November 25, 2009

Nov 25: Opening Day!

Alta opened today.
To celebrate the first official day of the season, ski costumes are essential.

Marge Simpson came out of the trees.

She rips.

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.

November 24, 2009

Nov 24: Bumper Stickers

I've seen some interesting bumper stickers this week.
Some I very much disliked, so I won't share them with you.
Others I liked very much.
Today I saw the following on an old white truck:

Math is my best friend.

Power to the peaceful.

Practice random acts of coolness.

I miss Jerry.

...and so on...

I've never seen so many stickers, in the same place no less, that fit me.
Although I'm a photographer, I'm also a math geek, and proud of it.
I think peace is underrated.
I like kindness, but coolness is pretty cool too.
I met Jerry.

...and so on...

...and SNOW on... Ski season officially starts at Alta tomorrow. Be prepared for some ski photo updates.

November 19, 2009

Nov 19: Welcome to Winter

Alta held a pre-season event, where local photographers and cinematographers shared their work from the previous season.
I presented a slideshow of my images from the 08-09 season.
You can see it on my website.

November 16, 2009

Nov 16: Castle Last

Just about everything has been skied in 3 days. We are starving for snow, willing to take anything. Streams of skiers are skinning (and booting? yuck) to every plausible line.
I thought we could sneak in to the Castle and find some clean lines, but another group beat us to it. We skied it anyway.

We all clipped rocks. I took a digger. Ouch. And I broke a binding. Double ouch.
Black Diamond replaced it for free. Thanks BD!

The light was boring, but we set a few photos anyway.

Demonstrating proper use of some lava-hot gloves.

Hide and seek in the boulder fields.

Down the fall line, leaving the Castle.

More good practice of my panorama action technique. These won't make the final cut.
Heavy distortion in the first one. Everything looks squashed. The second one is better. I'll get it figured out soon.

November 15, 2009

Nov 15: Powder Taste

Winter's been teasing us here in UT.
Another teaser storm dropped 10-12", and perhaps Winter has arrived, but Fall won't leave easily.

An early morning start, on the hunt for fresh snow.

As the sun comes up, we find what we're looking for.

We take a few laps.

Face shots taste good.

November 11, 2009

Nov 11: Leaf Me Alone

rake rake rake rake rake rake rake rake rake rake rake rake rake rake....
shovel shovel shovel shovel shovel
smash smash
shovel shovel shovel
shovel shovel
get new bag
shovel shovel shovel shovel shovel
smash smash
shovel shovel shovel
..... (must I go on?)
rake rake rake rake....
18 bags
haul them to the curb
move to the front yard and...
I'm ready for winter, when it will just be....
shovel shovel shovel shovel shovel shovel shovel shovel shovel......

Nov 11: Panorama Revisited

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.
Cool, huh?

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.

November 6, 2009

Nov 6: Super Panorama

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.)

November 3, 2009

Nov 3: Earned Turns

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.

12) You must... take a nap.

(photo not included.)

Have a great tour. See you at the top.