Mar 28, 2011

Need your help! Athlete and friend, Daniel Velasco seriously injured in Paragliding accident.

Hey folks,
I write today with a heavy heart and ask for your faith, prayers and financial support for a good friend!  Last week, I received an email that stopped me in my tracks and made all the things I had planned for the day completely insignificant.  My mind started spinning and I could barely focus on the photo shoot I was about to undertake.  I learned that an amazing athlete and good friend, Daniel Velasco, had suffered a severe spinal cord injury as a result of a paragliding accident and may not walk again.  We need to raise money as Daniel does not have medical insurance and has a long road to recovery.  Read more and donate here:

It was just over a year ago that I met one of the coolest guys I've come to know as I was recruiting athletes/models for a trail running shoot in Kauai, HI.  Daniels girlfriend had seen a local ad posted about the shoot and responded with a recommendation that I use Daniel.  The next day I was on the phone from Utah talking to a guy I hadn't met, but could tell he was going to be the perfect athlete to work with.  Not only that, but he offered this random haole photographer from Utah (me) a tour of all the best trail running locations once I arrived and anything else I needed while on his home island.  This guy was awesome, I thought to myself as I hung up the phone!  Upon arriving in Kauai and meeting up with Daniel the next morning I was amazed at how generous he was once again to a complete stranger; his smile and zest for life were contagious and I felt like I had know him all of my life, like two old friends back together to hang out for a week of awesome action and fun.  Our photo shoot carried out the next day and like many shoots required the 4:00am start time to shoot sunrise and a subsequent 12 hour day of shooting and non-stop running to follow.  My classic, "one more lap" was echoed throughout the day as we moved back and forth all over the Naapali coast trail probably putting in 12-15 miles of running.  He was unstoppable, never tired, had the form of a champion and the best attitude of any athlete I've ever worked with.  We created some killer images that day for my client and as a bonus Trail Runner Magazine put one of our shots on their Fall, 2010 Cover.  We were both stoked!  Shaka!  We've stayed in touch since the shoot even talking just the few days before his accident about how awesome it is to ride, run, surf and play outside.  In addition to his trail running prowess, Daniel is an awesome triathlete (one of Kauai's best), mountain biker and surfer.   He enjoys kite boarding and para gliding among other outdoor activities.  The guy's passion is contagious and he lives and breathes exercise, activity and the outdoors; which makes this accident even more devastating.

So, I'm writing to share a story that is close to me and to ask for your help!  Please help in any way you can.  Again, Daniel did not have insurance at the time of his accident and needs financial support!

1) Donate anything you can here.
2) Your prayers and faith will also be a tremendous blessing to Daniel as we have hope for a miraculous recovery!
3) Drop a quick email to offer encouragement here.
4) Share this link via Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.  Let's raise some money for Daniel!

DANIEL - We love you buddy!  Hang in there! If there's anyone that can get back on their feet, it's you!  Stay strong and keep smiling brightly.

Mar 22, 2011

Creating long exposures in mid-day sun. Photographing in Kauai (Tiffin IR ND Filters)

Location: Kauai, HI (Hanalei bay pier)

Photographing land and seascapes in Kauai is an epic experience and the Hanalei bay pier is just one location to check out when you visit.  On my recent trip to the islands, I was primarily shooting film and video for a commercial project I'm working on.  Of course, the beauty of filming on DSLR's (the primary tool for this project), is that there's always the opportunity to shoot a photograph without much of a set-up change.  Such was the case for this shot.

Let's talk shop for a minute - there are two things you might pick up on in this image:

1) There's direct sunlight hitting the pier.
2) The water is at a complete standstill.

The truth is that this image was taken on one of the best surf days of the year in Kauai.  There was a 20-30 foot swell that followed the disastrous Japan Tsunami all the way to the islands (fortunately doing little damage to the islands) and the tow-in surfers were out in spades getting in on the swell.  The large sets were breaking well outside of this frame, but there was a decent little break all the way to the beach.  

So how do we expose for long periods of time with that much light and create the effect of a sea of glass? ND filters to the rescue!  I pushed this exposure to 30 seconds and f/22 using one of my favorite tools, a 77mm Tiffin, 7-stop (2.1), IRND filter.  A 7 stop filter is an awesome tool for pushing your seascape photography into a different realm.  All of the sudden you can start experimenting with longer exposures at high noon on a bluebird day!  

For more info on the filters I use and why:
I hate to carry more gear than needed, especially when traveling, so I have one set of filters that I use for both Video and photography - Tiffin IR-ND series filters - 7 Filters total (1-7 stops).  I won't go anywhere without these babies.  This is the first filter specifically designed to shoot video on DSLR's and produce the best image (no IR contamination) bar none.  They rule for photographs in the same way.  Check Shane Hurlbut's Tiffin IR ND Filter test, for an industry leading opinion if you have any questions.  They're a bit spendy, but well worth it. 

Video Note:  [Why you need ND filters for filming:  As many of you do, I shoot a lot of film/video in addition to my photographic work and ND filters are one of the most important tools to create a shallow depth of field in brightly lit situations for film.  Shooting video on a DSLR (or any camera) means that your shutter speed is a constant (e.g. 1/50th of a second for 24p footage) and thus the only way to shoot at say f/2.8 or wider in bright light is to pull out the ND's.  You can't bump your shutter up to 1/5,000 of a second anymore.]

-Kevin Winzeler