Between a borked iPhone and the temptation to use my new GoPro, I took significantly more video than photos this month, and a couple are even doing respectably on YouTube.
There is a random photo that I took while snorkeling of a boat sitting upon an orb of sea. I call it “random” because I had my GoPro in 1 pic/sec interval mode and the photo was a total fluke, but it captured the Caribbean as a perfect lens-curved arc with awesome sunlit blues and a boat sitting framed in perfect 1/3 aspect. If my arm wasn’t in the corner, it would be a contestant for something even more awesome.
Ten days after debarking from our second family cruise vacation, stepping back ashore onto the south bank of Texas, slowly making our way through customs, airports, and a yearly allotment of seasons in a single twenty-four hour span, I realize I haven’t written much about our little adventure.
I usually write something.
In November 2017, we found ourselves lost at sea. Not physically, of course. Physically we were aboard a 155,889 gross tonnage, 14 story, 5000 passenger mega-luxury cruise ship plowing through the Gulf of Mexico at 21 knots. Physically we were wrapped tightly into a billion-dollar industry’s bosom of comfortable pampering, eating too much, water-sliding in places only a twenty-first century human would find reasonable, and jogging on treadmills at ten-thirty at night in the middle of the Caribbean sea while thousands of people drank and gambled and watched country line-dancing seminars all aboard this gleaming white technological marvel of nautical engineering.
In November 2017, we found ourselves lost, but lost moreso in a cultural mismatch of vacation priorities. I claim no moral superiority in my vacation interests, my tendency to seek quiet contemplative moments on some less-travelled gang staring out at the sea counting the swells of the ocean in a meditative trance, is just different from the bustle implied of basking in the sunlit upper decks amid a wash of music and pool noise while nursing a twelve dollar drink from a carved out pineapple. It’s just my preference and while my choice was relatively more difficult to find, it was available in heaping abundance compared to any other day of my life
I found some of those moments under the water as well.
A mask sealed over my eyes and nose. A plastic tube protruding from the waves. A camera.
A hundred meters off the shore of Roatán, Honduras I swam our past the tangle of wilting reefs and floated in water ten meters deep as I lolled along the border of fractal crops of sea life as they dropped into a bare sandy abyss disappearing into the clear water murk of the Caribbean.
A few days later we, all three of us, dropped from the back of an unsteady boat and floated above the protected reefs of a Mexican protected aquatic wilderness a few kilometers from where our behemoth of a cruise vessel sat seemingly so quietly at the Cozumel dock.
There are a hundred interesting moments on cruise ship, temporarily cut off from internet and media and land and slugging through the waves towards some unknown land which will inevitably be pocked with a nugget of tropical culture perfectly aligned to selling cheap souvenirs and overpriced beer to fat tourists. The trick… my trick to find a perfect moment in that clutter, was to ignore the feeling of being lost in that fury and find a moment of clarity, rare and precious for a land-locked doofus like me, under the water snorkeling with a camera in my hand.
One thing that I’m feeling like I never did enough of was post some of my video footage from my older cameras. I’m not claiming to be some epic videographer, but then that’s the point isn’t it? I’m just a guy with a camera that he lugs around in public and takes photos and videos. My footage is what most anyone who spends fifteen minutes poking at the basic camera settings could accomplish.
Plus, I often go wandering in some odd and interesting places and have given up being shy about recording the world around me.
So my resolution with the new GoPro, the Hero6 that I picked up just one week ago, is to share more of my footage. That is, not even sharing so much the highly produced and edited stuff… rather just posting more clips here and there of some of the better stuff.
Maybe a one minute reel of me walking around somewhere curious.
Or a few shorter clips strung together of a photo expedition.
Or the raw pieces of one of my running-with-a-camera adventures put end to end with some royalty-free music overlaid onto the clips.
It doesn’t count for much, but I know its the type of stuff that is useful when I buy a camera answering questions like: how will MY footage look because I’m NOT a highly paid stunt photographer with a team and a lighting rig and the option to only show you the best four seconds I captured after two straight hours of shooting. I’m just a guy who pulls his camera out for fifteen seconds here and there when the opportunity arises in real life. How will my video look?
Ice District (pre-work)
Neon Sign Museum (pre-work)
The Graffiti Tunnel
What: Some random footage of the Sunday running crew down in the trails.
Why: I bought that new GoPro Hero6 and I wanted to try out my new camera specifically to see how it handled a group run with some mixed lighting conditions. I brought the crew on a trail adventure and into the graffiti tunnel in Whitemud Creek where there were some great colourful backdrops, perfect for some busy video footage and some random selfies.
Deets: Recorded as 2.7k60 with Protune & Video Stabilization on, but downsampled to 1080p30.
What: Some random footage of me running with Claire and my new camera in hand.
Why: I bought that new GoPro Hero6 and I wanted to try out my new camera specifically to see how it handled all the bumping, jostling, and wobble normally associated with video that I’ve taken with my other GoPro camera while running out on the trails and asphalt.
Deets: Recorded as 2.7k60 with Protune & Video Stabilization on, but downsampled to 1080p30.
As is usually the case whenever I opt to buy a new camera, a confluence of vacation speculation and a modest financial windfall leads me to ponder a technology upgrade.
I think it was a solid five years ago when I bought my first GoPro, a Hero 3. It went to multiple countries, took tens of thousands of photos and too many hours of video to count, and still sits on my shelf as a backup. In fact, I hiked it up Mount Robson this summer and did a lot of side-by-side comparison of the footage compared to my second GoPro.
My second GoPro was a Hero 4 Session. I bought it specifically because it was tiny. The notion I had in my head was that (a) I had been doing a lot of running with my GoPro (v1) but (b) that camera was a little too bulky to bring along for serious races (ie, the New York Marathon). I picked up a session nearly 2 years ago, and although I found it was a minor compromise on image & video quality over the older camera, the photographers maxim held much stronger with the Session: “The best camera is always the one you have with you.” …and with such a small camera, I always had it with me. It fit in my pocket. It went everywhere. Running. Races. Vacation. Up mountains.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago.
I’ve been eyeing the Hero 5. It marked a significant upgrade from what I had, but was still part of that GoPro ecosystem in which I’m almost as heavily invested in mounts and do-dads as I am cameras (maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.) Still, it wasn’t quite tempting enough..
… Not tempting enough until a few weeks ago the Hero 6 was announced with spec that suddenly cross the threshold of slight improvement into massive jump: higher framerates (mean some awesome slow-mo footage) and a slick on-board stabilization feature (which means running footage that doesn’t make you want to vomit watching it) just to name the two that clicked me into serious consideration mode.
Long story short, I now own this camera. Yup. I picked up a Hero 6 Black on Monday night and you’ll be seeing some footage from it in the very near future. I brought it home, un-boxed it, and went to do the memory card shuffle (you know… where you move the best memory card into the new camera, second best in the second newest, etc…)
Aaaaaaaaand …I couldn’t find the Session, my little mini-GoPro-v2 that came along to New York and up Mount Robson, and had been on a few dozen runs through the river valley. I’d set it down somewhere, stuck it in a drawer, left in a pocket, dropped it in a shoe or between a crack in the floorboards maybe. The problem with small technology is that if you sneeze funny it flutters away in the wind. And I’ve been turning the house upside-down for two days and wracking my brain to remember when I last had it and where it end up.
I mean, great timing on getting a new camera and I’m stoked about trying out the Hero 6 and posting some awesome footage in the coming weeks… but the case of the missing camera is going to drive me nuts if it doesn’t turn up from wherever it has hidden itself.
I usually take better care of my gear, so this is almost more embarrassment than frustration.
The nice thing about having a waterproof camera in Disneyland is that there are a few rides where you get really wet and 99% of the time you’ve stowed your delicate electronics into the waterproof pouches and you miss sharing moments like this, that look of combined horror and elation as you drop thirty feet down a ramp into a soft cushion of water.
Photo of the Day Theme
A light-toned depth of field photo of an object.
A picture of a camera. How meta.
Playing with depth of field is something I really enjoy in my photos. It’s one of the better reasons I have to justify actually using a proper SLR camera over, say, my phone. I mean, I can get an ok out of field blur going on with the phone, but the phone is always leaning towards maximizing focus and doesn’t really like leaving blur, no matter how artistic, in the frame.
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I put on my kit lens and did this set up in the backyard, trying to capture the colour of my shed and grass, the lightness of that, contrasted against the dark, black, dead-eye stare of the GoPro propped on an old flower pot. I was looking for a bit of symmetry, a bit of visual interest, and of course, that soft back- and foreground to make the narrow depth of field from a f4.0 aperture do its work.