Tuesday, 13 November 2012

KAP or Kite Aerial Photography

This what you get when you add kites, cameras, radio controls, simple electronics and lots of shed tinkering time.

Capturing images from a kite produces a rarely seen perspective. These low level aerial images are on a more intimate or human scale than traditional aerials from aircraft.

There is a very active world wide online community of KAPers and some seriously clever inventors producing electronics, rig control scripts and mechanical bits for KAP rigs.

Big stable kites are needed to lift the camera and rig. KAPers usually have a range of kites to cover different wind speeds and camera rig weights. More about that later.

The lighter the better obviously. GoPro, Canon compacts and even SLRs are popular and mirrorless large sensor cameras are starting to feature too.

Canon compacts can also be enhanced via CHDK (Canon hackers development kit) and SDM (Stereo Data Makers) firmware changes. I'll write more about these later but basically some very clever programmers have written firmware enhancements which add functions such as intervalometers, RAW, HDR and bracketing.

KAP rigs
There are many different styles of KAP rigs but these are the main divisions.
RC KAP - using full radio controlled rigs with shutter, pan and tilt control.
autoKAP - using modules like AuRiCo (automatic rig control - preprogrammed electronics replacing the radio control receiver)
Manual KAP - where you set the camera orientation before launching

My KAP shots

KAP flickr group

KAP shop - Oh yes, there is one

This is such a big topic I have started a new blog just for KAP.
Kite Aerial Photography by Andrew Newton

Saturday, 11 August 2012

DIY Underwater Tripod

A major problem with underwater video is camera movement. Keeping still enough to prevent your audience getting seasick is not easy and for macro it's impossible.

So here's a basic idea for a tripod. Using my existing 8" strobe arms, clamps and a handle post attached to three Sea and Sea ball adaptors from Mr Leung of ebay again.

Here's a video of the first test in 2m vis and 10c temp. Hurry up summer!

To fit the balls to the handle bolts 2 adapter holes were enlarged to 8mm. Another hole was drilled in the tray to attach the third ball.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Nikon D7000 underwater settings

I have finally put together a page of all my settings with brief explanations.

This is for Nikon D7000, Ikelite, Inon Z220 strobes, macro, wide angle, split levels and video.

Ikelite housing with Inon Z220 strobes, one triggered by wire sync cord and the other slaved via fibre optic cord. Manual Aperture, Shutter speed and flash power.

Initial setup

Movie Settings - Manual Movie settings
ON (for manual video exposure) or OFF (for auto exposure)
Custom Setting Menu
a8 - Live view/movie AF - Autofocus mode - AF-S (AF-F does not work well enough)
f6 - Menus and Playback OFF (Control dials change A and S rather than image displays when image review is still on)
f7 - Release button to use dial (Activates sticky buttons. Tap and release a button, like ISO or WB, and then make changes with the control dial)
White Balance - 5260K for stills. Auto or manual WB for movie

Lens - Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro Nikkor and flat port
Quality - RAW 14bit plus fine jpeg (Often just use the jpegs)
Aperture - f/22 (For max depth of field)
Shutter speed - 1/125th (Fast enough to avoid camera shake in ambient light areas)
ISO - 100 (Plenty of light available from close strobes so use lowest ISO)
Flash Power - Adjust as needed (Usually around -3.0)
Focus - AF-S with Single or Auto 39 AF points (I often pre-focus on something then hold down the AF lock lever then recompose with the most important feature in focus)
MACRO photo gallery

Wide angle

Lens - Tokina 10-17mm DX fisheye with 6" dome port and cut away shade
Quality - RAW 14bit plus fine jpeg (RAW much more useful for wide angle. Captures smoother tonal gradation in background water and sunballs. Also allows colour cast adjustment without loss of tonal smoothness)
Aperture - f/8 (Depth of field is not a problem, especially with fisheye lenses)
Shutter speed - 1/60th then adjust to balance ambient exposure with flash
(Shooting towards the sun will need faster shutter speed and smaller aperture)
ISO - 200 (Or higher for deep ambient light shots)
Flash Power - Adjust as needed
Focus - AF-S with Auto 39 AF points
WIDE ANGLE photo gallery

Split level

Lens - Tokina 10-17mm fisheye with 8" dome port. (The extreme wide angle of view and larger dome port are essential for sharp split levels. Need to spit on the dome and rub around to reduce drips in the top half. Dip under water then shoot as you lift up out of the water)
Quality - RAW 14bit (Allows exposure adjustments in Photoshop without reducing the image quality too much, especially the underwater half)
Aperture - f/16 (Need the depth of field to keep above and below sharp)
Shutter speed - 1/125th (or faster to freeze water movement and avoid overexposing the brighter above water areas, like clouds)
ISO - 400 (To allow f/16 and faster shutter speed)
Focus - AF-S with Auto 39 AF points. (Pre-focus on the underwater subject then hold the AF lock lever)
SPLIT LEVEL photo gallery

Video - Wide angle
Lens - Tokina 10-17mm fisheye with 6" dome port and cut away shade
Quality - 1080 24fps high quality
Aperture - f/5.6 (Have to exit live view to change aperture)
Shutter speed - 1/50th (or as close to 2 times the frame rate as possible)
ISO - Adjust as needed (This is your main exposure control for video)
Light - Diffused UK Light Cannon HID torch. (Proper lights would be better)
Focus - AF-S with Auto 39 AF points.
(Prefocus for each scene. Continuous AF (AF-F) is too slow and lens focus noise is intrusive)
VIDEO gallery

Video - Macro
Best done on a tripod to avoid camera movement.
Lens - Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro Nikkor and flat port
Quality - 1080 24fps high quality
Aperture - f/22 for greater depth of field
Shutter speed - 1/50th (or as close to 2 times the frame rate as possible)
ISO - Adjust as needed
Light - Diffused UK Light Cannon HID torch. (Proper lights would be better)
Focus - AF-S with single point. Prefocus carefully for each scene.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

3 inch strobe arms

It has recently dawned on me that my strobe arms are way longer than needed, and I have always thought the Ikelite handle posts were too high. It has always been more of a problem getting the strobes in close enough to light close subjects rather than out wide enough.

So with the help of Mr Leung from ebay here is the new strobe arm setup (lower image). Strobe positioning, shooting in tight spaces, carrying, fitting in the wash tub and storage cupboard are all now much easier.

Handle posts are 30mm and anodised red (previously 90mm), arm sections are 3" (previously 8") Apologies for the mixed measurement units.

Here's a shot from the first test dive showing that even with a 10mm fisheye and heaps of muck in the water the strobes could be positioned effectively.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Macro lens mount in use

Next week has arrived and the weather is calm and the water is chilly and clear.

Here's a video of the lens holder being used on a St Leonards Pier photo dive.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Macro lens mount for Ikelite flat port

You can buy a MacroMate for US$599 or you can bodge one together using your own macro lens and plumbing bits.

This creation holds an Inon UCL165mm M67 on an Ikelite macro port. The lens can hinge up out of the way for normal macro.

Bad weather is preventing a field test. Maybe next week.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Nikon D7000 in Ikelite D80 housing revisited

Here's a video showing how the Nikon D7000 fits in an Ike D80 housing.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Shimano Hub Dynamo repair DH-2R35-E

The 2 new black-rimmed front wheels for our Azor Dutch bikes arrived with smashed electrical contacts. Both wheels damaged in exactly the same way.

Rather than go through the hassle and delays of sending them back we decided to repair them. It turned out to be very easy. The new internal assemblies were bought online from bicikli.de in Germany and arrived within 2 weeks.

The info and tech diagrams on the Shimano website gave me the confidence to give it a go.

Here's the video explaining how it's done

Thursday, 26 April 2012

GoPro panning time-lapse kitchen timer

GoPro cameras have an excellent built-in time lapse mode.

Ordning kitchen timers ($14.99) from Ikea have a flat top which is perfect for sitting a GoPro camera on.

Put the two together and you have a very cheap and simple panning time-lapse rig.

For a sturdier platform I stuck one of the supplied GoPro sticky clip mounts on the top of the timer and moulded some PVC plastic into a cup shaped tripod mount for the bottom of the timer.

The timer gives me 360º rotation in 60min (obviously) and an alarm to tell me when it's cooked....I mean finished rotating.

These clips were taken at 1 frame every 2 seconds for 15min (pan of 45º) producing 450 frames. The video was encoded using Timelapse Compiler (Donation ware Mac only) at 25fps resulting in 18sec clips

Friday, 20 April 2012

DIY macro lens mount and strobe arm

Just for fun I thought I'd make a macro lens mount for my Lumix LX3 in Coolpix housing rig.

Here's what I came up with to hold the Inon UCL-165 M67 onto the dome port.

The 90x75 PVC pipe connector was close to a perfect fit. I stuck some neoprene tabs in the 90mm end to make it a tight fit over the dome port.

I slipped a ring of PVC in the 75mm end to stop the lens pushing all the way through and bolted on small brackets to hold it in place.

For higher magnification it would be better to use a flat port but this macro lens mount means I can do macro and wide on the same dive. A stronger or stacked macro lens would be better because the closest focus on long zoom only came down to 20cm.

I also wanted to reduce the overall size of the setup so replaced the double Ikelite handles with this simple aluminium tray/arm made from 50mm aluminium flat.

Monday, 19 March 2012

GoPro HD Hero 2

These tiny wearable HD video/still cameras are brilliant and reasonable cheap. Mine was $358  with free delivery from WetRez in Cairns.

It can record 1080 170º video, 11Mpx stills and time-lapse at a selection of frame rates with a fixed focus fisheye lens. It comes supplied with various mounts and a waterproof housing.

As is the GoPro can't focus underwater but a variety of add on lenses and tweaked housing are available for around $120.

Being tiny and light the GoPro can be attached to helmets, wrist and chest straps, kites, RC models...just about anywhere you can imagine.

Here are a couple of my early videos.

The sealed housing seems to fog up in the sun quite easily. Dessicant tissue pads are available to prevent this.