns carefully and don't hit any rocks.
10) You must... make it through the rocks unscathed, then gun it to mach speed on the exit.
11) You must... take off all your clothes for the hike down. Remember that it's November 3rd and there's no snow. It's also bloomin' hot up there. Strip off your color-coordinated clothes and waltz down in your shorts and tee, highsocks and glacier glasses.
I'm working on another concept: nighttime adventure photos.
Here's an example of how it works:
Take your SLR, crank up the ISO to 3200, open up to f/4, pop the on-camera flash, and time it just right and you'll get an image like this:
Yuck, that's terrible. Blurry, noisy, boring....
Let's try again, changing a few camera settings and finding a better angle. You might get something like this:
Still not good. It just looks like a point and shoot that I used to capture a decent moment. Still boring.
Let's bring out some gear now. I'll use a battery pack and two lights.
Now, I can set the camera to ISO 200, f/8, hit the strobes at the right time and then let the background fill in during a 30s exposure.
This is much better, but it's still not right. The lights didn't balance well enough with the surroundings. The rider is ghosted, and the hill is too dark. And the moment seems missed, as the rider is past the camera.
Let's try again, changing to a 5.6 and decreasing the strobe power.
Then I'll add some star trails from ~700 images taken in Moab, spiraled using a technique I developed in PhotoShop.
There are still some issues to fix with this image, but it gets me closer to the target.
We travel to Moab for 3 days riding and climbing, but forget the climbing gear. I guess we'll just look at the climbing routes and ride twice as hard.
We are explorers, following trails, but always looking for our own adventures
We ride between snow and sand.
We take in the scenery from countless viewpoints.
Sometimes our plans are foiled by fences. It's a tough decision to concede, but we turn around.
We ride the cliffs, on the edge of 1000' canyons.
Sometimes we must jump,
always at full speed,
to overcome obstacles,
which we conquer with joy.
After a long day of riding, the sunset is a welcome reward.
Epilogue. After the sunset, we had 5 miles to ride back to the car, in the dark, on slickrock, with cliffs and bumps all around. Some dared ride in the dark, with head-over-heels results. Some chose to walk, with stumbling results.
Through 3 days, I bled on elbows, knees, shins, shoulders, hips, calves, fingers, ....
Maybe I rode my bike, or maybe I fought a mean grizzly bear with a cheese grater and a belt sander. Either way, I am torn up.
Remember to check out my favorite images on my website: click here.