Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Early spring kayaking video

I wanted to see if I could put together a video of some sort from a paddling trip. Nothing fancy, just a short video with glimpses and impressions. Making videos is an interest of mine, but I haven't really found much time for it lately. Videos are a natural extension to photography, but still quite different and a lot more demanding if good results are to be achieved.

It was clear that this would be different from filming mountain biking videos, since it takes a lot more time to stop, land and rig up cameras when paddling. It was also clear that a GoPro would be needed to get more material. I've always been ambivalent about the GoPro, since especially with mountain biking videos I can't stand the GoPro angle, probably because it's so overused. It is also difficult to get stable enough shots on a bike, unless you mount the GoPro on the helmet, which is a rather uninteresting position. I do have two GoPros, but the older Hero 2 isn't really good enough to get clips that mix with the other stuff. The Hero 2 has a fairly good full HD resolution (1920x1080), but after stabilizing and defishing the image (I can't stand the fisheye perspective either), the resolution is too low compared to what you get from 4K cameras. The Hero 4 Black is a good camera, though. The 4K resolution is quite good and yields a good result even after defishing, stabilizing and straightening the horizon. The only drawback is that it uses too short shutter times, since it has no aperture control or ND filter. I have two GoPro mounting options for the kayak: An ordinary GoPro suction cup and a Kayaly suction mount with extension bar. To use both mounts at the same time I would have needed a second GoPro, but the only GoPro supporting 4K video is the Hero 4 Black, which costs almost 500 €.

In addition to the GoPro, I have two Panasonic cameras: a FZ1000, which I've had since 2014, and a relatively new G7 with two excellent Panasonic Leica lenses (15/1.7 and 25/1.4). Both have a good 4K video mode. Having two cameras at least enables getting more material from one place, which is nice when setting up cameras.

The result is below:

A version in Swedish is found here.

I did unfortunately not get any reasonable sound. I brought the Zoom H1, but since I had lost the dead cat the wind destroyed the sound completely. I therefore had to cover the sound of the video with music and complement it with the few usable (and some less usable) clips from the G7. Otherwise I think I got fairly good video clips, but more would have been nice when editing. The star time lapse at night failed since I forgot to put a new battery in the camera. The focusing is off in a few places, which just shows that even with the relatively small sensors of the cameras, focusing accuracy still matters. I'll have to pay more attention to that in the future.

This was also a test to see how much it would be possible to pan and zoom in software, when delivering full HD output from 4K material. I think this is about as much as can be done, since the contrast to the material scaled directly down from 4K would be too big, even though it might otherwise compare well with ordinary full HD material.

The post processing is a difficult chapter. I could still use a lot more time and get noticeable improvements working with the video editor, but I did draw the line here. For video editing I really would need a more powerful computer instead of the cheap laptop I now have, but with limited funds I have to make choices: For the price of a good video editing workstation cost one would get a decent open canoe...

I still think the result is fairly decent, but more practice is needed.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Vigu Sea Kayaking Guide Course Pt. 2/6

It was time for the second part of the Sea Kayaking Guide course offered by the Wilderness and Nature Guide education of Axxell (Vigu) and held by Benjamin Donner from Aavameri

We again met in the harbor of Turku on Friday morning and took the boat to Mariehamn. During the six hour boat trip we had some theory, before arriving at Mariehamn, though for my part this coincided with a lessons learned meeting from a five year project at work, at the same time and place. In Mariehamn I joined the Vigu gang for the practical sessions in the pool of the Maritime Safety Center. During the rest of the weekend we mixed theory, exercises and practical skills. This time we focused on rolling, though we also had other exercises and more rescue training. On Sunday afternoon we took the afternoon boat back to Turku and used the time for theory and reflections on the weekend. A lot of fun and learning again.

I made a short video which sums up the weekend.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Early spring kayaking

The winter is definitely over, and according to the temperatures the thermic spring has started. We're still at least a week away from the early spring flowers, though, and the night temperatures are still often below freezing and we even had some light snowfall yesterday. But spring is definitely coming and with daylight savings in place the evenings are now light again. It was hence time for the first kayaking overnighter of the year.

With the sunset at 20:15 I had time to eat dinner with the family before going. My intention this time was to test some filming techniques for kayaking, so I didn't chase distance, something I rarely do anyway. I started paddling from the Saaronniemi beach at 18:45 in a really nice weather. This time I took the Aquarius Sea Lion, since I think it is a lot more photogenic that the Arrow Play. Another reason was that I caused some damage to the gelcoat of the Arrow Play a week earlier when dragging myself over ice.

I landed at Leppäkari to do rig up two cameras and then did the approach again.

Continuing towards Lapila.

The sun had now set and it was slowly becoming darker. I did the landing at Pitkäluoto twice, to get it on video.

I put up the tent and made a cup of hot chocolate, which I enjoyed with a sandwhich while watching the boats going to Sweden pass.

Some reading  before going to sleep.

The star timelapse failed, since I didn't remember to switch to a fresh battery in the camera. Less that thirty pictures is not enough...

I was quite tired and didn't feel like getting up too early in the morning, even though you really should do that to get good video and photo material. The morning was quite crisp when I got up at seven, just in time for the sunrise.

The tent spot was ok.

Thawing some frozen neoprene.

Morning coffee with a view.

Time to paddle again.

Very nice paddling.

Most of the ice, which I walked on here a week earlier, was gone.


I was home at noon, just in time to make lunch for the family. The distance was small, but an outing should be measured by other means, and this one was really nice.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The last remnants of winter

Toni asked for company for a little overnighter and I joined him, as did JJ. The plan was to take the cars to the Vajosuo parking place and then just ride to the shelter close by, be there for the night and ride a few hours in the morning before going back home in time for lunch. I didn't have high expectations for the riding, since the limbo between winter and spring generally is a poor time for riding a mountain bike or fatbike. I was wrong. This turned out to be a truly great outing.

I got there around sunset, a little before the others, and quickly packed my bike to check out the mire before it would get dark

The Vajosuo shelter was already occupied, so I continued out onto the mire, which was in much better riding shape that I thought. The parts with more snow were hard work, but mostly there was only ice, which is easy to ride on.

A view from the bird watching tower.

More riding.

Joined by Toni

We decided to check out the Rettu shelter on the other side of the bog. The distance didn't mean anything when the riding was this easy.

I didn't bring a map, but I do remember the area pretty well and also have maps in the smartphone. The orienteering went pretty well, despite the darkness. We ended up with only very short hike-a-bike to the Rettu trail.

The Rettu shelter was unfortunately out of firewood, so we called JJ and waited for him at Rettu for a short while.

Our next target was the Töykkälä shelter less than one hour away. We started by backtracking for a while.

Despite our noble efforts we came to much to the east and the riding was no longer totally effortless.

We found a ditch taking us in the right direction towards the ski trail, which despite no longer allowing skiing would give a firmer base to ride on.

I had done about two and a half hours of riding by the time we got to the Töykkälä shelter and was quite hungry, so we started with some sausage.

Time for the real stuff, a big piece of meet and vegetables.

A new Kukko beer, Schwarz. As several other Kukko beers it suffered from being restricted to the maximum 4.5 % alcohol limit of the ordinary food shops. I'm not interested in the alcohol per se, but having the fermentation continue a little further usually gives a lot more taste.

A fire is so nice.

We got up at seven the next morning.

Toni has also started to pay more attention to coffee.

The moka pot is nowadays my number one choice, unless I really have to save weight.

Coffee and bread, the perfect breakfast.

We got going again sometime before nine. The beginning was mire with trees one. There were enough stripes of ice and snow to make it rideable. Normally it would be too uneven for riding.

The mire opens up.

I was a little surprised that we didn't hear the black grouse during the night. The time and place should have been right. The tracks were further out on the mire though.

Judging by the size these could be whooper swan tracks.

There was enough snow and ice on the mire to make it rideable, and also enough to protect the bottom from the bikes, something which is equally important. A cranberry picker in the fall makes a lot more tracks or damage to the mire.

There were some spots with weaker ice. I had a wheel go through a few times and on the picture JJ has just had his front wheel go through the ice.

We went on open mire through Kurjenrahka to Savojärvi and continued on a short trail section towards Lakjärvi.


Toni's snacks have become very tough despite the temperature being a little over freezing.

Crossing Lakjärvi. The mire behind it wasn't rideable in its entirety.

The lagg zone proved easy riding again.

Going to the next mire, which again provided easy riding.

Approaching a denser section, the transition to the Laidassuo mire. Even with very strong snow crust I've never been able to ride through, but this time when it was mainly ice with only a little snow on top it was no problem.

Another short break.

The circle is completed. Back on the Vajosuo mire.

We were back at the cars after a little less than four hours. This was the third time I've done this circular mire route, Tour de Kurjenrahka, on bike. I've done it on skis a number of times, but it is a rare treat to be able to do it on bike.

Thanks to Toni and JJ for the trip. It was a great one.