Monday, September 19, 2011

A short one

What do you do when you've used up all the vacation of the year? With work and family obligations limiting you possibilites. One option is to fall into depression or to open another beer. Another option is to make the most of the situation and go out anyway, if only for a short while.

Both Toni Lund and I had very limited time, but we still managed to get together for a short bikepacking overnighter during a break in the fall rain. Linnavuori in Piikkiö is about halfway between Turku and Paimio and was chosen for the overnighter. I started with my local trails...

... and then proceeded to meet Toni some fifteen minutes before sunset, which was at 19:53. The evenings are getting darker rapidly. We dragged our bike up to the top of Linnavuori and took some pictures of the sunset, enjoying the wide view.

Toni doing some photography.

At this time of the year the light after sunset does not last long.

Sleeping in a bivy bag, containing a short Thermarest Prolite 4 and my trusty summer sleeping bag.

Soon the moon came out. It was still fairly large, some five days after full moon.

Time to wake up a little before six in the morning.

Toni was in a hurry and just ate an energy gel before leaving, while I took the time to boil water for coffee on the BushCooker. I had some difficulty in getting it started, since the twigs I gathered before going to sleep were quite moist, due to the large amounts of rain during the week,

After breakfast I rode straight to the Littoistenjärvi lake trails and after that right home. I was home at 9:30.

The fall is nice, but has been a little too rainy this far.

Even a short overnighter fairly close to home is nice, and in a certain way it gives a lot of bang for the bucks.

I even managed to put together a short video from the trip, including some time lapse material, a first for me. I think it actually turned out quite nice.

Toni's report is here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Time lapsing

I went out for a short bikepacking overnighter this weekend and thought it would be a good opportunity to test the video capabilities of the Olympus E-P2. I also took my first try in time lapse photography. I downloaded the CHDK firmware kit and the Ultra Intervalometer script for my Canon S90. After some initial problems and misunderstandings I got it to work (you just have to wait for the lens to be retracted in playback mode before you can start the enhanced firmware). I took a small light tripod and put the S90 on it, pointed towards the sunset (and sunrise in the morning). The camera was set to take rather small 4 MP jpeg:s with a fixed white balance and exposure. The intervalometer was set to take one exposure every ten seconds.

At home I used Lightroom to batch crop the images to 16:9 proportion and exported them as 1280x720 sized pictures suitable for the lower HD resolution which the E-P2 camera uses. The resulting image sets were then converted to AVI format using VirtualDub. I then ran the resulting AVI files through MPEG Streamclip to get a compression that did not cause visible moving  color gradients. Finally I used Windows Live Movie Maker put together a movie from these time lapse clips and some other shorts clips I had filmed.

The time lapses turned out fairly good, though I think the ten second interval was too long. Next time I'll have to try something shorter. There is also still a lot to learn about how to use the CHDK efficiently.

The video quality of the E-P2 does not seem to far from that of the EOS 60D, despite the lower HD resolution. The actual resolution of the 60D video was probably quite far from 1920x1080. This time I only used the fully automatic mode when filming the videos, though the E-P2 should also allow fully manual settings. I will have to learn those as well. The Windows Live Movie maker does have some limitations: When including still pictures in the video, it for some reason gets rid of any sharpness pretty efficiently. It also does not allow exporting in the lower 1280x720 HD resolution, so I had to save it in the higher resolution, which does not make sense. A better video software would be nice, but currently I'm not doing enough videos to justify it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another overnighter with the kids

The kids wanted to go to on an overnighter again and last Saturday was a good time for that. Full moon, clear sky later in the evening and possibly some rain in the early evening was the weather forecast. Since the last overnighter two weeks earlier the day had shortened by 1 h 17 minutes, but there still was enough light to put up the tent in good light. This time I wanted to check out the north side of the Matildanjärvi lake.

We jumped into the car for the one hour ride to Mathildedal a little after five in the afternoon.  Mathildedal and the Teijo are is still the best alternative for a trip like this, even though it means driving there by car. The Kuhankuono area, which is 15 minutes closer, is mostly a national park with restrictions on where camping is allowed and it is not as nice as the Teijo area.

Full speed ahead.

Still some berries left.

No color.

Fall color.

Rufous Milkcap.

A very beautiful place.

The wood shed burned down. Or was it a shelter?

A short boardwalk section.

Still not enough stones in the lake.

We arrived at the place I had selected on the map and it turned out to be a good one. There is actually no shortage of good tent places on the north side of the lake.

Zooming in on the moon.

The water never ceases to interest.

Where is the treasure?

After a while the kids went in to play in the tent...

... while I watched the sunset.

The kids insisted on "real" outdoor food, so I made a Real Turmat Chicken in Herb sauce for them.

I took some pictures while the kids ate.

It was getting quite dark and the kids wanted to go out and play with their new head lights.

Time to go to sleep. Note the campfire on the other side of the lake.

We slept quite well and I got up in time to enjoy the sunrise. It really was a beautiful morning.

After a while I made breakfast for the kids and then they also came out.

No, daddy, I won't fall in the water.

Well, at least part of the sweater is dry...

The bumble bees are still asleep.

Going back.

Picking some chanterelles before arriving at the car.

This was another very nice overnighter with the kids in great early fall weather. The area is also very beautiful. The nature of these tours are totally different from my usual mostly solitary outings. I don't push myself at all, the only thing occasionally gets pushed is my patience. It is very satisfying to see the kids enjoy themselves and this is real quality time with them. The kids also talk about it a lot afterwards and want to go again as soon as possible.