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Spring Trip   The Outer Banks, NC


Entries are often works in progress that sometimes take a while to edit.     Mostly about windsurfing, photography, and wandering through the daily joy and solace of life…

An interview with Yurii

A conversation in the van with Denny

featured video     Windsurfing Rodanthe, Spring 2015

The new Rode VidPro Microphone (mid May) working well in a high wind, windsurf session at Long Beach…

Vimeo - Bike These Two Hills In North End Niagara Falls.

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

Scroll down for older entries.

        July 4th     Learning to manage all of my new and old photos using Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC has been difficult.

Raw files take up so much more space both on the camera and in the two computers.   Everything slows down for one thing and after somehow mistakenly importing too much into the Mac it became almost impossible to find anything.

And, to add to the problem, this past Wednesday evening was very windy and changing lenses when needed was an unnerving challenge.   We were (three) crew short so that also added many issues.   Made the best of what I could pitching about, frustrated, and undecided at times, more often using the wrong lens, and fiddling about with camera settings while also maintaining helpful focus on keeping the sails trimmed and staying safe in the big waves and strong winds.

All of this digital photog uncertainty and bewilderment will soon pass, like the snow and frigid conditions from this past winter.

Shooting JPEG-fine and using iPhoto and Photoshop CS5 just two short weeks ago was so, so much easier.   And no drama.   Sigh.

Using RAW camera settings and switching to new editing software was maybe somewhat like trying to learn to fly and land a helicopter from watching oversimplified tutorials over the past few days.

Take a deep breath.

Hey, we did squeeze off a few fun shots.

        June 29th     Bonaire.   Definitely on my bucket list.

The video says it all.

A perfect destination to practise moves, get strong, and live that dream for a week, a month, a winter, or maybe the rest of my life.   Ha!

You Gotta Vacation Here!

        June 27th     Advantage - shooting camera RAW

Have had several inquiries about why shoot RAW when JPEG is both easy and works well.   JPEG images work great most of the time but many exposures can't be improved whereas RAW allows a photographer to bring out much more final detail in an image that would otherwise be lost.   (BTW - This is not anything new.   RAW technology has been around for more than a decade.   I've pretty much been a die hard JPEG advocate till now.)

An underexposed picture holds more of the information so that info can be easily be regained in a RAW file for overall improved picture quality.

A bad shot is a bad shot and will always be a bad shot.   Delete it.   It belongs in the trash folder.

But shooting in RAW can make a good picture become better.

Here are two quick examples of underexposed originals (left) and final images both starting out shot in RAW.   The final results on the right are all better photos in my opinion.

The exposures below could still be hugely improved by someone with more Lightroom/Photoshop CC experience because both shots began as a RAW file.

Definitely worth the extra time taken to process the improvement.

Commitment:   This photog guy will always include a RAW file with every JPEG shot from here on.   And will continue to work on and learn from the many video tutorials available online and softcover manuals.

Left - original Raw file from there camera.     Right - same image processed with Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC.

        June 26th     Making the transition to Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC

Couldn't join the Interclub Cruise this extra long weekend because of a chronic sinus infection that seems to come into my life every 2 - 3 years.   Bummer.

So while recuperating on antibiotics and all the usual medications it's high time to work toward better understanding two new updated pieces of software recently acquired.

More difficult backlit exposures this past race night on Wednesday evening were shot in Camera Raw so all the new formats and tools have fortuitously come together with the need to stay home.

Shooting with Camera Raw has always helped get those difficult shots into a more presentable outcome.   With Lightroom CC and the latest Photoshop CC tools working in RAW is now simpler than ever.

The initial learning curve has taken a few days.   It should all make better sense over the next few thousand shots. It will be necessary to make some extra time to learn the many post-editing techniques and improvements that are readily available online…

It looks like the majority, if not all, of my shots from now on will include (Quality) Large Fine JPEG + RAW (21M 5616 X 3744).   Somewhat outdated iPhoto & PS CS5 will likely be shelved indefinitely.   It's currently taking about three times longer to prep the photos with the new Adobe LR & PhotoShop CC but this time taken will decrease quickly.   There's still a lot left to master.

Shooting into (strong) sunlight using Camera Raw without a flash makes getting better shots as shown above right in the cruiser…

        June 22nd     2015 Lake Erie Interclub Cruise   June 27th - July 1st.

Looking forward to crewing 5 days and nights on Pegasus.   With radar+, air conditioning, a stereo system that rivals anything in our CBC studios, a flat screen TV with DVD and Netflix, there's little with which to find fault except for that horrid Bar-B-Cue that blems most aft-facing photos.

Sailing out of Port Colborne and heading to Erie, Pa. on Thursday night to make the Saturday race and rally, crossing back to Port Dover, Ont. for a race and rally on Sunday and Monday, then racing home to Port Colborne on Tuesday.   With 5 days on the water are certain of some decent wind somewhere.

As always, it will be an adventure.

Hopefully too our beloved 911 will be back from a major month-long service from the Dealership next week.   A sunroof replacement, new struts, a new IMS bearing replacement and main seal should get the two of us safely to the East Coast for lobster sandwiches and a chance to take in the sites.

Looking forward to some fun driving and sharing precious moments with Nancie…


        June 21st     A great carve to check out.

Love the footwork getting that turn.   Miriam has them nailed!

Worth a watch.

Carve Jibe     Check out the footwork on these carve jibes!

        June 19th     Biking hills and doing some distance has become a fun priority this past week.

Time is now a significant factor in one specific route and that helps to push the limits.

Taking a few minutes off a new run is very doable.   I know the time factor will likely balance out sooner than later but it's interesting to note the progress even this early on.

I just uploaded a non-stabilized version of the most recent bike video on Vimeo leaving out a few titles to help deemphasize the fitness aspect a bit.   It shakes a bit more than the original but the visual format and scope of the video is larger and the clarity is great even in 720p.

The YouTube version is stabilized and can be played in 1080p, but stabilization shrunk the edges and titles got squeezed out a bit.

The free Vimeo account restricts the overall file size and allows one upload a week.   YouTube (also free) allows larger file sizes, more uploads, and HD 1080p.

Two or three Vimeo upgrades (that you pay for) allow many more and much larger uploads.   Fortunately, my vid could be reduced to HD 720p and was able to squeak through.

Photoshop has now adopted a new business policy.   In order to upgrade to Photoshop CC and Lightroom I now pay a monthly (or annual) lifetime fee.   It used to be a one time purchase.   Regular income is currently the name of the game for Adobe Systems Inc.

The videos from YouTube and Vimeo are posted below.   As mentioned, I deemphasized some of the athleticism and fitness slant in the Vimeo upload.   Getting in shape was my first take on making the video.   After watching the final edit a few times that focus seemed to wear a bit thin and the motivation that now keeps me going is simply the fun, rhythm, zest and vigour of it all.   Fitness simply follows naturally for simply doing it.   And, going quite fast is also a huge rush.

Moreover, carrying two cameras helped.   It was easy and interesting to stop and place the iPhone on a mini tripod here and there to help get variation for the final edit.   It actually took very little time to stop and place the iPhone here and there for an additional viewpoint.

It becomes a bit of a debate.   Do we ride to make a video or make a video about the joy of riding?

As an aspiring filmmaker, it's a bit of both.   I hadn't anticipated the real joy of the moment until it inadvertently happened during the ride.   The initial focus was to get those legs working and shape up.   Now I want to persist at bettering the time getting up Stamford Town Line Rd. and feeling the rhythm, pump, stoke, and groove on the easier straights and fast downhill runs.

Making a successful video requires a clear focus.   That vision has to be maintained and pursued to the end.

Next acquisition might be a gimbal to help stabilize the camera and help eliminate the shake.   Nice!

Keep on keeping on.

Vimeo - Bike These Two Hills In North End Niagara Falls.   A few changes.

YouTube - You Gotta Ride Here.

        June 14th     Priority 1 - Body Maintenance.   (A sincere and humble procalamation of sorts)

What with doming and the fickle winds of June and early July it's time to get the bicycle chain cleaned, tubes changed, trail shoes relaced, tick repellant and mosquito spray ready, and the hiking sticks hosed off.

Warm water, and the winds of late August, September, and the fall are close at hand.   Gotta get ready!

Here goes.

Bike hard three days a week including non stop treks up the formidable Stramford Town Line Rd. hill and also up up up the Niagara River Recreation Trail (just under Brock's Monument - up up up the escarpment)   At least three times a week, every week, and no whimping out or whining about it.

Hike hard three days a week.   Not finished.

Slog about doing survival jibes and tacks on the 161L/7.0m at LaSalle, a minimum of twice weekly unless there's some decent usable wind somewhere.

One thing for sure - I'm getting really good at writing clear and meaningful objectives.   Now, just gotta check to make sure that my ass in gear is fully engaged.

Personal commitment is a such a precious possession.   Sigh.

Will have to take a few pics of the long and steep, vertical challenge of the hill on Stamford Town Line Rd.   Truly not for the faint of heart.

(Skip to pictures below if you're not thoroughly stoked.)

As Marty says, "Giddy-up boys and girls!"

What's in your wallet?   Where's the beef?   Start your engines!

(Theme From Rocky  Gonna Fly Now  fades to We Are The Champions.   Fireworks.   Fade to black.   Cut!   Silence.)

Set the alarm for 6:30 A.M.

A few pics of the awesome hills mentioned above just to add to the commitment, openness, and candor of it all…

Video - Biking These Two Hills In North End Niagara Falls Will Get You Pumped and Back In Shape In No Time

        June 13th     Google What's wrong with (type in any movie) or Mistakes made in (type in the movie title)…

I would never do this for timeless classics like Endless Summer '66, Big Wednesday '78, Point Break '91, Riding Giants '04, Blue Crush '02, Step Into Liquid '03, or The Windsurfing Movie '14.

But it is fun to check the general accuracy of a film after viewing it.   (This also includes most books and anything written on the internet.)

I remember watching Nights In Rodanthe and thinking that Richard Gere might be driving in the wrong direction at the beginning.

Some critics enjoy spending countless days watching and researching movies just to find any errors.

Like someone getting out of a helicopter on the wrong side based on where he was sitting inside just moments before in the film.   Or being accurate in depicting time zone situations that actually conflict.   Stuff that probably doesn't really matter for most of the audience in the overall impact of the show.   But someone, maybe a negligent writer, a distracted director, or an actor forgetting lines, simply dropped the ball.   No Oscar for you.

If you have 16 minutes to spare then check out the many mistakes revealed in Steven Spielberg's The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) below.

The newest Jurassic World has just been released.   Looking forward to seeing it next week and definitely won't be looking for any faults and oversights.

Everything Wrong With The Lost World: Jurassic Park '97 (16 minutes)

        June 11th     Unlearning.   Undoing rigid, reinforced pathways in our brain.   It takes a huge effort.

Improving some of our moves, like the jibe, is harder for people who learned to master the jibe badly like I did way back in the 80s.

Other things like addictions and compulsions might also be included in this thinking as well.

But there's hope for everyone with some will power as the video below clearly demonstrates.   It just takes a long time and a sincere effort to unlearn and relearn something different in its place.

We all look at the world with a bias based on what we've learned.   But patterns can be changed if we truly try and persist.   And, it's not easy to go back to our old way of thinking as the video also shows.

Now, what to undo?

(Apologies, this was mistakenly uploaded as a rough draft, ignored, and not edited until June 13th.   One of those, just forgot about it , senior moments…)

Changing a pathway in your brain.

        June 8th     Brown cranes just off Highway 3 west of Port Colborne, this afternoon.

They were trying to be amorous but dive-bombing red winged blackbirds interrupted their courtship moment.

Too funny!

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

        June 6th     A perfect ENE 9ish knots at LaSalle for the 161L & 7.0m2 light wind jibe and tack practice session today.

(Best of the day) ~> Nailed 37 consecutive mostly slogging jibes (both ways) today between the first and third sandbar.   Not near as many (kinda fast) tacks.

Tired.   A Great Happy Hour Stoli martini (shaken hard, not stirred) with 2 garlic stuffed olives.   Badda boom!

Early Monday looks promising somewhere.

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge any of the pics…

        June 5th     Maggie and Nolan's reno continues.

About two weeks to go and on the upside Maggie and Gus are staying with us until the painting is completed.

Their home will still be be beautiful.   A classic exterior, and mostly new inside when they are done.   Knob and tube wiring gone and replaced, a main floor open concept, fresh plumbing, large closets in the bedrooms, a few new bathrooms, a main floor powder room, an en suite bathroom, a brand new updated and hugely enlarged kitchen (the original was from the 1940s), and paint, not wallpaper everywhere.


Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

Their pre reno home (carefully staged for sale last year) and built in 1877…

        June 3rd     A most wonderful surprise in our back yard this week.

This is the first year that we've ever seen our poppies in bloom.

Instead of being a traditional bright red, they are a beautiful shade of pink.

One more bloom flowered this morning, three more coming.

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

        June 2nd     The Camera's dirty sensor is now very clean.

But, the new highly-anticipated gel stick sensor cleaning tool was only one part in the whole process.

When it didn't actually stick to the sensor I knew there was going to an issue.   Read on.

The camera's sensor was coated with something else from a previous cleaning attempt.   Maybe from a swab pressed into a second service.   Not sure, or it could have been anything from car exhaust to breath attempts to moisten the surface that made a smear.

In any event I used a new, very high quality microfibre cloth cut into a strip that fit over an older swab.   A slight spray of distilled water on the cloth (recommended by the manufacturer) and a dab of high quality alcohol from an abandoned, previous sensor cleaning swab kit was resurrected and used.   Under a bright light the streaks were quite visible.   Light caresses across the sensor ultimately resulted in removing the streaks.   Thankfully, it looked clean and streak free after a few careful strokes.

A picture of the sky at f 22 with the autofocus off still revealed dust spots and a few other things remaining in the camera view screen enlargement check.   Used the Arctic Butterfly electrostatic brush and carefully swept the sensor a few times.   Blew it with the bulb a few times as well.   Did another sky shot at f 22 and then checked the sensor.   To my delight it was much cleaner but still not perfect.

Used the gel stick that now stuck to the surface of the sensor as directed and eyeballed everything once again.   Checked for spots after another sky shot.   Just a few left now, here and there.

Went at it again with the Arctic Butterfly and the blow bulb.   Checked and the sensor finally appears to be 99.99% clean with only a few teeny spots.   Like new.   Pretty sure they won't be a problem.

Conclusion: If you can afford the time away without a camera and the cost to send your camera away for cleaning do it.   If you want to clean the sensor yourself you will likely need a host of products tools noted below.   It will take a patient half hour to do the job.      

      Eyelead Sensor Cleaning Kit (Gel Stick) - $50 US$ (Amazon .com)      

      OPEN BOX ARCTIC BUTTERFLY SUPER BRITE 724 (mine had Visible Dust written on it as well) - $125 CD$ (Henry's)      

      Squeeze bulb air blaster - $15 (Henry's)      

      Cosmetic soft brush - $10 (Shopper's Drug Mart)      

      Ultimate Cloth Micrafiber - (an online purchase)      

      An old sensor cleaning swab, some distilled water, a spritzer, and alcohol cleaner from an older cleaning kit.      

      A strong light source to view the exposed sensor inside the camera.      

      A magnifying lens to view the sensor.

A special thanks to Bob Briggs-Jude (Technical Advisor and Sales - Henry's Camera) who took the time to steer me to Kinek.com and advising me about navigating amazon.com to the drop site when the product was unavailable through Amazon.ca and most cost prohibitive elsewhere.   He also has a most interesting website blog about his adventures in the Arctic as an X-Ray Technician this past winter - linked just below.

Please click on the thumbnail to enlarge the pic…

Briggs' Re-Arctic: Seven Years Later

        June 1st     You don't know what you've got till it's gone.

Maybe another excuse.   This actually isn't that much of a stretch.

When the dust spots and debris are all gone from the sensor what then?

Maybe another new beginning with no excuse other than to get on with at least making cleaner looking videos.

What niche, venue, or unexplored corner of filmmaking is left?     There are gimbals to stabilize cameras and drones to elevate shots above the treetops but the essential breakthrough can be a simple rethink and retake of an older idea.   Like a new angle on an old tripod.

In faith I often look to a few of my current personal heroes like Woody Allen and Casey Neistat.   Or to Apple Inc. and Tesla Motors who continue amazing me with their products and vision.   These creative people and companies simply dig in and get on with it all, tirelessly.   Or maybe when they are tired they just keep plugging on till something new or unique comes together.

What will Woody Allen do next?   He's already written and directed more than 50 movies including a few plays.   Or better still, what is he currently doing between films?   Although he's on a hugely higher level achievement than I am, I somehow feel somewhere near that in-between thing that he must also face as well from one film ending to another film beginning.

He's indifferent to praise or awards.   Woody simply doesn't show up for Oscars and ceremonies.   He feels that one external glorification like an Oscar for one of his movies could well diminish the overall quality of all his work.   I kinda get it.

That said, Woody is likely exploring ideas that will eventually become a reality.   He is no doubt looking through older notes and ideas that were jotted on napkins, magazine covers, and hotel things all written days, weeks, or months ago which are currently helping him to piece together another new story.

And also like the new Apple watch recently introduced to the world there new Aps are being created that Apple would never have dreamed possible months ago.     Aps that vibrate on your wrist to tell you to turn left at the light or remind you that your printer needs a new magenta cartridge already being ordered for you and will be automatically delivered by FedEx to your home along with the Nespresso dark roast coffee pods tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.   And Tesla Motors battery vision to cleanly power our world with huge, workable, solar powered self-charging storage batteries.

On the down & dark side of all this I'm soberly hoping for waterproof patch-sensors inside my windsurf booties that notify my wife/iPhone/AppleWatch/whatever to call 911 to track and find me by GPS if I ultimately get wobbly and fall down and fail to get up someday on some beach somewhere, sometime, in the distant future.

Take note of Casey Neistat's Snowboarding NYC video, shot with a selfie stick and from the back of his Jeep in New York City this past February that got 6 million+ monetized views on YouTube.   Casey also produces one new video each day for his cool Twitter Vlog.   Pretty sure he has a clear focus with DOING IT as his working philosophy.

Casey can make videos pretty much about anything and everything.   And he makes good money for what he does as his personal net worth illustrates.

Making money isn't my highest priority or a first motivation.   An interesting, entertaining video that would earn 25,000 to 100,000 views on YouTube would a worthy achievement in my life.   As a windsurfer, hiker, cyclist, gardner, beach-bum, motor-head, sailor, surf mobile operator, photographer, and a few more self-appointed monikers, there's gotta be something gainful that will definitely break through for me if I live long enough and somehow keep my faculties and motivation together.

And, if I survive but everything unfortunately goes flush, maybe one my first YouTube videos (November 2008) might just make it to the top(below).   It's currently at 7,332 views after 6 years.   Kinda almost reassuring eh?

And it's not that people send me emails, or publish my pictures, or comment about a video from time to time.   They do.   But I know that accomplishment is a deeply internal scorecard validated by more than an external acknowledgement.   When it happens it will likely be a simple and unified yes.   Another beginning.

But hey, in the meantime, the point here that's foremost in my mind is to keep on thinking about new takes, fresh ideas, and other redirections.   Modestly and clearly stated, I must continue to persist optimistically until something notable and worthwhile surfaces and survives using my cameras.   As the song went, "Keep On Keepin' On."

The much needed gel stick sensor cleaner gets picked up today!

(Reminding everyone with or without a purpose) Shakespeare's Macbeth once said,
"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;"

(softly in the background)   a drumroll & rimshot + bass pedal thump (badda boom) then silence and fade to black…

light scattered applause

Windsurfing into the big time with an old video.

        May 31st     Part 1:   Tracking the gel sensor shipped from Amazon.com   Part 2:   What having a clean camera sensor means.

Part 1:

Delivered!   (Pick-up on Monday, June 1st)
Hi John Grant,
Your package from ACTC was delivered by USPS to your New York Mailbox.   Your package can be picked up at the customer service desk.
When picking up your item(s) please provide:
- Your Kinek number
- 2 pieces of ID (one must be government issued photo ID)
- A copy of your order confirmation
Thanks for using Kinek!

Part 2:

No dust spots showing from yesterday.   But, somewhat underexposed and no depth of field.   Both problems soon to be solved once I get the cleaning tool on Monday.

The dust spots didn't show in any pictures yesterday.   Mainly due to camera settings at f 5.6 and with a low 50 ISO setting some of the images were quite underexposed and had halos from an exposure correction.   Blurry horizons were a result of the shallow depth of field taken at f 5.6 and less.

I didn't want to chance having to clean up dust spots in post editing so I avoided the possibility completely by using shutter priority (1/1000 sec.) and avoiding aperture settings of more than f 14+.

Note the faint halo in the sky surrounding the subject (below) and the blurry horizons especially with the slower 100 - 400 lens.   The camera was set at f 5.6 and that hugely underexposed at 50 ISOs resulting in a Photoshop shadow-highlight adjustment to help normalize the exposure.

(Yes, an ISO setting of 200 - 800 would have helped to avoid this but the picture quality would have diminished.)

Shabby dust spots and debris were evident in the 1 minute video (that automatically used higher f stops) posted below.

This will soon be corrected if the gel sensor cleaning gel stick is all that it's cracked up to be.


Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

Dirt on the sensor even spoils a windsurf video!

        May 28th     Yes, a sensor gel stick is on its way for the DSLR camera.

Have a Kinek.com drop point in Niagara Falls NY to which Amazom.com will send one of these nifty sensor cleaners.

My life will be cheerful smiles and chuckles from this day forward in terms of no more dust spots welded to the sensor.   If this thing works there will be no more jet blow bulbs, sensor swabs leaving streaks, healing brush do-overs, or wielding a soft tip make-up brush moving all that sub atomic revulsion around, yadda, yadda, yadda…

No more Photoshop clone tool erasing dust spots in the sky from those f 22 sessions like last evening.   No more frustrating anything except for a dab, dab, dab with the gel stick softly on the sensor just once in a while when needed.   So nice.

Note the dust (upper right hand corner of the shot) on the sensor in the pic below.

Happiness is a clean sensor and changing lenses whenever the spirit moves me without hesitation or fear of letting in repulsive pollen, insidious tick eggs, abhorent dust, or high speed mu meson particles that hideously attach themselves and other electromagnetic debris to the sensor and Klingon, oops I meant cling on, forever after!

Shipping Confirmation
Hello John Grant,
Sensor Gel Stick has shipped.

Life is looking way, way up.   Kinda like Christmas morning coming in a few days.

Only 2 nervous sleeps away.

A dirty camera sensor reveals dust particles @ f 22
          (upper right corner area) in the pic below…

Please click on the thumbnail to enlarge the pic

The Gel Stick Sensor Cleaner

        May 26th     Flat Stanley made it to Niagara Falls from Pippa Popins Nursery School in London.

Every grandparent's dream finally comes true.   Volunteer assistance in their grandchild's school.   Nice.

So we take Flat Stanley to the Falls for some pictures.   And Canada Post has the sacred trust to return him to help all the children in Blakey's class to help explore the world, plot his travels on a map, and learn about places and people.

Good fun.

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

        May 25th     The eternal quest for a sensor cleaner may finally be over.

DSLR camera sensors get dirty and it shows on images when a high f stop is used usually greater than f 16.

Dust spots and streaks from futile attempts with a wet foam wipe, a soft brush, and the host of products out there that don't do a good job.   Post edit cloning the spots out can be a huge, time-consuming pain.

Just watched a video showing a gel stick cleaning tool that picks up dust and debris from the sensor and deposits it all on a sticky paper

You gotta see this one!

Maybe there is hope after all.   It's worth a try.

Could be worth whatever the price.

The Gel Stick Sensor Cleaner

video Using The Gel Stick Sensor Cleaner

        May 24th     Morning coffee ~ Finally some trust has been established.

Yes, the perching stands had to be rotated again to keep the wee hummer in flight.   That said, squeezed off 3 fun shots as a result of any temporary discomfort that might have been caused.

The young female eyed me carefully, backed off a few times, then finally settled down and let me take her picture.

Shot these three at 1/8000 second.

The male in the lower pic was taken during Happy Hour last evening in better light conditions at 1/2500 sec.

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

        May 23rd Part 2     Morning coffee with the birds.

Post Script: I wasn't appreciated this morning sitting there with my coffee and camera.   Orioles scolded, goldfinches flew by and hid, hummingbirds landed on the opposite side of the feeder.   The stage may be set but the players are shy and fearful of the old guy with the camera and coffee.   maybe a tent would help.   Or a huge blanket shrouding me with a lens hole.   Will have to think about all this and get creative or something.

On the bright side.   Happy Hour could become a much longer session this evening.

BTW, robins and sparrows are so low maintenance and always willing.   The fledgling is only a few days out of the nest.   The oriole was taken for Playbird Magazine.

        May 23rd     Some fun activity these last few weeks around the bird feeders on the back deck.

Trying to attract goldfinches, hummingbirds, and orioles.

It's been working and early morning & evening are the best times.

Will try to get a few shots twice on days during these better light conditions.

Post Script: I wasn't appreciated this morning sitting there with my coffee and camera.   Orioles scolded, goldfinches flew by and hid, hummingbirds landed on the opposite side of the feeder.   The stay is set but the players are shy and fearful of the guy with the camera and coffee.   maybe A tent would help.   Or a huge blanket shrouded with a lens hole.   Will have to thinks about this and get creative or something.

        May 21st     The light was right in this shot.

He landed and saw me standing at the other end of the deck.   Fortunately I had camera in hand.

Didn't have time to rearrange the settings or change lenses as I was waiting for a goldfinch to land nearby.

Nice play of evening light.

        May 17th     Never take your wallet to a garage sale.

Self control has never been a strong point in my life.

Garage sales are definitely to be avoided at all costs.

Things that somehow didn't come my way many years ago seem to appear on driveways and in garages, on Saturday mornings in the spring.

Like the grinder and wire wheel on a beautiful metal stand including a twenty point articulating, fully adjustable, swivel light for year round indoor use.   With $30.00 showing on a piece of green masking tape attached under the off-on control.   Way too much to endure.

You can't even buy the stands anymore let alone the swivel light that comes with it.   Plus there are extra grinding wheels and wire brushes of all sizes.


Have you ever had to head out to the garage in your slippers, in January, after a fresh snowfall, to switch on the old 5 inch grinder in -20 oC?   So bloody annoying.   Loose things begin dancing about and walking off nearby shelves and off the workbench from the huge vibration that ensues before the wheel warms up, smooths out, and finally settles down a bit.

No self control here.   And, to boot, a perfect mitre box with a near new backsaw.   Also, a 6 shelf metal storage highboy.   Get the blindfold.   Someone please stop me!   Maybe a cattle prod.

Too late.

OK, and far, far worse, all windsurfing shops & photography outlets are also on my try to avoid/no self control list.   Kinda like what Sigmund Freud once advised when he so wisely advocated, "Never date when you're horny."

Not making much of this up.

        May 14th     Video insights worth noting.

Early morning is a good time to walk, read, and rethink life.

Several times each week this refreshing habit becomes a part of my early day.

One of my favourite books is Jon Kabat-Zinn's Wherever You Go There You Are.

It contains many dozens of thoughtful reads that somehow help to make better sense of what we are doing and that which we hope to become.   A compass of sorts.

A big nudge came today.   He wrote (p. 96), To often, our lives cease working because we cease working at life.

It struck me that my current dissatisfaction with my videos runs parallel to this profound thought.   My videos cease working because I cease working at my videos.   Could it be this easy?

With a summer ahead there will be lots of time to work new ideas and make changes.   Casey Neistat has been an inspiration and will likely be a starting point in my initial review of renewing both a commitment and a model for improvement.

Just reworked the sound balance for the Long Beach video and added a few pictures.   I see the share on YouTube was successful.   Many improvements are needed to make the vid unfold more smoothly and show better.   Will keep all this in mind and get prepared for the next project.

(YouTube) Made a few changes to the video Windsurfing Long Beach in strong and very gusty conditions   May 12th…

        May 13th     Working and reworking video.

Will hopefully get some free time later today to get a look at some footage shot yesterday.   The new mic works well in the wind, but a bit noisy (no clipping).   Will upload the vid to YouTube after adjusting the windnoise a bit.

And get WIS updated sooner than later.   Will have some pics uploaded and some video worked later this evening…

Looking forward to warmer water and saner conditions.

It was a challenge using the Canon 100 - 400 zoom on the 7D2.   The focus and the zoom are inextricably linked to the smooth/tight telephoto slider that tightened once in a while causing some shake and judder getting it reset.

Will add a few more pics to the video as well as try to readjust the sound quality.   Will work at improving the video as well.   The mic is capable of voice in most conditions and will press the iPhone , GoPro , Olympus, as well as the 7D2 into different situations and conditions to also get a few more angles.


Currently reworking sound and content with this (Vimeo) video ~ Windsurfing Long Beach May 12th in high wind…

        May 9th     So much for fuel economy and loaded roof racks.

Vehicle tested - 2008 Dodge Caravan 3.3L with an Inno roof rack, storage box, Yakima single board stacking rack, and a 161L Mistral Explosion.

Using the onboard computer the following displays were noted…

At 80 km/hr fuel usage is 10.1 L/100km

At 100 km/hr fuel usage is 11.1 L/100km

At 120 km/hr fuel usage is 13.1 L/100km

As I recall, with a bare roof and on the QEW, the van delivered around 10L/100km or slightly better at a steady 100 km/hr depending on headwinds, traffic, and weather.

So Virginia, there's a price to pay for all of our guilty pleasures.

        May 8th     The sailboat goes in this weekend.

And, it's time to abandon the spring yard chores around home and get serious about wind-related reality and somehow negotiating a balance of it all with my patient, amazing wife and wonderful family.

Starting with some lead photo refreshments on this page that will continue.

Priorities.   It's all about priorities.

Oh, oh.   September Song and My Way are both softly playing simultaneously in the background of my mind.

For those of you too young to know, September Song is based on a familiar poetic metaphor that compares a year to a person's life span from birth to death.   Paul Anka, wrote My Way for Frank Sinatra.   It resonates a bit selfish and proud but says it all in 3 minutes and 48 seconds.   The two links below are not likely suitable for anyone born much after 1958.

Hopefully Pink Floyd will come out with versions of these pop classics that help keep me focussed and on track with life and living what's left of it.

September Song   Willie Nelson…

My Way   Elvis…

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

        May 6th     Pressed a part of one of the Yakima board stacking system back into service.

Resurrected a part of two vintage, currently discontinued, car-top Yakima Multi SailBoard Stacking System from the the 80s.   Up to eight boards could be slipped in and out of the 8 attached bars to an upright on two sides attached to a roof rack.   The systems were cut down, refitted, and modified through four vans, three cars, and two trailers over the years.

Now, any one of the boards can be easily stacked and removed from on top of the van and not be an inside obstruction when driving about on a day to day basis.

The rear view is clear from the driver's seat for chores around town and yet be quickly ready for a windy session.

Fuel economy doesn't seem to be affected much.   Will check the distance travelled at fill up times over the next few tankfuls (at very legal speed limits) too see.

Am now very happy that the systems weren't sold or discarded (as often encouraged) over the years during clean-ups, moves, and garage sales.   Once again Yakima rules a part of the space above the roofline of my beloved surfmobile.

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

        May 3rd     Looking into an external microphone for the Canon 5D2.

It's coming down to finding a price point that allows good voice and reasonable sound recording while avoiding wind noise (clipping) and reducing unwanted cars, voices, or nearby banging around.

For starters the Rode VideoMic seems like a good initial investment.   The drawbacks are the rather flimsy wire attaching to the camera that might not last long and a the need for a 9 volt battery that can run out at any time.   I noticed in a second video that a much better 3.5 mm jack on a stretch cable has replaced the flimsy wire first noted in an earlier review.   As well, the 9 volt battery is rated for about 100 hours of service which now makes it much less of a concern.

All that said the reviews for overall performance in this price range far outweigh these potential negatives.

Am also considering the Rode VideoMic Pro and the Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro which both offer a few different advantages.

There are several wind-noise eliminators.   One of the better ones is called a dead kitten or the Deadcat.   It looks like one as well when placed over the microphone.   It's unlikely that I would ever refer to it by that name.

The Rode VideoMic review…

The Deadcat…

A video review of the Rode VideoMic

The Rode VideoMic Pro Compact VMP Shotgun Microphone

The Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro

        April 30th     (Son-in-law) Sean will be bringing his new drone when they visit us this summer.

Hopefully we can get some footage along the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario shoreline.   It should be a great addition to any upcoming videos produced.   It's good to fly in 20 knots of wind!

I just might take out a few kites as well (for interest) with the 7000 rpm razor blades used to lift and fly the DJ1!   Just kidding!

Here's a video he made a few days ago just outside London at an abandoned WW2 airfield.   So cool!

Sean working the new DJI Inspire…

        April 29th     Van space maxed and working well.

Four boards inside a Dodge Caravan, each removable.   With the option to carry a board on top if necessary.

Thanks to some ABS pipe and a few bungies.

Will likely get serious once the lakes warm a bit.   Anytime after May 24th is a likely launch time.

        April 28th     What doesn't kill you makes you stronger…

Our two week session in Hatteras was a tossed salad.   Illness, injury, good wind, cold temperatures, warm sunny days, warm water, some board damage and repair, all played out.

Having a larger board was a definite advantage on a few of the lighter days.   Fox Watersports in Buxton added ten new footstep plugs to the 161 L that also helped make the board way more user friendly.

During the light winds I was able to spend a lot of time working video on the 5D2.   Being a more menu driven camera than the older 7D, I found the 7D much more usable and have avoided using the full frame 5D2 for film making.   My mistake.

One of the results of the using the Canon 5D2 was an interview with Yurii, that we had to set up and rework a few times to improve exposure, background, and sound with each of three sittings.   A shielded microphone and digital recorder would have been better than using the unprotected camera.   The higher wind caused annoying clipping in the replay resulting in tossing out one morning of work.   Sound quality in the final result below was generally lacking for the most part and required some Final Cut Pro enhancements.   For a small initial investment video sound can be nicely improved before the editing process begins.   And, maybe adding a camera stabilizing gimbal, for hand-held situations.

The iPhone and GoPro also offer good back up and interest as they can be edited into the final result adding a variety of viewing angles and visual differences.   One of the videos below dialoguing with Denny in the van reveals the potential of the very capable hand held GoPro.

Am looking forward to doing more serious video in the near future and working toward overall improvement.

An Interview With Yurii Kuzmin (Canon 5D2, plus some GoPro and iPhone)

Dialogue #1 With Denny In The Van (hand held GoPro)

        April 22nd     Have been way too busy to stay updated and current…

Will catch up in a few days.

Working on video projects, fun ideas, windsurfing everything currently owned, and other good stuff.


Windsurfing Rodanthe with gusto!

Please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics…

        April 16th     Sharks in Pamlico Sound.

About 6 years ago a large shark swam me by not far from the fishing channel near Avon.   The hair stood up on the back of my neck.   The wind was light and the 7.5m 2 rig became unwieldy, fell, and filled with water.   I did a header into the deep, scrambled on top of my board, and went into mild shock.   It seemed like an hour as I scanned the Sound in every direction fearing the end was near.

Scenes from Jaws flashed through my memory.   What to do?   I was almost a kilometre from the shore and about about half that distance to where I could hopefully stand on sand.

It seemed like an eternity before I mustered the courage to slip into the water and cautiously begin swimming my rig toward shore.

The memory of that dorsal fin slipping through the water is till deeply burned into my psyche.

Fishermen affirmed that shark were in the Sound and were often caught in their nets near shoals off Frisco just 7 miles south-west of Avon.

Since then we learned that sharks keep their distance from most living creatures and only go after prey that doesn't move or is wounded.

Female bullsharks come into the Sound to give birth in the warmer waters where a food supply is abundant and not threatening to their offspring.

All that said it was still bit unnerving to face off with a juvenile bullshark that I thought was alive.   It had been caught in the gill nets near the Rodanthe Ferry Channel and discarded by the skiff crew.   I bravely hauled the killer corpse aboard and brought it home.

Mind you, Genie, a tagged 14 foot Great White Shark, being tracked by radar, had been spotted last week offshore not that far from our rental home and the young bullshark that was caught was about a 300 feet from our shoreline where we launch and walk about in the shallow water.

Pamlico Sound is shallow windsurf heaven.   It can be knee to waist deep up to two miles (3 km) offshore.   Six miles out there's a sandbar just before the main shipping channel where Genie was spotted.

So far no one we know has been involved in any shark attack.   But sharks are out there.   And, bullsharks can not only tolerate fresh and brackish water but also swim about in depths of just two to three feet while on the prowl.

And, this is just one more reason why I don't like to wear polarized lenses while windsurfing.   Seeing what's down underfoot can be a bit intimidating.

        April 13th     The bigger, better wind is about to kick in.

The next 5 day forecast is for increasing wind each day here on The Outer Banks.   A definite blessing the way windspeed increases a bit each day so we don't get hammered all at once.   The water is amazingly warm after the winter that went away a few short weeks ago.   The Sound was around 70o F   (21o C).

Have been working on footstrap placement on the 161 L.   Thinking about having new strap plugs installed in the hull.   Not sure why Mistral only had two front strap placements.   The straps on the rail seen awkward and the inbound straps are hard on the knees in big chop.   I'm told there must be a good reason for chosen positions.   That said, will persist for a few more sessions before making any changes.   Marked ten positions on the deck that are candidates for the new plugs (below right).

The 7.0m 2 is a tad small for 10 knot conditions and a 7.5m 2 would be a better option for light winds with the large board.   Will continue to source larger sail options through the summer and fall.

Bonus!   The reshaped weed blade works like a dream in the shallow water holding the 7.0 m2.

Spirits are running high with the promise of weather for the rest of the week.   We are a lean, fit pack of wind-wolves chasing our dreams and aspirations.

        April 8th     Pegasus is about to awaken for another season!

The tarp comes of in a week.   Some refinishing needed on the hull.   Then a tow to the crane and a lift into the lake.

An amazing boat!   An amazing crew!

And, we're going to win a few races this year!

        April 5th     Grandchildren are one of the greatest diversions in life…

Absolute true love, a sense of life, and personal fulfillment, but very little wind-related, surf advancement gets accomplished, acknowledged, or done in the 2nd last week approaching Cape Hatteras.   Who cares!

We miss them already.   Hugely.   They're off to Disneyworld and Miami leaving us with amazing memories.

Can't wait till theyre back in late July!


        March 31st ~> April 1st     Reshaping the weed blade for Hatteras…

Found a template for the base of the fin, traced an outline, and used a fine grinding wheel to begin the process.

Will continue to add a few more progress pics in the coming days as the fin's foil profile and taper take on a more promising configuration.

Looking forward to sailing a big rig on this in about two weeks! Have had an offer from a friend to try another very promising fin, so the outcome is looking better every day!

April 3rd     About half way, another half hour should do it.   The random orbital sander works well.   Need to get the foil the same on both sides (below right - 2nd row).   Our grandchildren are here.

Check out - Casey Neistat (filmmaker, director, producer, activist…) - Twitter


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