Saturday, April 30, 2011

Denver area bike ring broken up

My friend Teresa warned me about this. Apparently News 4 is reporting that a massive bike theft ring was broken up. Good riddance. They were caught at a routine traffic stop. Who knows perhaps my bike is one of them!

Update: I called and there is no Titus amongst the bikes. They did say that there were bikes that had been stolen months ago, so if your bike was stolen recently in this area, give them a call: 303-805-6110

Friday, April 29, 2011

More fall in Steamboat

In your face!
In your face!
A barn near Mad Creek. Three images handheld 18-55mm at 18mm, f/11, 1/160s, ISO 200

Aspen Sky
Aspen Sky
Three handheld images 18-55mm at 18mm, f/11, 1/200s ISO 200.

Inside of the barn
The barn inside
Five handheld images, 18-55mm at 18mm, f/5.6, 1/13s, ISO 200

It hurts
One shot, 18-55mm at 42 mm, f/8.0, 1/400s, ISO 200

Yellow sunrise at Blue Lake

Sunrise at Blue Lake
Stitched from 9 handheld images. 18-55mm at 18mm, f 8.0 1/80s ISO 100.
Buy a print of this image at smugmug.

This is a redo of an image I shot in 2008 at sunrise along the shores of Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Truly an awe inspiring place. I could never get the yellow right in this image, which was just blindingly saturated in real life. On a whim I redid this using the v3 camera landscape profile for Lightroom and this is pretty much what I got. Stitched from 9 images. Added a slight amount of vibrance and clarity and there is a grad filter brightening the rocks and water as well as some curves work to add some contrast. Amazingly, the sRGB version you see here loses quite a bit of saturation from what I see on my wide gamut monitor. I'll put it on smugmug at some time too (the image is several 100 MB so this is only a low-res jpeg)

Chemical-free ... chemistry kit?

I am speechless at the stupidity. Apparently this thing is real. The dumbing down of education in the name of "safety" is just terrible. Love the title of the blog this came from. Very appropriate. Found this linked on slashdot.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Limits to ISO

I came across an interesting post on the limits to ISO sensitivity in digital sensors (linked from the online photographer). The assumptions are a sensor with 100% quantum efficiency that is purely limited by photon shot noise (not a bad assumption) and a full-frame sensor with 12 MP resolution. Basically to get similar noise characteristics as a D3s at ISO 6400, it would have ISO 96,000. That's an astonishing conclusion and would be a really fun camera to play with. Read the whole post for the fairly straightforward calculations that went into it. Current sensors are nowhere near 100% quantum efficiency however, in large part due to the Bayer array layout which throws away a lot of light as well as the high reflectivity of the sensor surface. Both can in principle be solved and there are already concepts out there that do so.

Ag-gag laws

I find it deeply disturbing. It is being made illegal (and already is in parts) in some states of the United States to tell people how their food is being "produced." This is going to the point of attaching prison time to filming inside slaughterhouses exposing terrible conditions for the animals and workers. Horrible! I wrote about this before but just wanted to reiterate after reading the above linked blog entry. Mark Bittman also recently wrote another, longer blog entry recently about this.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The sound of falling snow

On my bikeride yesterday, I got caught in a snow shower. I ended up quite soaked to the bone by the time I came down and also enormously muddy. I did shoot a little video though as I thought the sound of the falling snow was really neat. All handheld on my phone so often shaky for obvious reasons. I turned on the shake reduction and rolling shutter correction in iMovie but that doesn't help that much unfortunately. I didn't take out the phone towards later where it was really dumping on me as I didn't want to damage it. I know it doesn't compare even remotely to timelapses of the milky way on the Teide volcano, but I thought it was neat anyway. The piano music (Chopin) was added later ;-)

It's playable in HD (there are buttons when you play it full screen) and also available in the gallery in HD.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fall color in Steamboat Springs

I've got lots of shots still from last year's fall season. These are some shots from the Spring Creek trail in Steamboat Springs.

Radiance. Single shot, Nikon 18-55 mm at 22 mm, ISO 200, f/8.0, 1/320s

Triangles. Three shot handheld vertical panorama, Nikon 18-55 mm at 18mm, ISO 200, f/8.0, 1/320s.

I have lots and lots more from that same bike ride. This is just a taste.

self-steering bike

I was just discussing the Science article on this with my biking buddy and fellow science geek Craig yesterday and today I came across an interesting podcast from NPR's Science Friday on it:

Interesting because it challenges the common believe I was taught in physics class about how a bike stays upright.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Emerald Lake

Dreams of distant mountains
Composite of 15 images (see below for the why of this strange number). ISO 100, 18-55 mm at 35 mm, f/14, 1/60s. Click for bigger. Buy a print. Also on flickr.

Last Sunday, I snowshoe'ed up to Emerald Lake in RMNP. My plan was to catch evening light at lake Haiyaha. When I drove in I had a long discussion with the ranger at the entrance station about how the park was not closed. He said that he would have preferred a shutdown because it would make people realize more what was going on in DC. It was nice and sunny at the entrance still. I made my way to the Bear Lake parking lot where there were maybe three cars. The only times I have seen it more quiet were before 4 am. The reason why it was so quiet of course was the fact that it was blowing snow and cold there. Anyway, made my way up to Dream Lake where the windtunnel was in full force. Blazed a track up the side of the hill to get to Haiyaha but after a while decided to turn around as it was just too crazy (I ended up on a very exposed edge with gale winds that were almost blowing me over) and being by myself I didn't want to risk it. So I decided to go up to Lake Emerald.

View Larger Map

Of course there the wind was howling too, but I found a relatively quiet spot where I took a composite pointing in the direction of where I knew Hallett peak was supposed to be. A small break in the clouds provided some color and I generated the above image. Unfortunately halfway through the tripod shifted in the snow and I had to reset. As it was blowing and freezing cold - too cold for my thin gloves I use while shooting - I paid far less attention to composition than I would have liked. Nevertheless I like what came out above. This image will print wall-sized easily. An image you should compare this too is one I shot from almost the same spot years ago:

Emerald Lake at sunrise

In the snowy shot above I am standing more or less in front of the trees on the right hand side.

Some other pictures I did with my iPhone. I didn't use it much as you need to touch your screen with your bare fingers to take a picture.

An outerworldy glow
Outerworldy glow. Somewhere slightly above Nymph lake.

Red, white and green
Red, White, and green. The red really struck my eye coming by this. This is between Dream and Emerald lake.

Didn't make it
Didn't make it. There are lots of beautiful gnarly trees around Emerald lake as can be seen in this older image.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sign of spring

Spotted this Pasque flower on a bike ride (another test ride) a few days ago.

Signs of spring

These are quite pretty flowers that only bloom for a short while in spring around Easter as their name suggests.

On the same bikeride, I also took this pano of an area that burned a few years ago. It's close to the upper parking lot (I rode from below of course, I don't take shortcuts) in the Mount Falcon open space park. Mount Falcon is popular amongst Mountain Bikers because it is a good long uphill slog that is not very technical giving a good afterwork workout and has some good singletrack in the back on Parmalee Gulch.

Building storm

Friday, April 8, 2011

Boulder brook - Rocky Mountain National Park

I was reminded this morning of the fact that I have a long list of posts still to write and push out about images I created last year in Rocky Mountain National Park. The radio was talking about how the park might get shutdown with the impending gub'mint (or however you spell this in redneck drawl) shutdown. I deeply love this park and every time I go there I come back with new images. One of the images I am going to show below has long graced the side panel on this blog, but apart from being used to show how waterfalls can be stitched months ago, I have not actually told people about this place. These images were taken on a rainy late afternoon in the glacier gorge area of RMNP. I showed some images from this day earlier and haven't shown any images yet from another waterfall I visited in between. The current post is about a place called Boulder Brook. This is a fairly unknown, hidden gem that is reached by walking a mile or so from the Storm Pass trailhead. It is a tiny brook that snakes its way down through a dense aspen forest. In fall therefore, it is littered with golden aspen leaves as can be seen in the image below:

Forest stream
Combined from 9 images at ISO 200, f/13, 2.0s. 15-55 mm at 45 mm. Buy a print. The same image is also on flickr.

Some more variations on this are here and here.

I was in this place basically at sunset and it was raining softly so I did not need any filters to slow down the water. In the full image (also visible in the tight crop here), what is really striking are the red rootas of the moss that hang into the water. The color of these is quite stunning and contrasts well with the green of the moss and the yellow of the leaves.

I made some other images at different places two. This is one I like that I call divergence.
Beaver Brook divergence
Combined from 9 images at ISO 200, f/16, 2.0s. 15-55 mm at 34 mm. Buy a print.

A different view of the same rock is here.

At this point it got really dark and it became almost impossible to know what I was doing, but I got some more nice images of a fairly wide waterfall very up close. This one I call nano-Niagara

Combined from 12 images at ISO 200, f/11, 3.0s. 15-55 mm at 50 mm. Buy a print.

I am basically almost touching the sticks here. A different framing is here.

After these shots I hiked back out and close to the trailhead I came accross another opportunity that I very quickly took. This is one shot at 30 seconds with a 3 stop grad ND filter to darken the sky. It was basically pitch dark and I needed 30 seconds at f5.6 and ISO 200. I am not making prints available of this at the moment as I don't think it has enough quality because the wind was blowing the camera around, but I still want to share it. It would be good enough for smallish prints of 8x10 and under.


I like the dreamy quality of the clouds and the color it seems to have picked up from somewhere.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

White Sands Yucca

One of the nice things about raw capture is that you can always go back later and redo your images using more modern processing tools. We have a very large print of an image I took on a family vacation to the South at White Sands National Monument hanging on our wall. It is a gorgeous image of a yucca in the white dunes in my not so humble opinion but color wise I always thought it was duller than we experienced the moment which was quite magical with gorgeous warm sunset light playing over the dunes and ripples in the sand. This turned the shadow areas on the white sand a gorgeous blue. Neither comes out very good in the print. So I dug up the harddrive that these older images are stored on and fired up Lightroom which has the references in its database to these older images. Typed in White Sands in the search box and poof there the images were. They were of course done in the old process in Lightroom and I was using the Adobe Standard profile. Users of Lightroom may know that this usually leads to dull color. Switching to the new process extracted significantly more detail, turning on automatic CA correction also helped, but mostly the image was helped by selecting the landscape profile for the camera. I also upped the exposure compensation a little, making the image more high key as appropriate. Exported the three photographs to 16-bit ppRGB tiff and stitched them in hugin. Below is the result as uploaded to flickr

White Sands Yucca

The same yucca image (cropped differently) in the older treatment is here. The same cropping in the older treatment is on smugmug here, which is the print we have on our wall. I'll probably replace the smugmug image sometime soon with the new higher quality image. Even though it was a few years ago, this image feels much more like the experience we had trolling on the dunes that evening.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Canyonlands tree

I just uploaded an image to flickr to remind myself I need to process and upload my images from last November in this amazing place.


This image was from a dayhike I did together with one of my friends (the rest was drinking cocktails at the campsite - Mimosas at sunrise!) from the White Crack campsite all the way down along an old jeep road that goes down into the white crack. The trail is almost impossible to see in many places and almost nobody ever goes there as it is not marked on maps. At the end of it is the site of an abandoned mining camp. Apparently there are two spring beds still standing there but we didn't get that far as we lost too much time waiting for our friends to decide to go. They turned around halfway down the first downhill when they realized they were already too buzzed. They missed an amazing hike.

Bike testing update(s)

I testrode two more bikes this week. The Niner Jet 9 and the Pivot Mach 429. Both bikes are way out of my price range but I still wanted to know what the fuss was about. Both these bikes are very competent and very fun rides. Both bikes use 29" wheels. Neither showed the constant rock/waterbar hitting problem that I noticed in the Tallboy, which makes me think it is indeed a geometry issue on the Tallboy. What follows are two sets of impressions.

Niner Jet 9 at the trailhead
1. The Jet 9 (pictured above) is a fabulous bike. It is fast, nimble and furious. I rode it up Chimney and in Apex/Enchanted forest. It feels like a very big bike (which it is) but remains very light surprisingly. I motered this thing up everything I threw at it. Even going up the sharktooth, which I haven't been able to do in years. I really liked this bike even though I will not soon be able to afford it. Still was fun riding it.

Pivot Mach 429
2. Pivot Mach 429 (pictured above). My favorite of the two. I got this on Friday, which means that because bikeshops are closed on Saturday, I can ride it until Sunday noon. I rode Chimney on Friday and this morning White Ranch on the Longhorn/Shorthorn/Longhorn/Belcher Hill singletrack/Mustang route. Even though the shop gave me pretty bad SPD pedals on this one and it was in a not superb state (one set screw is missing which is terribly annoying and the lever on the front brake is a tad dinky). I reached 40 km/h (25 mph for those used to archaic units) going down Chimney, which if you know the trail is almost death defying. But this thing made me feel quite secure. Riding it in White Ranch was a little different but very enjoyable still. Going down Mustang, which is a fest of deep drops, waterbars, rocky sections and such was fun. White ranch is a very nice park to go riding as long as you avoid going the route that is in the guidebooks. Most people ride it up Belcher Hill trail from the bottom, which is an extremely boring and crappy fireroad for the largest part. At the top it turns into great single track though. I ride this in winter often as it dries out quickly after snow storms. You want to get of the Belcher hill trail as quick as you can (which is the whippletree trail) when the weather and trail conditions are good however. An added bonus is that you will see almost nobody on the trail, while the Belcher hill trail is a highway of bikers and hikers.

This is the altitude and speed profile as recorded by my phone's gps:

As an aside, when I was picking up this bike it struck me that for the price of one of these bikes (~5k$) one can do demo programs at the local bikeshops for several years before you spend as much. This shop for example, gives you 6 day "rentals" for $150 and in a year you would need to sign up for about 10 of those demoprograms to get most of the riding in (I am excluding a large part of winter). So $1500 a year and therefore about 3 1/2 years of riding before you hit the price of a new bike. Extraordinary. Of course neither of these bikes is in my price range anyway. What strikes me still is that the difference in riding experience wrt to my old bike (which got stolen) and my even older bike that I broke the frame on is not very large. Those were far less valuable bikes that I both built from the frame myself.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Beautiful new typeface from Monotype

I am a type nerd and reading today that Monotype, a revered type house, is coming out with an updated, pro version of the Comic Sans font - Comic Sans Pro made me happy. Comic Sans of course is a unique microsoft typeface design that graces many "Don't touch my lunch" signs all over the world. It's importance to the world of typeface design can not be overestimated.

(Graphic Business Wire)