Granite Peak Park Nights

Finally got a chance to go back to Granite Peak and shoot some park features at night this past weekend. It took the better part of the day to get the plans finalized, but pretty much the whole Teamlab managed to make the trip up to Wausau for the second week in a row. For me it was actually the forth trip to Wausau in half as many weeks. Heavy driving schedule this time of year for sure. I stopped counting time in the car last week after adding up nearly 30 hours in 5 days. Makes me a little sick.

granite peak parks wallride at night lit with speedlights

Of course, the travel is to be expected. It has been a downright crappy winter here in the Midwest so it's been a mad rush when the conditions are good, and a waiting game when it is bad. Years like this make you appreciate the the good ones in the past.

I haven't exactly shot a lot of park stuff this year. Normally, I would be out at Nordic Mountain several times a week, but I haven't been able to shoot there much this year. I have had a few chances to shoot in the Granite Peak Parks, and I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with the level of the features, riding, and the friendly staff.

The Teamlab crew at Granite Peak Parks, lit with a speedlight

You can see a few shots of the lights I have been using above. I have been using a few different brackets to mount multiple lights on a single stand this year. Last year I used some Lumedyne DC flash packs, but this year it is small strobes only. I was pretty optimistic about this setup in the beginning, but it has caused numerous headaches with reliability  and triggering in the cold. You can see here that I am using two pocket wizards, one for each light so at least one of the lights will trigger most of the time.

The other light that you can't see is an old Vivitar 285 with a custom SLA battery pack. This is something that I have been working on for quite a while, and I think I have finally got it working the way I want it to. It's just a 6v external battery system, but it cuts the recharge time of the flash by about half when compared to AAs. I will write up a post about this flash battery soon, I have a few more features to add before I share it.

forum snowboards rider Jory prather at granite peak parks. wallride, lit with a speedlight

But enough of that stuff, check out the photos. A few "almosts" and a few o.k. shots here, I sorted though like 400 shots to find these few. We spent a lot of time on the "shark fin" feature and then moved on to the wall ride later on. All of the guys hiked non-stop to make it happen and keep the shutter clicking. It was a pretty significant hike for each drop, but it was way quicker to hike than to ride the high speed 6 to the top after each run.

jason Contreras launching off of the shark fin at granite peak parks. lit with a speedlight

Jason Contreras: Shark Fin to BS360

Forum snowboards rider Jory Prather riding the shark fin at granite peak parks.

Jory Prather: Shark Fin BS Shifty

jory prather, forum snowboards, granite peak parks

Jory also did a bunch surf slashes on the fin during the session. It's sort of difficult to appreciate this trick just by looking at the photo. Jory actually floated a few of these above the front binding, it's a stupid hard  coping-to-the-face fall if you go over the edge on this. Just sayin.

More to come, check back soon. -J.H.

Testing Gadgets

Earlier this summer I started putting together a waterproof housing for an off camera flash. My design was an adaption of THIS device that was posted on STROBIST a long while ago. I had a bunch of ideas for things to do with it, mostly involving wake/surf but this summer has been difficult in regards to shooting that kind of stuff. So, I've been itching to use this thing and I finally had a perfect opportunity a couple weeks ago. Every year my family has a family reunion weekend  in northern Wisconsin and there is a famous rope swing that affords some sweet action shot opportunities. This would be perfect to test out this new housing. I actually tried to do the same thing last year with some plastic bags, but that didn't work out very well. #deadflash. The actual construction of the unit was fairly simple, the supplies cost around $25, and took less than an hour to build. I used 3" pipe and fittings, a 12" section of pipe fits a flash and pocket wizard with ease.  The goal was to make a rugged, waterproof unit that was affordable, and not too bulky.  Because I used 3" pipe, some larger flashes will not fit (vivitar 283/285 some canons, sb-900. If you plan on using any of these flashes then you should be using 4" pipe and pack it with some foam chunks for a snug fit. It is also important to note that this device is intended for surface use and not for underwater photography. If you plan on using it under the surface you will need to devise some fitting so you can use a hard sync, as radio triggers are useless under water. You also want to make sure you use solid pvc, as most of the large diameter pipe sold at home centers is cell core and won't handle the pressure.

I improved on the original design by adding removable/interchangeable pistol grip/ (1/4-20) mount for increased adaptability. The handle is made out of 3/4" pvc sheet. I drew a pattern for the grip freehand, cut it out with a jig saw and finished the edges with a spindle sander and router. I mounted a section of the same pvc used for the body of the housing to my drill press covered with medium sand paper to contour the mounting surface of the grip fit tightly with the body of the housing. The handle is held on with a pair of 1/4-20 bolts, sealed with neoprene washers and some silicone grease. I rough cut the window from a sheet of 1/4" lexan and temporarily attached it the the end of the tube with carpet tape (diy essential) I then finished the edge using a router with a copy bit, using the tube as a guide. This ensured that the window is the exact diameter as the tube. I hope all of this makes sense, I was planing on putting together a step by step how-to on this project but I was in a rush to get it done. I will be building several more of these in the near future, so look for more detailed photos and maybe a video soon.

To load the unit you remove the LDPE cap in the rear and slide the flash in head first. Do to the tight fit, I use a hot shoe adapter to attach the sync cord to the flash, depending on where the sync port is on your flash you may be able to omit this part. Then the pocket wizard is loaded and foam disks are inserted to take up any remaining space. The treads are cleaned and have silicone grease applied (available from dive shops) to ensure a tight seal. The shots below speak to the possible results.