Dartmania

Inland paddling
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Mark R
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Dartmania

Post by Mark R » Sun Dec 17, 2006 7:48 pm

Over the past four weekends, I have run the Upper at least once every day. Never especially high, never especially low...it's just kept on flowing at a reasonable level. I've done it in four hours, I've done it in 34 minutes, I've done it at dawn, I've done it at night. I've cruised it and I've taken part in a race on it. It never, ever gets boring. I need it. I wants it. It's my precioussss...erm hang on, I'd better stop there and post up some photos from yesterday.

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Random stressed person.

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Random person in bathtub.

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Lisa McDoom.

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Keewee Meecheelle.

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Nice folk.

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Santa brought me a tripod for Xmas...

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Water. There has been plenty.

It's Mrs R! That's my girl...
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Post by Tom_Laws » Sun Dec 17, 2006 7:58 pm

That new camera seems to be working nicely! Nice shots.

Tom

P.s. Is it sad I can name all the locations in the shots?!
Last edited by Tom_Laws on Sun Dec 17, 2006 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by BoaterJH » Sun Dec 17, 2006 8:03 pm

Did my first run down the upper few weeks back and I know what you mean. I realy enjoyed it.

Some good pics.

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Post by Zoe Newsam » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:13 pm

Awww, great pics Mark- I particularly like the shots of Heather. Looks like we missed a good weekend.
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Post by john smith » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:14 pm

It was a top weekend the Dart was a pleasure to paddle as always. We also managed a run on the East Lyn, scary stuff. The lecture on the night was great, met loads of people and generally had a great weekend.

It was only ruined by the scrote who stole my wifes helmet from the drying rooms at the RDCP.

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Post by Mark R » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:15 pm

john smith wrote:It was only ruined by the scrote who stole my wifes helmet from the drying rooms at the RDCP.
The same scumbag seems to have taken Dave Surman's HF Serpent BA.
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john smith
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Post by john smith » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:23 pm

MarkR wrote:
john smith wrote:It was only ruined by the scrote who stole my wifes helmet from the drying rooms at the RDCP.
The same scumbag seems to have taken Dave Surman's HF Serpent BA.
Yes, I was speaking to him today. Shame as we had such a good time otherwise.

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Post by Helen H » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:26 pm

Had a brilliant weekend at RDCP. I especially enjoyed Allan's presentation.

Was very disappointed that one of our group had her helmet taken from the drying room. She didn't get to paddle with us this morning.
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Post by James Hartley » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:28 pm

It looks a great piece of water, one day I really must make the effort and drive down to run it
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Random persons

Post by andywalker » Sun Dec 17, 2006 10:22 pm

Mark,

Thanks for posting those - I was going to see if you minded sending us a copy - I have to admit to being random person in bathtub...

Was going to ask you at Euthanasia, but you were concentrating on capturing Mrs R's excellent line down the left hand side.

Andy.

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Post by buck197 » Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:29 am

Funny as a developing paddler, I get the same feeling when doing the Loop especially when its quiet. I'm looking forward to someday raising the bar and doing the Upper.
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White-water pics.

Post by BillMaisey » Mon Dec 18, 2006 12:17 pm

Mark.

For richer detail in the areas of white-water in your shots, try setting your camera to use “centre weighted” metering. My guess is, (shoot me down if I’m wrong) your camera is set to “evaluative metering” and/or one of the Auto modes.

One technique for great white-water shots is as follows. Set the camera to use Program Mode or, Shutter or Aperture priority. (i.e. Not Auto). Also set for Centre Weighted metering. Point the centre of the viewfinder image at the white water closest to the action and half press the button. The camera will focus and take a light reading from only the white-water. Then, keep the button half pressed as you recompose the shot and take the photograph.

You should then see detailed texture in the water combined with dark surrounding areas providing a frame for the subject. Notice how the paddler is always well lit by the light reflecting off the white-water.

Hope this helps you

Bill

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Post by David McCraw » Mon Dec 18, 2006 12:38 pm

An easier solution than weighted metering (I always forget to turn back to matrix so don't like using it!) is just to use exposure compensation when the highlights are blowing out - having said that, I don't see any great problem with exposure here... especially not compared with some of mine!

Nice shots.

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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 18, 2006 12:40 pm

I should admit that most of those pics have been photoshopped in some particularly garish way, but yes...you are right about the exposure setting.

The first three were taken under low trees in pretty dark conditions.
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Post by Steve B » Mon Dec 18, 2006 12:41 pm

I thought Mark's exposures were just about spot on! I'm seeing good detail in the water on my fairly new good quality (but not pro quality) SIPS flat panel monitor. In a few places there are burnt-out highlights, but an exposure designed to retain detail there would underexpose everything else. I pulled a couple of them into Photoshop, and a glance at the histograms confirms a good exposure.

What Photoshop does also confirm, though, is that the contrast is slightly high. One way to retain a bit more detail in those extreme cases would be to change the camera settings to slightly lower contrast - assuming, that is, that the camera has enough dynamic range to capture the full range of contrast in those shots. But it's a compromise - if you reduce the contrast the images will have less 'punch'.

And another possibility, for people who are willing to spend a lot of time on post-processing, is to shoot RAW, then make one image optimised for shadows/midtones and another optimised for highlights. Then use Photoshop CS2 (which Mark doesn't have) to produce a "High Dynamic Range" image. Too much bother for everyday photography, methinks.
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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 18, 2006 1:35 pm

I should emphasise that none of the paddling pics above are being presented as examples of great photography - just general pics of mates paddling, taken on 'auto' everything and crudely photoshopped, mainly because I suddenly discovered the 'colour saturation' button to play with.

I would however be interested to learn how well my camera is (or isn't) coping on automatic settings...I will post up some of the originals later.
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Re: Random persons

Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 18, 2006 1:44 pm

andywalker wrote:Thanks for posting those - I was going to see if you minded sending us a copy - I have to admit to being random person in bathtub...
Try this link later tonight (after 6?), I'll put the originals there -
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/dartpics
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Piccies

Post by BillMaisey » Mon Dec 18, 2006 2:45 pm

I only intended to critique Mark’s photographs and offer an alternative way to shoot rather than criticize them in any way. Steve and David are correct in what they say of course. One of the dilemmas of a DSLR is the sheer number of options they provide. My best advice would be to learn all of the options and experiment until you work out your preferences.

My preference is to use the method I described. I use centre weighted metering for many situations (not all) to ensure the subject is exposed accurately and, I prefer to use the “half-press” lock because it only involves using the shutter release button and a shift of the camera. It’s way quickest.

Sure, you could use EV+/- compensation, AE lock, or Manual mode to achieve the same result but these require extra button pushes, knob turns or menu delves to perform.

P.S. I'll be an Upper Dart virgin - mid Jan 2007 - water permitting ... Hope to see you there.

P.S.2. I have to confess, I just peeked at this thread on a nice new LCD screen and Mark’s photos look much better than on the six year old laptop I was using earlier ….

“TAXI ..!!”

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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:07 pm

Here you go then, an untouched original.
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/dart ... 160567.JPG
(broadband only!)

Taken using the highly technical 'point and click' method, camera set to automatic 'sports' mode. Very gloomy spot, under low trees and bushes. Any comments on how to get better out of a DSLR welcome.
Last edited by Mark R on Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Activities Away » Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:16 pm

I was thinking of buying a DSLR sometime soon... what camera you using? It seems to take decent shots
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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:21 pm

It's an Olympus E-500. Those in the know about these things say that it's okay, but nowhere near the best DSLR out there. It did however come with a billion and one accessories at a good price, second hand.

I am quite chuffed with this. It was 2 am, I couldn't sleep, I played with the 600 mm lenses...
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Post by Activities Away » Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:33 pm

Thanks for that, I will add it to my list to consider - it looks like the Canon eos 400D is winning at the moment but only because I have a manual eos at the moment - When I get five minutes I will compare them all and hopefully make my mind up - its only been over a year so far!
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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:36 pm

Possible advantages of 'going Olympus' are that the E-500 is sensibly sized for kayaking, and the new E-400 is the smallest DSLR available. Better still, the 3/4 lends system means that a 45-150mm lens actually works as a 90-300mm in practice...i.e. good for close-up stuff.

I think the autofocus on the E-500 is felt to be a bit slow, though.
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Post by Steve B » Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:34 pm

MarkR wrote:Here you go then, an untouched original.
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/dart ... 160567.JPG
(broadband only!)

Taken using the highly technical 'point and click' method, camera set to automatic 'sports' mode. Very gloomy spot, under low trees and bushes. Any comments on how to get better out of a DSLR welcome.
I'll bite! You knew I would ;-)

It's very underexposed. Ironically (but not surprisingly) the camera has done exactly the thing I cautioned against, it has reduced the exposure to try and get a good exposure of the bright white water, and as a consequence the shot as a whole is underexposed. Here it is unmodified, but reduced to the same size as the others:
Image

Here's my 'recovery' of it:
Image

This is a quick and simple job, perfectly reasonable even when you have a large number to process. All I did was:

- Auto Levels (works well when there is a lot of underexposed white).
- Selective shadow recovery of the paddler, because she was backlit and too dark. I lassoed her face/body, feathered the selection, and used the Adjustments | Shadow/Highlight* dialog to bring the detail out and lighten it.
- Cropped and resized to be similar to yours.
- Sharpened using Unsharp Mask.

The whole process took just a couple of minutes.

* I don't think Shadow/Highlight was available in Photoshop 6, I think it might have come in 7. You can do a similar job by making the selection and adjusting brightness/contrast/levels, but the new tool is better.

Now I've seen the original, I can safely say that the problem Bill Maisey identified is caused by overdoing the processing, not by a bad exposure.
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Photo link

Post by andywalker » Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:36 pm

Thanks, Mark.

Much appreciated.

Andy.

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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:47 pm

Thanks Steve, plenty to think about there...but the most fundamental thing I've picked up is that it was gloomy and underexposed (as I realised) not so much due to the dark locality, but because of the light-coloured water I'd focused on.
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Post by michellenz » Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:17 pm

Great shots Mark, nice someone makes the effort to get out and get pics. Back to the original topic, yip Dart's an asset to those who must get wet at weekends - love it... 'cept that hole at the top of Surprise Surprise! must be where the Taniwha lives these days

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Post by clarky999 » Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:17 pm

Awesome river!

Unfortunately we had a bit of an epic on the 10th dec ther. Some of our group wer paddling playboats, and they really strugled, so we took our time. Just as we reached the mad mile, we worked out we had 4(ish) hours of paddling left, with an hour and a half till dark!

We ended up portaging out on river left, ditching our boats halfway up the gorge side, scrambled up the rest (270 metres high!!!), getting on to the top of dartmoor just as night finally fell (pitch black!). We then stumbled along (in full kit - including wetsuit boots!!!), finally finding a farm track, which after 2k led to a road, which led back to the van at new bridge.

We then had to take throwlines back the next day to lug the boats up the rest of the gorge, missing out on the last day of paddling! And my brand new burn is more trashed than my four year old spin!

Moral is - use appropriate boats, and find out about walkouts first - river right would have been much easier! I we'd have been out an hour longer, thingsd could have got nasty, with us spending a night on top of dartmoor. It's always worthwhile checkling that stuff!

Matt

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Post by Ricks-Freestyle-Mind » Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:25 pm

I'm liking the pic of the fine young chap, perched elegantly on a wet rock. Very "Photo-arty". (New word which I'm liking.)

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Post by jmmoxon » Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:46 pm

Young chap ? - Mark will be eternally grateful.

Mike

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